Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Congress’ Exemption From ObamaCare

Wednesday, September 18th, 2013

John Fund, writing in National Review:

Senator David Vitter, a Louisiana Republican, has demanded a floor vote on his bill to end an exemption that members of Congress and their staffs are slated to get that will make them the only participants in the new Obamacare exchanges to receive generous subsidies from their employer to pay for their health insurance. Angry Senate Democrats have drafted legislation that dredges up a 2007 prostitution scandal involving Vitter. The confrontation is a perfect illustration of just how wide the gulf in attitudes is between the Beltway and the rest of the country — and how viciously Capitol Hill denizens will fight for their privileges.

In 1995, the newly elected Republican Congress passed a Congressional Accountability Act to fulfill a promise made the previous year in the Contract with America. For the first time, the Act applied to Congress the same civil-rights employment and labor laws that lawmakers had required everyday citizens to abide by. With some lapses, it’s worked well to defuse public outrage about “one law for thee, one law for me” congressional behavior.

In 2009, Senator Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa) decided that the principle deserved to be embedded in Obamacare, and he was able to insert a provision requiring all members of Congress and their staffs to get insurance through the Obamacare health exchanges. “The more that Congress experiences the laws it passes, the better,” said Grassley. Although his amendment was watered down before final passage to exclude committee staff, it still applies to members of Congress and their personal staffs. Most employment lawyers interpreted that to mean that the taxpayer-funded federal health-insurance subsidies dispensed to those on Congress’s payroll — which now range from $5,000 to $11,000 a year — would have to end.

Democratic and Republican staffers alike were furious, warning that Congress faced a “brain drain” if the provision stuck. Under behind-the-scenes pressure from members of Congress in both parties, President Obama used the quiet of the August recess to personally order the Office of Personnel Management, which supervises federal employment issues, to interpret the law so as to retain the generous congressional benefits.

OPM had previously balked at issuing such a ruling. Even without OPM, Congress could have voted to restore the subsidies or ordered a salary raise to compensate for the loss of benefits, but that would have been a messy, public process, which everyone wanted to avoid.
:
What Vitter’s opponents fear most is that this fight will penetrate the public’s consciousness. A new poll taken for Independent Women’s Voice, a conservative group, found that 92 percent of voters think Congress shouldn’t be exempted from the insurance provisions of Obamacare. Most voters blame both parties equally for the exemption, which means Republicans will also be hurt politically if it stands. “This is an issue with almost unprecedented intensity,” IWV president Heather Higgins told me. “Republicans have the choice of leading the Vitter parade for repeal or getting run over by it. To duck it will be viewed by their constituents as political malpractice.”

They do fight hard for the perks, don’t they.

“Great Necessities Call Out Great Virtues”

Wednesday, September 18th, 2013

Burt Folsom draws from the wellspring that is the wisdom of Abigail Adams, in explaining “Why America is an Exceptional Nation”:

We fought a war for independence to preserve the liberty we were enjoying. Robert Morris, the man George Washington called “the financier of the Revolution”, was from England. He migrated to America, fell in love with his adopted country, and fought to see it emerge as a new nation.

Years later, at the Alamo, several Mexicans died with the Texans because liberty brought them there, and they were willing to die for freedom and Texas rather than live under a dictator in Mexico. So it has been with millions of immigrants who have come to this exceptional nation. We were not built on conquest, on power, or on domination, but on the idea that a free people, under God, can govern themselves and enjoy the blessings of liberty.

John Winthrop, the Puritan governor who came to Massachusetts, said, “We shall be as a city upon a hill. The eyes of all people are upon us.” We were in an experiment in liberty and in obedience to God, which would make us an exception to what was happening everywhere else in the world.

Abigail Adams, wife of one president and the mother of another, wrote to young John Quincy Adams when he was resisting the work his family was doing to secure independence from the British. “These are the times in which genius would wish to live,” she wrote. “It is not in the still calm of life or the repose of pacific station that great characters are formed. The habits of a vigorous mind are formed in contending with difficulties. Great necessities call out great virtues.”

Took

Tuesday, September 17th, 2013

As in, Ya Got Took.

For those who are familiar with Clarey, this is vintage:

(Some language NSFW.)

For those who aren’t, this is a great intro. Especially if they’re liberals. Young, wide-eyed, Pollyanna, innocent, just-starting-out-in-life college-community liberals.

Hat tip to Small Dead Animals.

I grew up in Bellingham, myself. So I’m wondering if the intended audience has what it takes to stop what they’re doing, pay attention, and learn the necessary lessons.

I’m a-thinkin’ not.

But Dad’s right about one thing: It is God’s Country, at least in the aesthetics department.

It’s Not Racist, Just Smart

Sunday, September 15th, 2013

Looks like we’ve got another case of racists calling non-racists racists

Have you ever purposefully avoided the bad part of town? Well then you might be a racist. Or something. That’s the sentiment behind critics of a new app called Good Part of Town, which helps people identify safe areas of unfamiliar cities.

Originally titled Ghetto Tracker (they changed the name due to public backlash), the app allows locals to rate the safety of various neighborhoods so that visitors will know which places to avoid. Critics claim that the app is racist and classist for helping the rich avoid the poor.

Oh my gosh, people need to lighten up. Ghetto Tracker was a much catchier name for an app that might be really useful for staying safe. Now, if the app used racial demographics to tell you which areas to avoid, then yes, that would be racist, wrong, unfair, and basically disgusting.

The fact of the matter is that there are ‘bad’ areas in every town, and they are not limited to any one race. It turns out that bad guys come in all skin colors! Who knew? Until we have enough cops to prosecute every criminal, eradicate every gang, confiscate every illegal firearm, etc, then I’m going to avoid the bad parts of town.

Detractor David Holmes wrote:

It’s pretty detrimental to society when we reinforce the idea that poor or crime-heavy areas are places to be categorically avoided or shamed — As if to assume that every person who lives in an area with comparatively high crime or poverty is a criminal, or that these areas are devoid of culture or positivity.

How exactly is it detrimental to society to avoid crime-heavy areas, or even refer to them as crime-heavy? If it’s an area with a lot of crime, then it’s an area with a lot of crime. That doesn’t mean everyone that lives there is bad, or that it’s devoid of all culture or positivity, it just means more bad things happen there than in other neighborhoods.

Avoiding shady areas doesn’t make you a racist, an elitist, or a bad person — it makes you smart.

Hmmm…no, I don’t think every person who lives in an area with comparatively high crime or poverty is a criminal, I just think they might be forced to cope with some daily struggles with which they’d rather not. And I’d rather not. I do, however, think they are places to be categorically avoided. And shamed, too, because who the heck wants more areas like those? So they’re certainly not to be admired.

And yeah, as a matter of fact, I do think they are devoid of positivity. Crime’s bad. When a place has a lot of it, we don’t like that. In fact, I think it’s pretty detrimental to society when we enforce the idea that…

But, I didn’t see anything racist in what Mr. Holmes wrote.

When people inject race into the application’s function…which is what some have actually been doing…that, there, would be a “when you point a finger, three others curl around and point back at you” thing. What does skin color have to do with wanting to stay out of bad parts of town? Not wanting to get beaten up, not wanting to get mugged, not wanting your wife or daughter to get raped; these are color-neutral things.

What Happened to Europe

Saturday, September 14th, 2013

Very cool video, which has some minor issues discussed in the post and underlying comments.

“Poisonous Ideologies” in the Age of the “Mass Man”

Saturday, September 14th, 2013

Mass man, or “cognitive miser“; hat tip to Severian for this one.

One of the concepts I’ve been trying to get across to my readership over the last few posts is that of the “cognitive miser” or mass man. I really can’t emphasise enough just how important this concept is…the trajectory of the 20th Century makes a lot of sense when you look at it from the perspective of the cognitive miser. Simply by weight of numbers, it is he who determined the course of 20th Century history and has been its motor. Nazism, Socialism and Liberalism were harmless ideologies as long as they were confined to the parlor discussions of the philosophers. Cultured people saw the ideas for what they were and rejected them, their fertile ground, however, was amongst the cognitive misers, i.e the people.
:
…in the age of Beethoven the average German had no say in public affairs, but in the age of “democracy” stewardship of the nation was passed to the cognitive misers of Germany. Hitler would have been impossible in the Kaiser’s Germany, but he is possible in a modern Democracy.
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Historians tend to think that the average man is swayed by ideas when in reality he is swayed by emotion. Fascism and Socialism appealed less to the mind than to the blood…democracy elevates the unthinking man into a position of power. It is therefore no surprise that when the wise and considered are pushed aside, governance ceases to be a considered subject but becomes an exercise in mob power in pursuit of the satiation of its hindbrain appetites.
:
In a democracy, the intellectual “center of gravity” drifts from a society’s best and brightest and, instead, finds its home amongst in the mind of the cognitive miser, who forms the bulk of humanity. The net effect is that there is an inevitable “prole drift’, not only of political debate, but of culture and morals, everything eventually gets vetted by the people (within their cognitive limitations) But there is another factor that needs to be considered here, namely economic democracy, i.e the free market. In a free democracy, cognitive misers do not just exert their malign effect through political power, but through economic power as well. Elitist activities–activities which represent the high point of civilisation– such as opera, classical music and and art, esoteric academic disciplines, and libraries struggle to survive economically in a market where the proles do not appreciate their intrinsic worth. Th[is] is not an argument against the free market, but an argument against the notion that everything has to pay for itself, it’s this latter notion that ensures that prole economies of scale overwhelm everything which eludes their comprehension.

Hmmm…great observations, although they’re in need of minor updates in some places.

First thing that would receive some updates from my little red pen: I am, no doubt, among the people who are bothered by what is happening here, would act against the damage wrought by these “mass men” were I in any position to do so, and yet I am very far removed from what might be called “a society’s best and brightest,” nor am I often a patron or supporter of said best-n-brightest. More people making more trips to the library, wouldn’t do much to mollify my concerns. Also, we have had some strain of “democracy” in parts of our government, restrained by other forces no doubt but still acting with some effect, since the founding of our nation. We’ve certainly had it since our senators were subject to popular vote, about a century ago. Many a “conservative revolution” has taken place since then, and the argument could be made that these were not all about putting Republicans in power or putting democrats out of power; they were about restoring sanity, bringing to a temporary end this reckless fantasy that great and grand things could be built by way of destroying other great and grand things. Conservatives, or libertarians, or anti-liberals, anti-“mass men,” are often mediocre people. What separates us from the cognitive misers is that we know what we don’t know, and we can — and do — distinguish between a creative process and a destructive one.

Conservatives seek to create and preserve things that create or preserve, and destroy things that destroy
Liberals seek to create or preserve things that destroy, and destroy things that create or preserve

Second thing that draws my attention for red-ink highlighting is this business about “the notion that everything has to pay for itself”; my critique here is a bit more complex, and it intertwines somewhat with the other. I disagree with the statement. Quite to the contrary: The poisonous ideologies that deluge us in recent times, concede quite readily that everything does not have to pay for itself. Not only do they insist upon this point, but they leverage it on the way to asserting other things, some of them reasonable and others absurd. It is not an accurate illustration of the true split. The true split, in fact, overlaps with the other thing, this distinction between creative processes and destructive ones. Or, non-creative ones.

