Archive for October, 2007

Pearl Harbor and the Death Penalty

Wednesday, October 31st, 2007


“In my view…the choice for the judge who believes the death penalty to be immoral is resignation rather than simply ignoring duly enacted constitutional laws and sabotaging the death penalty.”

— Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia, commenting on the Atkins v. Virginia case

We got an awful lot of self-righteous people, usually with no small amount of condescension and just plain-ol’-snottiness, telling us the death penalty is inconsistent with “evolving standards of decency” or some such rot. More often than not, those snots live in well-to-do ivory tower enclaves and are unlikely to suffer personally from the vagaries of people who have no respect for the sanctity of human life but run free anyway.

One of Associate Justice Scalia’s colleagues does a dandy job of representing these goo-gooders — who are just barely enough in-touch with what passes for a moral compass, to avoid dispensing justice, even when it’s their designated occupation and sworn duty to so dispense.

I’ve already lost this link once, and now that I’ve found it again I wanted to save it onto this page so I’d never lose it again. It’s a great article, because it cites exactly what I’d cite, and highlights exactly what I’d highlight.

Lawprof and legal journalist Jeff Rosen had a very interesting New York Times article about Justice Stevens a week ago. The whole thing is much worth reading; but here I wanted to comment just on one part:

[Justice Stevens] won a bronze star for his [World War II] service as a cryptographer, after he helped break the code that informed American officials that Adm. Isoroku Yamamoto, the commander of the Japanese Navy and architect of the Pearl Harbor attack, was about to travel to the front. Based on the code-breaking of Stevens and others, U.S. pilots, on Roosevelt’s orders, shot down Yamamoto’s plane in April 1943.

Stevens told me he was troubled by the fact that Yamamoto, a highly intelligent officer who had lived in the United States and become friends with American officers, was shot down with so little apparent deliberation or humanitarian consideration. The experience, he said, raised questions in his mind about the fairness of the death penalty. “I was on the desk, on watch, when I got word that they had shot down Yamamoto in the Solomon Islands, and I remember thinking: This is a particular individual they went out to intercept,” he said. “There is a very different notion when you’re thinking about killing an individual, as opposed to killing a soldier in the line of fire.” Stevens said that, partly as a result of his World War II experience, he has tried on the court to narrow the category of offenders who are eligible for the death penalty and to ensure that it is imposed fairly and accurately. He has been the most outspoken critic of the death penalty on the current court.

I recognize that much can get lost in such pieces, even when they are written by experienced, thoughtful, and sympathetic interviewers such as Rosen. Perhaps Stevens gave some further explanations that were omitted, or perhaps Rosen’s paraphrases are not quite right. But what I see in the article strikes me as a perplexing chain of reasoning.

There follow three bullet points which, if you’re a right-thinking rational individual like me, will line up hand-in-glove with the explosions of “Whisky Tango Foxtrot” percolating between your ears as you read through Justice Stevens’ hackneyed preponderances.

Justice John Paul Stevens has, at the very least, achieved the first milestone of insanity and probably the second as well. He’s in some wonderful company there. But more seriously than those, he’s failing to uphold his sworn duty. He is what Scalia was talking about in the quote above.

On Sermon-on-Mount Liberals

Tuesday, October 30th, 2007

I haven’t been reading Lydia Cornell lately. I should, because she has claimed to be a former Republican and I have all-but conclusively judged this statement to be full of crap, without really having too much foundational information. But of course I do have some…since it’s such a frequent occurrence gorgeous Lydia says a bunch of stupid bullcrap only a dedicated donk would say…

Democrats are stronger on terror because we know the value of human life. We will win the war on terror by gathering our forces and fortifying our homeland. By first bringing our troops home and strengthening our own borders, ports, airports and train stations and using our resources wisely. We can’t afford to lose a single human life. We’ve lost over 2,600 troops, and another 16,000 missing arms and legs, and we’ve spent over 300 billion dollars on a war that has DEFINITELY CREATED MORE HATRED AND TERRORISM throughout the whole world against us.

Democrats will go out and communicate with our enemies: we will bridge the gap and open diplomatic channels. Syria, who was helping us right after 911 will be helping us again. Everyone wants to be on the side of the Peacemaker who brings a higher vision to conflict. In the time that George Bush and the Three Stooges have been in power, they have created more enemies than ever before in America’s history. This is the most shameful time in our country. We must get these primitive self-serving oil barons and Neanderthals out of power before they destroy the world.

Sometime back when the war was a newer thing, Lydia had put up a post describing how she had once been a Republican but couldn’t abide the wild contradiction between the Republican platform and her interpretation of The Gospels, so she switched to the donks because they were the more biblically-pure party. She is, therefore, perhaps the most physically-appealing specimen of a large and growing sect tens of millions strong: The “Sermon on the Mount” liberals.

These are the kookburgers who insist the Lamb of God, voting today, would punch a straight-donk ticket because those Republicans have strayed from His word. The title of the post excerpted above shows you the depths to which this lunatic thinking ultimately drags an innocent mind: “We Will Win War on Terror by Getting Out of Iraq.”

Well I’ll have to agree that at times, George W. Bush has been a dangerous man. But he’s never been this dangerous.

This is “run with scissors in your hand and marbles all over the floor,” electric-fence-pissing dangerous. The “Sermon on the Mount” liberals are named for a passage from the Book of Matthew, Chapter 5, they themselves like to cite frequently; in some cases, the person so speaking is familiar with this passage of the Bible, and none other.

38Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth:

39But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.

40And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also.

41And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.

42Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.

43Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.

44But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you…

According to our “Sermon on the Mount” liberals, therefore, all violence is contrary to the will of God. There are no exceptions to this. If such an interpretation were sincere, of course, there would be ample occasion and motivation to translate this snotty lecturing into Arabic, since the Islamofascists that attacked us are also supposed to believe in a god who champions peace, and they also are supposed to have “hijacked” a “peaceful religion.”

I know of no such translation effort that has ever taken place.

Perhaps the prospective translator-lecturers are terrified of getting their empty little heads lopped off.

But uh…getting back to the “Sermon on the Mount” liberals. They are quite an interesting bunch. There is this book out there, millenia old, arguably the most influential book on the affairs of men out of any other book ever compiled, no close-seconds. It is a dauntingly thick book, chock full of instructions about how to achieve everlasting life. These “Sermon on Mount” liberals have picked up on the one passage that might, with sufficient effort, be interpreted as endorsing self-destruction, and this is the one passage that they parrot endlessly, avoiding and ignoring all others.

Well, I shouldn’t say that. Some of our peaceniks are pretty enthusiastic Bible-study people, who I’m sure could quote circles around me. But it is interesting — they get this frenzied frothy notion that The Lord wants us out of Iraq, and He is greviously offended at us for going in there in the first place. If you were to take the Bible, and drop from it Matthew 5:38-44, leaving all other passages intact, their argument would dissolve completely.

Is Matthew 5:38-44 subject to a singular interpretation? No! It may very well be the most ethereal and nebulous chronicling in those pages, since Noah built the ark.

It doesn’t pass the “If I were God” test. If I were God, would I build a species of people in my image and give them instructions to…embrace those among their brothers who wish to do them harm. Coddle venomous serpents close to their own bosoms. Expose their soft fleshy bellies to their snarling, slobbering countrymen, who are brandishing knives and swords and sharp farm implements, looking for a place to stick ’em. Why? Why would I want this people I had built, to do such a thing?

It crumbles under the weight of it’s inherent silliness when we consider third parties. Do we interpret the Sermon on the Mount literally when we come across two men, one bad and the other innocent, when the bad man wants to do harm to the innocent? “Sermon on the Mount” liberals can always be counted on to change the subject when confronted by this, because that innocent man could just as well be a woman. Or a child. Or a handicapped person. They, therefore, are forced by their own reasoning to endorce acts of violence on the innocent and weak, who cannot defend themselves — to condemn any efforts by stronger people to come to the aid of those who are innocent and weak. Not supposed to do it. It’s gotta make some sense down the road, after all it’s what Jesus said.

Well, it isn’t what Jesus said. And it gets much worse than that, when you start to consider a lot of our “Sermon on the Mount” liberals don’t even believe in God. Consider that for a second. You’ve got this passage from the Bible, subject to a variety of interpretations but, okay, one of those interpretations says you’re supposed to treat enemies as friends, even in situations where logic and reason tell you this is self-destructive. Somewhere down the line, possibly after your demise, this all makes sense. But the guy interpreting this for you doesn’t believe it himself.

Just think on that. You’re getting this snotty, condescending lecture about how you shouldn’t allow violence to take place, even if it is defensive violence…because Jesus said no…but you’re getting the lecture from someone who doesn’t practice this himself, and can’t practice it, because he doesn’t believe in Jesus. Which in all likelihood means, the guy doesn’t even believe what he is telling you — and what he’s telling you is there’s something virtuous in self-destruction.

Ergo — your snotty condescending lecturer wants you to destroy yourself. Through non-violence. Allow others to rape and pillage and burn you, even though he himself would never dream of doing the same thing.

It’s insulting on so many levels. It’s like going fishing by rowing out in the middle of the lake and expecting the fish to jump into your boat. And it presumes an inimicable relationship, which may or may not be justified by preceding events. And probably isn’t. But most of all, it is so intellectually insulting. It presumes that by babbling the correct gibberish at you, he can motivate you to do something both he, and you, logically understand makes no sense at all.

These people haven’t been reading the Bible. They’ve been watching old Star Trek episodes in which Kirk and Spock destroy ancient alien computers using that all-powerful Kirk-and-Spock secular humanist logic. They’ve seen the old trope played out so many times, they figure it’s easy and want to try it out themselves.

Now, these true-believer Bible-studier types, I’m gathering their minds have been wrapped into little pretzels by these Star Trek watching secular humanist types. Wherever violence takes place, they figure, the will of God has been thwarted and they must dispense their insulting lecturing…only to the side of the conflict that speaks English, though, so their heads won’t get lopped off. Their flaw is in presuming that peace is easy, that it’s simply an absence of war. They think peace is available when the right people are asked…like ordering a pizza.

Blogger friend Rick ran into a few of those types over at some place called Waving or Drowning. Usually I avoid these scraps in which Rick immerses himself, dealing with interpretations of scripture I find somewhat meandering and arcane. That gets into my own interpretation of the Bible, which is a little too complicated to go into here…but it’s also pretty thin. To bottom-line it, I think we got put here. At significant cost. We weren’t put here to play video games, guzzle Starbuck’s, and bitch about bad weather; we’re supposed to find something meaningful to do with our lives, get ‘er done, and encourage those around us to do the same. Once you proceed from that assumption, it’s been my general experience that all these squabbles about Sodom and Gomorrah and the Levitical Priesthood pretty much sort themselves out.

So for a few days of visiting his blog, I skimmed past this one post of his and jumped to his next post. I ended up sorry I ignored this for so long, because when I finally clicked my way into this skirmish I saw something pretty amazing…posted by Rick’s declared antagonist “Sonja”:

Ahhh … Rick, now you’re being disingenuous. You and I both know that if it were not for the fact of our troops being in Iraq and and the Commander In Chief having given direct orders which caused this war, those pictures would not have been taken. Whether or not our troops were directly responsible for them or not is hardly the point, now is it?

The “disingenuous” question Rick posed, had to do with some gruesome pictures posted by Sonja of injuries received by children local to the conflict in Iraq. Sonja had directly implied that the pictures were representative of “good” things “that the US military is doing.” Rick was inquiring — disingenuously, I suppose — as to whether or not Sonja knew, for an absolute fact, that it was the United States that had done these things.

Here’s Sonja declaring it to be a non-issue. The United States started the conflict, ergo, all ensuing violence was to be laid at the feet of the “US military,” and anyone with the temerity to suggest otherwise or even question it is being “disingenuous.”

So this started a big back-and-forth during which time, the “Sermon on the Mount” liberals threw in all kinds of red herrings about Rick’s involvement in Republican politics, and his employment status with a DoD contractor. Rick, meanwhile, persevered as best he could trying to get an answer to his question.

So after I waded in and picked out just three of the questions I was inspired to ask, Mike, the owner of the blog, shut off commenting. I honestly don’t know if I did that or not. I would have to assume so, since the back-and-forth continued for quite awhile before I showed up, I only said one thing and right after that the Jenga tower collapsed. I thought I was pretty polite and cordial. Maybe not cordial enough.

Our “turn the other cheek” people, it turns out, have some pretty thin skins; it’s not what you’d expect at all, is it?

So I think we have some lessons to learn from this. One, we’ve got a lot of people walking around thinking violence is an elective thing, ALL the time — there can be no exceptions. I would have to imagine most of those folks are virginal where violence is concerned. If you’re fortunate enough to live in a place where you have the right to own a gun, and you exercise this right — and then in the middle of the night someone breaks into your house, he’s got a knife, you’ve got a gun, he’s a lot more concerned about getting away un-caught than about your personal safety…you don’t have a lot of choices, do you? Or if a man attacks your wife right in front of you and you have the means to stop him. There’s only two speeds in that scenario, go and stop. So I guess these are people inflicting their impractical and untested fanciful notions of “peace” on all the rest of us. They can’t possibly know too much about what they’re talking about, if they honestly think that’s how it works…one guy wants to fight, the other one doesn’t, so the pacifist just drones on about a bunch of stuff until the bully doesn’t want to bully anymore.

It don’t work that way in real life. Sorry.

Two. Isn’t it interesting…Iraq is supposed to be the wrong war, at the wrong time, in the wrong place. It is supposed to be an “illegal and unjust war.” But it seems everyone who is opposed to the violence we have supposedly caused over there, is opposed to any & all violence as well. This isn’t true of everyone who’s opposed to our operations in Iraq, of course. But very nearly everyone. Ninety-nine percent or more, I’d say, are “Sermon on the Mount” liberals who labor under this irrational, slobbering delusion that war can be brought to an end for all time, if enough people will it to be so. That says unflattering things about the remaining one percent.

Three. It occurs to me that if you hate people and want to destroy them, but you don’t believe in fighting, this is just a natural tactic to take isn’t it? Like I said above, just demand the fish hop into your rowboat. Or like I said over at Rick’s place, go hunting and simply talk the deer into committing suicide.

I think that’s what “Sermon on the Mount” liberals are really all about. They like fighting and destroying people who disagree with them, every bit as much as anybody else. Except they’re afraid to admit it, and the people and aparatus they have made a lifetime-dedication to hating, has a lot to do with fighting itself. So they’re using words as weapons, because that’s the only option they’ve left to themselves.

They say to their enemies, hug venomous vipers to your chests, because it’s what Jesus wants you to do. Expose your jugular to the nearest tarantula, it’s what you need to do for your salvation. Most of them don’t even believe in Jesus. Like Kirk facing off against an ancient alien computer, they figure if they say the right stuff their enemies will destroy themselves.

It’s the dream of a sissy.

Helping Hillary

Sunday, October 28th, 2007

We have to help Hillary, for the good of the country. My argument here is based on a column Peggy Noonan wrote in January of ’04 called The Dean Disappointment about a then-candidate for the Presidency.

I want to like Howard Dean. I don’t mean I want to support him; I mean I want to like him, or find him admirable even if I don’t agree with him. I want the Democratic Party to have a strong nominee this year, for several reasons. One is that it is one of our two great parties, and it is dispiriting to think it is not able to summon up a deeply impressive contender. Another is that democracy is best served by excellent presidential nominees duking it out region to region in a hard-fought campaign that seriously raises the pressing issues of the day. A third is that the Republican Party is never at its best when faced with a lame challenger. When faced with a tough and scrappy competitor like Bill Clinton, they came up with the Contract with America. When faced with Michael Dukakis they came up with flag-burning amendments. They need to be in a serious fight before they fight seriously.

A little closerNearly four years later, this is the slot occupied by hapless Hillary. She could be like her husband, or she could be like tank-commander Dukakis. The country needs her to be strong, so that when she gets her ass beat she leaves in place a Republican victor who will actually stand for something. And kill me some terrorists…not pass flag burning amendments.

