Archive for May, 2011

Unreliability is the New Reliability

Monday, May 23rd, 2011

Blogsister Cassy linked over at the Hello Kitty of Bloggin’ to a story at HotAir about some ultra-urban everlastingly-angry male athlete, or rap artist, or whatever…going on record, babbling some kind of foolish nonsense about “the streets”:

Same old story: Order cannot prevail over chaos, until & unless order first surrenders to chaos.

Well, I don’t perform for a living with some hackneyed angry-tough-male act; I build stuff for a living, and if my stuff doesn’t work then I’m out of a job and that’s when I hit “the streets.” So I think this gives me cause to look at things differently. One of the first things I noticed…

It’s interesting nobody ever seems to say something like “lower taxes or there will be a crime wave” or “less regulation or there will be a crime wave.”

Hours later, I was notified of a change in the arrangements coming up picking up my son. Nothing big, an extra 160 miles, two ways, another tank of gas, and — really, this is the only thing I don’t see as an insignificant irritant — an extra five hours. You know, no biggie. “Kidzmom” knew I’d make her squirm over it, and I did just for ritual’s sake. But I’m not really put out anything…so it was a ritual. And I went on with it, pretty much as a favor to her, so she could go back to the local wife who over-promised her, so she could go back and club her husband over the head, who got some kind of itchy thought between his ears that started the whole shitball rolling downhill…on to me. And my fiance. Where it is sure to roll. Since we deliver on things. See, it’s the same principle as “watch how crime picks up if you take away our game.” The people who deliver on things, must yield; the people who don’t deliver on things and live life just minute-to-minute, get to decide things for everybody else…when, since they live life minute-to-minute and don’t plan anything, they don’t even care. They’re put in the driver’s seat anyway.

Like I said: Order cannot prevail over chaos until such time as order surrenders to chaos.

Where exactly goes that get you?

I’ll answer that: It gets you here

It’s designed to protect the President from terror attacks but Barack Obama was left red-faced after one of his armour-plated Cadillacs was brought to a halt as it left the U.S. Embassy in Dublin.

The gigantic bomb-proof General Motors vehicle, with eight-inch thick steel on its door, didn’t even make it as far as the road outside the consulate.

The car had to be abandoned after the collision in front of waving crowds while Mr Obama and his wife were en route to his ancestral home in County Offaly.

Luckily, the vehicle that broke down was the spare limo used by the President’s Secret Service protection team.

Mechanics rushed in to rescue the vehicle which was lodged helplessly on the ramp, while onlookers stood and watched – some of whom took video footage and photos.

The cars, worth over $1million, is 18ft in length, weighs 8 tons and 8in thick armour plating on its doors.

When the President is riding in one, the vehicle is officially known as Cadillac One. However, it’s more apt nickname is ‘The Beast’.

Specially built for Mr Obama, the General Motors GM.N vehiclse boasts its own oxygen supply in case of chemical attack and puncture resistant, run-flat tyres reinforced with kevlar.

However none of this, it appears, could overcome the might of a lowly speed hump.

Hang on, I’m going to pick this up in just a second…be right back…hang on…++snkckxx++

BWAAAAAAAHAAAHAAAHAAAHAAAA!!! BWAHAHAHAHA!!! BWAAAAHAHAHAHAHA!!! ++giggle++ ++snort++ (wipe tears from my eyes)

What’s so funny about this? I had more wisdom to dispense at the Hello Kitty of Bloggin’…

The really delicious irony here is: What is a speed bump? It’s a device used for traffic management, by means of interfering with the efforts of motorists who get too big for their britches…you know, the riff-raff. Obama’s immobilization comes from His coming into contact with the onerous regulatory device…much like one of His close pals who might have forgotten or neglected to pick up the ObamaCare waiver. The result? The whole parade comes to a screeching halt. Whereas, if He was tootling around in my 4-cylinder 2006 Honda…or in His predecessor’s chariot of choice…it would have been nothing but a bump in the road, literally.

See, our country…our disaffected, and bored, country…laboring under the delusion that life at the time sucked somehow, like we were getting our teeth kicked in by our (chuckle) tarnished reputation around the world…when, in reality, things were actually going pretty well for us, apart from the fact that our economy was imploding because liberal politicians were making all kinds of bullshit mortgage guarantees and, in fact, manufacturing the so-called “toxic assets” we came to need their special magic brand-new programs to clean up…which didn’t work. Apart from that, we actually had life pretty good. The House of Eratosthenes “real motto for America” applied well, in those days, as well as now: “Our Poor People Are Fat.”

But we felt oppressed, so we voted in an Alpha Male to run the country. The kind of guy who never has to change plans to accommodate somebody else…quite the other way around. A super special boy-god-king kinda guy. It’s His World The Rest Of Us Just Live In It!

And then He got Himself a super car. Because hey, when you’re riding around telling your lowly subjects to stop emitting carbon, eight miles a gallon is only the most reasonable rate to gulp down that diesel fuel. Five miles a gallon might be better…or gallons per mile…whatever.

But my point is, isn’t this a constant in chaos-before-order land? We’ve got these so-called “alpha males” — who, really, are just buffoons when you get down to it. Just clowns. They don’t build anything, they don’t make anything work, they just show off. They enjoy the finer things in life just because of their super-awesomeness, and we know they have this super-awesomeness because they’re enjoying the finer things in life. So their very existences become circular arguments. Their admirers sit on the sidelines and moan and wail away something to the effect of…”Well, the cycle must have gotten started somehow right? There must be something special about that guy, right?”

Uh, yeah. He expects it because His mom…small-m mom…was low class and didn’t teach Him any better. He’s a jackwagon. He’s a dick. A lot of the time…nearly all of the time…it’s no more complicated than that. Beginning to get the picture? What we have been taught, since middle school, to think of as “alpha males” are really phony alpha males. The clowns. No-talent guy-smileys.

See, the problem isn’t with these kinds of people. They’re always going to be like that. The immediate problem is, America has become temporarily infatuated with returning to the womb…we didn’t stick to our knitting, we began constructing a new royal family, someone Chosen By God to rule. Two universes were brought into conflict, because His Royal Majesty Barack The First was awarded an awesome wonderful set of wheels befitting His high station…but alas, had to contend with a roadway built for ordinary mortals. With a speed bump. His Deity-ness was compelled to bring one saintly foot into contact with the place where civil engineers work overtime to hurt the drivers, to make driving a painful experience “For The Greater Good.” Were the vehicle to remain massive and awesome, but the speed bump left out of the equation, all would be well. Were the speed bump to remain, but the vessel to be more humble, His Royal Schedule would continue throughout the day unmolested. It is where the two came into contact, the temporal and the divine, where trouble unfurled.

See, the problem is not the people. The problem isn’t the speed bumps, and the problem isn’t the thugs who get face time on some teevee interview where they get to threaten people. The problem is the social contract. The reliable people, the producers, the people who make things that didn’t exist before, the service-people, the people who actually deliver on things…are positioned, systematically, down at the end of the whip. There, they deal with all the chaos and the uncertainty — manufactured by others — only because they have demonstrated that they can. At that far end of the whip which gets cracked, they deal with the things of their own making as well as with the things made by others who are not as reliable as they are. The other people near the handle, who are agents of chaos, then do not have to deal with the things of their own making…because they have demonstrated, repeatedly, that they would not be ready, willing or able to. And so the disorder that they create every hour of every day, by failing to deliver on what they said they would do…is systematically drawn off of them, along with the associated consequences. The things they would not know how to build, like Kevlar-armored limousines with 6.5L diesel engines, are given to them. The lower hoi polloi are left to deal with the speed bumps…except when the exalted saintly alpha males drive over them by mistake.

Eventually, the whole system is shown not to work…but those consequences, too, are drained away. Mechanics rush in to take care of the disabled “Beast,” while His Holiness makes use of a spare Beast.

And for those criminals who make crime happen in “the streets” just because some football game is not being played — we have this screwball lawyered-up defense industry, to offer the “accused” their supposedly “constitutional” rights.