When a guy who pulls radishes out of the ground, or runs the machine that makes toilet paper, or does something else that would get him an interview on Dirty Jobs…toils away all year long, failing to make even a fraction of what the Kardashian sisters make in one episode by producing moving electronic images of themselves arguing about a bunch o’ nothing — that situation is, I think, a stepping stone on the way to the toxic effect explored here. But lust for Nielsen ratings money is not the problem. The guy who crawls into the big sewer pipe to remove the last bits of used-food out of it, wants money too. Were he offered twice as much as he’s already getting, of course he’d take it, and who could blame him? We see here the origins of a problem that will eventually gum up the entire machinery that is the society in which we live: It pays a lot more to entertain, producing nothing but nonsense, than it does to produce goods and provide services that people actually need. The people living within the society, therefore, are encouraged to produce nonsense, rather than goods that other people need.

Such a society becomes a victim of its own success. People living within, can rely upon getting what they want and what they need. Because of this, they are drawn toward placing greater value upon the wants, taking the needs for granted. The mass-of-mass-men, therefore, goes rushing off headlong toward the Kardashians, toward Paris Hilton, toward…I dunno, that list probably needs updating in ways that require current information I don’t have. They go rushing off toward empty idols. These “cognitive misers” want to watch the empty-idols, and they want to become the empty-idols. Certainly, they manage to get the job done of compensating the empty-idols for being empty. Such material rewards do not find their way to the guy who cleans the filth out of their sewer pipes, nor to the guy who presses their toilet paper for them (so they can clog up the pipe again).

Ultimately, the mass moves where it moves, which means destructive — and non-productive — endeavors are richly and materially rewarded, whereas the productive ones are not. And here, I would meld my second-red-ink-target correction into that wonderful phrasing about “the satiation of…hindbrain appetites.” The productive things are not being provided, because the rewards for providing them are whittled down. Everybody sees a Kardashian, so everybody wants to be a Kardashian.

The way it’s supposed to work, of course, is that people are rewarded for doing productive things, and this provides an incentive for production. So the “everything has to pay for itself” dictum is not where the problem starts, the problem is a bit further down the line as the dictum is turned around & perverted. You can’t go to the football game until you get new tires on your car; it costs $200 to get the tires, and twice that for the seats at the football game. People freely give up the money for the seats at the game, and somehow feel resentful over giving up less money for something that can be used afterward on many other things. The “mass man” starts to see entertainment as a necessity; he sees true necessities, when they cost real money from time to time, as some kind of theft or other skulduggery. Why do new tires cost that much money? It should be more like $140 or something. And didn’t we put the last set on just eight years ago?

So the problem isn’t that everyone can vote and have a say. The problem is that when they can, they are asked about what’s important and what isn’t; being overfed, fat, spoiled and lazy, they don’t understand how to provide the necessary answers. So they vote on what’s fun. And not just in November of even-numbered years, the rest of the time they vote with their feet. About what’s fun.

Cognitive misers…seeing to the satiation of society’s hindbrain appetites. That’s good wording there. Artistic, and accurate.

Every Tech Commercial

Saturday, September 14th, 2013

Why Do Mothers Grieve When Their Children Grow?

Friday, September 13th, 2013

This gets into something personal. My Mother was, by all accounts including mine, a truly remarkable woman who acted a lot more like a capital-D Dad than a capital-M Mom in many ways. I mean, by that, the she built her relationships with my brother and me around an expectation of her own demise. Toward the end this became a necessity, as the tumor took hold in her brain and proved to be inoperable. But by this time we were in our late twenties, and of course she had to learn to “know” us long before then. Teaching us independence was always part of the equation.

Except, I must say, for laundry. She never did tell me why I shouldn’t use Tide. Guess that’s lost forever.

Anyway, in a lot of little ways it’s been brought to my attention that my Mom was unusual among mothers, and my understanding of the more typical mothering process has emerged a bit skewed.

Item: Well, there’s my own son, who has a capital-M Mom. I always make a point of spelling that pronoun with a capital-M, and I always make a point of reminding people that, in my world if in none other, there is meaning involved in this. Some moms and dads deserve lowercase m’s and d’s, because they do their parenting much the way a lazy caps-free typist does his typing. Like trying to copy e.e. cummings with every little keystroke. Every little demand for attention or energy is met with a spoken or unspoken “Why should I?” And so I try to do them the “honor” of giving them small m’s and d’s, because I doubt they’d have it any other way. But that is the burden to be borne by their kids. My kid deserves a Mom and Dad spelled with capital letters. I insist on it. I’m selfish that way. But — the kid is growing into an adult. Without going into too much detail about it, there are certain events that remind me that his two parents are coping with his new ambitions and abilities in different ways, and there is a distinct gender split emerging here. My own Dad says “Kidzmom” is grieving. Again: I didn’t have that kind of Mom, so this is something I don’t understand, and I’m unique in not understanding it. Just about everyone else who ever had a m/Mother, of whatever flavor, is in a superior position to clue me in. I’m uniquely ignorant. Everyone with a belly button knows more. Grieving?? WTF?

However. Second item:

One of the few experiences upon which I can draw, is from when I was learning to drive. Learner’s permit in hand, I would very often have the “idea” that I would drive us wherever we’d be going, and Mom would wail “Morgan, why do you always want to drive? It keeps leading to Dad yelling and you arguing.” This was, I think, the only time I ever saw this side of her: To keep the peace, don’t learn something. Like any other teenager, I was jealously guarding my stature as an emerging adult, thinking about destinies. I should enter adulthood not knowing how to drive, but having avoided fights with my Dad, that would’ve happened over other things anyway? How silly. What was Mom thinking? What the heck? Was this really my Mother? Was she wavering? With the benefit of hindsight and a bit more maturity, I realize a much simpler & more credible explanation exists in the spoken wisdom of Bill Cosby: “Parents are not interested in justice, they want quiet.”

Third item:

I have been unfriended on Facebook. That’s a bit unusual for me. And that isn’t because I’m most agreeable, I’m certainly not, it’s more likely because when I’m curmudgeonly and disagreeable, it’s pretty easy to see that coming miles down the road and so I don’t have too many friends I shouldn’t be having. This was probably a “friending” that never should’ve been done in the first place. The friend, a Mom who I’d always considered to be a capital-M type, was bursting with pride because her daughter made some big advances in speech. The girl’s been in special-ed because she’s been a few years behind in this delicate talent. I really thought this was wonderful news, and unfortunately made the inquiry about the time-line for potentially mainstreaming. Well, it’s been brought to my attention, in this particular case and perhaps in general, that this is a big faux pas. It seems there is a reason why kids in special ed are not supposed to be mainstreamed. And this has to do with the maternal relationship, which is expected to have been crafted according to this premise that requiring special education is part of the child’s identity. It logically follows that any vision for mainstreaming is tantamount to a vision for the child to be abducted in the middle of the night and replaced with some doppleganger or other such interloper…who might not require the special education. But because of that, wouldn’t be the same child. Wishing for a child to be mainstreadmed, is like wishing for the child to be replaced. Big no-no. Well, now I know.

In this day and age, when the genders are quickly becoming interchangeable, and we have masculine women and effeminate men, gender stereotypes are becoming treacherous and unreliable. But, typically, a d/Dad is not going to relate to the children that way, if he’s around. The male-parent tendency is to relate to the kids the way my Mom related to me: Good, you can do something you didn’t know how to do a week ago. That does not mean you’re dead; that means you’re going to be less of a pain in the ass. Cheers!

Fourth item:

Another Facebook friend became noticeably piqued with me, although she didn’t go to the extreme of e-mail-yelling “Thanks for crapping on my daughter’s special day Morgan” and unfriending me, when I linked to this with a derogatory reference to “helicopter moms”:

Am I early for pick-up?…I’m used to an army of harassed looking mums and dads jostling for first contact with their little ones, but all I see is a small cluster of middle-aged people staring at their feet. Then it dawns on me why no one is here. And when I reali[z]e what’s going on it feels like a bucket of cold water has been poured over my head. Parents don’t pick up children at senior school, do they? They make their own way home. And the thought of my 11-year-old doing this makes me feel physically sick.
:
I lurched past the hordes to cuddle her, but the look of fear in her eyes stopped me in my tracks. The little girl who used to let me blow bubbles on her tummy was finally gone.

Like the melancholy sadness at the end of summer, this rite of passage feels unbearably poignant. I miss that little girl so much and I don’t feel we ever had a chance to say goodbye. [bold emphasis mine]

It’s clear that the whole point of the column is that there are a lot of people who can relate to this. I can’t even come close; I just don’t get it. I see old videos of my sixteen-year-old when he was eight, or four, or two, much shorter and shaped differently, and not able to do things. And I think: That is just so cool, look at all he’s learned since then. It’s one of those situations where different people look at exactly the same thing, and see different things because of their different backgrounds, values, and perspectives.

“Miss that little girl so much?” What the…?

Fifth item:

Yet another Facebook friend, a male, posts:

Heh. My oldest boy is on the phone, asking a girl on a date. My wife is LOSING HER FUCKING MIND. “My baby’s too young to be asking girls out!”

Looks like time is progressing.

There it is again. Now, I’ve only had lunch with this fellow one time, when he happened to be in town, and I’ve never met the wife. But I’ve known of them for awhile, my esteem for her runs high, and it would be an understatement to say I have way too much respect for her to start calling her a small-m mom, or a “helicopter mom,” or anything derogatory like that. Besides the respect/esteem thing, I know it wouldn’t be accurate. Among the many reasons she’s made a favorable impression on me, are anecdotes about parenting. It’s pretty obvious the husband is one lucky sonofabitch. He says so, and he must know something about it…and it looks that way…

Nevertheless, helicopter-mom behavior is what it is. “My baby’s too young”? I recall the m/Mom of one of my friends saying something to mine, along the lines of “If Dan wants to build a nuclear bomb in his bedroom, my big deal is that he not make too much noise or leave a mess.” My Mom agreed. In the wake of the Columbine incident, I realize that looks like something very far removed from what it really was; in the early eighties, building bombs in bedrooms was not closely associated with actually hurting people, unless you had aspirations for joining Weather Underground, Symbionese Liberation Army, or something like that. If you engaged in behavior stereotypically associated with hurting people, you might be stocking up on serial-killer apparatus like a tire iron, duct tape and a tan Volkswagen Beetle. Building a bomb meant trying to build a bomb. It was implicitly understood in the Mom Community that the big worry wasn’t an explosion, it had more to do with a mess. Plutonium in the living room, no place to set anything down…can’t find the remote…and all that. Point is: Neither one of them would have said something like “my baby is too young to build a thermonuclear device.”

I made a comment earlier that nowadays, with the gender roles being intermixed, faded out, occasionally reversed, stereotypes are becoming unreliable. Perhaps it is more accurate in some ways to say, the male and female roles still mean something, and it has become our default predisposition to define the male role and then make it irrelevant. To geld it.