So I thought I’d go through all of Hillary’s qualifications to be our next President, and come up with some bumper sticker slogans. I really racked my brain on this one and eventually…came up with…twenty-five. Probably seventy or eighty percent of which are too long to fit on a bumper sticker. But I really couldn’t think of any more than this, or polish up the ones I had any better. When her primary qualification to be President is that her husband cheated on her, it’s not like you’re working with a lot of material. I thought I did pretty well.

As a service to her, for the good of the country, I thought I’d post them.

Vote for Hillary…
1. She’s superior to you
2. Or else you’re a male chauvinist pig
3. We need a President who is condescending and cranky ALL THE TIME
4. It’s alright, she isn’t really a woman you know
5. Because wives who make their husbands unhappy deserve representation, too
6. She can find a villain in any issue. Any issue. Any at all. Just watch her.
7. We’ve tolerated capitalism and free enterprise long enough
8. It’s not like she’s the one who cheated on Bill…so far as we know
9. Isn’t it time we lost that unfashionable, out-of-style right to bear arms?
10. So John Paul Stevens can give Rosie “fire doesn’t melt steel” O’Donnell his seat
11. So we can punish all the rich people. For being rich. Except her, of course. And George Soros.
12. And no one will ever accuse you of sexism again. Ever. Well, for about thirty seconds.
13. Because it isn’t fascism when women do it
14. Because that other guy is kinda-sorta black…and the OTHER guy is kinda-sorta gay…we don’t need that
15. She’s just supposed to be President. C’mon, everybody knows it. It’s hers. Give it to her!
16. You want to see pantsuits in style, you know you do
17. Because as soon as women are in charge, we can really change things…like, I dunno…outlaw booze again
18. And Canadians will never barge in for their emergency medical care ever again, why would they want to?
19. Because Bill cheated on her, and that’s all the qualification she needs
20. She targets all the right dirty-rotten-scoundrels, and you know she’ll make them pay
21. Let’s do whatever it takes to get Bill back in there…they’ll start living together again, we’re pretty sure
22. This “pay some actual attention to terrorism” stuff is, well, pretty boring
23. Because electing a woman President doesn’t count, unless she’s unpleasant
24. Anybody who cackles like that deserves to be President
25. That “first woman House Speaker” thing worked out really, really well

We need this candidate to come out with all she has. She can come up with plans until she’s blue in the face, but the reasons to vote for her are a little bit…well, they’re just not there. It comes down to, you feel sorry for her for having an unfaithful husband, you like the idea of her yelling at him, and that weird schoolmarm duck-like nasal resonance is pleasing to you.

Hillary’s strengths need to be talked up, or she’s a dead duck. And that would hurt everybody.

So if anybody can think up of any more advantages to a Hillary administration, I’d like to see what those would be.

On Huck

Sunday, October 28th, 2007

Courtesy of John Fund’s column in the Wall Street Journal, Friday. It’s headlined “Another Man From Hope” and it calls into serious question the conservative credentials of Gov. Huckabee.

Mr. Huckabee attributes his support to the fact he is a “hardworking, consistent conservative with some authenticity about those convictions.” He is certainly qualified for national office, having served nearly 11 years as a chief executive. I have known and liked him for years; on the stump he often tells the story of how we first met outside his boarded-up office in the state Capitol, which had been sealed by Arkansas Democrats who refused to accept he had won an upset election for lieutenant governor in 1993. But I also know he is not the “consistent conservative” he now claims to be.

Nor am I alone. Betsy Hagan, Arkansas director of the conservative Eagle Forum and a key backer of his early runs for office, was once “his No. 1 fan.” She was bitterly disappointed with his record. “He was pro-life and pro-gun, but otherwise a liberal,” she says. “Just like Bill Clinton he will charm you, but don’t be surprised if he takes a completely different turn in office.”

I don’t have too much of a problem with the abortion issue, but the tax thing disturbs me mightily and I’ll tell you why: Because it’s 2007. It is logically offensive to continue debating supply side economics. Show me three politicians who want to raise revenue by increasing taxes, and I’ll show you a liar, a liar, and another liar.

That’s not a statement of opinion, it’s a matter of fact.

Things don’t look good for the Huck…are you listening, Buck?

How to Go Insane

Sunday, October 28th, 2007

This is probably the most useless thing I’ve ever written (I’m sure some folks would dispute that), since everyone interested in following these instructions is already doing it. But I’m close to 100 percent sure they do what they’re supposed to do, because I’ve seen them put into practice, with great success, so many times.

Thought I’d jot ’em down. Enjoy.

Reasons to Not Trust Scientists

Saturday, October 27th, 2007

This article is cynical and inflexible and uses deliberations of fact in a childlike way…for example, “There is no such thing as objectivity and logic is a tenuous, frail, possibly mythical animal…”

But I see a lot of merit in each of the points that it makes. In fact, I’ll bet there are a lot of folks who have a big problem applying these considerations to scientists, but would have no problem applying them to others.

Like bloggers.

In fact, the article is really all about being human. So you could fairly apply these, or at least consider them, in regard to carbon-based life forms in any profession. Like…it occurs to me…journalists. But like Winnie The Pooh says, that is a story for another day.

I tell ya, every time I see people pontificate about the glowbubble wormening ManBearPig, and someone all-but-‘fesses up to just believing what “scientists say” on the strength that hey, they’re scientists, at least I’m not blindly going along with what someone else says…as if to say, y’know, we’re all following pied-pipers I’m just following the right one…it gives me a real “don’t know whether to laugh or cry” moment. And kind of a sharp migraine.

Possible Definition of Insanity

Saturday, October 27th, 2007

…thanks to our current Secretary of State. Please tell me there’s some plot twist, some sharp corner in the road, some ace-up-the-sleeve, some “Solomon cleaving the baby” moment up ahead.

Anxious not to repeat mistakes of past Middle East peace-making, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has turned to former presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter for tips ahead of her own conference this year.

Rice invited Carter, a vocal critic of Bush administration policies, to the State Department on Wednesday where the two discussed his Arab-Israeli peacemaking efforts in the 1970s, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said on Friday.

Their talks were “good and cordial,” he said. They focused on the Middle East and not Carter’s recent criticism of President George W. Bush’s policies in Iraq and elsewhere.

Which is kinda like inviting O.J. Simpson and not discussing Nicole.

Hey, I can relate to this. The other night I wanted to find out how to drive an oil taker so I invited Captain Joe Hazelwood to dinner to tell me how to do it. And the night before I was concerned about preventing epidemics, so I held a seance and summoned the spirit of Typhoid Mary to give me some helpful pointers there.

So you see, getting some help from Carter and Clinton about peace in the Middle East, that just dovetails right on in…

No, I don’t think Dr. Rice herself sees the logic in what’s being done here. I’ve seen her interrogated in the chambers of Congress, about things that already did make sense, as if those things did not. I’ve seen her face off against people who are genuinely unhinged from reality. She’s not like them. But it’s abundantly clear to me that now, today, she is beholden to people like that.

Or maybe she is batshit crazy.

Either way…just say it to yourself a few times if you need a demonstration of how nutty this is. Three times should be enough for anyone. We’re getting advice from Carter and Clinton about the Mideast peace process. We’re getting advice from Carter and Clinton about the Mideast peace process. We’re getting advice from Carter and Clinton about the Mideast peace process.

If that still seems sensible to anyone…just pick up some history books. I mean, like, dang.

Bear Rescue

Friday, October 26th, 2007

BearSo this bear wanders down the highway near Truckee. A couple cars come along and scare the living hell out of the poor bear, right while he’s on one of those half-mile high bridges, and he clambers over the side. I must confess at this point I don’t have a lot of personal first-hand knowledge about bears where fear-of-heights is concerned, or lack thereof. I guess this fella didn’t have much. Or he had more for the cars.

Authorities tried their best to rescue the bear, and I would have to suppose there’s a limited number of methods you could try at such a thing. They gave up for the afternoon, came back the next morning, found the animal snoring away still stranded. Strung up a net, shot him with a tranquilizer and let him drop in the net.

That’s a cool story, I was I was there to experience it or see it first hand. Maggie’s Farm has more photos.

The Second Most Important Issue II

Friday, October 26th, 2007

Have you signed the Pavley Petition yet? (H/T: Boortz.) It says we here in California have to stop George Bush, because he’s been throwing the monkey wrench into the works of good legislation designed to curb the global warming emissions that caused the wildfire down in San Diego.

This is the kind of nonsense that threatens to crumble under it’s own weight, like a beached whale, simply by being taken seriously. This is, in my opinion, exactly what we should do.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: The most important issue of the 2008 elections is, who’s going to bring us the biggest pile of scorched terrorist carcasses. You can pontificate and bluster away about gun control and minimum wage to your heart’s content, none of it matters if you aren’t going to run out there and kill me some terrorists. Second most important issue is, is the democrat party stupid or full-blown crazy. The Pavley Petition is advancing a nugget of lunatic logic that is a repeat of what Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid already said this week. Questioned about this immediately afterward, Reid himself didn’t seem to put too much stock in his own remarks:

Officials said Tuesday the winds and high temperatures are expected to continue. But when the fires do stop, lawmakers likely will debate the cause of the fire.

“One reason why we have the fires in California is global warming,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) told reporters Tuesday, stressing the need to pass the Democrats’ comprehensive energy package.

Moments later, when asked by a reporter if he really believed global warming caused the fires, he appeared to back away from his comments, saying there are many factors that contributed to the disaster.

I think it comes from that huge win the donks had right after Watergate: They seem to be everlastingly convinced that if the news cycle will barf up some all-consuming item that commands everyone’s attention for a week or more, all those bad donk ideas will suddenly look good. It’s as if they’re saying to themselves, hey it worked in ’74, it can work anytime. Bad idea, plus a high profile bit of news that has some real legs to it…equals a good idea, or something that sufficiently resembles a good idea.

Hmmm…now that I think on it, since 2002 this one of the few things on which most of them have been consistent. It’s like they don’t know what to do about Iraq, but they’re dedicated to waiting around for the perfect news item to make their bad ideas look good. Why they don’t just get ahold of a genuinely good idea, so that what’s happening this-day or that-day becomes irrelevant, is something I don’t understand. You’ll have to ask them.

But ideas the donks think are good, seem to have it all in common that they appear to look good, at a given time. They’re conditional. We must keep talking about Abu Ghraib, because that’s when ignoring Saddam Hussein looked in hindsight like a good idea; we must talk about Terri Schaivo, because that’s when they look almost sensible; we must talk about Hurricane Katrina, Jena 6, global temperatures in 1998…etc. Everything is justified by some event, which may or may not be repeated.

It’s like they’re steadfastly opposed to figuring out what makes sense all the time.

No wonder they get so pissy when Dick Cheney says things like “Nine one one changed everything.” He’s stealing their schtick.

Funny thing is, though — killing terrorists does make sense all the time. What nine one one changed, was that up until then we didn’t see it.

I think the donks should write this into the party platform next year. Come on donks, it’s a news event. By the time of your convention, the event will be just nine months old. Talk about those awful fires in California, and how they were caused by global warming…write it into the platform…and four months after that, we’ll all get together and vote on whether you have command of your mental faculties.

Next year’s second most important issue, easily.

The List

Thursday, October 25th, 2007

I’m no angel, and Gerard’s no fool…

…but good golly, he rushes in where even I fear to tread. And I have very little restraint about such things, so that’s saying something.

Is IT a Bureaucracy?

Thursday, October 25th, 2007

This is a great article that makes some great points. The thread that opens up underneath it, started out laughably foolish, but afterward rose to the occasion and some great points were made there as well.

The article itself is a response to an indictment that appeared last month. And the response is just a bunch of bullets — why IT, in general, is dissolving into a puddle of bureaucratic goo when the challenges it is built to confront, demand anything but a bureaucracy. Interestingly, it has no preamble; just a two-liner from the editor and then launches right in.

Six is my fave, and when I look back on my career I see I’ve been guilty of this:

IT doesn’t ask why. They respond to the same problems over and over without implementing permanent fixes. They operate and support redundant applications even though no one uses them. They do not question business priorities and complain when all requests are listed as high priority by the business.

The last of the eight bullets is denial. IT doesn’t want to admit it’s becoming a bureaucracy, when it’s in the stages of becoming one. And then the first dozen or so comments in the thread pop in and essentially prove it.

I will need to allocate some time to sit down with this and figure out who’s pointing out more substantial stuff…the author of the article, or some of the commenters who came in later and have contributed some items I wouldn’t want to miss. Looks like a close call. But in my own twenty years, I have noticed that if there is one big problem that acts as a stumbling block against the endeavors of IT sub-organizations everywhere, it is human nature. I have yet to see an IT executive confront it directly.

The mission of Information Technology is to do more with less, and to deliver it as close to Right Now as possible, without disrupting production. Keep it working, and in the meantime go look for a cheaper way to do more quicker. This demands an awkward juxtaposition of creative-individualist and harmonious-collectivist thinking. This means the best and brightest should be promoted into positions where they can find out exactly what has to be done, and go shopping for ways to accomplish it, with all the less-creative folks standing behind them and lending support. Once the product is installed, information needs to be shared down to a substantially technical level, so that if there is a disruption in service someone will be around to make sure business is resumed as seamlessly as possible.

I have not yet seen this happen in my career. Anywhere. I don’t think I’ll see it.

Self-interest always gets in the way. Once you’re the “(blank)” guy, and you replace “(blank)” with whatever it is the company needs that is your specialty, you want to hoard the information. And why shouldn’t you? If you train someone else how to do the same thing, they’re probably going to start brown-nosing the boss, pretending that they’re the ones who got trained first and you’re the Johnny-come-lately…and if your boss is a dimwit, he might believe them and they’ll get all your plumb assignments. The boss, meanwhile, will pick out the guy who does things in a manner that most closely resembles the way he’d do things if he were they. And that guy will get all the “yummy” training…the expensive training…the training on all the yummy new products that are going to be in demand next year, or the year after. And so all the hoarding of information will be for nothing. But year after year people will continue to do it anyway.

It’s gotta be that way, if there are layers of management looking at IT trying to find ways to pare it down. And that ingredient will never be missing, of course. IT is in the business of delivering, among other things, economy.

So jealousy will have something to do with what motivates IT; therefore, elitism will drift in, sooner or later. I have yet to see any exceptions to it. An IT department staffed with, say for example, fifty highly energetic, skilled, experienced and resourceful engineers, will draw on the creative juices of………..four or five of those. At the most. The other ninety percent will be called upon to support that “Big Five.” …or not. Will that Big Five come up with the creative, resourceful, Indiana Jones “out of the box” types of solutions that will keep the department from drifting into a bureaucracy? Perhaps. Maybe. Probably not…the highest part of any mountain is it’s center.

Are all IT organizations neck deep in this problem? I would have to say no, since they’re disconnected entities functioning within private enterprises, with good specimens as well as bad ones. But I think it’s safe to say all the IT organizations that aren’t yet bureaucracies, are in danger of becoming those, since they’re staffed by ordinary people.

Ordinary people don’t really work that well together. Not once the advancement of one man’s career, is seen as a detriment to the career of his colleague.

And so I would reserve my most scathing criticism for the folks who skim over the Spanos article, and snear something to the effect of “not in my citadel.” Those may be bright people, but they’re engaged in a somewhat foolish thing.

I Made a New Word VIII

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2007

Harry ReidBULLCUSE (v.)
1. To accuse a second party, usually in a grandiose and theatrical way, of deeds or thoughts that are actually quite out of harmony with the truth or the speaker’s perception of it. The purpose is ostensibly to uncover one or several hidden agendas and lay them bare, but in reality the purpose is to gain a tactical advantage in front of third parties. 2. More broadly, any act of accusing someone, which is blessed by a substantially greater quantity of bluster than genuine confidence. 3. To accuse someone of something based on feeling rather than thinking.