The real tragedy here is that Ray Lewis is right, just not in a way he expects to be right. There’s an “eighty-twenty” rule at work here: Twenty percent of us are dealing with eighty percent of the consequences of human failure, human unreliability, human fickleness. Another twenty percent of us are responsible for manufacturing that eighty percent of human unreliability, where it did not exist before. Those two twenty-percents, are not the same. They’re at opposite ends of the spectrum.

The twenty percent that does the dealing with the eighty percent of human unreliability, are also responsible for producing eighty percent of the wealth. And then everybody makes a big deal out of the fact that fifty percent of the wealth is enjoyed by ten percent of the people, well you know what? No duh.

But there’s a “tip-over” aspect to this. If twenty percent of us are creating eighty percent of the missed deadlines, or gaps in the social contract, which are then absorbed by the twenty percent at the other end of the spectrum…people see this happening, and it provides a powerful incentive for the next generation to become the chaotic twenty percent, rather than the orderly productive twenty percent. And in a few years, you know what? It’s not an eighty-twenty rule anymore. It’s more of a ninety-ten rule. And then a ninety-seven-three rule. And then a ninety-nine-one rule.

At some point, things do tip over, I think. It would have to be that way, would it not? At some point, the productive/orderly individual would become so scarce, that he’d stop losing control and start to gain it back again…write his own meal ticket, as it were. He doesn’t bust blood vessels or work himself into an early grave producing more. He just produces whatever he produces…and everybody else can fight like wild feral creatures over who gets to consume.

Whereupon, we run smack headlong into the original definition of “alpha male” in the first place. The top dog who gets the first pick. But you know what? The top-dog among a bunch of wild feral creatures, is still a pitiful, pathetic, wild feral creature.

And so Ray Lewis gave our country some pretty good cause, I think, to be embarrassed. He showed that our civilization, in some parts at least, is a dysfunctional civilization that cannot continue in its present form. He spoke on behalf of that other world, the world in which the chaotic, destructive, non-producers get what they want. By offering to the orderly, productive producers — not value to be traded for products and services received — but threats.

And our current President embarrassed the country too. The abortive journey of The Beast, as I noted, was metaphorical. It shows that this working relationship in our civilized nation, in which a non-producing, chaos-oriented “alpha male” of a scavenging beast, is freely given the spoils of the work of all the lower-ranking, but productive, producers. And comes to rely on it; can’t do without it. And is given a steady flow of it.

But becomes stalled, incapacitated, and helpless anyway. The argument does not ensue, only because there is no point having it, no rebuttal is possible: Our way of life is not sustainable. The people we have invested with the power to make rules, do not know enough to make anything else — they can only jab their fists or fingers in the air and pronounce that this, that, or some other damn silly thing, “should” be a certain way. Israel’s borders should be over here, that wealth should be spread around it’s good for everybody…et cetera. They can’t do anything else. The people who know how to make things people can actually use, have bored us, and so we have made sure all the important decisions are made by lesser, non-productive people. The supposed “alpha males.” Who know how to opine, and speechify, and not a damn single other thing.

Who end up being laughing-stocks when their limousines get stalled. Who end up waiting around for a real alpha male, to bail their unproductive non-producing super-pontificating phony-alpha-male asses out of trouble yet another time. While they stand their in their failed glory, before the snapping digital cameras.

So the question that naturally arises: What’s the point of having an alpha male at all? If the people who get to decide who the alpha male is, can’t put any quality thought into what makes one?

Cross-posted at Washington Rebel.

“Deny Clothing to Foster Kids…”

Monday, May 23rd, 2011

…in order to give rich people tax cuts.

Thanks to Newsbusters.

This kind of thing interests me because it cuts right to the heart of what is “right wing” and what is “left wing.” Supposedly, the terms came into use during & right before the French Revolution; you were right-wing if you were a royalist and backing Louis XVI, and you were a lefty if you backed Napoleon.

Today, it seems to me both sides are for some kind of freedom, at least if you believe in a literal way the words used by each side to describe itself…”right wing” is defense of our economic freedom, “left wing” is defense of some other kind of freedom. Someone, somewhere, must be lying since if it were that simple, an amalgamation of some kind would be inevitable wouldn’t it? We’d try to find some way to enjoy all kinds of freedoms. That’s not happening — nobody seems to be breaking a sweat trying to make it happen — so one side, or the other, must be not quite so chummy with the concept of freedom as they’re presenting themselves.

And then it occurs to me: What policy advanced by the left — anywhere! — is there to make some product or service easier to acquire in a free market? Or merely to preserve the status quo, for that matter…I can’t think of a single one, across all these issues. If there can be organized labor, they want it. If there can be a minimum wage, they want it raised. If there can be some bit of onerous regulation, they want that, and you’d better believe if there can be a tax they want that too.

It seems the only way they ever want it easier for anybody to be able to get hold of something they need, is if there’s a plan for that thing to be given away for “free,” compliments of the taxpayer. Oh, sorry…the “rich people.” Right.

McKinney Speaks in Libya

Monday, May 23rd, 2011

That would be the former Congresswoman from Georgia, Cynthia McKinney

A former U.S. congresswoman slammed U.S. policy on Libyan state TV late Saturday and stressed the “last thing we need to do is spend money on death, destruction and war.”

The station is fiercely loyal to Moammar Gadhafi and her interview was spliced with what appeared to be rallies in support of the embattled Libyan leader.

“I think that it’s very important that people understand what is happening here. And it’s important that people all over the world see the truth. And that is why I am here … to understand the truth,” former Rep. Cynthia McKinney said during a live interview.

Much that is objectionable here. The overall tone is the same ol’ hippie nonsense, that all war is a product of misunderstanding and we can make it go away if everybody understands each other. I’m becoming cumulatively impatient with this, since I started reading it all as a confession of ignorance with regard to world history — which is chock full of brand new wars flaring up among people who understood each other just fine.

But what really frosted me was when she started picking on Holy Man:

The former Georgia representative also slammed the economic policies of U.S. President Barack Obama and said the government of the United States no longer represents the interests of the American people.

“Under the economic policies of the Obama administration, those who have the least are losing the most. And those who have the most are getting even more,” she said. “The situation in the United States is becoming more dire for average ordinary Americans and the last thing we need to do is to spend money on death, destruction and war.”

Somewhere in a closet is a placard marked up with “Under the economic policies of the [insert name here] administration, those who have the least are losing the most.”

My son and I rode the light rail downtown, back in ’09, and ran into a real live communist. He was all excited about attending his commie demonstration in downtown San Francisco, all about how we can’t take any more oppression from The Man & all, with a special keynote speaker Michael Moore! Yay! The election had only just happened, and I couldn’t believe what I was hearing…the election had gone just the way Moore wanted, had it not? The hope, the change, whatever happened to that?

It was like speaking Latin to a dog. When you’re a revolutionary, history always began yesterday morning. So, yeah. There are people out there who think of Barack Obama as a symbol of all the ugliest right-wing shibboleths — blood for oil, corporate greed, keeping grass illegal, blah blah blah. And we need to get rid of Obama so we can bring the government back to The People…but they’re not Tea Party people, they’re high-drama lefties who don’t really care who’s running the show at any given time, that guy needs to go so we can Take Our Country Back. Perfect bliss is constantly one revolution away. The entire life being lived out on a turning point; the inevitable straight-away is something that simply doesn’t fit into their comprehension.

I dunno who they think they’re fooling. Themselves, maybe? But you don’t need to pay attention for too long before it becomes clear these people are never, ever going to be happy.

Pat Condell on Death of bin Laden

Monday, May 23rd, 2011

Warning, contains naughty language like “son of a bitch” for example…

From Trevor Loudon, once again arriving via e-mail from GBIL.

“Tonight I’m Frakking You”

Sunday, May 22nd, 2011

Hmmmm…not sure about this. Wonder Woman is looking sluttish, sloshing around & getting ready to pop out. Still, you have to appreciate it when someone rolls Star Trek, Star Wars, Battlestar Galactica, DC and Marvel into a great big burrito and works some “give-a-damn” into it…even if the end-product remains a sloppy mess.