To frown upon it, to bat some angry eyelashes at it, to shake a big fuzzy magenta head at it, unless & until it complies. Complies with the protocols by making itself absolutely ineffectual, voluntarily. By evolving to become indistinguishable from the female meanderings. To do what it is told, and nothing else.

Like the mahna mahna guy:

I realize it is in our nature to fear what we do not understand, and there can be error involved in that. And I don’t understand mothers who “grieve,” as in, act as if their children have ceased to exist, when the children stand on the cusp of learning how to do things they didn’t know how to do before. I note, apart from the plain and simple fact that this is what children are supposed to do, that we live in an age in which the female sensibility & value system, where it is different from the male varieties, is expected to prevail. That’s usually a harmless thing. Females can be right about things; they may know more than the males; if they know far less, they still might have something in mind that will eventually work.

But being emotionally invested in the next generation being weak and incapable, clearly, is something that over the long term isn’t going to work. It worries me because it is a vision toward expansion of something we already have in great abundance, and for which our economic demand throughout the decades is bound to be lacking; and shrinkage of something else, for which our demand is much higher, which is already in critically short supply. The expansion is going to be of weak, incapable people who can’t do things, and the shrinkage is going to be of talented, creative people who can build and fix things. The abundance, as well as the shortage, in the moments in which I’m writing this, are already at crisis levels. Exacerbating that imbalance can’t lead to anything good.

For all of society’s sake, we need to find ways to help these m/Mothers grieve when their children learn how to do new things. If they have to do this kind of grieving as if the child has actually died, my place is not to reason why, but perhaps it is advantageous for us all to help them get over it & move on. Our children deserve nothing less. They don’t need more obstacles, more “jump-through hoops,” more hurdles, on the way toward learning new things. They’re already having a tough time, I think.

Perhaps I can make my first million selling little cardboard coffins, a foot long or so, so the family can hold little mock-funerals in the back yard? With crying and everything? Organ music? Would that help?

The male-friend’s response when I proposed this over the IM was, and I quote: “OH HOLY SHIT I WILL INVEST.” Huh. Maybe I’m on to something. I do have to say, if I’m going to start my own business, I’d prefer it be in something I understood just a bit better than I understand this. On the other hand, a need is a need is a need, right?.

“Home Training”

Friday, September 13th, 2013

Gregory Kane writes in the National Examiner:

Consider this a “sagging pants” tale.

A while back, Don Lemon, an on-air personality for CNN News, boldly sallied forth into the cauldron about American racial and cultural mores.

Specifically, Lemon offered five pieces of advice to black American men. They were:

1. Stop wearing sagging pants.

2. Stop saying the n-word.

3. Stop littering.

4. Finish high school.

5. Have fewer children out of wedlock.

Though I was a bit confused about Lemon point number three, I have to admit the other four all amounted to cogent, sound advice.

Black liberal cognoscenti tended to disagree. They skewered Lemon, almost unmercifully at times.

Music mogul Russell Simmons’ response was to call Lemon a “slave” and then imply the CNN personality is black America’s enemy number one.

All Lemon was doing was offering advice to young black men about how to make themselves more employable in the job market.

A lot of what passes for “liberalism” nowadays amounts to little more than narrow-mindedness. Draw a tight circle around accepted “underdog” ideas, and refuse to entertain anything from outside of that tight, tight circle, under any circumstance whatsoever. Everything inside that circle is a “hill I wanna die on,” even though most of it’s just a bunch of junk; clogs skewered from the drainpipe; diapers pulled from the swimming pool filter; chaff separated from the wheat. Residue. Detritus. Counter-culture nonsense. Crap.

It’s just truckloads and truckloads of “must” floating around, without the vital balloon-anchoring companion to that intoxicating and fun word, “in-order-to.” Metric tons of supercilious command without so much as a gram of genuine, practical rationale.

Which was aptly illustrated in the tale Kane heard second-hand:

This young man, whom I’ll give the name Jack, had the habit of wearing his pants in that sagging-down-over-the-rear-end style.

So it came to pass one day that the lead dispatcher called Jack into the office. The topic of discussion was Jack’s pants, and how he was wearing them.

“Pull ‘em up,” the dispatcher told Jack. And he did, but not before subjecting his fellow workers to a lot of his grousing and kvetching.

“I’m a grown-ass man,” he hissed, prompting some of his co-workers to wonder why he didn’t dress like one.

Jack is a young black male in his 20s. He failed to notice the difference between him and his black male co-workers who were in their 30s, 40s, 50s and 60s.

All of them wore their pants up around their waists, where their pants should have been.

Nor did Jack notice that the two black male office managers – men not much older than he is – also wore their pants up around their waists.

As might be predicted, all of Jack’s black male co-workers – including the dispatcher who brought him to heel – still work for the company in question.

Jack does not.

Kane parts with some thoughts worthy of careful consideration, by anybody, of all ages, regardless of skin color:

I remember when black Americans used to talk about home training all the time. Actually, we talked about the lack of it.

Whenever we saw someone out in public acting either the fool or shamelessly and disgracefully, we’d shake our heads in pity and proclaim, “No home training.”

Anyone – no matter race, ethnicity or gender – who sallies forth into the streets wearing his or her pants down over the butt has shown a total ignorance of Home Training 101.

I look, with cautious optimism, at the “sagging pants” fad as something that’s come & gone. I live in a western, urban area, so my information is probably somewhat okay there. If this hasn’t disappeared altogether — and what ever does, really? — it seems to have dried up, having isolated whatever is left of it into smaller pockets within the first-world.

Although, boy, it sure did hang around a long time. Heh. “Hang around,” I made a funny.

Fashion history will not look back on it favorably. The whole thing was just stupid. You want to look tough, so you dress like a prison gay-sex toy. You want to look like a gangsta or hoodlum or graffiti tagger or thief, or someone else operating outside the law, so you wear your pants so you can’t run. And, yeah, if the C.O.P.S. episodes are any indication, yes it does actually work out that way. Just dumb.

The Passive-Voice 9-11 Anniversaries

Thursday, September 12th, 2013

Out of respect to the memories of the fallen and their friends & families, I’ve been biting my tongue on this. Now that it’s September 12, I have to say: I’m at the point where I dread 9/11 commemoration ceremonies.

My beef is not that we’re remembering. Quite the opposite. I want this to be remembered across the generations, just like Pearl Harbor. Pearl was, after all, a slaughter of thousands of innocents; so was this. But as I see one September 11 after another passing us by, like boxcars on a moving train heading into our past, I’m noticing a trend in the ceremonies and it seems to be a trend in motion. Perhaps it’s just my imagination, or my perspective as I become more sensitized to it. But there is an appearance that with each year, there is greater and greater weight placed on the tragedy of these three thousand lives, with so much potential for living ahead of them, prematurely snuffed out — and less & less emphasis placed on how unnatural this was. That this was a man-made act, not a bridge collapsing or a storm wiping out a crowded metropolitan area or a giant lizard crushing it underfoot. To borrow some words from our current President, “someone else made that happen.” That part is losing emphasis. Oh yes, the ceremonies are somber by their very nature and there are reasons why we don’t dwell on this. I get all that. But erosion is erosion, and when it’s erosion of something so important, I have to question whether the mission of propriety is being achieved.

I have no idea what I can recommend as a solution to the problem I’m calling out. Memorial services are occasions on which we try to achieve some healing, and we need to heal our divisions as well as our spiritual wounds. We should be trying to come together, and we don’t do that when we swear blood feuds on other countries, or terror organizations, or individuals. But the problem is there, for sure. Our divisions are not being healed when all’s said & done. After the crowds disperse and the ornaments are put away and all the other take-down chores are completed, people go from September 12 to September 10 of the next year solidly ensconced into their respective sides alongside the deep and wide fissure. Which is demarcated by the question: Just how precious is human life, anyway? It’s nice that we all agree we should be sad when it’s snuffed out. But is it worth defending? Vigorously? Swiftly?

Terribly?

And if it cannot be defended, is it worth avenging?

Taking Care o' BusinessI completely understand the concerns of people who respond in the negative, for sake of something called “peace.” Well here’s another question: When you sacrifice something for peace, but swear you’ll always honor the memory of whatever you’ve sacrificed for it, and then the period of peace eventually ends as so many eras of peace in human history have; hasn’t this immortal memory then been effectively obliterated? Robbed of its supposed immortality? And if that be the case, would this not be a betrayal? Aren’t these all things that should find consideration within us, as we ponder the price of the latest peace?

The culture within our country, in fact the one that spans several countries throughout the civilized world, is being deluged lately by a kind of “death worship.” However distasteful it may be to ponder that death worshipers are invading memorial ceremonies, and I suppose that may mean it’s distasteful to suggest it as well — it’s hard to dismiss it as a possibility. There is a sickening surfeit, in every sound clip of these solemn occasions, of passive-voice statements like “his/her life was so tragically taken away” or “cut short.” To get the real story, you have to sit down in isolation, and read. One article I saw yesterday beautifully described the everyday life of the pilot of Flight 77, and then dropped the bomb that is the best intelligence we’ve gathered to date: Mohammed Atta killed him by slashing his throat.

That’s clearly not fitting for a large, general, assembled audience, and not at all comforting to the man’s family. You can’t read that aloud at a memorial service. I said earlier I don’t have a solution in mind for the problem, I only know the problem is real. Because the fact that someone conspired and then acted to make all this happen — is important. It matters. It’s part of the memory because it’s part of the event.

In the first few years after the attacks, I heard the phrase “never again” quite a few times. Didn’t have to wait long for yet another utterance of it, in fact. It would be nice to hear something like that again, from someone in a position of authority, whose decisions matter.

With that not happening, I am gleaning from the tributes a terrible unspoken overtone, more unsettling than any outburst about throat-cutting: That we’re all just — here. We’re teeming with life and that’s wonderful, if the life gets cut short that makes a lot of other people really sad. But it’s not like there’s any actual point to it all. We’re just kinda like grubs in a log, hoping we don’t get scooped out by a predator. But whatever happens, happens.

We know we have peers, colleagues, neighbors and fellow countrymen who have always thought exactly this. We argue with them, and they argue with us, about all sorts of tangential issues — military action, social spending, judicial activism, union work rules, abortion, euthanasia, prayer in public schools, the Obama family vacations — when in reality, we’re arguing about that underlying question. What is life? Is there a point to it? Are we sentient beings with dignity and purpose, or are we just grubs in a rotting log?

Recordings of broadcasts from years ago, strongly suggest to me I’m not getting more sensitized. There is a real movement I’m seeing, a movement toward the passive-voice memorial service. And that, in turn, suggests the nihilists are coming out on top in this schism…without even directly addressing the question. Winning the war without firing a shot. And using a most distasteful battleground to do it, each eleventh day of every ninth month.