A specialized ad hominem fallacy capable of jettisoning logic and reason from any debate, for the advantage of whatever party finds logic and reason to be injurious. An accusation designed to shift the focus of an argument, usually deployed when the speaker has been cornered by inconvenient facts. It is a rhetorical weapon designed put the offensive on the defensive and put the defensive on the offensive. Highly effective, although nearly certain to end any rational discussion.

The word is inspired by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s bullcusing Rush Limbaugh of “calling our men and women in uniform who oppose the war in Iraq, and I quote, ‘phony soldiers’.” It is a bullcusation unless one is willing to suppose the Majority Leader actually thought, in his own beady-eyed little head, that Rush said something like this…which seems dubious at best. Senate Majority Leader Reid, therefore, accused Rush of saying something that Senate Majority Leader Reid, himself, knew Rush didn’t say. Senate Majority Leader Reid accused, for the purpose of deceiving others. Senate Majority Leader Reid bullcused.

It has been easier and easier to find examples of this, for the last several decades as information has flowed to more people more quickly. The still-exploding artform of performing in front of the cameras, has made the bullcusation a frequent occurrence.

Commenting on this over the weekend, I said

…we have got to find a word for this someday. This thing liberals do. Where you come up with this accusation out of thin air, and you know the facts aren’t on your side so of course there will be a discussion about whether the accusasion is true or not — which it isn’t. Then, you see to it that instead of being pursued…the discussion is instead prolonged…since, if the discussion were pursued, it would be a very short discussion indeed.

The casual observer will assume the accusation has some merit to it, but that’s a secondary payoff. The primary reward is that there is something you don’t want discussed, and now you’ve generated a distraction from it.

The classic Vaudeville version of this is “When Did You Stop Beating Your Wife?” For the uninitiated, the trick is that if you aren’t a wife-beater, there’s no correct way to answer the question. This is a close cousin to that. You come up with an argument which, plainly, has an inimicable relationship to truth and common sense — like — “we need twice as much money so let’s raise the tax rate twice as high.” I offer the counter-argument that plainly puts the kibosh on yours: “If you raise the tax rate significantly, people will change what they do to pursue their individual interests, and you won’t raise the revenue you expect to; this is basic economics and has proven to be an accurate prediction of human behavior, time and time again.” And you say, “you want the government to run out of money and you want poor people to suffer!”

It is an unfounded inference, one that enjoys no genuine confidence. You would not bet your life, your liberty, your treasured possessions on the axiom that I want the government to run out of money, or that I want poor people to suffer. But it’s an effective counterattack in the political realm, because now we’re going to have a long drawn-out discussion about whether I want the government to run out of money and the poor people to suffer. The genesis of the discourse has to do with whether supply-side economics works. It’s about the Laffer Curve. But with enough energized emotions at work…we’re not talking about that, are we? We’re talking about a sadistic streak I’m supposed to have, that nobody’s really going to bet anything worth keeping that I actually have.

That’s what we need to name, some day.

And that’s what a bullcusation is. A portmanteau between bullshit and accusation…and accusation that is full of bullshit. An accusation offered for the cosmetic purpose of uncovering truth, but in reality, for the purpose of covering up truth and making a red-herring about agendas, motives, character issues, and other junk that has no connection to what was discussed previously.

Do conservatives use this? Do they bullcuse someone when they “question his/my/their patriotism”? I guess that would depend on the situation at hand…it would depend on what inspired such an accusation. How comfortable would reality be with the juxtaposition between the accusation and whatever inspired it. Is it reasonable, for example, to doubt someone’s patriotic sentiments when he interlaces his fingers like a six-year-old brat that could use a good spanking, when it’s time to salute the flag…while he’s running for President? We’ll all just have to make up our own minds about that.


Monday, October 22nd, 2007

Churlish AssYou have the floor, Sen. Barack Obama. I am ready for my explanation. What was going on at the moment the shutter clicked, that everyone in view has their right hand extended reverently over their hearts, and you’re just standing there like some lowbrow boob?

What, they had a false start and you were the only one smart enough to figure out the music wasn’t playing yet?

Maybe that’s it, or maybe you were the one slow on the uptake. Or maybe…maybe…you assumed the proper position, and microscopic aliens conspired to yank your hand down off your chest and interlace your fingers together. Or maybe it’s a Photoshop job. Or…I dunno. Fill in your own excuse. But make it good.

Make it good, or your candidacy is finished. Or it ought to be.

I mean, indulge for me this thought exercise, will you. There’s this foreign country. The foreign country is having an election next year, and there’s no less than fifteen candidates for that high office. Prime Minister or something. The foreign country has a ceremony in which all are called upon to salute that country’s flag, and one of the candidates is so devoid of consideration and good manners, that he stands there like a poorly-bred rude little brat…

…and he’s allowed to continue to run.

What’s the very best thing you can think about that country, that they would put up with this? What’s the very highest level of esteem in which you could hold them? Not real high, huh. Well here we have a situation in which America is that other country.

So my logic is quite simple…solid…and sound. Obama drops out now.

This very instant.

Or else, next time you have some asinine international “poll” talking about how those foreigners don’t hold the US of A in high regard — don’t come crying to me about it. Don’t you dare come snivelling my way about it. Blame Obama.

What a churlish ass.

Update 10/23/07: Welcome Pajamas Media readers, pleased to have ya.

Update 10/24/07: Found video. They’re really butchering the hell outta the national anthem. Obama did applaud at the end, but went the better part of a minute with his hands down like that. There are an awful lot of people with their hands over their hearts, he could have been facing away from all of them. So one possible excuse, although far from likely, is that he’s simply unacquainted with the custom.

Each reader may make up his or her own mind as to whether or not that would be Presidential material. I’ve made up mine.

Just remember. Outside of that one possibility, that extremely remote, fantastical possibility, there’s only one other. Obama has a core constituency whose support will waiver if he’s caught saluting. That would mean we’ve got a lot of people voting in this country — a lot of people, dozens of millions — spitting on the flag. And it goes well beyond the “I love my country but I fear my government” or “I respect my country but I loathe what it stands for lately” stuff. These are people who will distrust and despise you if they catch you saluting the flag. And they must be here, walking around, voting, if politicians are afraid of ’em.

I mean, I just gotta believe Obama knows something I don’t. So if those people exist, is it alright for me to question their patriotism yet?

Best Sentence XIX

Sunday, October 21st, 2007

Time once again for a Best Sentence I’ve Heard Or Read Lately (BSIHORL) award. “I wish I’d been smart enough to say that,” says fellow Webloggin contributor Bookworm…and no, that’s not the glorious Best Sentence. She is simply commenting on the article which I, too, think worthy of high honors.

But as I often point out to my kid, we live in a universe that has a great many other things on it’s mind beyond the supposedly sacred obligation of keeping us constantly entertained, so often there’s an education before the payoff. Let’s take a few paragraphs, being the grown-ups that we are, to get that done.

It starts with Blogger Friend Phil’s expose on Friday about Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid and his forty compatriots who signed the “Hush Rush” letter. Actually, it starts a good deal before that…but I predict this is the point in the story where history will look back and find the eyes of “most” folks have glazed over.

Rush said something about “phony soldiers” on his radio show.

Reid & Co. put a fanciful spin on his remarks, re-invented them as saying something Rush did not, in fact, say; and then they wrote up a letter to try to get him silenced.

May I explore a bunny trail here? Since we’re adults and we have attention spans…let’s use ’em…we have got to find a word for this someday. This thing liberals do. Where you come up with this accusation out of thin air, and you know the facts aren’t on your side so of course there will be a discussion about whether the accusasion is true or not — which it isn’t. Then, you see to it that instead of being pursued…the discussion is instead prolonged…since, if the discussion were pursued, it would be a very short discussion indeed.

The casual observer will assume the accusation has some merit to it, but that’s a secondary payoff. The primary reward is that there is something you don’t want discussed, and now you’ve generated a distraction from it.

The classic Vaudeville version of this is “When Did You Stop Beating Your Wife?” For the uninitiated, the trick is that if you aren’t a wife-beater, there’s no correct way to answer the question. This is a close cousin to that. You come up with an argument which, plainly, has an inimicable relationship to truth and common sense — like — “we need twice as much money so let’s raise the tax rate twice as high.” I offer the counter-argument that plainly puts the kibosh on yours: “If you raise the tax rate significantly, people will change what they do to pursue their individual interests, and you won’t raise the revenue you expect to; this is basic economics and has proven to be an accurate prediction of human behavior, time and time again.” And you say, “you want the government to run out of money and you want poor people to suffer!”

It is an unfounded inference, one that enjoys no genuine confidence. You would not bet your life, your liberty, your treasured possessions on the axiom that I want the government to run out of money, or that I want poor people to suffer. But it’s an effective counterattack in the political realm, because now we’re going to have a long drawn-out discussion about whether I want the government to run out of money and the poor people to suffer. The genesis of the discourse has to do with whether supply-side economics works. It’s about the Laffer Curve. But with enough energized emotions at work…we’re not talking about that, are we? We’re talking about a sadistic streak I’m supposed to have, that nobody’s really going to bet anything worth keeping that I actually have.

That’s what we need to name, some day.

That’s exactly what Harry Reid and his pals did. They knew Rush was not trying to say all soldiers serving now, who do not agree with The Great Rushbo, are “phony.” That was not the spirit of anything he said or did. I know. I’m a member of Rush 24/7, I’m entitled to have that entire show, I do, I’ve listened to it. He didn’t say that. He didn’t say anything like it.

But Rush is not a stranger to politics, at all. And so…he did zip, zero, nada, butkus of the stuff neophytes do when confronted by this. He did not stutter or stammer or “homina homina homina” or “I’m sorry if my words were interpreted” or any of that nonsense Don Imus did. Read Phil’s post to find out what Rush did, if you need to.

And then, as Phil pointed out, Harry Reid backpedaled. But you have to look close to see what happened. Harry Reid’s new spin on it, is an expression of enthusiasm for the help being extended to the Marines and their families, an effort started by Rush, which Reid did not aid in any way except unwittingly. Being a stranger to the whole situation — knowing how to read and to think, but having no background information at all — you’d think Reid cooked up the whole idea and Rush grudgingly lent his support.

What a crock.

Bookworm has, for now, the very best chronicling of the whole sorry affair. If you’ve read his far, you’ve got the attention span you need to handle it, so I recommend you go there now.

There. Now you know what’s going on. And I think I can promise you if you’ve only heard about it from CNN or MSNBC or Larry King or any of those big figureheads…it was a paradigm shift, wasn’t it.

On with the BSIHORL award, to Captain’s Quarters commenter PackerBronco. It’s not one sentence, it’s two…and they say all that needs to be said…

The conservative thinks of a free-market way of raising private funds to aid a worthwhile causes and backs his commitment with his own money.

The liberal asks other people to donate funds, doesn’t donate any of his own money, and tries to take credit for the generosity of others.


Update: Just received this via e-mail, under the heading “office gossip.” It seemed very fitting to the subject at hand:

Duh Matrix

Saturday, October 20th, 2007

Filling Their HeadsSo now that I’ve flown in and unpacked and settled again, I hit Buck’s blog and found a link to a handy tool over at MSNBC. You hit these spaces on a checkerboard to find out what each Republican or donk candidate for President has said about each issue, and then you get to — this is the fun part — click to define whether you agree, and if so, how much. Then you can submit your results where they’ll be tallied, to get this handy error message telling you there was some kind of glitch.

Conspiracy? Naw…couldn’t be.

Anyhow, I thought I’d jot down some of my impressions now that I’ve gone through those three steps…or the first 67% of those, anyway.

One. There are only five issues. That’s a load of crap.

Two. Hillary Clinton’s positions seem to be defined according to the message she would like to have broadcasted as we open the fourth quarter of ’07. In other words, according to her convenience. Hillary has been in the public eye for a very long time by now, and even within this tiny sub-selection of five issue she hasn’t been entirely consistent…don’t forget what her last name is.

Three. I’m seeing a lot of references on both the Republican side and on the donk side about this fence. Everyone wants to build that fence. We luuuuuv the fence. You’re about as likely to see me (b. 1966) collect all my Social Security benefits as you are to see that fence. I notice some of the donks are put in the patently absurd position of waggling their fingers at us, lecturing us that we’re a bunch of racists and we shouldn’t be trying so hard to keep the poor put-upon “undocumented migrants” out of our sovereign nation, they’re good for us and all the crime is being committed by the white racist rednecks that are already here…and then broadcast their support for the fence. I do not know how they’re able to get away with this. You’ll have to ask someone else. Kind of reminds me of that absurd discombobulation of a defense of President Clinton nine years ago (post DNA test). So what if he lied, everybody lies, they do it all the time, we all do it…and he didn’t.

Four. Overall, there is evidence that whatever is wrong with the country, is to be blamed on…The People. And I’m afraid the electorate that is marching off to the polls a year from now, are about to score more miserably than any generation that came before. There really does need to be some sort of standard for voting. We could start here…I heard on the radio Michael Savage was addressing this, and he had some interesting ideas. I.Q. of a hundred, not a single point less. Can’t be accepting public assistance, because then you’re voting on giving yourself a raise at the expense of others, which is wrong. I would further add that you can’t be opposed to capital punishment, since the only way to support that position is to proceed from the assumption that all people have the capacity to live safely with all other people…in other words, to unmoor yourself from reality.

Five. To continue the thought meandering in Four…the glowbubble-wormening thing is working too good. I don’t blame the people using it, they’re just socialists marching under a new name, brandishing a new propaganda tool, this one working as well as or better than the propaganda tools that came before. I blame the people buying into this garbage. Wake up. You are literally being told the world’s going to end if your taxes aren’t raised. There’s some faux-scientific psychobabble tossed in to make it more palatable, but that is the crux of the message. You being allowed to keep your own money, is going to make the planet uninhabitable. C’mon, if you’re going to be ripped off, get ripped off by something good.

Six. It seems to be a feat of considerable difficulty, to vote for a Republican without casting a vote to drill in ANWR. Well, good. As is the case with the ManBearPig follies, the aim of the anti-ANWR people is not to preserve any kind of environment, but to bully and cudgel the rest of us into apologizing for our existence…to live life less. That’s what it’s all about. Enviro-hippies don’t give a rip about polar bears or caribou; it isn’t hard to prove this. Just ask them the right questions, and they’ll be changing the subject, or resorting to sarcasm, or both, in no time at all.

Seven. Who decided that any candidate, anywhere, should be able to announce his support for a “timetable” for leaving Iraq, or pulling out immediately, and just leave it at that?? In fact, who decided the name of this issue should be “Iraq”? The issue is that Islamic terrorists want to kill us; the decision to be made, is what, if anything, we are to do in response to this. We’ve tried that “do nothing” option, and on 9/11/01 it was demonstrated to not work out that good. The question that confronts us, therefore, is whether or not we should go back to that “do nothing” option. Hey, that’s a more accurate name for the issue, if I were in charge we’d use that. And what’s the best argument you could possibly conjure up against that? The “Doing nothing about terrorism” issue; I like it. It’s exactly what all the huffing and puffing is about. Politicians who are in favor of doing nothing, should say exactly that, which is much more sincere than anything containing the words “timetable” or “redeploy.” Redeploy…pfffft.

Eight. I didn’t realize this before, but Giuliani kind of…well, he sorta sucks. He can’t even be counted on to defend the country’s border. He would kill some terrorists, I think, so that’s good. But Thompson would kill more. So what’s the point?

Nine. Continuing my concerns about the voting public being idiotic, and probably more to blame for our problems than any one candidate. The tax cuts. The candidates are arguing about the tax cuts. This is not valid. The supply-siders were right; rates were cut, revenues went up…again. Anybody who wants to presume that it works any other way, is choosing to directly contradict established fact and documented history. And should be treated as if that’s what they’re doing. Which, if that included immediate disqualification, the country would be much better off. It’s not a legitimate squabble to have, for any reason.