Leia and WW are both easy on the eyes, that doesn’t hurt.

“Albeit An Impeccably Groomed One”

Sunday, May 22nd, 2011

Click for enlarged version. Not-mixed-audience-appropriate subject matter, not to be read before sharing the public roads with your fellow motorists…

Thanks to GBIL (Girlfriend’s Brother-In-Law) for forwarding these in the e-mails again.

Now that I’m engaged, should I be calling him FBIL? Just wonderin’…

Couldn’t Have Said It Better Myself… XXXIV

Sunday, May 22nd, 2011

I got schooled over on WizBangBlog by this insightful commenter…he presumes I’m recommending the Republican campaign be confined to economic issues, when what I’m really recommending is more like these issues should take the lead. But I figure that’s my fault, since as the writer I never really made this distinction.

Regardless, these are good, well-thought-out comments:

It’s about far more than the economy -freedom, the constituion [sic], the right to keep and practice your faith, innocent life, no more Kelo, no laws created by handfuls of robed masters in courts, no more lifetime leaders, no more abuse of the public treasury by the ruling class to entrench themselves and their friends, no more support for mind altering educational games, no more eco-worship -just eco-sense, no more coddling and encouraging radical enemies -preparation for our own reverse jihad makes perfect sense etc.

It’s in regard to this post over here, which was picked up by blogger friend Rick.

So to summarize, we have — economic autonomy. And then we have sovereignty of the individual. The first has to do with business transactions; if I value your money more than some possession I have, and you value my possession more than that quantity of money, is it a done deal? Can we just conduct the transaction without a pastiche of government regulations and special taxes? And coupled in with that, are the consequences of thinking otherwise. Simply put, the job market sucks right now. The whole economy sucks. “Could be better” just completely fails to capture the depth and magnitude of misery that shrouds us…needlessly, might I add.

Here’s a better explanation, than most, of how this cause-and-effect is coupled up:

And then the second one, captured by the WizBang commenter, has to do with human dignity. The relationship we people have with our government. Up until the Heller decision, I would have said gun control was the most brilliant beacon of an example-issue representing this broader concern. Now that that’s more-or-less a dead issue, and the right side won, I’d say it’s health care. Across the board, the thing being argued about is an Archimedean lever-that-moves-Earth.

Archimedean LeverCan we position such levers properly, and then entrust them to these super-smart people whom we elect, and more super-smart people whom those elected people then appoint — to manage our private affairs just so, more beneficially than we would? That’s another debate that has been dragging on for a good long time, and likely won’t be permanently resolved one way or another. I have the impression we are arguing about how people have chosen to manage their personal lives: Through individual responsibility, or through surrender to some other party who will then decide all the hard stuff. People aren’t going to change the fabric that makes them up, so we’re going to just keep arguing about this.

This second issue is summarized by Ronald Reagan, when he said something like “if none of us can adequately manage our own affairs, then who among us has what it takes to manage everybody else’s?”

But these two issues — let go of the economy so it can thrive, and let go of the people so that they can decide things personally and responsibly — in my mind, are linked. And yes, that includes the right to be born. The whole argument of “until you cross this finish line, you legally don’t exist” is frightening, because if that applies to this class of person over here, then where else can such a rule be applied? And is such an argument really based on respect for the rule of law? I see many who insist on this vaginal-finish-line litmus test, completely flip-flop on their outlook on the complex issues when the subject turns to illegal immigration; suddenly they become “world without borders” people, and if the law says you’re in the country illegally, well then gol’ darn it, that law must be wrong. Hello? Now, how is the unborn baby not a person, again?

What underlies all this is the notion of “rights” and what they are. If you have a right and everybody agrees you have it, but they only agree because they happen to be pleased with it, then it could be said you don’t have the right at all. Rights don’t really count for much unless you can hang on to them even when it irritates the ever luvin’ fecal matter out of the many…or the powerful. And here is the problem with the centralized authority, with the so-called “rights” being adjudicated over-broadly by the “robed masters in courts.” Because then, the rights become conditional; something about non-interference with “The Common Good” or some such. Which means, in the final analysis, the rights no longer exist in any way at all. You only get to keep them when someone powerful decides it’s relatively costless to “let” you have them.

So yes, that’s what the election of 2012 should be about.

But I don’t necessarily see all these things as separate issues. In my mind, they are all inextricably intertwined.

“It is Clear That This Argument is Incorrect Merely Based on the Methodology”

Sunday, May 22nd, 2011

Sonic Charmer notices something I’ve been noticing:

Sometimes you don’t have to know the right answer to be able to recognize a wrong answer. And sometimes just the method for getting an answer is enough to tell you that it’s wrong.

There are many subjects which I may not have time to fully investigate and become fully knowledgeable (if at all) on them, yet when seeing people who do write about them, I can nevertheless still tell that their arguments are full of crap.

Let’s take the argument that the government was not to blame for inflating the housing bubble. Here is an example (which I don’t mean to pick on as it’s far from the worst offender, but I came across it today):

the claims that Fannie and Freddie were the primary culprits behind the inflation of the housing bubble and the flood of fraudulent mortgages is nonsense. … the worse junk mortgages were not bought and securitised by Fannie and Freddie. These were packaged and sold by the investment banks, Goldman Sachs, Lehman, Citigroup and the rest. Fannie and Freddie got into junk mortgages late in the game, and even then, their primary motive was to regain lost market share.

This belongs to a species of argument, cherished also by the likes of Paul Krugman, that involves bringing statistical measures to bear so as to show that Fannie and Freddie didn’t buy ‘most of’, or a ‘majority of’, subprime loans, or didn’t issue subprime bonds, or whatever. The intent is to demonstrate that their ‘presence’ in the portion of the market deemed problematic (‘subprime’, or something) was small, and/or that other actors (investment banks, e.g.) bought the loans which were deemed problematic. The conclusion is that the government (Fannie/Freddie) can’t have been to blame.

It is clear that this argument is incorrect merely based on the methodology. The logic used is just plain incorrect, and in fact, economically ignorant. It cannot be correct.

This doesn’t mean I have a proof that the government was to blame. It just means that all the people I’ve ever seen saying it wasn’t, have crappy arguments that don’t hold water. They are using the wrong kind of argument, a kind that cannot possibly be correct.

“Cannot possibly be correct” is a little on the strong side, I’d say. This neglects the “stopped clock right twice a day” thing, which is key to the persuasive power of these wrong, flawed arguments. Every now and then, the wrong methodology is used to reach a thoroughly bolluxed conclusion, random in all respects save for the frenzied agenda that drives it. But then the ball happens to land on the right roulette slot and the scatterbrain looks like a wizened sage. Is this not exactly what happened with the “no WMDs in Iraq” situation? Twenty-twenty hindsight reigns supreme.

But the observation is a valid one, and perhaps we need a new word to describe it. Neal Boortz has been maintaining for a long time that the dreadful state of public school education in this country is not only directly responsible for the flawed, ramshackle arguments finding currency & natural vibe; but may in fact be complicit in this. This, too, I find to be mostly meritorious, although again I see some gaps: I know lots of people who paid good free-market money for their education (or whose parents did on their behalf) and think very highly of this particular piece of their learnin’s. But they wouldn’t know truth if it ran up and kicked ’em square in the nuts, because they dismiss decent arguments before they’ve fairly evaluated them. In fact, in many cases they seem to equate the quality of their education with the speed with which they dismiss arguments that might, in fact, actually mean something and be worth considering. In effect, they have paid good money out of their parents’ second-mortgages, for lifelong habits that will keep them ignorant.

It’s a bigger issue than formalized education, whether the education is provided in a public or private setting. This drives to the very heart of how, in Anno Domini Twenty Eleven, we here the the western hemisphere define things like “smart,” “erudite,” “reasoned,” “well-reasoned,” “logical,” “rational,” “truthful”…our tragic recent tendency is to equate all these things with a single, smooth, quick deft motion to shunt bits of information aside without absorbing them. Because, supposedly, those bits of information are contraband…because, supposedly, they have a toxic effect. It’s as if, by merely coming in contact with them, the thinker contaminates the rest of his knowledge-base.