It has been suggested that the reason we were attacked in the first place, far from having anything to do with occupation of some far-off land, or our Hollywood sluts promoting degeneracy, or our support for Israel, is nothing more or less than our respect for the power and autonomy of the individual. Every baby born, no matter how or where, may grow up to be President. Or to do something wonderful, like cure cancer. Americans believe the potential is there, and it exists at the level of the individual. I don’t know how you go about proving or refuting the idea that this was the primary motivation of the terrorists. Individualism is a concept that exists universally, in all societies, in some form whether the mad mullahs wish to acknowledge it or not — each jihadi can figure out for himself why he wants to choke the life out of the serpent that is the Great Satan. But if that’s the case, then it logically follows that there’s something to this concern I have, for it would be another piece of evidence that the attacks are still in the process of reaching success, years and years later, in their goal at inception: To derogate the individual. That’s one thing the statists, over there, have in common with our statists over here. At both sides of the globe the statist nurtures a fondness for passive-voice statements over active-voice statements, and a preference for the rights, privileges, dignity and concerns of the collective, over that of the individuals within it.

The Nine-Thirteen Republican

Wednesday, September 11th, 2013

Thoughts about how liberals do their thinking, and how it relates to the 9-11 attacks, from Catherine Wilkinson at Victory Girls Blog, who in turn is inspired by Evan Sayet.

“If it was stupidity, they’d be right more often.” “How do they think they’re making a better world?”

They’re wrong on every issue, predictably, and by design. Granted a lot of them aren’t consciously aware of it.

Reminds me of something I jotted down a bit earlier. And, since.

An Excellent Question From Michelle Malkin

Wednesday, September 11th, 2013

Who just goes ahead and asks

Before we head to Syria to avenge the mass murder of their kids, how about we finish avenging ours?

Powerful opening. And on the way to a strong finish, she makes some salient observations:

That’s the unapologetic vigilance America was supposed to have adopted after the towers fell, the planes crashed and the ashes choked the air. Instead, America’s leaders have allowed jihadists to make a mockery of justice. Muslim Brotherhood radicals waltz freely in and out of the nation’s capital. Border security remains a joke. A functioning entry-exit program for foreign visa-holders is still nonexistent. There still is no systemic, coherent and unapologetic plan to keep Islamic radicals from spreading their hate and endangering Americans in our military, prisons and schools.

I’m sick of 9/11 anniversary ceremonies by politicians who pay lip service to peace and justice for our country, but refuse to secure them all the way, every day. Remembrance is worthless without resolve. Resolve is useless without action.

Want to honor the 9/11 dead? Take care of unfinished business here at home. Put America first.

Much good stuff between the endpoints. Might not make you happy, but might alter some perspectives on the remembrances today.

“Because Obama”

Wednesday, September 11th, 2013

From an entry at Instapundit, brought to my attention thanks to Lance at Small Dead Animals.

“Just Sayin'”

Tuesday, September 10th, 2013

She called it.

It’s always a huge red flag when large throngs of people are feeling super smart, just for climbing on a bandwagon, especially if it involves them all heckling some common target of ridicule. And when their underlying argument is little more than pointing to everyone else in the bandwagon and saying something like “everybody thinks so.” You see that, odds are you’re seeing a long, dragged-out slow-motion car wreck.

But I guess some people never matured past the eighth grade or something…

From Best of Cain.

The Fausts

Sunday, September 8th, 2013

I am reluctant to call them “tokens,” although many of them are that. “Token” has a specific implication, though, and anybody who’s been following Affirmative Action issues anytime over the last forty years or so knows exactly what it is: You put a designated-minority-class member on a panel that would otherwise be lacking in this cosmetic “diversity,” and from then on you can point to something should anyone accuse you of missing this; the token may or may not be really bringing this diverse make-up, he or she may or may not have equivalent decision-making power. But you get to point, if ever that should be advantageous. Hence the name, token. Tokens are Fausts, provided they are knowingly and willingly made into tokens. All Fausts are not necessarily tokens.

Andrew Klavan (hat tip to…somebody…insert hat tip here as soon as I remember how I found this) has a different word for them: Suckers!

I’m thinking of carrying Wall Street Journal economic writer Stephen Moore’s latest column in my pocket. Then when leftists tell me about “equality,” and “income disparity,” I can take it out, roll it up, and beat them across the nose with it shouting, “What did you do? What did you do?”
:
People like me tend to make esoteric arguments for the free market — private property is the basis of freedom, equality is the trait of slaves and so on. But it is also true that, with light, smart regulation, free markets work better than anything else. For those blacks, Hispanics, young people and single women who were convinced otherwise? Wakey-wakey, sweethearts. You’ve been had.

Let us take a gander at the cudgel Klaven would be using across those Faust-sucker faces as he shouts “what did you do?”:

For better or worse, a truism of American politics is that voters vote their pocketbooks. Yet according to a new report on median household incomes by Sentier Research, in 2012 millions of American voters apparently cast ballots contrary to their economic self-interest.

Each month the consultants at Sentier analyze the numbers from the Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey and estimate the trend in median annual household income adjusted for inflation. On Aug. 21, Sentier released “Household Income on the Fourth Anniversary of the Economic Recovery: June 2009 to June 2013.” The finding that grabbed headlines was that real median household income “has fallen by 4.4 percent since the ‘economic recovery’ began in June 2009.” In dollar terms, median household income fell to $52,098 from $54,478, a loss of $2,380.

What was largely overlooked, however, is that those who were most likely to vote for Barack Obama in 2012 were members of demographic groups most likely to have suffered the steepest income declines. Mr. Obama was re-elected with 51% of the vote. Five demographic groups were crucial to his victory: young voters, single women, those with only a high-school diploma or less, blacks and Hispanics. He cleaned up with 60% of the youth vote, 67% of single women, 93% of blacks, 71% of Hispanics, and 64% of those without a high-school diploma, according to exit polls.

According to the Sentier research, households headed by single women, with and without children present, saw their incomes fall by roughly 7%. Those under age 25 experienced an income decline of 9.6%. Black heads of households saw their income tumble by 10.9%, while Hispanic heads-of-households’ income fell 4.5%, slightly more than the national average. The incomes of workers with a high-school diploma or less fell by about 8% (-6.9% for those with less than a high-school diploma and -9.3% for those with only a high-school diploma).

This dovetails nicely with the bit of information found (through a bit of an off-topic bunny trail) in yesterday morning’s meandering through the latest Burt Prelutsky column.

During the first two years of the nation’s economic recovery, the mean net worth of households in the upper 7% of the wealth distribution rose by an estimated 28%, while the mean net worth of households in the lower 93% dropped by 4%, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of newly released Census Bureau data.

From 2009 to 2011, the mean wealth of the 8 million households in the more affluent group rose to an estimated $3,173,895 from an estimated $2,476,244, while the mean wealth of the 111 million households in the less affluent group fell to an estimated $133,817 from an estimated $139,896.

These wide variances were driven by the fact that the stock and bond market rallied during the 2009 to 2011 period while the housing market remained flat.

Affluent households typically have their assets concentrated in stocks and other financial holdings, while less affluent households typically have their wealth more heavily concentrated in the value of their home.

From the end of the recession in 2009 through 2011 (the last year for which Census Bureau wealth data are available), the 8 million households in the U.S. with a net worth above $836,033 saw their aggregate wealth rise by an estimated $5.6 trillion, while the 111 million households with a net worth at or below that level saw their aggregate wealth decline by an estimated $0.6 trillion.

Notice that the observations made, are different. The former contrasts the demographic groups likely to have voted for His Majesty, against the general population; the latter contrasts median-area measurements like “the housing market” and households with net worth below $836k, against those on the upper side of that same line. The conclusion validated by viewing from these two vantage points, however, is common: Barack Obama is a stinky hot poison on the nation’s economy, most especially where it is supposed to benefit whatever He is calling His constituency on any given day. Working families, working folks, you, you all, everybody else, everyone, vast majority…

Of course, anyone who isn’t inclined to support Mister Wonderful, is not part of the intended audience. He’s talking to the angry people who voted for Him and His pals.

Hurley Rocks the Schoolteacher FantasyThe original Faust was not starving, he was “bored and disappointed.” The Dudley Moore and Brendan Fraser versions were sickened by a spate of unrequited infatuation, and wanted the object of affection to notice them. The Obama-voting Fausts are not starving either. They like to play it that way, and there’s some legitimacy to it in the sense that some of them are genuinely frightened of losing access to health care resources when they need them the most. But the resentment felt by the have-nots against the haves has not aged very well at all, especially here in the United States. Our is a country distinguished, almost magically, from the layers of human history that came before it. It is truly a miraculous place. Bold, italics: Our poor people are fat. That truism, all by itself, pushes us way, way outside the wildest hopes and dreams of any civilization that has ever existed before.

And yet the lefty-Faust fantasy of the never-ending revolution, with the Robin Hood busting open the Sheriff of Nottingham’s coffers of ill-gotten coins, to be scooped up by the poor put-upon peasants for whom he so tirelessly toils, endures. With all of the inter-class resentment, burning white hot, also never-ending. Day after day, year after year, it’s always the last moment of darkness before the dawn, we’re always just on the cusp of spreading around the lucre, making everything “equal” and “fair,” comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable.

But in the same way Faust’s bargain didn’t work out for him in the long run, it doesn’t work out here either. The comfortable get more comfort, and the afflicted suffer greater affliction. Robin Hood, it seems, is stealing more coins from the peasants, and splitting it with the Sheriff.

The Syria silliness ties in with this, in the sense that we now have iron-clad proof that the Bush-era war protests had nothing whatsoever to do with opposition to war, and were all about getting democrats elected. That isn’t true across the board, though: The true grassroots people, here and there, may genuinely believe in the anti-war premises. And they may be genuinely angry about what’s going on now, like they were then. But they’re the non-organizing subclasses. The candlelight vigils and the marches and the protests aren’t quite happening. And the anger isn’t quite so personalized. George W. Bush was this icon of evil, Barack Obama somehow is this golf-playing nice guy trying to reform a slimy sinister Washington that’s doing all this bad stuff, and “doing the best He can.”

It’s sickening watching this sales job go “forward,” again and again, spinning its little cycle. The government, someone once observed, is a problem masquerading as its own solution. Example: Why is health care so hard to get hold of nowadays, anyway? Has it always been like that? You don’t have to talk to anybody with too much hair growing out of the ears to find out: Em, no. The market got screwed up after our government started “fixing” it. Then someone made a Faustian bargain. And now, when you go get a new job, you’re almost more worried about the health care “benefits” than you are about the base salary. A lot of people getting those new jobs have reason to be. And in the Obamaconomy, they’re the lucky ones.

The solutions are put in place, and they achieve the exact opposite of what they were supposed to. The “Fausts” can be counted-on, apparently, to fail to notice this, just like a bowling ball dropped can be counted-on to reach the ground. A new round of solutions is proposed, assured to make the existing problems worse, and the Fausts fall in line yet one more time as the comfortable become more comfortable and the afflicted become more afflicted. On and on it goes. Nobody’s got a reason to slow down, let alone stop, since the comfortable have a livelihood going on it, and the afflicted fail to remember. You fall for it once, then twice, you may as well fall for it a thousand times.