Cemetery Workers Starving

Saturday, October 20th, 2007

Four and a half years ago, a coalition led by the United States invaded Iraq. And then we had a bunch of stories about the damage we were doing, plainly being pushed in front of us by ambitious and energized persons and groups with agendas. In some cases, with well-funded agendas. Much of it concerned our soldiers — ahem, the ones “we all” support, cough *bullshit* cough — engaging in abuse, non-provoked hostilities, flushing the Koran. Some of it was true, some of it was not.

Back in the early days, if you had engaged in a joke about…the standard whimper-whine media boilerplate template about those poor cemetary workers not getting as much business as they need, now that the violence is falling off…that would have been bad satire.

Later on, as more people became accustomed to those media watchdogs sniffing around looking for suffering in Iraq they could throw to the EYE HAYT BOOSH crowd, ignoring more substantial things like those psycho terrorists we know are trying to kill us…that same thing would have been somewhat good satire.

Now 2007 is on it’s last legs. And lookee what we got here.

At what’s believed to be the world’s largest cemetery, where Shiite Muslims aspire to be buried and millions already have been, business isn’t good.

A drop in violence around Iraq has cut burials in the huge Wadi al Salam cemetery here by at least one-third in the past six months, and that’s cut the pay of thousands of workers who make their living digging graves, washing corpses or selling burial shrouds.

Few people have a better sense of the death rate in Iraq .

“I always think of the increasing and decreasing of the dead,” said Sameer Shaaban, 23, one of more than 100 workers who specialize in ceremonially washing the corpses. “People want more and more money, and I am one of them, but most of the workers in this field don’t talk frankly, because they wish for more coffins, to earn more and more.”

Dhurgham Majed al Malik, 48, whose family has arranged burial services for generations, said that this spring, private cars and taxis with caskets lashed to their roofs arrived at a rate of 6,500 a month. Now it’s 4,000 or less, he said.

The cemetary workers. Won’t someone please think of the cemetary workers. I guess those anti-war liberals and Ron Paul are quite right after all — things were much better under Saddam.

H/T: Rick.

Democrat Broken Promises

Monday, October 15th, 2007

This is nothing new (it was added nearly four months ago), but it’s definitely something I want to bookmark.

In all fairness to the donks, the promises they made were untenable. They were as unachievable as they were contrary to the interests of the nation the donks sought to govern. The promises…simply put…should not have been made.

But the donks have ownership of that issue as well, don’t they?

The entire planet’s gone socialist, with the United States heading in the same direction, much more slowly and more grudgingly. The donks represent those who want us to “get with it” and join the rest of the world. Which means, the donks represent people who could be living anywhere else but here…and getting exactly what they want.

The logical conclusion of what’s stated in the above paragraph, is that there’s no place for them here. You can take that “they won in 2006” and stick it right where the sun don’t shine. They stand for things that are just as acrimonious toward the United States, as the United States is acrimonious to those things. Nor is the US of A a complete stranger to mighty political parties being sent the way of the Dodo Bird. Between the apex of power of the Whig party, and that party’s extinction, is…a short li’l eight years.

Let’s make the donk party a twenty-first century version of the Whig party. It would be a wonderful message to send to the rest of the world. You who claim to love diversity…America is diversity. We’re not like you. Love us or hate us, you’d better learn to live with us because we have a right to exist, we have a right to defend ourselves, and no fifth column is going to tell us otherwise.

And Now, We Celebrate Someone’s Good Fortune

Sunday, October 14th, 2007

Take That…and he doesn’t even need it.

Heh. Take that.

This historic document may well represent the first time in the history of America that this large a group of U.S. senators attempted to demonize a private citizen by lying about his views. As such, it is a priceless memento of the folly of (Senate Majority Leader) Harry Reid and his 40 senatorial co-signers.

Oh, it gets better and better. Is it really a curse to be living in interesting times? Because I’m just eatin’ this stuff up.

Update 10/22/07: Do click on the cartoon to the right, to go to Red Planet Cartoons and their very latest update about this auction. This transaction has been criticized for lack of controls on the bidders to make sure their bids are genuine, so it’s an event worthy of note that the highest-bidder is a real person with a real name and real identity and real position.

On his show today, Limbaugh announced the winning bidder was Betty Casey, a noted philanthropist and trustee of the Eugene B. Casey Foundation in Gaithersburg, Md.

It was the largest bid ever in an eBay charity auction, breaking the $800,000 mark paid for a Harley Davidson motorcycle bearing the signature of “Tonight” show host Jay Leno…

Limbaugh announced last week he would sell the original letter addressed to the head of Clear Channel Communications in order to benefit the Marine Corps-Law Enforcement Foundation, a charity offering financial assistance to the children of Marines and federal law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty.

The No. 1-rated talk host said he would match the winning bid, and he challenged each of the 41 Democratic senators who signed the letter to match it as well.

…and of course, you already know what I think of that.


Sunday, October 14th, 2007

I’d consider it a personal favor to me if you can just think a kind thought about the folks who are connected in some way to Granzella’s in Williams, CA. The place is about 90 miles North of here. It is known to me as one of very, very few places where ol’ Bessie let me down.

Where is Williams?A little background. In late ’96, Bessie was seven years old and had just a little over 200k on her. I rewarded her for her faithful service by wrapping her around a tree. Bessie is a plastic-and-aluminum Toyota that weighs a little over a thousand pounds with a full gas tank, so when I say the tree was no bigger than it needed to be, I’m not talking very much tree at all. Big around as a rake handle. It split Bessie down the middle, sparing the engine but destroying everything else including the radiator.

The mechanics who put her back together, while dedicated, are best off looking elsewhere for a recommendation. They made her whole against some trying circumstances, some of which were my doing, others of which were decidedly not. But I’m displeased at the mechanical problems that cascaded from that event, and our adventure in Williams some fourteen months later is the prime example of that.

Bessie’s new radiator was the wrong one.

I found this out when a geyser of hot water erupted under the right headlamp housing while I was trying to pass a semi. In January of ’98. Right by Williams.

As luck would have it…”Kidzmom” and I had rented this classic the very night before, in which Kurt Russell’s wife is abducted when his pickup truck breaks down and he goes to get help. I limped ol’ Bessie off the freeway and shut down the engine, which was protesting this sudden expulsion of coolant — probably all of it in half a second, I would guess — through ominous temperature gauge readings. The first ride I flagged down, was a mechanic who owned his own shop.

The boy was seven months old. The intent was to go all the way to Bellingham, 800 miles further North, and introduce him to his grandfather for the first time. Didn’t happen. I figured, and figure still today, that Bessie’s “hiccup” was a cheap lesson, the first warning shot that the hasty repair job a year previous wasn’t all it was cracked up to be.

Anyway, with a hearty “we’ll be right back!” I left with the mechanic to get his tow truck. We were back within twenty or thirty minutes, I think. The baby was laughing his fool head off. “Kidzmom” was crying her eyes out, hysterical. All would have probably been okay, except for having seen that movie the night before. This was like frosting on the cake.

We “crashed,” in the innocuous sense, in Williams. One of the last chores before the evening retirement was a hasty call to the grandpa, explaining that after everything was ship-shape we were looking at admitting defeat and turning back, making another attempt later. He was understanding about it…disappointed naturally.

This was an epochal event, the first time Bessie had failed to fulfill all of our transportation needs in this mission or that one…my own foolishness fourteen months prior notwithstanding. It was a harbinger of a dismally exciting maintenance record ahead. Which…well…no, she’s mostly been as reliable since then as she was previous. But we didn’t know that at the time. We had a small baby; we were concerned. Granzella’s was a huge help in softening the blow. Mom, boy and I were in much higher spirits as we retired for the night, even though we were a hundred miles from home with our transportation scuttled for the time being. I still have the “Granzella’s” miniature wine goblets we got that night.

Lotsa MilesI’ll always be the kid’s dad, but I’ve found it necessary to change women. That’s a story with considerable detail to it, that I’d rather not explore here…but I don’t think I can let Granzella’s sampling of misfortune pass by without comment, since they didn’t let my own misfortune pass by without their much-valued hospitality, which made all the difference in the world that evening.

If you have ever passed through Williams, you’ll have the beginnings of an understanding of what a bitter blow this must be. Williams, CA is Granzella’s. There is that…a gas station, a bank machine, a few streets, and that’s about it. Colusa is twenty or thirty miles down the road, and they’ve got stuff there. But economically, you do not want to be the guy who works at Granzella’s, and wakes up to find himself without a job.

For the human-interest angle, exploring the rich history of the place, you can go here.

Oh and Bessie? She’s put together a rich history of her own. Another decade, and a total of 338,000 miles on the odometer plus something (picture to the right was taken a few months ago). Kidzmom and I didn’t make it, and much of this has to do with a predilection for issuing distress calls toward her knight in shining armor, when the situations warranted, as well as when they did not…I think she’d agree with that. This was one of the occasions when, emotionally at least, it was warranted, because the poor woman was a complete wreck. I’ve often felt bad about that since then. But with the passage of a few years, well, it got funny. How could it not? We were watching a movie about a freeway breakdown, on the very night before we left on a nine hundred mile road trip in real life. Seemed like a great idea at the time.

Manhood As Wasabi

Sunday, October 14th, 2007

Poor Rick was asking What’s Happened To Men?, and I happened along. Heh. You might as well have asked Rosie O’Dumbell about what brought down the World Trade Center. Just because I’ve opined on this over and over and over again, doesn’t necessarily mean there’s some finite reservoir somewhere that has been bled off. I’m just hitting my stride.

The setup is the author of Seraphic Secret taking his laptop into a computer shop to get it fixed and running into an unlikely fan trying to get her iPod repaired. I’m not familiar with this book, or the author, or his blog. Seems he wrote a great deal about how he met his wife, and his fan found it quite touching.

And she despaired…Why are the men like you all taken?

“Anyway, here’s what I want to know: what’s happened to men? They’re like all pussified—excuse my language—they’re so sensitive they’re barely men. Look around the store: half the guys in here are wearing more jewelry than I am, and that guy over there—”

She points to a man who looks sleek as an Italian sports car.

“Metrosexual. Uh-huh. That’s like code for gay, right?”

I say nothing.

“Wisdom, wisdom, I need some wisdom in my life.”

“Did it ever occur to you that the way you dress and display yourself attracts a certain kind of man?”


“Look, I don’t know you. I’ll shut-up.”

“No, I wanna hear.”

“The ink, the dye job, the piercings, they present an image. A face to meet a face, so to speak. I’ll be honest, I saw you before you spoke to me and I was put off by how you looked.”

I really liked this post Rick linked, because it raises an issue so complex that any way I try to attack it has to start out like the blind man trying to get a “look” at an elephant. There’s lots of facets to it. I’m afraid in my bloated and meandering response, I failed to adequately highlight what really fascinates me about this.

Manhood is dying. I’m not the first to notice it and I won’t be the last. (I’m pretty sure I’m among the most poorly-compensated individuals, among those who have written about it.)

And…in tandem with that unfortunate phenomenon…womanhood is on her deathbed as well. They’re both in hospice. Real men are disappearing because real women are disappearing — and vice-versa.

My observation about the movie culture, either is, or looks like, a huge tangent. I do think it’s important. I think noticing what Hollywood has been doing throughout the years has a certain “pay the piper” attribute to it; if you don’t take it into account up front, your thesis will be incomplete unless you factor it in later. Popular viewpoint is in kind of a box-step waltz with Hollywood. Hollywood gives us what we want, and as they give us subtle deviations from that, they mold and shape what we’ll be wanting the year afterward. What’s even more important than that, is that Hollywood consciously knows this, and they use it.

In replying to Rick, I identified this post-modern Hollywood phenomenon I called “Die Hard syndrome.” A man does something manly, which has a direct affect on dozens of people. Saving them from being blown up, or burned up, or whatever. It’s exactly what Matt Dillon did every single week, back in the day. But following the Womens’ Lib stuff, it is treated like something that was never done before. Wow…a good man finds himself in a position to thwart a bad man, and he does it. Movie-making is changed overnight.

But it isn’t. If you’re in your seventies now, when you were a little kid you saw good guys duking it out with bad guys all the time. If you’re older, maybe you had to make do with hearing it on the radio. The fascination was then, as now, that the timeless battle between good and evil was captured here.

And this is my point: We never get tired of this. We are told that we should, and we believe it.

When someone comes along and pops the bubble, we’re fascinated. But we aren’t discovering something new for the very first time; instead, we are slaking a long thirst, after being denied for a long time what we always found captivating, and were told we didn’t want. But we never stop craving this.

I first had my epiphany about this years ago. It was a couple of years after Star Wars came out, and I realized as I gradually matured that the spaceships and the explosions and the lightsabers had very, very little to do with what I loved about that movie. It was the Hero’s Journey. Luke, just like King Arthur and perhaps hundreds of other fictional and legendary heroes, grew up in obscurity and came to realize he held the hope of an entire people to escape darkness and oppression. It’s a story of hope.

And this is my main point.

We love hope. But there is this counterforce — conscious or not, I don’t know really — that continually rises up to make sure we don’t get hope, we aren’t even told stories that involve hope, and we should be lulled into believing we don’t really like it when we do.

Never was this more evident than in the longest gap between James Bond movies, the 6½ years between License To Kill and Goldeneye. There are reasons for this. James Bond has always been ensnared in a messy processing of legal disputes over ownership, and after Timothy Dalton’s latest this had overheated the 007 engine block and siezed it up tight. A rebuild was unavoidable. Besides, I’m told, Dalton was something of a dud. These explanations were laced with more than a kernel of truth, so they seem valid.

But they don’t explain everything. I can see things for myself and I can tell when I’m being sold a bill o’goods.

Before Bond’s hiatus, and since, there has always been this whining background noise that the superspy is a “relic.” It’s time to “move on.” Lately, this has taken on a surreal dystopian fantasy-world quality as Bond has become a steady, reliable, and growing multi-million dollar franchise. The critics say one thing about what we want, the market says the opposite thing. The critics won’t shut up. They keep preaching at us that we’re tired of watching a six-foot white guy save the world, and we’re too stupid to grasp the message.

But the effort to supress, does indeed supress. For all of us who like to watch the good guy thwart evil, even if we’re willing to accept ethnically diverse heroes in this role, we’ve still got a bit of a wait. The little freckle-faced boy of yesteryear, waiting in anticipation of the next Tom Mix episode, got a steady diet. His grandson of the same age, now, receives a grudging, pulsating series of burps.

But “Die Hard Syndrome” isn’t about the pusating and the burping, and it isn’t even about Hollywood’s peevish resentment at dishing out to us what we want to consume, that they say we don’t or shouldn’t want.

It’s about the second, third or fourth installment of each of these masculine heroes. The weakening. The watering-down.

It’s about the revelation, in Bond’s eigtheenth installment, that the suave MI-6 operative jumps out of his mistress’ beds, not to confront some spine-tingling adventure that lays in wait for him ahead — but to abandon, in fear, what he just left behind. This is true of masculine heroes across the board. The strength must give way to weakness. ALWAYS.

McLane himself has to whimper to his new sidekick what a lonely business it is being a hero. You eat a lot of meals alone, he says. Two things are going on here, and they’re both bad. One — someone, somewhere, is mighty unhappy with the idea of a hero saving the day, and proving himself to be up to the challenge when it confronts him. The strength that was involved in saving lives, has to be shown to be compensatory for some related and interlocked weakness somewhere else. Two — you can kiss that implied post-scripture of “if he can do it, you can too” — GOOD-BYE. No longer is John McLane some randomly chosen specimen of manhood, showing what manhood can do, and how badly we need it something bad goes down. He’s some kind of a cursed Messiah. His blessing is a curse, and not only that, but he no longer represents the rest of us. The Die Hard storyline becomes a series of funny things that happen that show how unique McLane is. He can save the day because he’s different from, rather than similar to, the more “usual” guy.