Although deep down we all know: If there’s any verity at all in that worn-out college cliche, “I’m not here to tell you what to think I’m here to tell you how to think,” there should be nothing to worry about there. You should be able to pick up a piece of information, even if it is delusive, deceptive, sneaky, and reeks of propaganda; come into contact with it; evaluate it, rigorously, playing “what-if” games with it, accepting-for-sake-of-argument. None of this means you have to believe it with no reservations or attaching your name or reputation to it. If you have been educated in any way that means anything at all, anywhere, you should have been able to build up that “no-man’s-land” because you should have been able to foster an ability to detect bullshit & react accordingly. Without becoming an intellectual pussy, summarily rejecting things that might be bullshit.

Why is this important? Because when you treat knowledge as a potential contagion, you run into the problem discussed at the beginning of the post…you start spewing nonsense, using Krugman-arguments people can tell are flawed by their very methodology. You end up consuming precisely what you were trying to avoid consuming. Worse still, you end up regurgitating it.

It’s like our modern culture has started to value anti-spyware and anti-virus software packages in the neighborhood of hundreds of thousands of dollars per license, and then when you order up such a package you just get a postcard in the mail that says “don’t log on to the Internet.”

Now That’s Just Plain Ignorant

Saturday, May 21st, 2011


I’ve told you a few times how much I enjoy the letters-to-the editor section of The Naples Daily News. Here’s a gem from yesterday’s paper. Sit down before you read this:

Editor, Daily News:

Until I read Jack Tymann’s guest essay, I thought the $4.94 gasoline price had absorbed every available erg of popular anger.

Tymann’s defense of the oil companies should warrant an explosion of outrage.

Unfortunately, here in Naples we appear to have an acquiescent and oblivious public. In Florida and across the nation it is inevitable that there will be a public revolt. Nationalizing the oil industry abolishes the economic power of the oil companies. It will enable the government to provide for the common welfare. Presently the oil companies are exploiting the people and their profits seem like thievery.

The oil companies constitute a clear and present danger to democracy and must be put under state control. Nationalizing the oil companies means hiring managers at fair salaries, not the average

$10 million annually for each CEO. Take the profits and revenues from their private pockets and use them for the public good. Use their profits to pay teachers and provide for state budget health-care needs.

Make the oil companies non-polluting energy resources to deal with global warming. Now they are responsible for the destruction of the environment and the reason for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the militarism of this country.

Some will rage socialism or worse. But nationalization is in the tradition of democratic and capitalistic countries everywhere.

— H.H. Hermann

How in the hell do you grow to adulthood in this country and still be intellectually dense enough to write a letter like this to a newspaper? Oh … forgot. Government education.

Notice the line in the letter about profits that seem like thievery. Do you think the writer would have a clue as to what the profit margins of these oil companies would be?

First … let’s take ExxonMobile. First quarter 2011 profits for Exxon Mobile were $10.7 billion dollars. Maybe it’s just the sheer size of this profit figure that causes the Naples letter writer to talk about thievery. Remember, though, that ExxonMobile is a HUGE company operating in 100 or so countries. Do you think Mr. Herman could tell you how much ExxonMobile paid in taxes to the federal government? Not only no, but HELL no. So here’s a little education for you.

First Quarter 2011:

ExxonMobile earnings on operations in the United States. $2.6 billion.
ExxonMobile taxes paid to the U.S. Government. $3.1 billion.

Now just hold on a minute here, Mr. Hermann. Paying more in taxes to the U.S. government than you actually earn on your operations in this country is “thievery?”

See, there’s a hazard involved in deciding such issues emotionally…and then shooting your mouth off.

Get the word out.

“The Lost Generation Has Abandoned Barack Obama”

Saturday, May 21st, 2011

Stuart Schneiderman, “Had Enough Therapy?”:

It’s too soon to say for sure, but it looks like the lost generation has not abandoned all hope, yet.

It has, however, abandoned Barack Obama. At least, it retains some primal optimism.

Yesterday I was posting about the horrifically high levels of joblessness and underemployment among recent college graduates.

Today, a new poll revealed that 83% of this group voted for Obama in 2008. Social justice, anyone? If there was ever a testimony to the effectiveness of academic brainwashing, this is it.

Yes, the eighteen-year-olds get the vote, and Barack Obama gets control of the government’s Executive Branch. Both are examples of too large a moving vessel being commanded by a weak, sluggish pilot possessing experience inadequate to the task at hand.

Schneiderman links to the survey results, which say:

A very large proportion of recent university graduates have soured on President Barack Obama, and many will vote GOP or stay at home in the 2012 election, according to two new surveys of younger voters.

“These rock-solid Obama constituents are free-agents,” said Kellyanne Conway, president of The Polling Company, based in Washington, D.C. She recently completed a large survey of college grads, and “they’re shopping around, considering their options, [and] a fair number will stay at home and sit it out,” she said.

The scope of this disengagement from Obama is suggested by an informal survey of 500 post-grads by Joe Maddalone, founder of Maddalone Global Strategies. Of his sample, 93 percent are aged between 22 and 28, 67 percent are male and 83 percent voted for Obama in 2008. But only 27 percent are committed to voting for Obama again, and 80 percent said they would consider voting for a Republican, said New York-based Maddalone.

But then he provides a reality check, and I happen to agree with this:

…[T]his is not unalloyed good news for Republicans. The GOP should not take these voters for granted. Many of them may easily stay home on election day.

Wise old sensible souls will tell you that Republicans should now go out and connect with these voters by addressing the issues that matter to them.

They fail to tell you that Republican candidates must take the fight to Obama, directly and vigorously. If Obama and the Democrats are in full campaign mode, the Republicans cannot fall back into conciliatory and compliant.

What’s it all add up to?

Capitalism. The message needs to be: You will never hear us say “When you spread the wealth around it’s good for everybody.” Because we want you to find work. We want you working for a boss who finds the decision to employ you, to be a profitable one, one he’d make all over again. And we want you to save massive amounts of dough, we want you paying a buck forty a gallon or less for gas, we want you laughing all the way to the bank.

And if you can be the boss five years after graduation instead of ten, nobody will be more tickled-pink than us. We won’t demand an eighty percent marginal income tax rate on your flabby fat rich ass. Because we’ll want it to make good business sense for you to add on hundreds or thousands of the next generation of college grads to your payroll, at which time America’s flirtation with watered-down socialism will be nothing more than a distant memory. That’s our vision.

Yes, we want to get rid of all the poor people…by making them not poor anymore.

Republican campaign ad writers? Drop me a line. I’ve got more ideas about what you should and should not do. Make the time, you’ll be glad you did and so will the country.

Hat tip for the awesome link to blogger friend Gerard.


Saturday, May 21st, 2011

Wisdom from my Hello Kitty of Bloggin’ account…

See, there are two reasons why people might care that you were here once: You got up off your ass and did something, or you were here when it all come to a screeching halt.

Getting up off your ass is hard.

Therefore, we have this perpetual fantasy, going on and on since 1000 AD give or take, that the world is ending. It’s just people who wish to be significant, people who want to matter, but don’t want to be bothered with getting up off their asses.

Now, since I wrote that — to be precise, somewhere around a quarter to eleven this morning — I was on cell phone to the house phone, talking to my girlfriend, and she reported back that the Mormons know where we live now and she had to put me on hold while she fought them off so she could go take her shower. And that was my first reminder today that The Rapture is supposed to happen today…also…there are people who believe in it, who get up off their asses. To go door to door & try to save some souls. So it wouldn’t be fair to say these people can’t get up off their asses when here they are getting up off their asses.

But I would argue the observation still holds. These people are literally making a religion out of “I was here when it all went down!” That means they have a need to be thinking this; and that cannot be healthy or good, no matter how you slice it.

Now, are there people who work hard to actually produce things, who believe in The Rapture? Maybe. But I’m now at the point where I don’t believe in them until I see them.