I think Ayn Rand wrote something down about this. Let me look it up…ah, here it is

It only stands to reason that where there’s sacrifice, there’s someone collecting the sacrificial offerings. Where there’s service, there is someone being served. The man who speaks to you of sacrifice is speaking of slaves and masters, and intends to be the master.

The biggest lie in what we now call liberalism is that the expressions of concern are sincere. There are people in the anti-war movement who care about wars not happening where they can be avoided — but they are not the coordinators. There are people in it who care about the suffering of those who can’t get health care, but they are not the organizers. There are people who care about women and ethnic minorities being under-represented in positions of prestige, leisure and power. But they do not decide the policy. They’re all a bunch of Fausts, and at the end of it, not only do they fail to achieve their goals, they also fail to achieve the respect from their peers and their communities, for having at least tried.

Seems to be that last failure that perplexes them most of all. But they deserve to achieve that less than anything else. It’s hard to look respectable with a hook sticking out of your mouth.

Burt Prelutsky Bought a New Dishwasher

Saturday, September 7th, 2013

…and hilarity ensued.

…a few days later, I received a notice from the L.A, Department of Building and Safety, informing me that I had to make an appointment so that a city inspector could come out and make certain the job was done correctly. That entailed my making a call and dealing with a couple of electronic voices before reaching an actual person, who let me know that I had to allow for a six-hour window, but would be receiving a call the following morning that would narrow it down to a two-hour time frame.

As promised, I received the call. The inspector would be showing up between 11 and 1. And, so, he did, at 12:56. I led him to the kitchen. He took one look at the exterior of the dishwasher, said it looked okay to him and turned to leave.

“Hold on,” I said. “That’s it? You only needed to see that we had it?”

“There’s really nothing to check. It’s like plugging in a toaster.”

Funny how some people insist they don’t get anything for their tax dollars. How about peace of mind? Don’t try telling me or my wife that we won’t be sleeping better tonight knowing that it wasn’t a figment of our imagination; we’ve now had it confirmed by a city inspector that we actually have a brand new dishwasher!

But this is much bigger than dishwashers. No, I don’t think it’s a sinister conspiracy to keep people from going to work, or to create a bunch of jobs that don’t have anything to do with accomplishing anything. Although, certainly, lack of respect for productive work does have something to do with it. Just, no conspiracy of any kind. I swear, the older I get, the more I see of human weakness, the more hostile I become against the very concept of a conspiracy. The discretion and skill required to keep things coordinated and secret…that level is, like, way-up-here…and what I see humans successfully pulling off, is way-down-there.

I should add: Generally. There are isolated cases of secrets successfully kept, and traps successfully sprung.

But that’s more an exception than a rule. It certainly doesn’t apply to the by-the-book-dumbth of sending s city inspector out to make sure a dishwasher is present and accounted-fer. That, there, is a human weakness.

As I’ve said before a few times, in places I’m too lazy to go out and find: We, as an advanced, civilized society, have shown an amazing deftness when it comes to diagnosing things as mental/behavioral disabilities/disorders, that really aren’t, and failing to diagnose things that arguably are. This one, I contend, is: The weird boundless faith some people place in “oversight.” The guys who work for the store that sells the dishwasher, which in turn makes its profits form the sales of the dishwasher, hook the thing up — but who the heck knows if they did it right? They could have screwed up any one of a number of things. We don’t even know their names. So…this other guy whose name we also don’t know, but who works for a local government and not for the store that sells the dishwasher, checks it and now that makes it all okay.

I could see it if the argument went something like: The store has a concern, the government has a different concern, so if they both look at the same thing and come to the same conclusion about it, then we enjoy the benefits of this stereo-validation, if you will…that would make some sense to me. But that is not the argument, as best I can tell. The argument is more like, the city inspector can be trusted and the store cannot. And that’s where it looks to me like a mental illness. Which of those two parties has a stake in the damn thing working the way it should? Which one doesn’t? Like, duh.

Just something to keep in mind, next time a statist starts yammering about the benefits of regulation and proper oversight, and “Without Government We Wouldn’t Have _____” (fourth column, fourth row on the Bingo card).

Prelutsky, wandering from topic to topic as is his wont, goes on to make an observation:

Speaking of which, under Obama, the richest 7% of Americans have seen their wealth increase by 28% since 2008, while the other 93% have seen their net wealth decrease by 4%. Is it any wonder that the seven percenters donated so generously to his re-election campaign and why Hollywood’s pampered poodles all go gaga over him?

Confirmation sought, and found. My goodness, I thought Obama was a liberal and liberals, it has been said, have always been about equality. Again and again, we see evidence that if this was ever true, it no longer is. Liberalism as we know it today is about control. It is about the few dictating the actions, obligations, and customs of the many.

The liberalism we know today, is about statism. It is about having a city inspector come by to properly notice things, his words carrying infinite weight, while the guys who work for the store that sold the dishwasher can’t be relied upon for anything at all. I mean heck, without an inspector following up, who knows maybe those store-guys just crammed a big beach ball in there, and then urinated all over it. The inspector can be trusted, they can’t. Is it fair to call that a liberal idea? It certainly isn’t a conservative one.

From my bullet points on this:

• Conservatives have more respect for occupations that create assets, and defend the realm
• Liberals somehow reserve their respect for occupations that do not do this

That particular pattern should be a fragile one. Surprisingly, it holds up rather well. It applies here. Dishwasher guys are producing something of value. City inspector guy might be a decent swell guy and all, working hard, and his work might be very important and applicable in other settings. But that work doesn’t have to do with creating new assets or defending the realm. And from noticing the patterns, we see a likely cause-and-effect relationship — which even at this late date, I still cannot explain, in solid, likely terms — that because this is unproductive work, we have these fellow citizens of ours, toiling away like Sisyphus pushing the boulder up the mountain, to make that work relevant when it isn’t.

So no, it isn’t a conspiracy. Call it a…human foible. Kind of a reflex-motion of sorts.

Vindication for Romney

Saturday, September 7th, 2013

Buzzfeed:

During the campaign, [Mitt] Romney frequently criticized Obama for foolishly attempting to make common cause with the Kremlin, and repeatedly referred to Russia as “our number one geopolitical foe.”

Many observers found this fixation strange, and Democrats tried to turn it into a punchline…in an October debate, [Pres. Barack] Obama sarcastically mocked his opponent’s Russia rhetoric. “The 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back because the Cold War’s been over for 20 years,” the president quipped at the time.

That line still chafes Robert O’Brien, a Los Angeles lawyer and friend of Romney’s who served as a foreign policy adviser.

“Everyone thought, Oh my goodness that is so clever and Mitt’s caught in the Cold War and doesn’t know what he’s talking about,” O’Brien said. “Well guess what. With all of these foreign policy initiatives — Syria, Iran, [Edward] Snowden — who’s out there causing problems for America? It’s Putin and the Russians.”

Not sure what Romney’s role is from here-on-out. If there isn’t going to be one for him, then whatever vindication comes about from this, would be functionally meaningless.

I’d like to think of it as a slap in the face, not quite so much to Obama, as to this weird fatalistic “low information voter and proud of it” cultural leitmotif upon which He was drawing with that “1980’s called” comeback. Just act apathetic and surly against any unwelcome observation, concern or inquiry that comes along, and everything will all turn out alright and you can sort of “myeh” your way through life. I guess we’re all like that at some time or another. I’m occasionally fighting that battle with my sixteen-year-old. Trying to get it across that some things are real problems, and have to be anticipated. Tough sell.

It is disconcerting, to say the least, to see our sitting President showing the same ignore-it-away attitude…during a live, televised debate. That’s a sign that a cultural disease has taken hold. Hope now we’re on the mend, or will be soon.

The Best Hug

Saturday, September 7th, 2013

By way of Gawker:

“Yes, I’m on the highway,” Aaron Arias first told a Kaufman County Sheriff’s Office dispatcher. “I’m witnessing a robbery; not a robbery — a kidnapping.”

Arias, a 19-year-old college student, and Jamal Harris, 17, a Seagoville high school student, noticed the woman in the back seat of a car at a stoplight in Seagoville.

“It’s me and another guy, so we’re checking out the girl in the backseat because, we’re like, ‘OK, she’s kind of attractive,'” Arias said. “And then, all of the sudden, you know, the guy is turned back, looking at us.”

The woman, 25, was kidnapped on Aug. 22 near Bryan Street after she left a downtown office building. About an hour later, from the backseat of her car, she drew the attention of Arias and Harris.

The woman looked panicked and was “saying, ‘Help me,’ or something, whispering it,” Arias told the 911 operator.

The teens followed the woman’s car down U.S. 175 until police caught up with them in Kaufman.

“Oh my God, I’m hoping the car behind me is a police officer,” Arias said. “Nope, it’s not. Oh my God.”

But within seconds, officers arrived and pulled over the car with the woman and the man accused of kidnapping her.

“Thank God. You guys are awesome,” Arias said. “Oh my God. Oh my God. Get him! Oh my God.”

The suspect, Charles Atkins Lewis Jr., remains in jail on $50,000 bond. He is charged with aggravated kidnapping.

The woman was checked by paramedics but was unhurt.

Arias, a freshman at Texas A&M in Texarkana, ironically got a tattoo of the comic book antihero Deadpool the day before, he said in a telephone interview.

Arias said he met the woman at the scene after the rescue.

“She hugs us,” he remembered. “I would describe it as the best hug I have ever gotten.”

Checking out the girl in the back seat. Well, what a couple of sexist pigs. Somebody better get them some mandatory sensitivity training…

Bet she’s glad they were there, though.

Update: I think it might be worth pointing out…couple weeks ago, some scientific research emerged that said men aren’t pigs. We as a society would do well to question, how exactly is it we started thinking of men as pigs in the first place. Truly bad men, like the guy who was kidnapping the woman in the story above, did not encumber men with that reputation. The lookers and the oglers, like the teenagers who ended up rescuing the damsel in distress, were more responsible for that. Now that the behavior has led to something good, it might be worth pointing out that the behavior never was the problem, the problem was the collision between that behavior and a modern feminist expectation that it should not be happening. Put more simply: The expectation that men who look, or merely notice, or merely want to notice, are a threat.

We’re far too hospitable to that feminist expectation. It seems, at first blush, right-on. I’m initially inclined to accept it myself. Leering, after all, is rude.

The expectation becomes a problem, though, when it hardens and crystallizes into something risible: Men are to act uninterested, and be uninterested. All of the time. Until such time as a woman is interested in them, at which point the expectation is that they should…I dunno. Definitely not act uninterested anymore. Do stuff the interested woman would find acceptable, I guess…reciprocate, on demand, and don’t pay attention to any other women. From celibacy to monogamy, like a light switch getting flipped. Nobody ever describes the expectation that way. But that’s what it is. It isn’t realistic. And because it isn’t realistic, it’s harmful. Not just to men.