The decline was even more rapid with Indiana Jones. Oh thank goodness, a virile quick-thinking American man was in the right place at the right time to keep Hitler for catching the Ark of the Covenant! By the next installment he’s off on little more than a slightly gory Scooby-Doo adventure. The one after that, he’s whimpering about not getting due attention from daddy.

And then there’s my favorite example…since it’s happened many, many times now…
Thing I Know #203. Superman’s adventures are only fun to read about when Lois is still clueless about who he really is. As soon as Clark Kent lets her in on The Big Secret, everything gets lame.

Think about it. When did the comic book series get lame, both pre-crisis and post-crisis? When did the Dean Cain series get lame? When did the movies get lame? It all turned soft and brown at the same event. Lois, I think it’s time I told you something…

Further examples could be forthcoming, but I don’t think they’re necessary and this is long enough already. And oh, I do appreciate the need to define a character further after he’s appeared in a plurality of installments. The audience has a natural desire to know; the storytellers have a natural desire to flesh him out.

But a background story is not one-and-the-same as a chronicling of personal weakness. Superman’s weaknesses, James Bond’s weaknesses, John McLane & Dr. Jones’ weaknesses…they seem forced. I have doubts that anybody was yearning for a catalogue of these. I perceive a differential between what was ordered and what was delivered.

We have commoners who know what they want, like what they like, dislike what they dislike…and then we have elites who are always trying to correct the commoners, to mold and shape their individual tastes. It seems to me the elites have been trying to go cold-turkey on the male save-the-day action hero, to inform us that we hate him and never liked him to begin with. That didn’t work, so now the new strategy is to ration him. We can only see a strong man define manhood by using resourcefulness and cunning to save the innocent from the wicked, every couple of years or so. If that. And then, we have to be told it’s not in the stars for us to be like him. He’s not a role model…not like Rooster Cogburn or Matt Dillon.

We have this belief that a little of him goes a long way. We’ll get tired of him. He’s a spice, just like ginger, horseradish or wasabi. Main courses, of which we get a steady diet, are…other things. The Doofus Dad. The strong-willed woman. Gangsta rappers. Punk and pop singers. And I’m left to wonder — what evidence is there that people really have an unquenchable thirst for such dysfunctional things, or that their apetites are so weak for what is arguably more wholesome?

Looks like a case of the few dictating the tastes of the many, if there ever was one. Hollywood spends billions of dollars a year making movies. They should be conducing research, one would think, into what we really want. It would be worth a pretty penny, would it not? Well, then where is the hard evidence that we’re ready to nibble around the edges of the strong resourceful manly-man, with long intervals between samplings, while we long to glug-glug-glug away from sunup to sundown, on all this other crap?

I doubt there is any such evidence. Surely if we can watch a quartet of shrill, scatter-brained women talk over each other every damn day on The View, we’ll not be suffering nausea if we see manhood constructively applied more often than every twenty-four months or so.

And as the Seraphic Secret post makes clear, our plutocratically-controlled diet does more than just screw up the boys. A generation of weak men makes for a generation of weak women. Both sexes reach adulthood, tragically, being virginal to the simple adventure of seeing something messed up…coming up with their own plan about how to fix it…and following through. “Solving a problem,” to them, means there is a multiple-choice question on a test, some authority figure knows what the right answer is already, and they’re supposed to echo whatever that answer is.

Assuming that’s all there is in their worldview by age eighteen, and I have little reason to think there’s more to it than that, ponder how incredibly disabling that would be. Our children are being told that yes, from time to time, the world must be saved. Maybe. But they shouldn’t envision themselves as being up to answering the call. It has to be some unfortunate antihero, specially designated for this task from birth, compensating for a related but oppositional weakness.

So “eat your meat and vegetables so you can grow up to be just like him,” suddenly, seems an awkward thing to say now. Why would the little moppet want to do such a thing? Even if he finds the adventures inspiring, he’s bound to see them from without, as somebody else’s adventures. But decades ago, mommas said that to their li’l boys that very thing about meats-n-veggies. All the time. And half the time they were talking about Superman, who isn’t even human.

Twenty-First Century Split

Saturday, October 13th, 2007

The post previous to this one undertakes a daunting task, which is to find a definition for the slang term “neocon.”

The incentive is personal. My surname is “Freeberg,” which sounds Jewish. I’m not Jewish. But I delight in picking up newspapers and occasionally reading about terrorists getting fried by bombs. Such stories make my day, and I wish I could read about such things more often. In that sense, I’m a warmonger and I’m a sadist. But I’m not Jewish…so…am I a neocon?

The post linked above is quite lengthy. It gets into the grit of my informal research project, explores every nook & cranny of what I’ve been able to find, and the thoughts that trickle through my neocon brain once I find these things out. I’ll summarize it here for the benefit of those whose time is at a premium.

Unlike most things we call “words,” the term “neocon” doesn’t really define much of anything.

Like tapping your toes in a toilet stall a la Larry Craig, by using the term, you’re saying something about yourself. And that is the whole point of using the term. Or most of it.

When you use the word “neocon” what you’re saying about yourself is…

1. You are a socialist. You want a one-world government. You want everyone on the planet to have the same amount of stuff.

2. Because of #1, you are engaged in an eternal war against capitalism.

3. You hate Jews.

4. You would like people who vote for Republicans, to be lined up against a wall and executed.

5. You’re opposed to the death penalty.

6. You are opposed to the U.S.-led coalition invading Iraq in 2003.

7. You think socialism is wonderful, and the only reason it has not yet worked is because the right people weren’t in charge.

8. If any country has what is called a “military,” and that military has any reason for existence at all whatsoever, it is to provide higher-level education at a reduced cost. War is purely a thing of the past…which means, necessarily, the “boss” of any international dispute should be whoever can command the most formidable “consensus” among diplomats.

9. What we call “money” should be the property of whatever national government dishes it out. Individual achievement should have nothing to do with it at all.

10. There is no God.

11. You people doing a lot of thinking for yourselves, represent a great big problem and you ought to be ashamed of yourselves.

12. It is vastly more important that the next generation be taught how to follow instructions, than that they be taught how to read with optimal comprehension, to write with optimal literacy, to reason with coherence and adaptability, and to perform arithmetic computations with competence, reliability and efficiency.

There’s a butt-load of other things I could tack on to that list if I really tried. What’s on the list isn’t the point. The point is, the list stays consistent…decade after decade…across international borders.

A “socialist” is someone who accepts all those things.

A “neocon” is a derogatory term flung around by a socialist. It really doesn’t have any intrinsic meaning, or very little. To the extent it does have an actual definition, it is used to refer to someone who isn’t a socialist. A “neocon” is someone who is a “hold-out,” as the entire planet continues to be lowered into the roaring bonfire of socialism.

So here’s my proposal: How about we get rid of democrats and Republicans entirely? When I was a little boy, the split was very, very clean: democrats wanted to expand government spending, Republicans wanted to reduce it. All tangential issues were spin-offs from that central definition.

It doesn’t apply anymore. President George W. Bush has the letter “R” after his name and he’s spending money like it’s water.

As a result of that, the Republicans have a deep split. So do the democrats. They trudged off to the polls to vote for democrat politicans so that we’d yank our troops out of Iraq and impeach President Bush…and then the democrat politicians said, thanks, now screw you. So the democrats really don’t stand for much now. You tell me you’re a Republican…or a democrat…and I really don’t know anything, or nothing at all, about you.

Let’s just scrap them both.

We’re socialists and neocons. The symbol of the neocon could be — the pig. A pig with a yarmulke on it’s head. This has a problem or two because yarmulkes are worn by Jews, and Jews don’t eat pork. But I notice that people who criticize “neocons” are, with very few exceptions, socialists. Socialists or radical Islamic muslim terrorists. Or both. They want capitalism to be abolished. Or they want the nation of Israel to be swept into the sea. Or both.

Socialists could be represented by the watermelon. Everyone’s heard this joke by now…the watermelon is green on the outside, red to the core. That’s the twenty-first century socialist for you. He pretends to be all about trees, and snail darters, and spotted owls and what-not…but he really wants to destroy capitalism because he doesn’t like it. The environment is simply an excuse.

My point is — if you spend a day reading lots of blogs, on the “right” and on the “left,” you’ll see that this is our modern split. On October 13, 2007, this is how we are split now. The “right” and the “left” don’t have much to do with anything.

It’s all about watermelons and pigs.

Socialists…and “neocons.” Which are people who aren’t adapting to socialism, as quickly as the socialists would like.

I think, now, today, that’s how our political parties really need to be split. If I’m right, then yes, I’m a “neocon” (even though “Freeberg” isn’t nearly as Jewish as it might sound, to some). I think that’s what’s happening. It’s all about the new-world-order, and how some of us are socialists — too timid to admit that’s what they are, but nevertheless, it’s true — and some of us are simply not ready to adapt to the new-world-order. And so we’re just like those hated Jews.

Update 10/14/07: Okay, I got it. The animal representing the “neocon” should be…the Eagle. An independent, majestic creature. Yes, it is the symbol of the country. That is the point. There are reasons this animal was selected as our country’s symbol. It forages for food in a harsh territory, but does so without complaint because that is it’s destiny. And that environment is a beautiful place. The bird’s eyes are open all the time. It sees far. It takes care of it’s young.

The socialists can be represented by the carpenter ant.

I think this accurately reflects how these two “virtual parties” work. It reflects how their members think. The eagle glides above the domain, it’s keen eyes looking for movement, it’s tiny but powerful bird-brain engaged in a continuous cycle neatly lapping the First Triad…FACT…OPINION…THING TO DO…FACT…OPINION…THING TO DO. The carpenter ant doesn’t do this and cannot do this. Ants can’t draw inferences from facts, outside of their primitive design. They follow trails of spit left by other ants. I’M SUPPOSED TO GO HERE…I’M SUPPOSED TO GO THERE.

I say, let’s split it that way. Just continue Kristol’s idea of taking the epithet that is used to describe you, and making it your own. On both sides. Neocon, socialist.

And then, issue by issue, both sides would go at it. Just like now, but now they’d define themselves the way they want to; the way they really intend to. The democrat/Republican thing dates back to the Civil War, and just a little bit before that. It’s out of date.

On The Slang Term “Neocon”

Saturday, October 13th, 2007

There is this word I’m hearing used a whole lot lately. It’s subjected to a gallon of repetitive use, and a half-pint of definition; and, maybe a teaspoon or two of inquiry and inspection when people are willing to admit they’d like to know more about what it means, which from what I can see, is something that hardly ever happens. In short, it seems everybody’s using this word, nobody really has a meaning in mind for it, nor is anyone insisting on one when it’s used. Which is often.

It’s a pejorative term. But it’s a jealous term. It is applied to people who are doin’ good, and due for a come-uppins. It is to be applied to people who have too much to say about how things work, and shouldn’t be able to decide what they’re able to decide.

The White House, and all departments in the executive branch, is supposed to be chock full of people who fit this term that no one’s willing to define.

The term is neoconservative. The slang, shorter version is “neocon.”

I have been wondering about this before; can’t remember when. But as is my typical remedy, I resolved to go to Wikipedia and believe without question every word I find there. Well, the last time I went through this exercise I remember seeing a bunch of antisemitist drivel, or at least, lots of NPOV (Neutral Point-Of-View) description of antisemitist drivel. It seemed to be powered off an association between Norman Podhoretz and the “neoconservative movement.”

I remember thinking how disturbing this continuation was. Antisemites have been receptive to the notion, for centuries, that the Jews are a bunch of dirty so-and-sos who run everything and are due to be taken down a peg. They pop up every generation or so with a new way to make this message appealing…and here in the early 21st century we’ve got some nameless faceless yokels running around calling people “neocons,” with an insinuation that neocons are dirty so-and-sos due to be taken down a peg. So can I look into the term without Godwinning myself? I have doubts now.

It does seem that sympathy for Israel is a defining characteristic of the “neocon.” Nobody has stepped forward and insisted that being a neocon has something to do with being a Jew. But that does seem to be the case. If you’re a neocon, you have to first-and-foremost be a warmonger, but secondly you have to side with Israel against Palestine. Or there’s an expectation you will do this.

Let’s put it this way: If you really are a warmonger but your sympathies are against Israel — let’s say you want to see Hamas drive Israel into the sea — you’ve got quite a long time to wait before anyone calls you a “neocon.” Odds are it won’t happen.

The Urban Dictionary ended up being more helpful than I thought, although I had to read down a little bit to get to the meat of things. And there were a few surprises in store. The first handful of definitions did exactly what the U.D. is supposed to do: Describe what people are intending when they actually use the word out on the street, textbook definitions be damned.

1. neocon

Morally idealistic conservatatives. neocon is short for neo-conservative. Neocons separate themselves from Republicans that are traditionally fiscal conservative.

Slang – Crusading republican.
Slang – Neocons exist separated into two very distinct groups. The largest, group one, are the people below the 99th income percentile. They are religous and/or war-mongering blowhard lemmings who follow the second group; The second group is made up of the top one percent. They cut taxes for themselves, borrow trillions (second term pending), and their behavior is largely the subject of this blog. Of necessity, they pay Rove to pipe tabloid for the Rats. Lemmings rather. Whichever, they both work.
Vlugar – White bible thumping trash.

The draft-dodging neocons running the white house are threatening our future as a great nation.

2. Neocon

Neoconservative. Criminally insane spenders that believe in killing brown people for the new world order. Huge Orwellian government, unfathomable amounts of spending, bomb tens of thousands of people to death to rearrange the globe. Take the worst aspects of the liberal and conservative positions and combine them into one and you would have a NeoCon.

Neocons are the greatest threat to life, liberty and property this country has ever known.

3. neocon

Neoconservative. Originally used to describe left-wingers who crossed the floor, neocons are on the authoritarian right, rather than the traditionally conservative libertarian right. They tend to be very pro-war and adopt the mentality of “We’re better than you and we know it.”

Some more vulgar people call them Neocunts.

“I don’t really like Kerry, but I’d rather see him in power than those horrendous neocons who currently run things!”

I really think I might like definition #6, sub-definition #3 the best…

6. neocon
3: Complete and utter dirtbags of pure, unrefined trash that only look out for their own wealth and contribute nothing to the betterment of man kind.
Worthless. Malignant. Junk.

In an act characteristic of the Nazis, the neocons are now proposing that all people who make less than $50,000 a year be exterminated in concentration camps along with the gays, ethnic peoples and atheists.

So you see, it’s not just a simple pejorative. There is hate locked up in this word. I’m still uncertain about what it’s supposed to say…just as uncertain as I was before, maybe even moreso. The word clearly has racial connotations, targeting people who are white, and insinuating that the persons so targeted are the ones with a racist problem.

And I’m starting to doubt this because whatever agendas are bottled up and being subtly referenced here, they seem to be carried aloft by the people using the term, not so much by the people referenced by the term. “…unrefined trash that only look out for their own wealth and contribute nothing to the betterment of man kind [sic].” That kind of sounds like someone approached the “neocon” with a proposition that involved separating him from his money, and the neocon had the audacity to say no.

I have reasons for wanting to know this. I get called a “neocon” quite often, because…well, as a rational, reasonable and logical freedom-loving American, I want terrorists dead. The more the better. Roll the smoking carcasses on in, get ’em counted and roll in some more. It makes me smile, seeing them dead like that. But I’m willing to be reasonable; if a terrorist should be allowed to live because we might get information out of him that leads to more dead terrorists, I’m all for letting him live. Until we get that information. And verify it. THEN kill him. I dream of the day we’re told, “we just can’t produce any more dead terrorist bodies, because it seems we’ve run out of terrorists.” That would be ideal.

Conventional wisdom says this won’t happen because when you kill a hundred terrorists, you make two hundred more. My response is let’s put that to the test. I’ll bet there’s a point where you run out. Hell, the same people who doubt this about terrorists, are the very same ones saying exactly that about penguins, polar bears, snail darters, trees…etc. etc. etc. We’re constantly accusing ourselves of making things extinct. Let’s be guilty of it in this one case. Find out what’s possible.