Part of what has brought me here is the Anthropogenic Global Warming crusade, which I think of as merely an extension of this gut-instinct of “My life’s not complete unless I know I’ll be here to sing Amen.” I look at them and I see non-producers…non-producers who know they are non-producers, and are bothered by the fact that they aren’t producing anything but don’t want to admit it. So yes, here comes the relentless drum-beat with all the staples of the argument meticulously constructed: We’re in the end times, it’s all our fault, we must mend our ways, join our movement and you’ll do your part to save humanity, or at least achieve redemption.

It’s those last two that really cheese me off though. Between saving yourself, and doing your bit to save all of humanity, there is an important distinction. And all these zealots seem, to me, to discard that distinction rather casually.

The Preposition Song

Saturday, May 21st, 2011

I Made a New Word XLVIII

Friday, May 20th, 2011

Fek•toid (n.)

A factual statement presented during a discussion that involves disagreement; its veracity would survive a diligent and skeptical inspection, but its relevance would not.

“Saddam Hussein did not attack us.” “Jimmy Carter is America’s greatest ex-President.” “Palin quit.” “Dick Cheney ran Halliburton.” “Carbon dioxide’s effectiveness as a greenhouse gas is proven in a number of experiments.”

The fektoid is meaningfully distinguished from the factoid:

A factoid is a questionable or spurious—unverified, incorrect, or fabricated—statement presented as a fact, but with no veracity. The word can also be used to describe a particularly insignificant or novel fact, in the absence of much relevant context. The word is defined by the Compact Oxford English Dictionary as “an item of unreliable information that is repeated so often that it becomes accepted as fact”.

Factoid was coined by Norman Mailer in his 1973 biography of Marilyn Monroe. Mailer described a factoid as “facts which have no existence before appearing in a magazine or newspaper”, and created the word by combining the word fact and the ending -oid to mean “similar but not the same”. The Washington Times described Mailer’s new word as referring to “something that looks like a fact, could be a fact, but in fact is not a fact”.

In contrast with the factoid, the fektoid is not only true, but easily proven so. It succeeds indisputably as it stands on its own; but as the foundation for an argument to be constructed on top of it, it fails glamorously.

The weaker minds may accept the argument, which they would in turn reject in the absence of the accompanying fektoid. But nobody is willing to string together in sequence the magic words that would be built around “[fektoid]…therefore…we know [what is posited] to be valid or true.”

Nevertheless, if they have failed to attain the necessary skills and talents involved in thinking like a grown-up, or have invested an abundance of emotion or passion in the discourse so that they cannot use these skills, they may behave subsequently as if that is the case. Its use may be thought of, with apologies to George Lucas, as a Jedi trick that only works on the weak-minded.

Obama “Jabs” at Romney

Thursday, May 19th, 2011

Byron York, National Examiner:

President Obama told a crowd at a Democratic fundraiser in Boston Wednesday night that he was able to pass a national health care bill “with a little assist from the former governor of Massachusetts.” The reference to Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, and to the health system Romney enacted in Massachusetts, drew laughter from the crowd of about 900 at the Boston Center for the Arts.

“With a little assist from the former governor of Massachusetts, we said that health care should no longer be a privilege in this country,” Obama said. “It should be affordable and available for every American.”

A short time later, at a smaller fundraiser in a private home in Brookline, Obama said, “Our work isn’t done. Yes, we passed health care, with an assist from a former Massachusetts governor.” The crowd, which had paid $35,800 per couple to attend, broke into laughter and applause. “Great idea,” Obama added. “But we still have to implement it.”

Obama’s quick jabs at Romney are a brief preview of what will come in the general election campaign if Romney wins the Republican presidential nomination. Under pressure from some conservative leaders to repudiate his Massachusetts system, Romney has instead defended it, although he says he does not support its enactment nationwide. Of course, no matter what Romney says on the issue of health care, Obama will attack him for it. Obama’s re-election team is said to be eager for a match-up with Romney. If they get their wish, we’ll hear a lot more about Romneycare from the author of Obamacare.

Mittens has consistently been a front-runner, enjoying a potent lift from a large campaign war chest, and vague-to-non-existent definition of his positions on the issues. But lately, there’s been a reshuffling in the crowd of contenders coming just after him. The number two spot is taken by — oh, my, it’s that awful, horrible woman who isn’t actually running and is supposed to be stupid or something:

With Mike Huckabee’s exit from the race, Mitt Romney and Sarah Palin are now on top of the Republican field, according to a Gallup poll released Wednesday.

Twenty percent of Republican and Republican-leaning voters say they’d support the former Massachusetts governor, while 18 percent say they’d support the former Alaska governor.

Newt Gingrich comes in third place with 11 percent.

Quick recovery there, Governor. Seem just last week the wise chattering sages were measuring a coffin for your campaign. Interesting, since you don’t actually have one yet…and you running statistically neck-and-neck with the lead dog, just a short time later, still without having announced any decision to actually run, is also interesting.

I wonder if Birther Zero can make a quick “jab” at the hot granny over some Alaska socialized-medicine plan. I’m thinkin’ that’s a negative. Not that she doesn’t have vulnerabilities in other areas…she’s hated by important people somewhere, who don’t want us to know who they are, how many of them there are, why exactly it is that they hate her or why we should care. They don’t seem to be the brightest bulbs on the tree. But she certainly is hated, along with everyone in recorded human history who ever posed a threat to something.

Mitt isn’t hated. He isn’t defined with enough detail to be hated, and it looks like he isn’t posing enough of a threat. President Obama, obviously, feels like He can deal with the Mittster with a tap. Or a “jab.”

If it’s down to these two former governors, the Republicans need to figure out if they will rally behind someone who says nothing, or someone who says something. They have always lost when they cast their lot in with someone who says nothing. They have always won when they fall in behind someone who says something.

If Supermarkets Were Like Public Schools

Thursday, May 19th, 2011

Donald Boudreaux writes an article in the WSJ that requires a subscription. Greg Mankiw excerpts:

Suppose that groceries were supplied in the same way as K-12 education. Residents of each county would pay taxes on their properties. Nearly half of those tax revenues would then be spent by government officials to build and operate supermarkets. Each family would be assigned to a particular supermarket according to its home address. And each family would get its weekly allotment of groceries—”for free”—from its neighborhood public supermarket.

No family would be permitted to get groceries from a public supermarket outside of its district. Fortunately, though, thanks to a Supreme Court decision, families would be free to shop at private supermarkets that charge directly for the groceries they offer. Private-supermarket families, however, would receive no reductions in their property taxes.

Of course, the quality of public supermarkets would play a major role in families’ choices about where to live. Real-estate agents and chambers of commerce in prosperous neighborhoods would brag about the high quality of public supermarkets to which families in their cities and towns are assigned.

Being largely protected from consumer choice, almost all public supermarkets would be worse than private ones. In poor counties the quality of public supermarkets would be downright abysmal. Poor people—entitled in principle to excellent supermarkets—would in fact suffer unusually poor supermarket quality.

How could it be otherwise? Public supermarkets would have captive customers and revenues supplied not by customers but by the government. Of course they wouldn’t organize themselves efficiently to meet customers’ demands.

Responding to these failures, thoughtful souls would call for “supermarket choice” fueled by vouchers or tax credits. Those calls would be vigorously opposed by public-supermarket administrators and workers.

Opponents of supermarket choice would accuse its proponents of demonizing supermarket workers (who, after all, have no control over their customers’ poor eating habits at home). Advocates of choice would also be accused of trying to deny ordinary families the food needed for survival. Such choice, it would be alleged, would drain precious resources from public supermarkets whose poor performance testifies to their overwhelming need for more public funds.

As for the handful of radicals who call for total separation of supermarket and state—well, they would be criticized by almost everyone as antisocial devils indifferent to the starvation that would haunt the land if the provision of groceries were governed exclusively by private market forces.

Hat tip to one of my friends over on the Hello Kitty of Bloggin’.

Reagan’s Eleventh Commandment 1, Newt Gingrich 0

Wednesday, May 18th, 2011

What should we call the era that just ended here? “Say something evil about a fellow Republican and I’ll automatically win because everyone will think I’m cute and cuddly”?