No self-reproducing species of vertebrate or invertebrate is held to this kind of a standard. Cats, dogs, pigs, horses, ferrets are not held to this standard. Human women are not held to this standard. But we live in a strange time in which the male of the species, in order not to be deemed harmful, must behave like a gelding until he’s given some limited license to behave otherwise. You see how, what seems at first blush to be a common-sense taboo formed around just basic good manners, quickly morphs into something not quite so harmless, not quite so reasonable. That’s the way it is with ideas that target classes of people.

Anyway. Since I’ve linked to that, it gives me another excuse to post the bartender photo.

Cyrus Biden Disease

Friday, September 6th, 2013

ages poorly.

Miley Cyrus is the last voice to speak out about her Video Music Awards performance on Aug. 29 and, perhaps unsurprisingly, the 20-year-old singer doesn’t see what the big fuss was all about.

“Me and Robin (Thicke) the whole time said, ‘You know, we’re about to make history right now,'” Cyrus said of her stage show in an exclusive interview with MTV, filmed on Monday.

“I don’t pay attention to the negative because I’ve seen this play out so many times … Madonna’s done it. Britney’s done it. Every VMA performance, that’s what you’re looking for; you’re wanting to make history.”

Cyrus caught flack for her raunchy stage show —which started with a rendition of her party anthem “We Can’t Stop,” but ended with the 20-year-old singer stripping down to a nude, butt-bearing ensemble, “twerking” and grabbing all over the married “Blurred Lines” crooner, and simulating oral sex with a foam finger.

“What’s amazing is I think now, we’re three days later and people are still talking about it,” Cyrus said.

“They’re overthinking it … You’re thinking about it more than I thought about it when I did it. Like, I didn’t even think about it ’cause that’s just me.”

Mom’s trying to spin it the same way.

Miley’s mom, Tish Cyrus is proud of daughter Miley. “I’m so proud of her, and just honestly, I’m in awe of who she’s become as a performer,” Tish said, according to Cross Map.

Tish Cyrus also expressed her “awe” of her daughter Miley after the VMAs 2013.

Before the performance, Tish dished on what it was like to be the mother of a pop star.

“Miley performing at the VMAs is so exciting,” Tish Cyrus told Gossipdavid before the show on Sunday. “It’s just fun for me to be here because it’s been two or three years since she put out a record, and it’s gone so crazy. I’m so excited for people to finally start seeing her as adult and performing, because it’s kind of mind-blowing – it’s huge.” Tish said.

The manager loved it.

Miley Cyrus’ raunchy performance at the VMAs may have caused a stir on the Internet, but her manager, Larry Rudolph, is pleased with the outcome.

“We were all cheering from the side of the stage…It could not have gone better. The fans got it. The rest eventually will.”

But there’s no getting around the fact that rock bottom is rock bottom.

An older generation used to call the boredom of bad habits “reaching rock bottom”; the present variant perhaps is “jumping the shark” — that moment when the tiresome gimmicks no longer work, and the show is over.

In a moral sense, Miley Cyrus reached that tipping point for America, slapping us into admitting that most of our popular icons are crass, talentless bores, and that our own tastes, which created them, lead nowhere but to oblivion.

After all, what does an affluent and leisured culture do when it has nothing much to rebel against?

That was poor Ms. Cyrus’s recent dilemma at the MTV awards ceremony. There are no real rules about popular dance anymore: no set steps, no moves borrowed from ballet, not even a few adaptations from scripted square dancing. It is all free-form wiggling and gyrating — twerking — as if to shout out, “Who are you to say that fake screwing in a vinyl bikini is not dance?”

All who want to debate the question, can help themselves by admitting defeat a bit earlier by way of the test in my opening statement: Aging. Once the spectacle dazzles and disgusts, worry not about who’s “overthinking it” or “got it” or is fiddling while the empire burns, but instead: Is it brandy or fruit?

What’s going to happen at the next VMAs? It is true that if there is a recovery in store for us, we should expect it to take a good long time to get started. They usually do. It’s a lot of inertia. So we can expect much the same level of culture next year…and that’s unfortunate. But we we can safely presume no one will be trying to top it. No one is going to be sent out on stage to “do what Miley did.”

In 2016, nobody is going to be sent out to a presidential or vice-presidential debate to do it the way Biden did it. Easy call. NOW, it is. Hence my comment about aging. In the hours and days after Biden’s so-called “performance,” the very best and brightest among us — or those who thought that was their status — commonly wrote silly, silly things like this:

Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s smirking, aggressive performance during the vice-presidential debate on Thursday could be seen as a message for his boss: Here’s how you do it.

Mmmmm, yeah. I don’t think so. And it isn’t my opposition to Obama/Biden’s positions on the issues that makes me doubt it, it’s the wisdom and improved perspective that comes with the passage of time. Right after the debate, the test was simple: If you leaned right, Biden was a buffoon, and if you leaned left he was a brilliant sage. It all had to do with what camp could claim you as a member. The latter talked up his antics as some kind of model for others to emulate, just like the Cyrus family is doing with Miley’s twerk-a-thon.

With just a few months of settling, it becomes fair as well as easy to ask the obvious question: Okay, who’s emulating?

Who wants to?

You know what this sad disease reminds me of: Fetch. They’re trying to make fetch happen. Or should we say, they’re trying to save some face by making fetch happen.

It’s not going to happen.

The Four Pieces

Friday, September 6th, 2013

Fascinating thing about this whole Syria thing is, the issue has come to the forefront so quickly that it hasn’t been “properly” polarized into left vs. right. Other than the fact that President Obama wants to go ahead, there’s really no definition for which side is supposed to take which position. I suppose that might be good enough. But that whiplash 180-degree reversal, in which the lefties are now war hawks and the righties are the ones saying no-go, has thickened up the two-in-the-middle.

That term I just used requires explanation. It has to do with how the American population forms opinions on the issues that now & then come along. Think back on the electoral maps you see ahead of a tight presidential election. The states will often be shaded as: solid blue, light/leaning blue, pink/leaning red, and solid red. Sometimes there will be a toss-up state that will be colored gray. I contend that what you’re seeing there is an unusually honest presentation of the American citizenry’s opinions on any given issue. The two pieces on the ends represent those who have made up their minds, aren’t about to change, are given little to no reason to. We have a whole system that works around this. For example, if Hillary Clinton runs for President, how much time and energy will she spend chasing my vote. None, right? That goes both ways. Mitt Romney didn’t chase the forty-seven percent. That’s how it works.

The gray in the middle, on Syria, has been whittled down to nothing. Very few people are going to say they don’t care about Syria. And yet, who can find it on a map. People are ignorant, which is undesirable, but they also know they need to find out more, which is healthy. And so it could be said our people are not truly ignorant. They are Omar Khayyam’s “students”: knowing not, but knowing that they know not. Until they know, they lean. They lean toward a go, and they lean toward a no-go. I suppose I’m in that crowd myself. I know this is a very silly situation that has been brought about by President Obama’s clumsiness, but I’m not locked in to the idea that we should not go in. I’m just kinda leaning that way. Not much chance I’ll change my mind, but it’s definitely possible.

But because there’s no gray here — or a negligible slice of gray — and establishment lefties have such enormous incentive to get their ideas sold, and their ideas are even sillier than they usually are AND people have been pushed into making up their minds in a short amount of time; we’re afforded a rare opportunity to see how this dissemination is done. Being a “lean toward no-go” guy, I have to pay attention to this because of the possibility that they’re producing the right answer by way of the wrong process. Not that I’m that important to them. But their outreach efforts include the goal of reaching people like me, here, although you’d never know it by listening to them.

They’re more after the second piece, the light blue, leaning-left one. They’ll take as many of us “pinks” as they can get, but we see in this situation that they are really hammering away at the light blues. For those who are inclined to use this to study up on how they do their marketing the rest of the time — and I am — this is a rich learning environment. The technique is one they use often, all the time really. And they should; it works well for them. Very, very well.

Another unique thing about this opportunity is the thing that can’t be mentioned: The President’s position on this is just plain daffy. It’s as if, as He approaches the very pinnacle of achievement within His entire lifetime of winning when common sense counsels that He should not have been winning, knowing that it’s all downhill after His second term in our nation’s highest office, He seeks to make the pinnacle a proper pinnacle and sell the biggest load of squeeze that’s ever been sold. His “I didn’t draw the red line” remark is a classic case of a lie out of time, a whistle-stop-era whopper captured in the age of YouTube. How did He think He’d get away with it? He couldn’t have…could He?

From what I can make out, we are seeing a recruitment effort aimed at the second, light-blue piece of the constituency. Over and over again, in our friends and relatives, we see the light-blue turning solid blue and this is usually by way of ego investment. It works just like a hook in a fish’s mouth: Once it’s on there good-n-proper, the line can be jerked any which way and the fish will be compelled to follow. Just as a good fisherman gets the technique down, so too does a good lefty apparatchik. Bound the mark’s ego to the idea that two and two make five. Get that one thing done, then the line can be pulled any which way afterward. It may be spelled out right in front of the mark that four is the correct answer, and the mark will refuse to believe it.

Global warming threatens to doom us all even though there has been no global warming for fifteen years. President Obama is a super mega-awesome wonderful guy in ways nobody can quite define. There’s no reason for anyone to oppose His policies outside of racism, even though those policies are widely unpopular and are doing a lot of economic damage. With the hook in the mouth, the mark can embrace contradictions. The “even though” stuff is navigated easily, his mind just sort of glides over them, like one sheet of silk over another…and he becomes a solid blue lefty guy without even being consciously aware of it.

Part of the reason this is possible, I’m now convinced, is because of the challenge aspect of it. The leaning-lefty guy wants to embrace the contradictions within the nonsense, because the nonsense is there. Some measure of difficulty is involved, and they see the difficulty not in the ways we learn to see it when we think responsibly — “maybe there is difficulty in accepting this because it’s a load of blarney” — but more like the way a college freshman sees the difficulty in a hazing. “Hey, if it was easy then everybody would be doing it. At the end of this humiliation, I’ll be part of the in-crowd.”

Because this situation is unusually silly, the technique is working even better than it normally does. I keep hearing about this treaty. America finds the use of chemical weapons abhorrent, because we are signatories to a treaty. President Obama is lucid and wise, and figured out that action must be taken. Action, like…a “shot across the bow” calculated to do nothing to alter the outcome? A behavior-deterring, capacity-degrading shot across the bow? We signed a treaty that said we should do silly stuff, like that? That’s the argument?

It is the silliness involved that makes the argument appealing. It is the movement of the bait that makes the fish want to bite the hook. It implies benefits of exclusivity await the freshman, after he has joined the club. If the argument made better sense, the appeal would not be there. An argument that is so sensible as to be self-evident, would be an invitation to join a club that includes, or ultimately will include, everyone. Who the heck wants that?

The message from the liberal intelligentsia to the two pieces in the middle has to do with in-crowd membership, here as well as with other things. It is a message of “Are you in, or out?” The darker and more vibrant colored pieces on the ends, are left almost entirely alone, since they’re going to be whatever they will be. The message to the light blue piece is “here is what you have to do to get in,” and the message to the pink piece is more like “your shunning is complete, or it is imminent, better mend your ways now.” With a side dish of “we get it, you don’t, poor little slope-forehead throwback.”