This is supposed to make me a “neocon” but…go back and read those definitions again. I’m supposed to want to spend more money. I’m supposed to hate brown people. I don’t care about brownness…white terrorists, green terrorists, purple terrorists. Kill ’em all. And another thing, I’m cheap. Lots of ex-wives & girlfriends will confirm that. I drive an eighteen-year-old car. When it comes to killing terrorists, even, I hope they do it as cheaply as possible. That way they can kill more terrorists.

This doesn’t seem to fit the description. Sometimes I think when people call me this, it doesn’t have to do with my appreciation for mile-high stacks of terrorist carcasses at all. Sometimes it seems to have something to do with my surname. Freeberg. You know the secret here? It’s not a jewish name. It doesn’t even really exist. Watch the first act of The Godfather, Part II, and you’ll see how my grandfather got this name. This was very commonplace at that time. My grandfather went through exactly that office. Albin J. Freeberg and Vito Corleone might very well have been bumping into each other.

So I’m not Jewish, I’m not wild about spending money. But I do love reading about terrorists getting killed. I honestly don’t know if this word applies to me. I need to get it defined to figure out if that’s so.

So getting back to it, you know, this is a very strange word. There is giving information to someone, and there is inviting someone to hop onto a bandwagon. This n-word seems to have a lot more to do with the bandwagon than with the offering of information. It says more about the person using the term than the person described by it. Let’s sit down with what we’ve gathered so far, and try to form a picture about the user and see if we get further. Such a person has utopian tendencies because he resents the “neocons” for “contributing nothing to the betterment.” This suggests anti-capitalist leanings. Powerful ones, albeit timid ones. He doesn’t want to admit what he is. He’s probably a “Pie Person” — someone who believes if one guy got a bigger piece of pie, someone else must have gotten a smaller one. He’s not too crazy about President Bush. For all the diverse viewpoints about what the term means, nobody seems to doubt the President is one — even though the President, himself, is not thought to be Jewish — and that the current administration is crammed full of’em. The user of this term, it seems clear to me, likes non-white people better than white people, to what degree I’m not sure. He’s a pacifist, certainly; of all the traits that are supposed to be criticized when you call someone a “neocon,” the willingness to make war is foremost.

I’m gathering the poor fellow has delusions that something is about to happen. There’s this massive takedown of the neocons looming on the horizon. The word is almost always used to describe people who are in a position of power, and are about to not be anymore. There is this none-too-subtle suggestion that we are living in some kind of Age of Neoconservatism, have been for two or three decades, and are now seeing it’s final days.

Wow, I’m almost describing that stringy-haired homeless guy in all the movies with the sandwich board that says “THE END IS NEAR.”

Beyond that, it starts to get a little tough to shed more light on it. But Definition #15 helped a lot.

15. neocon

A combination of “Neo”(new) and “Con”(conservative).

“Neocon” is the term for both a new and old (reborn) form of Conservativism. A break from the Reublican party and return to more traditional Conservative values. This represents a fracturing of the Right. Neocons tend to be young, idealistic, and even dogmatic activists. They tend to have above-average intelligence and education. They are very similar to the movements of the 1960s, but with different core values. They are both pessimistic about the current system, and optimistic about the difference they can make.

It is difficult to lock Neocons down to a specific set of values, because they come from a wide variety of backgrounds (including minorities and gays) and have a wide variance in their ideals. Overall, Neocons are pro-life and support the death penalty. Many neocons are religious or “spiritual” in one way or another. They are not necessarily Christian, although that is the religion to which most of them subscribe. Neocons preach tolerance and coexistence without political correctness. They tend to strongly support both the First and Second Amendments of the Constitution. Neocons support Capitalism, but view being beholden to corporate interests with great distaste. And while compromise is a necessary evil in politics, when in doubt, neocons will stick to their guns. Too much compromise is the hallmark of selling out. They believe that the current political process has become so corrupt that no politician can get anywhere without selling out to various interests.

Neocons view the increasingly centrist philosophy of Republican politicians with the same distaste that their radically Liberal opponents feel for the Democrats. Both of the Big Two parties have been migrating towards the center for some time now, leaving behind many on either side. This is manifested by the power wielded by third-party candidates, which was decisive in determining the outcomes of the 1992, 2000 and 2004 Presidential elections. (And resulting in much backbiting on either the Left or the Right afterwards)

This is a new age in American politics. The rise of neoconservativism was one of the more unforseen and underestimated political developments in the last two decades. With similar fracturing on the Liberal side of the political divide, the power-hold of the Big Two parties (Republican and Democrat) is being shaken, and voting for a third-party candidate no longer means you are just “throwing your vote away.” The future may be a very interesting time for all of us, Liberal or Conservative.

“The neo-conservatism of the 1980s is a replay of the New Conservatism of the 1950s, which was itself a replay of the New Era philosophy of the 1920s” (Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr.).

As for accuracy, I’m inclined to go with a couple morsels scribbled hastily under #17: “Any person who is winning an argument with a liberal,” and “Catch all term used by liberals when they think they’ve been using Nazi too much.”

But let’s get back to Wikipedia, because it seems pretty clear if we can find a textbook definition, that won’t do us very much good compared to a history of how the term came to be. U.D. Def. #15 makes it clear there is a rich legacy to this word.

The language about Norman Podhoretz had been diminished considerably from what I had last seen, but I did find this, and at first I thought it might be a big help:

As a term, neoconservative first was used derisively by democratic socialist Michael Harrington to identify a group of people (who thought they were liberals) as newly simulated conservative ex-liberals. The term stuck because neoconservatives were confused with true conservative.[4]

Now, that’s interesting. One click took me to the Harrington article which explained the following:

…Harrington wrote The Other America: Poverty in the United States, a book that had an impact on the Kennedy administration, and on Lyndon B. Johnson’s subsequent War on Poverty. Harrington became a widely read intellectual and political writer. He would frequently debate noted conservatives but would also clash with the younger radicals in the New Left movements. Arthur M. Schlesinger, Sr. referred to Harrington as the “only responsible radical” in America, a somewhat dubious distinction among those on the political left. His high profile landed him on the master list of Nixon political opponents.[3]

By early 1970s [Trotskyist leader Max] Shachtman’s anti-Communism had become a hawkish Cold War liberalism. Shachtman and the governing faction of the Socialist Party effectively supported the Vietnam War and changed the organization’s name to Social Democrats, USA. In protest Harrington led a number of Norman Thomas-era Socialists, younger activists and ex-Shachtmanites into the Democratic Socialist Organizing Committee. A smaller faction associated with peace activist David McReynolds formed the Socialist Party USA.

In the early 1980s The Democratic Socialist Organizing Committee merged with the New American Movement, an organization of New Left veterans, forming Democratic Socialists of America. This organization remains the principal U.S. affiliate of the Socialist International, which includes socialist parties as diverse as the Swedish and German Social Democrats, Nicaragua’s FSLN, and the British Labour Party.[4]

Harrington was appointed a professor of political science at Queens College in 1972; he was designated a distinguished professor in 1988. Harrington died in 1989 of cancer. He was the most well-known socialist in the United States during his lifetime.[5]

So some wild-eyed socialist got us to throw away trillions of dollars on the Great Society program, and came up with this derogatory term for anyone who wasn’t along for the ride. That’s pretty much it. I mean, the history part of it.

But I found out a little more. I’ve got this weird habit with Wikipedia that comes from not quite believing anything I read a hundred percent…I keep clicking on the “Talk” tab. I find it interesting. Harrington’s talk-page had an item of additional interest in it.

An anon editor removed the quote from William F. Buckley to the effect that being the most prominent Socialist is America is akin to being “the tallest building in Topeka Kansas.” I found this kind of an endearing quote and am inclined to restore it. Any discussion?

And I was thinking, that’s Buckley at his finest right there. But say…I wonder…what does the discussion page behind “Neoconservative” look like? Maybe I’ve been going about this all wrong. Maybe that will tell me everything I need to know.

All Those Archives!Well, Good Lord. No wonder the article itself used to have all these interesting things that I can’t find anymore.

“It is simply discourteous to the other editors to make very significant edits without any edit summaries at all to let others know what you are doing with the article…”

“Please dont be so condescending that I have to “learn” to use certain mechanisms…”

“I’m frankly disappointed that you would proceed immediately to re-introduce disputed material without having responded to any of the editors over the past week during which the page was protected.”

“Please stop the nasty personal attacks. Please refer to me–as is basic simple courtesy for any Wiki editor–by my user name. Thanks.”

“God, your awfully thin skinned for someone who styles himself as such a major enemy of “the right”. You really are just a classic cliche of a bully who constantly name-calls whoever you don’t like and is totally emasculated when the tables are turned.”

“Have you tried Viagra? It might make you a more secure editor. Projection indeed! LOL!”

“Why do you so have your panties in a bunch about this Chip?”

“This is just harrassment pure and simple, which is all you know how to do, and yes, I repeat, you are a totalitarian!!!”

“I’m going to request mediation. This article seems desperately to need it.”

And so it goes. As to the actual claim that Harrington originated the term, I was able to pin down that citation and find it online with Google Books…here (chap. 2, pg. 55)…it’s E.J. Dionne opining about things, and to my disappointment there’s no reference or supporting evidence to this. There isn’t even a citation to any specific Harrington work. For all I know, Dionne may be simply opining about Harrington’s authorship itself.

While the New Left was rebelling at liberalism’s left flank, a group of intellectuals who shared some of the New Left’s skepticism began a revolt on liberalism’s right. The revolt of the neoconservatives was far more successful, and they continue to have a powerful impact on American politics.

Neoconservatives initially rebelled against the label neoconservative. They didn’t even invent it; the late Michael Harrington, a democratic socialist, did. Harrington’s intent was to make clear that a group including many who called themselves liberal was in fact a movement of newly conservative ex-liberals. The label eventually stuck because it was so apt — and because over time, so many of the neoconservatives came to accept that they were conservatives after all. By the 1980s, in any event, the term conservative was anything but an insult. Irving Kristol, often described as the movement’s “godfather,” was one of the first to accept the label. He described himslf as “the only living and self-confessed neoconservative, at large or in captivity.” Conceding that political labeling was more a leftist than a conservative craft, Kristol said that conservatives sometims had to live with the handiwork of their foes. “The sensible course, therefore, is to take your label, claim it as your own, and run with it,” Kristol declared. He and his comrades did just that.

Neoconservatism has received so much attention because it was one of the clearest signs of a realignment in American politics. Neoconservatism represented the defection of an important and highly articulate group of liberals to the other side. Precisely because they knew liberalism from the inside, the neoconservatives were often more effective than the old conservatives at explaining what was wrong with the liberal creed. And on many issues, the neoconservatives were right or partly right — and usually interesting even when they were wrong.

Okay, so the word describes Irving Kristol, albeit with his own consent and even with his own participation. The hatred and resentment against those evil Jooooooooos pops up yet again. Well there are other things popping up yet again. As I noted before, neocons have some voice in our policy, a voice thought now to be in the winter of it’s existence. They are Jewish, they are affluent, and what I find to be most telling is that they used to be democrats. Usage of the term says more about the person using it than the person being described by it, so the spirit cloaked under the term is one of loathing, probably resentment over the switchover.

It’s kind of like how Clarence Thomas is loathed much more than Antonin Scalia even though, as far as the persons doing the loathing are concerned, the two justices rule the same way. Thomas is black. He’s thought to be guilty of some kind of betrayal that doesn’t apply to the Italian-American justice. So I guess the only way the Jews can be tolerated by the hard-left democrats, is if the Jews vote the way they’re supposed to…if they “know their place,” you might say.

Once they slither under the barbed wire, peel off that yellow star, and go voting where they aren’t supposed to be voting…they get called “neocons.”

Interestingly, it sounds like a portmanteau involving “neo-Nazi.” If Nazi tendencies have anything to do with this term, they underly the usage of it. It’s a classic case of projection.

There are individuals in mind for this term, and that’s what makes it really unique. It was used specifically to refer to Irving Kristol, as Dionne pointed out; to the extent I can do any of what’s called “research,” it seems formulated more to refer to Podhoretz, at least in the written sources I find. Out on the street, meanwhile, it looks like a reference to Paul Wolfowitz.

In context of the 2008 elections, it is a challenge to the Wolfowitz Doctrine. It invites a debate on this…which would be worthwhile…but it doesn’t really invite debate at all. It smears, it slanders, it gives people instructions about what to think.

It is a word-weapon brandished by socialists. It is a machinery deployed to rope the peacenik hippies, the stoners, the antisemites and the reverse-racists into the big tent of socialism.

These are interesting times, aren’t they?

You call someone a “socialist” and you can take it to the bank, someone’s going to insist on a long, drawn-out debate about the precise meaning of what you just called them, even though it’s unnecessary because it’s pretty well-established what a socialist is. You call someone a “neocon,” and we aren’t supposed to discuss that at all, even though there’s next-to-no agreement about what that word means.

Best Sentence XVIII

Friday, October 12th, 2007

Last month I shamelessly plugged this blog’s pages in a thread over on Pajamas Media, under a point/counterpoint article saying that an abortion was no more destructive to the rights of any other being, than ordering a cheeseburger with fries. My point was that this mindset was applicable in some way to just about every issue we’re arguing about now. There’s always a perspective someone wants to take on things, that starts with a premise that we are not glorious beings put in a glorious environment to fulfill a glorious purpose.

And the mindset slithers around and knots itself up into a messy ball of faux-logic, arriving at a conclusion having to do with “rights.” Well before ‘fessing up to this jaundiced view of our higher existential purpose, or lack thereof. And by the way, “every issue” means pretty much that. Abortion: We aren’t here to do much of anything, and so the mother has a right to terminate her pregnancy. All who dare to assert something else, or even to question this, must be shouted down. God in schools: We’ve got to get Him out of there. Intelligent Design must be pulled out of the science course, and put in the philosophy course, if it is to be put anywhere at all. Minimum wage: Nobody’s work is really that much more important than anybody else’s, so the services least in economic demand must be forced up to a certain level. Gun rights: You do not have a right or responsibility to protect your own family, that’s what 911 is for, and so you must surrender your guns, or at least register them so they can be taken away later. Torture: If the CIA is indeed protecting us from anyone, and this must be doubted everlastingly without any resolution one way or t’other, they must not resort to torture in what they do. No matter what. Death penalty: We must not do it, end of story. As for the guy who killed someone and the specific act that ended up putting him on that gurney, well, that’ll happen from time to time; but the important thing is the state must not kill to show that killing is wrong, even though it is.

All these people start from the axiom that no Higher Power put us here to accomplish anything more important than ourselves. Which must result in, in fact I would argue is a consequence of, the idea that life has but one purpose, and that is to be happy. They start out from that philosophical landmark, and trudge along a well-worn path to some magical valley filled to the brim with all these must‘s. You don’t know whether to laugh or cry. They strive for a life with fewer rules in it — they end up just like Gulliver tethered down to the sandy beach by all those Lilliputians. The conundrum of self-contradiction is obvious.

I’ve expressed this over and over again, to the point where I’m like a broken record. I’ve just not been able to find a way to do it in a single sentence.

But someone named “James” did. On September 26 at 8:52 PM. Using the rhetorical question, thereby pulling down the latest Best Sentence I’ve Heard Or Read Lately (BSIHORL) award.

As an atheist who lives an evidence- and reason-based life, would you be kind enough to give me the scientific proof for the existence of human rights?

Ding ding ding. Certificate, trophy, medallion…coupon for dinner-for-two at Black Angus…whatever. You covered everything, before you reached the first dot. WELL done.

Meanwhile, let us inspect the monotheists like me who believe in a “sky fairy” toiling away with our silly taboos. Somehow, we seem to be the only ones left with the ability to truly intellectually open a “must” to question and scrutiny. And this is a very surprising thing. To doubt the existence of God or any other deity, is supposed to be a precursor of reasoned thinking. In fact, it is supposed to be a result of that. It’s supposed to lead to a “free” life, with fewer rules in it. How can it not? Here’s this entity constructed for the purpose of telling people what to do, with omnipotent authority, and you just got rid of it. And you’d think that’s exactly the way it works.