Maybe call it “The Nineties”? The “I’m more adult than either of these two extremist jackasses” decade? Clinton-triangulation-strategy?

I’m pleased and proud to watch the Former Speaker’s rapid immolation here. It’s not schadenfreude; I’m hoping something got learned here. Perhaps it isn’t learning, but rather the evolutionary force involved in our fickle, revolving fatigue has nudged us in a more productive, albeit random, direction. I’ll take it.

I’m beyond sick & tired of what Newt Gingrich tried to do here. “I don’t think right-wing social engineering is any more desirable than left-wing social engineering,” everyone who’s been paying the slightest bit of attention knows what that means. Two decades straight, we’ve been watching this nonsense go down. Oh yes, we get it: “You have the fringe kooky moonbats over here, then you have your teabagger nutbars over there, and then there’s me.” Pause for dramatic effect, fold hands over your chest as if in prayer, gaze skyward and wait for halo to appear over head. Yes, rally behind me and I shall lay my healing hands upon the nation’s rift.

It’s a non-starter. And there’s a lesson here.

Take your time.

There’s no rush.

It’s only May.

Why set yourself up as a target any sooner than necessary?

I would hope there’s another one: You don’t look mature, sagely and wise by being the first guy in the room to open your mouth, and the last guy to define specific solutions. This is a bigger problem than just Gingrich, it’s been going on and on and on…we’ve been tolerating it and tolerating it…and now, from my vantage point — which I’m desperately hoping is accurate — the era ends. With a buffoon who went too far, and has nobody, absolutely nobody, in his corner. He even pissed off my blogger buddy in New Mexico.

The era of “call fellow Republicans extremist zealots and everyone will automatically love me” has come to an end. It ends with a gutted, tenderized, braised, char-broiled, breaded & deep fried, pan-seared newt.

Oh, and I see the democrats are thinking this is a point for their side. Good, I say. If they were too smart to overplay their hand, they wouldn’t be democrats.

“Newt,” by the way, has no letters in common with “Momma Grizzly.” Just sayin’, that’s all.

Your “Osama-in-Gas-Tank” Bumper Sticker

Tuesday, May 17th, 2011

Prominently displayed by Uncle Gerard as he linked to us sometime yesterday or early this morning.

It’s particularly damaging when a message about gas prices can be distilled down to bumper sticker length. Generally, as people gaze out over where bumper stickers are displayed, they are likely to have had cause to think about gas prices sometime in the last few minutes…and are cranky and irritable, someplace they’d rather not be.

Of course you don’t have to be too plugged in to current events, to understand I deserve very little credit for this; about as much as…well…as Obama deserves for taking down Osama. Credit goes to Maha Rushie.

Why is Obama getting so little help from this boobie-prize of taking down Osama? Why such a short-lived and inconsequential bump? Why so little lift?

It’s clear to me, the problem is with this ill-advised bandying-about of this clumsy word, “gutsy.” Just noodle that over in your noggin for a little while, casually, and you’ll see how bad this sounds. Obama made a decision, and the decision, in intent and in outcome, was beneficial to the interests of the country over which Obama presides. It is the first decision He’s made in office that fulfills these criteria. I’ll state it again: The intent, and the outcome, were in harmony with what is good for the country. In the Obama universe, that is “gutsy.”

Had George Bush made the same call, they wouldn’t be using that word. That could be explained, partially, by the obvious fact that “they” are people who like to see Obama succeed and Bush fail. “Gutsy” is a positive adjective, therefore it applies to Obama and not to Bush.

But that doesn’t explain all of it.

Obama-makes-gutsy-call is something of a man-bites-dog story. “Teh Won” is not known for making gutsy calls, He is known for voting “present.” What other gutsy calls has He made? There’ve been some, you could say — but they help Obama and not the country.

Shouldn’t a “gutsy” decision involve some kind of alternative choice? It seems there should be some other-path that could have been pursued, and would have been pursued, by some ineffectual middle-management suck-up…which would have deprived the country, or the charge of the stewardship of the suck-up, of some appealing outcome over the long term, but would have left the short-term prospects of the suck-up entirely whole, unscathed and unblemished. A “gutsy” decision-maker, I think, should be selecting some avenue of execution that poses a danger to his reputation but is the better option for whatever he is managing. This seems, to me, self-evident. I think we all get it…

…and yet Obama’s “call” is considered “gutsy.”

See, I think it’s a ‘fessing-up that this is not something Obama would be expected to do. It’s a non-pussy-pacifist decision, a decision that is good for Obama and the United States of America. It’s also a decision pretty much anybody else would have made — although, as we grope for some possible exceptions to that absolute statement, we all first look back to the history of presidents from Barack Obama’s party. (Clinton? Carter?)

So I think deep down, everybody understands when the adjective “gutsy” is used in this context, the word that is really meant is “unexpected,” and maybe “surreal.” And so it is implicitly understood: You can’t say, from this event, that you can just throw some Barack Obama at any new problem & walk away worry-free. If that was the case, “gutsy” wouldn’t be the word. Now: What exactly got FDR elected four times?

Also, “gutsy” calls should be likely to make new enemies. They should pack a potential to make an enemy out of someone the maker of the call wouldn’t normally want to piss off.

Who, among Obama’s friends, is thinking about becoming His enemy because He decided to lower the boom on Osama bin Laden? It just naturally opens up a re-examination of all the questions that John McCain wasn’t…er…gutsy enough to go asking about three years ago. Through this innocuous, two-syllable descriptor, we’re left with a new curiosity about Obama’s connections, a curiosity which is in fact not new at all, just reawakening from a slumber of dormancy.

Best Sentence CXIV

Tuesday, May 17th, 2011

The latest award for Best Sentence I’ve Heard Or Read Lately (BSIHORL) goes to Dr. Thomas Sowell; in this case, it is two sentences and not just one, but we’ll find a way to deal with that. Once again, it is an overdue complaint which has enjoyed too much silence for too long, that puts the Professor’s pen in motion, and the complaint is about intellectuals:

If there is any lesson in the history of ideas, it is that good intentions tell you nothing about the actual consequences. But intellectuals who generate ideas do not have to pay the consequences.

Hat tip goes to a certain left-wing gadfly, whose own pen has been agitated into motion, busily correcting Sowell over quibbling, inconsequential things that were not actually said.

Much is made of the anger the future generations will have with us for acting as poor stewards of the “environment.” Should future generations feel inclined to ask the necessary questions, I think they’d be much more perplexed about the environmental movement, specifically about the brittle lefties who look down with sneering condescension upon anyone who does not genuflect with unquestioning obedience and obeisance toward said movement.

How in the world did that work? …the future generations would want to know. Decades and decades of manufacturing with mass production, with iron, plastics and paint; centuries and centuries of people investing in enterprises, trying to make money; and thousands upon thousands of years of people growing crops, trying to figure out how to harvest more, struggling against the ever-attendant insect problems.

Environmentalists made up their minds that industry became toxic, in all these different ways, somewhere around 1960? And then they started selling variations on this theme…and getting away with it, getting the pitch sold. How?

If said future generations come askin’ me, I’ll be able to produce an answer but it won’t indict only the environmentalists. My answer would have to have something to do with the rest of us, and our lack of reasoning ability. The idea that, in the heyday of helpful, productive industries earning profits by giving people the things they actually needed, some new industries could be created out of nothing but fear — I’d tell them this whole idea seemed so foreign to us that we got snookered by it over and over again.

That’s about as good as I can make us look. Can’t do any better than that.

The “Post-Bin Laden Bounce” is Gone

Monday, May 16th, 2011

You know what they say, can’t put Osama in your gas tank.

The bump President Obama received after the killing of Osama bin Laden more than two weeks ago in Pakistan has vanished completely, according to the latest Gallup Tracking poll released Monday.

Obama’s approval rating is now at 46 percent, equal to his approval rating in the last tracking poll conducted before Obama addressed Americans late on May 1 and informed them of bin Laden’s death. Forty-four percent of Americans now disapprove of the job Obama is doing as president.