Takes a real smarty-pants to figure out that two and two make five.

Hot Shots 2014 Behind the Scenes

Thursday, September 5th, 2013

Hat tip to Leelu. From two or three weeks ago or something.

Workplace-safety rating is “IW.” Stands for “I wouldn’t”…as in…nipples tastefully covered by convenience-proximity objects, and Photoshop pixelation, so it technically falls short of the dreaded R-rating…but…I kinda don’t know why they bothered…

I Made a New Word LXVI

Thursday, September 5th, 2013

Driving toward the Oakland Bridge, I felt my brain percolate. This just sorta jumped in…

Regurgicate (v.)
Regurgication (intang. n.)

The verb is, obviously, providing one or several persons with the intangible noun. Our definition of the verb can conclude there, so we shall concentrate our definition on the intangible noun.

A regurgication is an education dealing entirely with either muscle-memory, memorized verbiage, memorized glossary entries, foreign language accents, or anything else that is entirely separated from command of the topical concepts. Accomplished scholars who have fulfilled all the requirements of their regurgication will be able to reliable pass entrance exams, questionnaires and interviews, so long as none of these challenges demand too much by way of what’s called “thinking on your feet.” But they won’t be able to detect contradictions in the material, nor will they be able to respond intelligently to someone else who has found such a contradiction.

In other words, the beneficiary of a good, solid regurgication is fit to replace an audio recording device, and not too much else. He or she may have what it takes to think things out, but this particularly faculty has not been tested, nor has it been strengthened, in the regurgication process.

That there’s an important word. We needed to have it invented a long, long time ago, to describe what’s been happening in a lot of places. Oh well, better late than never.

Do, Be, Do, Be, Dobeedoobeedoo

Wednesday, September 4th, 2013

Many years ago The Anchoress invited from myself & anybody else reading, a rambling screed about what’s wrong with the world. Actually she didn’t; she (perhaps wisely) imposed a word limit of a hundred, and I blew it up. Maybe I should’ve just agreed with Chesterton.

Before I get to that, a confession: For a short time, long ago, I found it worthwhile to subscribe to TotalFARK. That isn’t the confession. It’s like a magazine subscription, there’s some information in there and it could be argued everyone should do it at least once. My confession is that, since there’s a distinct “my side’s better than your side” overtone to the culture in FARK, along with a perceptible leftward tilt, I must have seen this image a hundred times or more…

…I’ve never understood what that’s all about. What’s the point being made? What’s the argument? Many’s the time I got the idea the person posting it, didn’t know what he was trying to say either.

Anyway, back to the subject at hand. The treatise meanders, lurching along deliberately if awkwardly, inspecting causes and effects, mapping out a sort of “fishing net” of our recent, bad habits. The first thing it looks at is all our worries about global warming, carbon emissions, price of gas, all that stuff…while, if you look around at what people drive, you can’t help noticing something: Cars are enormous. Now all these years later, I still have to say there’s a possibility that the people who drive these big behemoths are different from the people complaining about gas prices and global warming. But I’m just not sure about that. The fretting and hand-wringing is in vogue, still, now as well as five years ago, and before then. So is the driving around in a tank, as Mrs. Freeberg and I saw as I drove her home from jury duty yesterday. Fashionable people tend to do fashionable things. I think people aren’t trying to be hypocrites, they’re just not quite making the connection. Or, maybe they like to talk about living leaner without actually doing it. Either way, I’m still driving a four-banger, built low to the ground, and I end up wondering who’s the traffic hazard here, them or me. It doesn’t seem like we should be sharing a common road.

Every now & then I pull up to a drive-through window, and then I’m sure we shouldn’t be driving the same byways.

The thing I’m trying to point out here, has to do with confusion. People are confused. They’re confused because of the subject of my complaints that followed right after the gas-truck-screed: Being versus doing. The being has taken emphasis. That is not to say that nobody is doing anything. It would perhaps be more precise to say they don’t feel pride in what they do, the way they used to. I’m old enough to remember that when the whole household got excited about adding a new wing to the house, or a vacation, that meant…work. We’re going to plan for it and hope for it, and then Daddy’s going to have to work extra hard. Then after a few years, it wasn’t Daddy, it was Mommy+Daddy. Or something. Maybe everyone would find ways to pitch in. But what do people say now? “I hope I win the lottery.” See, that’s a change. It’s important. People used to make the decision that a material acquisition was worth sacrifice — and then, mixed in with that, was a little bit of lust. But with some healthy dreams too, and a resolve to do good hard work. Now, the lusting has taken center stage: I just want it. And people intertwine their sense of identity with the wanting.

Back in the day, they might have done that with the thing itself, after they got hold of it. If they were more old-school than that, they paid cash. And then the new car or boat would be a sort of movable emblem of their talents, their service to others. Even that was considered, by some others who were even more old-school than that, a bit sinful. But since then there’s been a huge flip-flop; I can’t nail down exactly when it happened, whether it was slow and gradual, or whether there was some kind of detonation that somehow didn’t appear on our radar. But there certainly has been a shift. What was a sin back then, if it were to be brought back today, would be an enormous improvement. People had the sin of pride, but at least they were proud of what they did. And they were lustful, but at least they were lustful about a purchase, someday, not about a gift. They wanted to work for the bauble. To do something. Now, the identity is attached to the wanting. Or the liking. Or the preferring. The ultimate effect is that people see themselves as people who are something…that’s their survival instinct kicking in, they want to be part of the crowd so that they won’t be shut out of the village gates and left to starve. They don’t see themselves as doing something.

I prefer to believe this is not laziness. I don’t think it is. More likely, the sense of opportunity just isn’t there. We get up, we do what we’re supposed to do, we eat, watch teevee, go to sleep. And we “tweet” about what we like and what we don’t like. How many among us, very often envision our actions as significantly altering the outcome of something? How many among us can form such a vision once or twice within a year, let alone within a week? That’s where the change has been.

It affects everything we do because it affects how we envision solutions to problems. Like: Health care is too expensive. Do we figure out how we broke it, or how we can afford it? No. We declare it to be a “right“; and, feel extra, extra, extra self-righteous as we so declare. That, arguably, is not a solution to the problem because it doesn’t define in clear terms where the money is to come from. Also, my Dad always said about the definition of “rights,” that a right is not a right if it costs someone else something, and I’ve learned in the years since there’s a certain wisdom to that. It therefore seems to me that the health-care-is-a-right argument is a grasping at straws, a sort of tacit admission: I know I’ll need it, but I’m not doing anything to pay for it and I don’t see any opportunities to do things to pay for it, so I’ll just sort of leverage my self-righteousness to get it, and make up some “rights” that will be violated if someone doesn’t give it to me. That’s being-over-doing. One too many “Christmas” gifts, from loving grandparents to a little ogre who probably doesn’t believe in Christ or God anyway…just for begging the right way. And then the little ogre grew up.

So I was interested, all these years later, when Severian jotted down some of his observations about “The Rule of Cool”:

I’m not a shrink and I don’t play one on tv, but has anyone else picked up on a certain immaturity going around lately? You might have noticed, for instance, that President Sort-of-God is now being extravagantly praised for backing off voting present on the unilateral cowboy warmongering he was once so eloquently against. You know, back before he opened his big stupid mouth about “red lines” and whatnot…. and was extravagantly praised for that.
:
The most insidious thing about “cool” is that it’s not something you do, it’s something you are.

There follows an ingenious interweaving between the list from John Hawkins, about the twelve rules of being a proper modern liberal, and this weird thing Kobe Bryant has about being a rapper. That, in turn, gets back to what I was talking about earlier: Lusting after material acquisitions, back in the day, might have been thought a sin by some but at least it was lust for a cycle that was healthy in its own ways. You would do something. DO. And then the trinket would be a trophy. Just like Kobe Bryant’s trophies from doing athletic stuff. What we’re seeing is a guy with a hole in his life he can’t quite fill, and the hole is there because he’s trying to be and not trying to do. I, too, am not a shrink and don’t play one on teevee; but this is kind of an easy call. Kobe Bryant doesn’t want to “rap”; he wants to be a rapper, and it’s an important difference. And it is not too far out to speculate that while, to the rest of us, Kobe Bryant was playing basketball, in his own mind he was being a basketball player. Again, it’s an important difference. The guy who does stuff, like play basketball, and thinks rap music is pretty cool, would feel fulfilled. He’d just keep playing, and listening to rap. Maybe do some rap-karaoke, if there is such a thing, I dunno…but…not define himself that way.

Oh sure, he might think about becoming a rapper, if he gets it in his head he could be a bigger success doing that than from playing basketball. Or get more enjoyment out of it or something. If that’s what is motivating Kobe, then my remarks wouldn’t apply to him. But I think they do. And…since, if I’m correct about that, Kobe is very far from being alone here…that’s a big part of what’s wrong with the world.

All of this is prologue against my hopes for the Syria mess. Obviously, first and foremost my hopes are that nobody else gets killed, and that America is not embroiled in yet another senseless debacle because of unwise decisions. I’ll leave it to the reader to decide for himself whether the Iraq thing is in our historical list of unwise decisions. But — one thing about Syria is, as we hope not to be mired in a quagmire because of dumb decisions, I think deep down, everyone with a brain knows we have no reason to sustain such a hope. No justification for it. Some may say that applies to Iraq too, but they can only conclude that by entirely ignoring the bits of history that led up to that, or cherry-picking from that history only the things they happen to like. Syria, contrasted with that, is a complete debacle…

…brought about by way too much energy being spent by people trying to be something, as opposed to trying to do something.

I still don’t have a good explanation from Obama-loving liberals what, exactly, is so mega-awesome-wonderful about Emperor Barack The First. Still. It’s become embarrassing to watch.

If there is a bright side to Syria, I am hoping what we’re seeing now is the detonation of personality-politics, or at least, a nice deep concrete-covered internment of the personality-politics zombie that will keep it underground and out of sight for…dunno…fifty years or more, can I hope for that? Or let’s shoot for ten. And it’s still just a hope. The zombie grave has just barely started to be dug out, and the concrete truck has not yet pulled up. I’m still picking up on the vibe that President Obama has a fan base, and the fan base wants Him to be something in particular, not to do anything in particular — although they cannot coherently articulate either one of those. But there is this permeating dream wafting through the air, still, like a stench from a rotting whale carcass or something, that our lives will all get better if & when the President delivers one more speech. Or, when He and His lovely bride go on a few more vacations; their pampering and creature comforts, on a Monday, are connected to an elevated standard of living, and new hopes, for the rest of us, that Thursday or Friday. The stench has been hanging in the air since about 2007 or so. We’re all just supposed to sit around, being and not doing, waiting for Michelle to go on vacation and for Barack to play some more golf and give some more speeches, and while we’re all in “pep rally” mode, if we cheer loud enough and long enough we’ll start to see something blossom.