Here’s the rub, though. In real life, it’s completely opposite from that. Atheists cannot question the must, anymore than you can bend your elbow backward, touching your middle finger to the tip of your shoulder blade. The parts just don’t bend that way. Us sky-fairy-believers have our set of “musts”…all the atheists can do, is dismiss those outright, and maybe go to some length to be seen dismissing, so they can chalk up some kind of atheist-brownie-points. As for the atheists’ own “musts” — and they do seem to have a whole wheelbarrow full of them, compared to us — those pretty much just stand, self-evident. There’s no ensuing debate about them. The atheist will not, and cannot, participate in an exploration of where they lead…or from where they came. They simply are. It is an astoundingly anti-intellectual mental state to assume, for one that is supposed to be derived purely of reason and fact. Think, again, about Gulliver staked down on the beach.

If I choose not to believe in the atheist’s “must,” it’s just further evidence that I’m intellectually underpowered. These are really genuinely oppressive “musts” because they test the intellect, rather than the other way around. Gulliver can’t squirm, Gulliver can’t wriggle.

This is the paradox. We have the instinct to live free lives. But we can only do this by being religious. Which means, ultimately, that we have been tasked to achieve something glorious, of such a great magnitude that we can’t comprehend what it is, by a consciousness with greater authority and importance than what we possess ourselves.

To repudiate that, is to repudiate freedom.

Media Dishonesty Matters

Thursday, October 11th, 2007

I was skimming over this great list of lying liars that was linked from Tom the Impaler, and strangely, it was in that exact instant that #24 began to be interviewed by my local radio guys.

No, I didn’t call. A pirhana might think a prairie dog a tasty treat, but predators should stick to their chosen territory. A liar our thirty-ninth President may be, but he’s still a smart man, and the Lord of the Sound Bite which I’m not.

But I would love to see something done to take this guy down. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if a class of sixth- or seventh-graders was assigned to study the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution for two solid weeks…and then on Friday, sit down as a group and come up with twenty-five phrases that have something to do with what America is all about. With the text of those two documents fresh in their minds, get a good list of twenty-five things going.

And then, that Friday afternoon, Jimmy Carter is invited to address the class — and is presented with this question. You’ve said repeatedly that the current President is a disaster for the country. What do you, President Carter, envision as the ideals of that country?

Monday morning, the class cross-references the terms Carter used in his answer, against the list they drew up. Come up with an overlap. Make it a percentage. The results go on the innernets.

I venture to say we’d never hear from the windbag again.

He’s just not talking about what we call “America.” He’s talking about something else.

Why Good News Shouldn’t Get Reported

Wednesday, October 10th, 2007

Truly, truly, this is a frog in a pot of boiling water moment. Journey through a time machine to any year you care to choose…from the advent of “modern” journalism, in whatever way you wish to define it…to whatever you think ushered in this crazy, surreal, other-worldly “new new news” era in which we live. I dunno. Maybe figuring out that latter moment, would be worth a post of it’s own. March 17, 2003, maybe? But I digress.

In that era of “semi-modern” journalism, there’s probably a good fifty years of days to which you could hop, and tell the people living in any one of those days, that…well, read for yourself.

As CNN’s Howard Kurtz accurately pointed out on Sunday’s “Reliable Sources,” few media outlets seemed at all interested in giving much attention to the great news out of Iraq last week regarding September’s sharp decline in casualties.

To Kurtz’s obvious frustration, his guests – Robin Wright of the Washington Post and Barbara Starr of CNN – both supported the press burying this extremely positive announcement.

No, it gets better still. Good news shouldn’t be reported, but bad news should. Yeah. They’re admitting to the bias, right up to, but not including, the point where you use the b-word. I guess. I mean, read for yourself.

Even Kurtz recognized the hypocrisy here, which led to the following:

KURTZ: But let’s say that the figures had shown that casualties were going up for U.S. soldiers and going up for Iraqi civilians. I think that would have made some front pages.

STARR: Oh, I think inevitably it would have. I mean, that’s certainly — that, by any definition, is news. Look, nobody more than a Pentagon correspondent would like to stop reporting the number of deaths, interviewing grieving families, talking to soldiers who have lost their arms and their legs in the war. But, is this really enduring progress?

We’ve had five years of the Pentagon telling us there is progress, there is progress. Forgive me for being skeptical, I need to see a little bit more than one month before I get too excited about all of this.

Hmmm. So, a shocking increase in deaths would have “certainly” been newsworthy. However, for a decrease to be reported, skeptical journalists have to be more convinced that it’s a lasting improvement.

So the “we’re not biased” has been whittled down to a meaningless catchphrase, nothing more.

Journey to any date between 1945 and 2003 and let ’em know about this, and people will think you’re a partisan shill. Or a satirist. Or a freakin’ lunatic. In 2007, it is what is really going on.

Democrats Getting High on Limbaugh

Wednesday, October 10th, 2007

This article by Jack Kelly from this weekend comes close to earning a Best Sentence I’ve Heard Or Read Lately (BSIHORL) award. But it’s three sentences…

One would think Democrats would find enough to criticize in the things Rush Limbaugh actually says, since he rarely has kind things to say about them. But Mr. Limbaugh was being attacked Monday for something he didn’t say. And the timing of the attack makes it clear the Democrats knew perfectly well that what they were saying about Rush wasn’t true.

…and, if it actually got a BSIHORL award, you wouldn’t be quite so inclined to read the whole thing. Which you really should go and do. Now.

What…you’re still here??

The Oath

Wednesday, October 10th, 2007

This blog’s third birthday is coming up, and in all that time we’ve managed to make a lot of friends for something that calls itself The Blog That Nobody Reads.

Some of the folks who pop in and hang around regularly, commenting in the comment section, or maybe going through the trouble to send an off-line, have expressed something without really expressing it. It’s a read-between-the-lines thing. Let’s see if I can paraphrase it here.

This Freeberg guy, I’ve read enough of his stuff now that I’m pretty sure how he’s going to handle any given subject, without being really sure what he’s going to say. He’s got some kind of method he keeps applying. He’s always scolding people for not thinking things out, and obviously he’s such a compulsive list-maker, it seems odd that he doesn’t have a list of things he does when he writes the things he writes and thinks the things he thinks.

I admit it. I do go to some lengths to keep my phrasing and word selection fresh and non-repetitive…with mixed results, at the very best, it seems sometimes. But if it is possible for a thought process to become boring — that’s really the big question right there, isn’t it? — I must be a repeat offender on felony levels. We have rules at this blog; how to do your thinking, not so much what kind of thinking to do. As I sometimes tell these pop-in, pop-out liberals who occasionally stop by to speak their “truth to power”: This is the House of Eratosthenes. This is not the “House of some guy who thinks whatever he’s told to think by others”; that little mud hut is out there somewhere. Not here.

The Oath of Eratosthenes can be found here, and it is reproduced in this post in full:

For the matter under discussion, and throughout the course of that discussion, I pledge to apply my thoughts to all of it and my feelings to none of it; to know what I can personally prove, nothing more and nothing less; and to believe what I can solidly infer from what I know, nothing more and nothing less. I will not be told what to think. Not by those who have power over me, who claim to have power over me, who aspire to have power over me, by persons possessing honors, credentials, pedigrees, awards or fame.

I understand the difference between an article of faith and a logical inference. I shall withhold both of those, from whatever beliefs directly contradict known fact. My power of inference will be applied only to those questions that can be decided by inference alone; and my inferences shall be decided as if my personal fortune, and other things precious to me, depended on them.

I shall admit my error quickly when demonstrated to be in error, but I shall harbor no ambitions toward being erroneous. I claim no monopoly on truth, and will grant no such monopoly to others.

I will not bully, intimidate or coerce, nor will I modify my own viewpoints because of someone else’s bullying, intimidation or coercion. I will lend no greater weight to a statement just for being concise or amusing, or lesser weight to a statement just for being bloated or monotonous.

I will apply the most vigorous scrutiny where I perceive others have failed to do so. But I understand scrutiny has nothing to do with actually disclaiming anything. Scrutiny is a process and not an outcome.

I shall comprehend, at all times, the critical distinction between proving A, and failing to prove !A. I shall not assign benefit-of-doubt to one side of a dispute, or to the other side, in order to please others, nor will I try to bludgeon others into doing that.

I shall faithfully distinguish between the subjective and the objective, between knowing things and believing things, and between feeling and thought.

Above all, I will know for myself without anyone else pointing it out, that if I should violate any of the above, I will no longer be standing in the House of Eratosthenes.

Year of the Sham

Wednesday, October 10th, 2007

I remember when the Clarence Thomas confirmations hearings were on the radio and I made a point of listening to them. Well a lot of other folks were paying attention too, and some of them decided to run for Congress. The result is yet another situation where two people can look at exactly the same thing and come away with wildly different interpretations of what happened.

Let’s start with the most popular interpretation: A routine confirmation hearing was unexpectedly plunged into the issues surrounding sexual harrassment, and the nation woke up to the sudden realization that women were under-represented in the Senate. Thus we had the “Year of the Woman,” 1992, in which a zillion women were elected and most of those women are still serving today.

What’s wrong with that? Well, more than just a few things. The notion that a male representative is completely and automatically bereft of any ability to represent or service his lady constituents in the chamber where he serves, brings it’s own mess of logical wrinkles. If cross-gender representation has a possibility of working, but is cumulatively ineffective, us California gentlemen must really be laboring under a senatorial slight that is building up over the passage of time. No serious challenge has been made to either one of our oh-so-trendy liberal female senators since that Womanly Year…for sake of consistency, wouldn’t one have to concede that we’re struggling without our due representation?

Also, the number of women in the Senate remains well below fifty. If women are being handed some kind of a raw deal because there aren’t “enough” women in the Senate, one would have to conclude this primitive and oppressive state of affairs continues to this very day. Which would reduce the “Year of the Woman” to a blip on the radar, just the first swipe of the cleaning pad against the wall of a sower stall caked thick with mold and mildew. It’s reduced to something of a non-event, by anyone simply taking the premise seriously.

And then there is the performance of the ladies after the event, during their subsequent service. I slid into California just as it was taking place, and have lived here ever since, while the two chickies have stayed in the whole time. Nobody’s stopped by to ask me if I can feel the energy cackling through the air now that the people are finally being heard in the nation’s upper chamber. They shouldn’t ask. They shouldn’t even ask a California citizen whose personal leanings are more compatible with the lady senators’ politics; that citizen’s take on things, if they’re fair, would agree with mine. The senate-ladies are a couple of party hacks, and have never pretended to be anything but.

It’s become something of a circus, kind of a predictable lap on a merry-go-round. A contentious issue comes up, and I write to Boxer or Feinstein to let them know of my concerns. Back comes a computer-generated printout thanking me for inquiring of the Senator’s position on the matter…which isn’t what I did at all…and courteously letting me know what it is. Huh. Guess the decision was made already, before I wrote in. Feinstein adds an adorable little variation to this theme by going on-the-record in the days before the vote is conducted, to state that she hasn’t yet made up her mind. If you take this seriously, it logically excludes the “Morgan just wrote too late” theory because DiFi is really takikng her sweet time on this thing to make the right decision. But I don’t take it seriously. She’s a puppet. She represents by clique. She’s got a short list of folks she needs to consult in making decisions, and us voters aren’t on that list. She tells us what to do, not the other way ’round.

Boxer’s no more connected to The People than Feinstein is, nor do I gather are Murray or Cantwell. As an epochal event by which a disenfranchised portion of the electorate finally found representation, the “Year of the Woman” is a joke.

Which brings us to my interpretation of the event…

Politicians found a new angle. It is that simple, no more complicated than that. It was a sales gimmick, to be piled high upon other sales gimmicks, as if the product being sold was a defective used car. We were having our biannual electioneering, and some hucksters found a new way to sell a pig-in-a-poke. Which worked great, as it turns out.

What was their angle? They were able to address anyone who bothered to tune in to the Thomas hearings, which included myself, and say — change is needed. Just look at this circus going on here. That is what we saw and what we heard…a circus. But the system was broken then, and is broken now, you see. The politicians who made the Thomas hearings into a circus, had a lot in common with the politicians who won election into that chamber, on the strength that we needed them so badly because the Thomas hearings were a circus. In short, we tuned in, saw a bunch of crooks and liars, and were convinced to vote for more crooks and liars.

This is where American politics break down. It’s got to do with the money angle. Like any business proposition, running for elective office takes on appeal for the person considering it, when it is detected there is little to no potential resistance. And that’s what “Year of the Woman” really did — it ensured that if you were female, and you were running for office in 1992 to avenge poor Anita, why, anyone who’d dare breathe a word of opposition or challenge to you would be some kind of cad. And so nobody, or very few, so opposed. That’s the natural incentive, even today — you look for statements to make that won’t be opposed. That means less money is spent “getting the message out.” It’s a business enterprise, just like any other; the successful opportunist will find ways to reduce expenses.

And so the system is structured to sell us messages that we receive naturally. Messages that involve minimal communication. Cheap messages. Threadbare messages. Messages possessing only tangential connection with truth.

The message that female senators will more effectively represent female constituents, has turned out to be completely severed from truth. Our “new” senators don’t represent women; they represent democrats.

As for the “truth” that energized the Year of the Woman in the first place, Thomas Sowell has some interesting points to offer in defense of his friend, Associate Justice Clarence Thomas. The hearings have often been characterized, during as well as in hindsight, as a case of “He Said, She Said”; you just have to make up your mind which side to believe, and go with it. Liberals like that a lot — they’re big fans of making up your own mind about what’s true, giving special weight to evidence arriving subsequently that lends strength to their opinion, ignoring evidence that does not. But as Dr. Sowell points out, this was not a he-said-she-said case.

There were ways in which different versions of events by Hill and Thomas were quite capable of being checked — but were not checked.

That failure to check the facts was very strange in a situation where so much depended on the credibility of the two people. Here are the two versions.

According to Clarence Thomas, he hired Anita Hill at the urging of a friend because an official of the law firm at which she worked had advised her to leave.

According to Ms. Hill — both then and now — she was not “asked to leave” the law firm but was “in good standing” at the time.

This too was not just a question of “he said” and “she said.” An affidavit sworn by a former partner in that law firm supported Clarence Thomas’s version. That was ignored by most of the media.

Since the Senate has the power of subpoena, it was suggested that they issue a subpoena to get the law firm’s records, since that could provide a clue as to the credibility of the two people.

Senators opposed to the nomination of Judge Thomas voted down that request for the issuance of a subpoena.

After Anita Hill’s accusations, a group of female members of Congress staged a melodramatic march up the Capitol steps, with the TV cameras rolling, demanding that the Senate “get to the bottom of this.”

But “getting to the bottom of this” apparently did not include issuing a subpoena that could have shown conclusively who was truthful and who was not.

In another instance, there was already hard evidence but it too was ignored. Clarence Thomas said that Anita Hill had initiated a number of phone calls to him, over the years, after she had left the agency where they both worked. She said otherwise. But a phone log from the agency showed that he was right.

The really fatal fact about Anita Hill’s accusations was that they were first made to the Senate Judiciary Committee in confidence, and she asked that her name not be mentioned when the accusations were presented to Judge Thomas by those trying to pressure him to withdraw his nomination to the Supreme Court.

Think about it: The accusations referred to things that were supposed to have happened when only two people were present.

If the accusations were true, Clarence Thomas would automatically know who originated them. Anita Hill’s request for anonymity made sense only if the charges were false.

Hey, as constituents we’re not perfect. We’ll continue to try to keep an eye on the shenanigans our elected representatives try to pull on us, and sometimes we’ll catch them in the act, sometimes we won’t. Sometimes we’ll go ahead and gobble up the crap they sell us, and demand seconds.