According to the Gallup poll, Obama’s approval rating crested at 52 percent after the bin Laden killing. His disapproval rating never fell lower than 40 percent.

Shouldn’t be a problem for this President, not if He’s so accustomed to making “gutsy” calls. Just make another one. Problem solved.



Monday, May 16th, 2011

Yep, 256 colors of him, the real deal:

Grammar Police

Monday, May 16th, 2011

Alright, say what you will, it’s a little corny…but it made me giggle.

Hat tip to my brother, Kris.

Let’s resurrect the famous picture one more time, shall we…

He Didn’t Say “Mission Accomplished”

Monday, May 16th, 2011

Well, he didn’t…in fact, I recall him and Vice President Cheney saying exactly the opposite thing, on a number of occasions.

It’s an inconvenient truth. And another, and another and another. A whole platter full of ’em.

Hat tip again to blogger friend Rick.


Monday, May 16th, 2011

Well, that was a very good getaway, considering it was a one-night. Got my gal a tablet, Motorola Xoom…and it’s a hit. The hotel did everything right, the food in the restaurant was completely awesome.

The only pall cast over the trip is a generalized trend I’m seeing unfold over a much, much broader timeframe. The wild Sonoma Coast is being overrun with hippies. We went zipping on out there, with my fine flabby torso all decked out in this tee shirt:

…which now, as is always the case, draws lots of positive comments and thumbs-up. Nevertheless, by the time we came back, I was thinking I should have packed the one that looks like this:

I can’t blame the establishments for this. The hippies in Berkeley and San Francisco have begun to imagine US 101 N as a closer version of Europe around the Mediterranean. They seem to be saying “Let’s spend the weekend pretending we’re in Milan.” From the point of view of the gift shops and restaurants and hotels, it’s a cash cow. So they’re starting to mutate.

Now, I do have my preferences on things, but I’m a live-and-let-live kinda guy. So what’s my beef with the hippies? I didn’t have any complaints when you saw them here & there…I didn’t even complain when you saw them all over the place. Hippies can be interesting people. No, my complaint is when you can’t get away from them. Let’s face it, since the sixties the hippie lifestyle has been one of cognitive dissonance. “We just want to be left alone to grow our vegetables & whatever, and do our own thing, man”…coupled up with…”change the world, one [insert name of incremental thing] at a time. Man.” They like having the props that come with wanting to do-your-own-thing — freedom lovers — but they aren’t wholly dedicated to that. In fact, not even in the slightest. All too often, they want to make other people do things their way, but not admit to it.

And this comes up during the periodic outings to the surf. I’ll sum it up in one single word: Food. Everything, lately, is Tuscan…or…a charming little bistro on the Champs-Élysées. And you know what that means: A big white plate, with a little piece of something tasty but non-nourishing in the middle and some kind of sauce drizzled over it in an elegant pattern…seventy bucks.

No, I’m not here for a cheeseburger. I can get that anywhere. But I’m not here just for the taste, either. This is an adventure for us, we’re going to want to get out of the car, walk long distances, maybe even climb in some places. We don’t want to have to stay in the car or sit in hot tubs, conserving energy to avoid getting that low-blood-sugar-headache feeling. And really, just speaking for myself, I’ve noticed when I start panicking over this…that’s when I get fat. It isn’t the actual eating, it’s the ordering double-size-just-in-case that makes me fat. Since I was raised in the old school mold of “clean your plate.”

So in the long run, the European smaller-portions thing doesn’t work for me. What seldom to never gets mentioned is that European portions-control is tailored around European physical activities; which, near as I can make out, consists of sitting at a tiny table on a tiny stool with a tiny teacup on a tiny plate, and bellyaching about Americans. Well, this American likes to spend some calories doing things.

LodgeI hasten to add that none of this culinary bitching applies to the restaurant in the above-linked hotel. When I say the food was awesome, I mean…just go. This chef knows his stuff.

We had a complete blast. This hotel has lots of give-a-damn in everything it does, and we wished we stayed longer. More on that below.

Back to the hippie-rant.

There are other irritants besides the menu overhauls taking place; these other things I consider to be minor, to the point of being marginal, because unlike the food, they do not affect me in any way. Except maybe for the bill. Aesthetic things which seem to absorb vast amounts of energy and effort, which are completely lost on me. Lots of customs imported from Europe. Our favorite place has become an eclectic mix of things from my ancestral homeland of Scandinavia with Sardinia and Sicily thrown into the mix, and the Native American architecture built into the structure that cannot be hastily removed.

And that’s what inspires this little screed. We do like to sit by the fire pit with the hippies, drinking wine with them and exchanging some life stories. That’s what the weekend or vacation is about, and hippie or not, by the time one is midway through one’s sixties one generally has something of interest to say. I might even go so far as to say, that’s what hippies are for. The “counterculture” does pay off in this setting. Sitting by a fire pit, swapping stories. Hippies have ’em. Although, it is clear, they have learned enough about decent civilized behavior over the years, to only speak in mixed company about a tiny morsel of what they really have to say.

But to take over the whole coastline — and that’s what has happened here — is a different thing. If the hippies can make it up to Timber Cove, which lies beyond thirteen miles of treacherous winding mountain highway even the goats fear to tread, that’s approaching a monopoly status. Hell, it’s all the way there. And that’s depressing. No point trying to drive any further trying to get away from ’em. The thirteen miles is the most formidable barrier there is.

So if we must share the place over the weekend, let go of the freakin’ menu, you hippies. Here’s this ocean, with all its treasures, we could throw something into it we’re so close. That’s why we’re here, right? And on your way up over the treacherous and intimidating mountain pass, you see lots of — what? That’s right. Cows.

Surf. Turf. So no, this Yankee doesn’t want to see a cheeseburger on the menu. You know what I want.

No lobster tails or tenderloin in Venice, Italy, or in Oslo, Norway? Well then, that’s something America does right. Like Dilbert said, “This is the part where you agree with me, and we both get on with our lives.” Or else, you go to Venice.

Which brings me to a sensible explanation, I thought, produced by my girlfriend while she was tolerating my bitching about the cuisine, punctuated by my plaintive wailing of “What the hell is going on lately?” Her theory: It’s that damn TSA poking and prodding and searching the baby’s diapers for terrorists’ weapons and explosives.

Flying is a royal pain in the ass. So instead of flying off to Athens, or Istanbul, let’s just point the Prius toward Shoreline Highway, up past the Russian River and make-believe.

I think that makes perfect sense. The timeline matches up perfectly. Before flying turned into a complete nightmare, this was more of a cowboy country. Fireplaces that burned real wood, hiking trails with real hills, dips and valleys. Corned beef hash, biscuits & gravy, pork chops & eggs, entire pages on the menu dedicated to just steaks.

The wine lists still boast proudly of the brands that come from the local valley, as opposed to France. I hope that never changes.

I’m doing a rather sloppy job of combining my hippie-rant with my glowing praise of Bodega Bay Lodge, so the reader may end up confused. So let’s bottom-line it. The logs are Duraflame, which is not real wood but it’s good enough. They smell great. The WiFi is good, can’t say enough for the food, the adorable woodland creatures are in abundance, the swimming pool seems to be in working order although we did not partake.

The service was top-notch.

But you can’t get away from the hippies.

Update: We had a discussion the next day about the gentleman who walked over to shake my hand over the “Worst President Ever” tee shirt. The interesting thing here was, the lady and gentleman were both extremely pointed in their own deliberations about why, exactly, they agreed with the sentiment about our current President. In fact, their own thoughts on this were more crystallized than ours, which is really saying something.

The thing that really stuck out to all four of us was the opacity. It is, as I’ve observed myself, something that closely resembles a borderline mental illness. This question, then that question, then some other question, they’re all resolved with some variant of “you should not be asking that and since you did, you are not the kind of person to which this White House owes any answer.” But never with any actual information. When every single question that comes up is met with that attitude…

…well, I don’t want to mix rants here. That was theirs. Incidentally, the husband wanted to make extra sure which President was being characterized as “worst” before shaking my hand, whether it was this one or the previous. But I get the distinct impression that if he found out it was an anti-Bush tee shirt, he’d still be shaking my hand. And the wife was lamenting that the best remedy for our nation’s current woes was something it would now never see: A President Hillary.