Nobody actually describes it in those terms, of course, but that does seem to be the vision. We’re supposed to be, and not do; and what we’re supposed to be, is a fawning fainting cheering audience for our Magical Mystic guy, who in turn is also supposed to be and not do. I’m hoping we’re seeing a slow car crash, as that bus collides with a cement wall head-on. I hope, the whole notion that yet one more speech from President Obama, is somehow going to make things better, is dying. Quick death, slow death, I don’t care which, I just want it to last awhile.

Because another thing everyone with a brain knows, even though they don’t say it out loud, is this: While there may be no elegant solution to Syria right now, there was a great way to prevent it. And the prevention had nothing to do, at all, with yet one more super-mega-awesome-wonderful speech by He Who Argues With The Dictionaries.

Quite the opposite, in fact.

Is there any busted thing anywhere, that duct tape can’t fix?

Agnotology

Monday, September 2nd, 2013

Wow, what a great word.

The study of culturally-induced ignorance or doubt, particularly the publication of inaccurate or misleading scientific data.

Learned it just today, because of a new post over at Steve Milloy’s “Junk Science” site. In which he discusses a new study, the abstract of which reads…

Agnotology is the study of how ignorance arises via circulation of misinformation calculated to mislead. Legates et al. had questioned the applicability of agnotology to politically-charged debates. In their reply, Bedford and Cook, seeking to apply agnotology to climate science, asserted that fossil-fuel interests had promoted doubt about a climate consensus. Their definition of climate ‘misinformation’ was contingent upon the post-modernist assumptions that scientific truth is discernible by measuring a consensus among experts, and that a near unanimous consensus exists. However, inspection of a claim by Cook et al. of 97.1% consensus, heavily relied upon by Bedford and Cook, shows just 0.3 % endorsement of the standard definition of consensus: that most warming since 1950 is anthropogenic. Agnotology, then, is a two-edged sword since either side in a debate may claim that general ignorance arises from misinformation allegedly circulated by the other.

Must say, I’m ashamed it’s taken me this long to figure it out, in view of how much of it I’ve been seeing for the last twenty years, along with everybody else. There really ought to be some serious discussion about agnotology whenever & wherever the alwarmists are opining away about “climate change skeptics in league with the oil companies” and the like….which would make it a household word in no time, probably even wear it out. But that’s an education we could all use.

Update 9/7/13: Related: “Consensus Shmensus.”

Anti-War Movements

Monday, September 2nd, 2013

This went on the Hello Kitty of Blogging first. Not sure that that’s the best choice, it really belongs here, but it went there in the spirit of “Jesus said to go where the sinners are”:

Now that the shoe is on the other foot, I have an observation to make about anti-war movements:

In all cases, I can certainly get behind the goal. Who can’t? So since we all agree that wars shouldn’t happen unless they’re absolutely necessary, before the shooting starts the goal of anti-war movements should be something that can be clearly expressed in two words: Find alternatives.

I’ve now had the opportunity to see lots of anti-war movements. And in real life, I’ve noticed their goals, instead, are consistently something that can be expressed in THREE words: “demonize our opposition.”

I like the two-word goal much better. I think, if it holds sway over shaping the debate & discussion that ensue, it has a much, much better likelihood of success. And as noted above: Who t’heck can’t get behind that??

“Foxes Shouldn’t Guard Hen Houses…”

Monday, September 2nd, 2013

Michael Moore kicked off the Academy Award’s documentary board.

The producer of Schindler’s List, Rain Man, and other prominent films, was so grateful for Moore’s ousting that he felt compelled to write a personal letter to the president of the Academy, saying:

On behalf of my fellow filmmakers and the vast American Heartland which, on occasion, has felt disenfranchised by the Academy, I want to personally thank you and the Academy for removing Mr. Moore and restoring a fair and impartial voting process to the documentary category of the Oscars. . . .

Foxes shouldn’t guard hen houses and Michael Moore shouldn’t have been in charge of the documentary nominating process at the Academy.”

Again, how was this EVER a thing? It’s making a lot more sense now why Dinesh D’Souza’s Obama’s America was so completely disregarded by the Academy even though it was the 2nd highest grossing political documentary in history.

Gerald Molen wrote in a previous letter, back in May, on the same subject:

“We’ve already experienced a time in Hollywood where an atmosphere of oppression and fear was prevalent and people were punished for their political views. Let us make sure that never happens again”…

Meanwhile, I’m sitting here thinking: Huh. Michael Moore was put in a position where he got to decide what “documentaries” could & could not be nominated…

…it’s one of those things where, even if you like the biases being put in place, you should still be able to rustle up a little bit of self-respect and rationality and say, uh no, that’s not what should be happening here.

There seems to be a Quickening going on here lately, not all of it happening within politics. Agenda-driven people being put in positions of great authority, out of an implied belief, or as part of an implied statement, that they are not motivated by such an agenda when everyone paying attention knows damn good & well that they are.

The time might have come — and gone, maybe — to get properly, seriously worried about this. Seems to be one of those things where yesterday’s extraordinary exception has become today’s ordinary rule…Michael Moore as governor on the documentary board? The more you repeat it, the sillier it sounds.

This Is Good CX

Sunday, September 1st, 2013

Wow. This is a better Bingo card than some of the “Obama Speech Bingo” cards…which is really saying something…

Let ’em go on for more than a hundred words or so, and you can play a game of “blackout.”

Related: Twelve unspoken rules for being a liberal. Number ten, in particular, resonated with me…

One of the key reasons liberals spend so much time vilifying people they don’t like and questioning their motivations is to protect themselves from having to consider their arguments. This helps create a completely closed system for liberals. Conservative arguments are considered wrong by default since they’re conservative and not worth hearing. On the other hand, liberals aren’t going to make conservative arguments. So, a liberal goes to a liberal school, watches liberal news, listens to liberal politicians, has liberal friends, and then convinces himself that conservatives are all hateful, evil, racist Nazis so that any stray conservatism he hears should be ignored. It makes liberal minds into perfectly closed loops that are impervious to anything other than liberal doctrine.

President Obama’s Speeches

Saturday, August 31st, 2013

Things fixed: Zero.

Things messed up: One.

Things messed up if you count that other thing: Two.

Thing I Know #401. People who refuse to work with details don’t fix things.

Related: “So we’re bombing Syria because Syria is bombing Syria? And I’m the idiot?”

Banishing Themselves

Saturday, August 31st, 2013

Banishing other people is fun! It feels good!

And you have much more control over how ideas are shaping up, when you destroy whatever information is not compatible with what you want, compared to discovering/exploring/creating more of whatever might be compatible…

They start to eliminate ideas, under the guise of entertaining them. They mock, they interrupt, they distract by way of loaded phrases like “let’s move on,” they engage in all sorts of logical fallacies, they “debunk” myths that aren’t really mythical. They ostracize, or threaten to ostracize. What all these things have in common is: They seek to shape the emerging consensus by eliminating information rather than by gathering it, which is a tip-off that this consensus is being shaped by way of ignorance, rather than by learning.

How do you make a pencil pointy? You don’t add on a point, you silly goose; the right way to do it of course, is to remove everything from the end of the pencil that is not a point.

And they do that with people, too. “He isn’t getting on board, he can’t be in our club.”

Time after time, the banishers find themselves banished — by themselves. Time after time, they find all these people they’ve been kicking out of the club, went & started another club.

In times past, it has made such a deep impression on me, as to affect my dreams.

A left-handed blacksmith was caught pounding on a new horseshoe with his left hand instead of with his right hand. He was banished from the kingdom.

A farmer’s wife was caught harvesting eggs from the chicken coop, grabbing them by the pointy end instead of by the big end. She was banished from the kingdom.

A boy was caught cleaning the horse stables with gloves on his hands. He was banished from the kingdom.
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A one-legged man was banished for limping wrong. A farmer harvesting corn was banished for wearing his harvesting bag over his right shoulder instead of over his left one. Another farmer was caught milking his cow by pulling on the teats in the wrong order, and he was banished.

Food became more and more scarce.

In desperation, someone finally decided to go hunting; and so, for the first time in a century or more, the villagers stepped outside the high walls of the great kingdom.

What did they find?

Our recent blindness is a bit worse than that, I’m afraid. It has become popular to sharpen these ideas, by way of banishing people who do not support them — even while babbling away with some nonsense about being more tolerant, and diversity being the source of our progress.

The inhabitants of my micro-kingdom banished themselves. They blinded themselves to what was going on outside the high walls, and in so doing, made it their daily effort to preserve suffering, poverty, blight and death, and in the end they discovered they were doing this while prosperity was all around them. But at least they understood their own methods, if not the ultimate effect. At least they knew that their vision was confined to the village within the high walls, and whatever was outside those walls was something they didn’t know, and didn’t care to learn. And at least they admitted that “diversity” had nothing to do with what they were trying to do.

When they ostracized somebody, they meant it. They didn’t make that guy do the long-walk and lock him out of the gates, in the name of “tolerance.”

These opposite-people absolutely fascinate me. There is much suffering going on with them actually running things, and I’m still not sure why that’s necessary. But at least, that way, it’s easier for me to study them.

Syria Makes it Tough to be an Obama Supporter

Friday, August 30th, 2013

Barracuda Brigade brings us wisdom from former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton:

That’s quite a tough row to hoe.

My Facebook comment drew an inordinate number of “likes” as I expressed some marginal sympathy for the opposition — on an issue in which I can certainly see the logic to both sides:

It’s gotta be tough to be an Obama supporter right now. Even if you have that “history began this morning” thing going on…which they always do, of course, and it would be as important to them as ever… the whole rationale for backing action in Syria would be “You just can’t look weak and feckless in the Middle East, you can’t!!!”

Which is true. But the minute you make that argument, you’ve made an argument that President Obama said something not only foolish, not only contrary to his endless campaign rhetoric about smart diplomacy and responsible exits and not acting stupidly…but also, illustrative of why we don’t want Him, or any other democrat, in an office of real power like this.

How did I put it before? Putting democrats in charge of the economy is like putting Col. Sanders in charge of your pet chicken; putting them in charge of the military is like hiring the chicken to cut the lawn.

Two issues here, that may appear to be the same but are actually different. First issue is that Our First Holy Majesty said something stupid, and the second issue is that in doing so, He has defined Himself as being the polar opposite of what He presented Himself to be — since these kinds of intemperate utterances of His have gradually shaped up more as instances of a rule, than of its exceptions.

It’s embarrassing to watch anymore. You don’t even have to wonder “gosh I wonder if He’s sorry he said that?” We don’t need to mull it over, we don’t need to eavesdrop. It’s a given.

But Mister Wonderful continues to hide behind the facade, with “uh” inserted before every other syllable, being the thoughtful scholarly guy He isn’t. It’s annoying, at this point, since we know He could save about thirty or forty percent of the time everyone’s investing in listening to Him, by just dropping it.

Have you tried reading one of these courtesy-transcription jobs that drop all the “ums” and “ers” and “ahs” and seriously asking yourself at the end of each sentence: Waitaminnit, was there really any kind of deep thought involved in saying something like that? Quite an enlightening experience.