In the history of The People keeping tabs on the Congress crooks, holding them accountable, the Year of the Woman is a low ebb. It is bedrock. We’ve been had.

Feminism Is Dead

Tuesday, October 9th, 2007

My ten-year-old son was asking “How come my mom talks about feminism as if it’s something that is still going on, and you talk about it in the past tense?” I explained that feminism was supposed to be a set of rules. It started out with one rule, that women were to have all the rights and privileges men had, including equal pay for equal work, and then this gradually morphed into a whole bunch of things. It got to the point where if you so much as acknowledged there might be inherent differences between the sexes, a feminist would be comin’ to getcha, like a real flesh-and-blood political boogeyman. This was actually years before Larry Summers had his little problem. So basically, people didn’t leave feminism, feminism left them. But the real kicker, I explained, was when Bill Clinton got in trouble for mistreating some women. One of the women he mistreated wanted her day in court, and he used his position of authority to make sure she didn’t get it. This is exactly what feminists tell us we’re not supposed to tolerate…and they themselves tolerated it, because they figured so long as Bill Clinton remained a powerful President who could abuse and intimidate people, their political movement was better off.

But they were wrong about this, because when people saw the feminists were nothing more than a cynical political feeding frenzy of mob-rule sharks, they abandoned feminism in droves. And now it’s “dead,” in the sense it’s quite safe to say we’ll never see it have the cultural effect it had in the 1970’s unless there is some major reform, with a daunting public-relations task to make it truly effective. This would be a true reincarnation. So “dead” is precisely what it is. And that’s a good thing because without this massive re-definition taking place, everything good about feminism, is in the past. On the current trajectory, Starship Feminism is cruising at maximum warp into the galaxy of totalitarianism. Controlling what people think, telling people what to do, ending the careers of big people whose latest innocuous gestures and remarks cause bile to bubble up in the throats of little people. The right little people. It’s a means by which wretched simpletons with nothing substantial to say, can climb on to soapboxes and start issuing proclamations greater than their own intellect. Equal treatment amongst the sexes, hasn’t got anything to do with what we call “feminism,” and hasn’t had anything to do with that for a very long time.

When he repeated such comments to his mother…she changed her mind, and now she refers to feminism in the past tense too.

Now if anyone would like to call this into question, or challenge any of it, then a great place to point them as the discussion kicks into high gear would be right…about…here. At Feministing. One of my favorite flogs.

…to say that the “second shift” is because of women’s genetic predisposition to housework is just absurd. And it lets men off the hook. Rena might be satisfied to spend her adult life as the happy homemaker, but the vast majority of us are not. See, those of us who manage to part with our Swiffers long enough to venture outside for a paycheck know that, as Rena notes, there are indeed minute-to-minute unpleasant tasks in the work world. But they add up to a lot more than a sparkling toilet. They allow women to have influence in the public sphere — the world beyond the “little kingdom,” where important decisions are made about the direction of society, and where money and power change hands.

No matter how many times women like Rena tell themselves they are “renegades” for liking housework, the fact remains that they’re taking the path of least resistance with domestic gender roles. That’s all well and good if it makes them happy, but Friedan called this a “mystique” for a reason. Most women aren’t as happy in this role as they tell themselves they are. As Moe puts it, “There’s nothing zen about chapped hands and Brillo pads.”

There ya go. A screed lobbed up into the air, like a cluster bomb or a pineapple grenade, in a vicious melee taking place on the innernets. The catalyst of this holy battle: Whether women should find housework satisfying or not. Gosh…uh, is it completely out of the question to, y’know, kinda let the girls figure it out for themselves? You don’t see us dudes issuing these high-minded proclamations to each other about whether we should all like sports or working on cars.

Well, I mean, other than fathers like me telling their sons what talents the sons should be nurturing so they’ll be ready for adulthood. And every now and then, some career advice to dweebs like me that if we don’t like sports, maybe for the sake of getting our next plumb assignment, we’d better learn how to pretend. Both those things seem to fall far short of what “Ann” is carping about here. Her message is crystal clear: I don’t like housework, and neither should you.

She goes so far as to say if anyone comes along to prove her wrong…if any woman ventures forward and professes to enjoy the housework that Ann says leaves the “vast majority” unsatisfied…that woman is too brainwashed to know what makes her happy. She can’t make up her own mind about this, she must be told. Ann, sweetie, there seems to be something more than a little chauvinist about that.

Ann’s not alone. Read the comments. Here and there, someone will frown on applying some sort of “you must despise housework” litmus test to feminists, but the consensus seems overwhelming that any insinuation women might be better at it than men, is to be deplored. So there ya have it: You must choose between the adoration of feminists, and reality. Anyone who hasn’t lived alone his whole life, will understand this. A lady reaches the end of her tether much quicker than her beau, when there are stacks of crap lying around that aren’t being used, and ought properly be stowed somewhere. She has a keener sense of smell. One might say she is to the dirty, streaky windows, which he could ignore for decades if left to his own devices…as he is to lights being left on. Hey, that’s just the way things are. But Ann, plus several dozens of people, say no. To avoid our condemnation, you must join us in repudiating reality

Nor can Ann be accused of perverting the feminist message. She can claim — correctly, and indeed, she has claimed exactly this — that feminism has sought since The Feminine Mystique in 1963 to culturally separate the fairer sex from things related to dishpan hands and waxy yellow buildup. The big question though is, how far back does this “thou shalt not think” stuff go? Does that go to 1963? More than one feminist has informed me that feminism is all about choice, which would logically mean in 1963, it would have been all about liberating women from the sparkling toilet. In other words, here’s another alternative; go after it if you want to, and if you don’t want to, no biggie.

I wasn’t around in 1963, so I don’t know if that was the message or not.

But I know what I’ve seen since then. I’ve met many a woman who’d just as soon stay anchored to that sparkling toilet, thankyewverymuch. I’ve met many a woman who doesn’t want a single thing to do with a paycheck…other than that spending-it thing you do once you get it. I’ve met many a woman who will go to absolutely absurd lengths to make sure she doesn’t have to step into an office, punch a time clock, answer to a boss, keep her lunch breaks down to a manageable duration, or fill out a time sheet.

No, I’m not going to say women, as a group, are unfit for the workplace. But a lot of individual women definitely are. And as individuals, they want to stay unfit for it. It’s a world they have no interest in joining. None at all.

And in forty-one years, I have yet to see anyone calling herself a “feminist” say “well, if you don’t want to do things my way, no biggie.” Not even close. It has come to be…and there is more than a marginal possibility that it started out to be…all about coercion, intimidation, and force. Choice? It might have had some relationship with it. Maybe the false promise of choice was brandished as a recruiting tool. Indeed, nearly all of the people I met who decided to support feminism, did so because of respect for choice. But today, feminism and individual choice seem to be opposites. When feminists do their arguing, they are almost always arguing over what everyone must do.

They want me to think it’s about freedom of individual choice. Reasons why I should think this, amount to…that’s what they want me to think. That’s all. No other reason.

Memo For File XLVIII

Sunday, October 7th, 2007

Smart money is saying that someday soon, thanks to Hillary or thanks to someone else entirely, we are definitely going to have some sort of nationalized health care system in the United States. This would be a messy hodge-podge between blazing a completely new trail, and traipsing over old ground. For the better part of a century, America has been the sole hold-out in some socialist exercises, and partaken grudgingly in others. The best comparison for purposes of precedent, would no doubt be Social Security. Health care is simply the next step; like retirement, it enjoys a certain urgency in availability, purely psychological in nature. All who doubt that may ponder the list of goods and services people “need,” which nobody’s talking about nationalizing just yet. Gasoline. Childcare. Food and baby formula. Delivery services for the sick and infirm.

No, nationalizing health care is not about giving people things they need. It’s about controlling people. Once we are so controlled, what would life be like? Well, like everyone else, I didn’t start pondering this just yesterday. Nor are we the first country to start nationalizing things that people supposedly need. I grew up within just a handful of miles from Canada, which is very proud of it’s own nationalized health care system, and whose subjects brag about it frequently. That is probably the least draconian of all the socialist utopian enclaves we can study, with the failed USSR experiment being on the other end of the scale. I’ve been making an informal study of these for decades, and I’ve noticed there is a list of surprises they offer for their subjects once the socialized delivery system is turned over and throttled up. These surprises, for the most part, are unpleasant. They always seem to arrive in the same sequence, more or less, and they apply to any enclave, nationalist or otherwise, that becomes collectivist in nature when providing something. The first handful of them are very subtle; the others, not so much. And so I’ve identified these unpleasant surprises and given them numbers and names. When the American universal health care system is in full force, it seems to me, we can count on each and every single one of these surprises. We should prepare for them now.

Surprise Number One is the Surprise of the Mommy. There is someone getting concerned when you run out of stuff, whose job it is to make sure you don’t. This is not really a surprise, because it was the objective under which the package was originally sold in the first place, and of course it isn’t unpleasant at all except to those who never wanted such a thing. Collectivist administrations almost always arrive by way of democracy, so usually those people are far-and-away in the minority.

Surprise Number Two is the Surprise of Perversion of Thought. People become unmotivated, uninspired, and depressed; much of the necessity involved in jumping out of bed in the morning, tackling life, was a knowledge that there was a pressing material need to get life tackled. With that gone, life is diminished to a ritual of motions whose executions are supposed to be performed in sequence, at certain times. Like a dance that never changes. Not only that, but critical thinking becomes labored and difficult; subjectivity and objectivity to change places. It’s a subjective thing to say a person or household’s standard of existence has descended to the point that “something must be done.” In order to build machinery dedicated to doing that something, you have to define a way of measuring the necessity of doing it, so the subjective is now objective. On the other hand, when people have opportunities taken from them, and choices made on their behalf that used to be theirs to decide, that is an objective thing. It is measurable. The bureaucrats and administrators and spokespeople will re-define this as subjective, so they can place it into doubt. “We’re doing it for the children” or “It’s for the common good.” The Surprise of the Mommy made the thought process less urgent; now it is pointless. This is the first of the unpleasant surprises, and by far the most subtle. It has meaning only to those who think for themselves.

Surprise Number Three is the Surprise of Micromanagement: People realize the Surprise of the Mommy isn’t always helpful to them. The people who worry about you running out of stuff, don’t work for you. They write you up for failing to put your kid in the kind of car seat they think you should be putting him in, for having a gun, for eating saturated fats, for owning a Bible and for smoking at home. Also, if the bureaucracy has figured out some of your habits do, or simply might, increase the costs of providing for you, you will be required to discontinue those habits whatever they are. In short, everyone has to live life the same way. This is almost as subtle as Surprise Number Two, but not quite so much. It has meaning to those who wanted to nurture dreams, and couldn’t nurture them because they were too worried about starving. Some of those dreams — most of them — depended on the liberty to live life differently. So the dream that was on a deathbed, on life-support, terminally ill, that was supposed to be medicated and healed, is in fact being euthanized.

Surprise Number Four is the Penny-Ante Surprise, and like the Surprise of Micromanagement, it consists of another unpleasant revelation of the Surprise of the Mommy. This is where the people who supported the utopia out of pure jealousy, get their come-uppins. You work harder than I do, but make twenty thousand dollars fewer per year. Equalizing this seems like the most desirable thing, and it seems at first that the equalization wouldn’t affect you in any way. But it turns out this equalizing is never done in terms of tens of thousands of dollars; it’s done in fractions of pennies, which means nobody escapes scrutiny. Also, nobody escapes the chasing-of-pennies, which for many of the supporters was the point of the whole exercise. As free but impoverished people, they added and subtracted from sunup to sundown and got sick and tired of doing it. Now, they’re still adding and subtracting, and someone is forcing them to.

Surprise Number Five is the Surprise of the Union, which is produced from the Surprises of Micromanagement and the Penny-Ante Surprise. We are a union shop now, and as such we are all expected to follow rules. These aren’t like ordinary rules. Nobody debates these rules. People who have been known, all their lives, for flouting rules for the sake of flouting rules, or priding themselves on their diligence in questioning the rules, tremble in fear at these. Hardened men known for thumbing their noses at the law, for fearing no authority figure, police included, accustomed to swimming through life like sharks grabbing what they want, once told what’s expected of them comply without a peep of protest. This is the final irony. A people liberated from concern over empty stewpots and empty plates and empty wallets and empty bellies, will now never be liberated from anything else; and not from those concerns either. You are expected not only to follow the right rules; you are further expected to have the correct opinions about things. Talk about health care with a Canadian citizen sometime. Notice the predictability with which he props up the glorious Canadian health administration. But also take note of the lack of genuine passion in his remarks. He has to pretend to be describing how he feels about it, but he’s just running through talking points. This is true of all socialized countries; people have the opinions they’re supposed to have, and they will have those opinions without feeling too strongly about them. Opposing opinions are things strange and foreign to them, because they haven’t heard too much of those opposing viewpoints. They haven’t been allowed to hear them.

Surprise Number Six is the Surprise of the Killjoy. The people whose job it is to make sure you don’t run out of stuff, also have to make sure you don’t get too much. This is the really big shocker, because this is where the dreams-on-deathbeds that were supposed to be medicated and to blossom once starvation was rendered impossible, but were then euthanized, flatline for the last time. People realize there’s a limit to what they can have this year, and the next year, and the year after that. This is the least subtle of all the surprises. Whoever doesn’t get depressed about the whole utopian experiment at this point, never will.

Surprise Number Seven is the Surprise of the Idiot Administrator. Political leaders become unimpressive, mediocre people engaged in unimpressive, mediocre things. That’s ignoring, for the moment, graft and corruption which are also inevitable. The unimpressive, mediocre idiot leaders are taking responsibility for very little when all’s said and done. They see their job as one of distributing assets once the assets have been accumulated, not one of making sure adequate assets are there. And in distributing the assets, all they do is follow rules that they themselves write. One has to struggle to think of any occupation, in any type of enclave, that demands less out of the person engaged in it, or invests more authority or material reward.

Surprise Number Eight is the most painful one, it is the Surprise of the Empty Pot. With the passage of time, the Surprise of the Killjoy becomes a crushing, constricting death grip as the standard of living diminishes. Fortunately, life is “fair” so everybody’s standard of living diminishes equally, in tandem and in perfect rhythm. This is because the disbursement allocated for one is based on the wealth to be distributed amongst all, and there is less and less wealth gathered because the people with energy and talent are disappearing. Their fortunes have been welded and riveted to the fortunes of those who like to goof off, and when the talented and energetic find an opportunity to sever this relationship they will take it. The human spirit will compel them to leave if they can. Which brings us to…

Surprise Number Nine, the Surprise of the Bars in the Window. Simply put, you can’t leave. Whether the Utopian enclave is physical or simply administrative, there are rules in place to keep you from stepping out of it. If this is a country, you cannot exit, and if it’s just a system, you must enroll. Freedom is a muse that stays as long as she is appreciated, and leaves in the dead of night without ever looking back once she is rejected. So off she toodles.

Surprise Number Ten is the Surprise of Sprawl. Your collectivist Utopian enclave having reached maturity, it demands respect for it’s razor-wire and iron-bar borders, has wonderful things to say about itself, but can’t leave well enough alone outside the razor-wire borders. Those who speak for it, whose job it is to say what’s wonderful about it, are occasionally heard to mutter things about expansion. They do not scold the neighboring individualist enclave with “if you don’t like it, don’t practice it but let us do what we want,” or anything of the sort. That is never good enough. The neighboring individualist enclave is scolded, rather, that it is about to be swallowed up like a guppy. And there is more than a kernel of truth to this. With this surprise realized, socialism is now complete; it is what must constantly engulf others. It must force itself onto people who don’t want it.

I do not know of any example in which a nation has nationalized something, in which some of these unpleasant surprises were, or even just one was, somehow skipped. So far as I know, all ten of them are inevitable, unavoidable, and will arrive in the order listed here. To say America is going to be the first to disrupt the pattern, based on whatever faux-logical cosmetic justification, is patently absurd.

Life is a struggle. To remove the struggle, you must remove life.