I think they either had a mixed-marriage, Matalin/Carville thing going on…or else they were both democrats.

I find that encouraging. The jokes have been made that Barack Obama is, when all’s said & done, uniting the country after all — both sides of the fence want to see Him out of there. This is just one example of that, and an unconfirmed one since I don’t really know if they were democrats…but then, we don’t need that much supporting evidence for this, the signs are out there. It’s something that would make me worry if it was my job to get Obama re-elected. And so we do see signs of promise.

Entrance Ramp

Saturday, May 14th, 2011

It’s likely to be an interesting election year. I daresay, we’ve never had anyone in the White House as charismatic as Barack Obama. We’ve never had an incumbent with a base so intensely dedicated. We’ve never had a base display such an intensity of dedication without being able to explain why. On the other hand, it’s been seventy years since the President has managed to win re-election in an economy this crappy, with so little sign of turn-around.

It’ll be a nail-biter. One thing that makes me nervous is to look around and see the people who are becoming liberal democrats, without realizing they’re becoming liberal democrats. They’re on an “entrance ramp” to the moonbat highway and they don’t know it. Others, on the other hand, are not liberals and never will be. That means there must be a handy definition, perhaps yet to be fully codified, with regard to the ones who are teetering on the brink.

It seems, to me, to begin with a single word, “should.” And the opposing force is provided by another single word, “how.” There are all these situations that “should” not exist in our real world existence, but do; and there are these other situations that cannot be found anywhere…but “should.” We should not have invaded Iraq, these moderates-who-are-becoming-liberal-democrats tell us with such certainty, such passion, such conviction. Now, at first blush, how do you go about not invading Iraq seems a pretty simple proposition, doesn’t it? Easier than falling off a log. Just don’t do it. But as they ritually and monotonously go about morphing this “should”-ness into an ever-so-popular visceral white hot hatred against you-know-who, they forget the backstory. It isn’t ignorance, in fact it is something they have lived through personally. In fact, the backstory has a lot to do with why the hatred burns so brightly. It is the hatred the Londoners felt against Titus Oates before he was sentenced to be lashed in the town square every now and then, whenever someone got it in their heads to go at it again, permanently. It is the hatred the nation felt against Susan Smith who drowned her sons in the car, and then made up a story about some black guy doing it…which people, then, fell for. It is the hatred felt only by the guy who feels like he got snookered. People who didn’t get snookered, don’t feel this hatred. So how would we have gone about not invading Iraq? Those with a working, functional long-term memory know there is no easy answer to this question; in fact, even knowing what we know today, invading Iraq was not necessarily wrong, at all. That’s why we aren’t unanimous on this.

There are other “shoulds” offset by other “hows.” A lot of them have to do with money. To the lazy thinker, when you say “these people should be paid more than seven-seventy-five an hour,” the only deliberation that may ensue after that, is whether…well, whether they should or shouldn’t. Any opposition to this, therefore, is gutterballed into a straw-man argument that goes something like “no, nobody should make more than that” even when nobody in proximity is saying anything remotely close to such a thing. If they bothered to listen to the opposition, they’d find the opposition is more likely to be presenting a “how.” The so-called moderate, but compassionate, who more often than not fancies himself to be the deeper thinker, is so consumed with one side of the equation that he neglects the other: The money must come from somewhere, right? There are only so many possibilities: the management will willingly come up with the extra money; the management will be required to come up with the extra money; a new program will be started to provide the extra money. We can safely exclude the first of those, since if management willingly came up with the extra money, the so-called “worker” would already be getting it and we would not be having the conversation. The other two options have to do with forcing someone, therefore depriving someone of an option, so could we inspect that please?

But the answer is no, because people overly enamored with “should” tend to change the subject when the question turns to “how.” That’s just the way people are.

I see other people are on their way to becoming post-modern liberals without realizing it, because they are simply continuing a life-long response to peer pressure. They do not think this is what is happening to them, because they are not necessarily obsessed, like high school sophomores, with wearing the latest fashions. So they think they are on the outside of this. Many, in fact, are quite insistent that they are “strong-willed,” “thinking for themselves,” teaching their kids to do the same, et cetera, et cetera…

The problem is, though, even though they may not be swayed by what a measured majority may think, they still define “a great point” according to whether it has reached plurality. So if they hear an opinion, they don’t put too much thought into whether it might be valid until they hear someone else say “that’s a great point” then tney might take it a little more seriously. They have the fortitude and the backbone to help push that boulder up to the top of the mountain, then; to add their voices to the chorus until such time as it has reached the fifty-percent mark and reached true majority status. And if that fails, they consider it to have been a noble effort, just like any true rugged individualist.

But they don’t have what it takes to be the guy who says “that’s a great point” — the number two. And they fall well, far, short of what it takes to be the guy who made the point, the number one. To them, if they don’t see that moved-and-seconded sequence, then it is absolutely impossible for any worthy point to have been made.

Henry Fonda could go in to a jury room with eleven of these people…and not have a single prayer of turning things around. It wouldn’t happen. These people are succumbing to peer pressure and they don’t know it, because they aren’t evaluating the ideas and the arguments according to content. Until the motion has been seconded, it isn’t worth considering.

I see another class of person getting suckered into becoming a hardcore lefty without realizing this is what is happening to him. Or her. Actually, it tends to more often be a “her” although it is lopsided in that direction only slightly. My home state of California, at this time, looks to be the first of the fifty states to go bankrupt, because of this kind of thought process. A policy is debated, in advance of a potential enactment of a policy not yet existing, or repeal of a policy already on the books. The debate comes down to whether a defined class of people should receive some special entitlement…and they decide it emotionally. Think of the example up above about hiking the minimum wage. This is slightly different. A litany is soon spewed out about “those people have to…” and then you get to hear about some fuzzy narrative. Nurses have to clean up bodily fluids, cops have to pull people over and maybe get shot, firemen have to charge in to burning buildings. And the prison guards, let’s not forget the prison guards.

I see no point inserting the ritual disclaimers about how wonderful I think nurses/cops/firemen/guards are, because my beef is not with the conclusion reached in these exchanges. My beef is with how it is decided. The virtue of this defined class…is speechified…waxed-lyrically-about. And presto! No need to have any further discussion about it. But this is not the way mature adults decide what to do.

It works the other way too. Oil companies and their evil profits. I know you’ve heard that one a few times lately. We have all this “pain at the pump” and unfortunately, everybody who drives a car to work has a good claim on the smallest-violin, just like cops and nurses and firemen and prison guards. All of us who buy gas have a “how would you like to” story to share, if only there was someone we could share it with who didn’t also have to pay $4.65 a gallon. To a rational thinker, a reasonable question emerges — and remains unanswered. How do we get from there…the price of gas is higher than we would like it to be…to over here, which is more congressional investigations (which never find anything), more regulation, more oversight, and would someone please come up with a scheme to take the profits away. You know the old joke about the South Park Underpants Gnomes with the one, two, three.

This is very much like that:

1. Diminish profits derived from anything that has to do with getting gas on the market;
2. ???
3. Cheaper gas prices!

When is the last time —

No, scratch that. Can anyone name for me a single commodity that came down in price, as a direct result of our efforts to make it more expensive, onerous and difficult to bring that commodity to market.

You see, in none of the above cases is it a very exotic or intricate or involved test of practical thinking these democrats-in-training have failed. They are actually very rudimentary thresholds. I would expect any sixth-grader, who has shown the responsibility, drive, initiative and capacity for independent living to walk home from school and be a latch-key kid, to pass these thresholds.

But of course, once you’re a grown-up you become entitled to conveniences. As are kids. But grown-ups get to decide which conveniences they like, and continue consuming them indefinitely. And what are conveniences, other than vacations from the necessity of personally making things happen, getting your hands dirty? And so adults are availed of the luxury of “bowing out” of the exchange, with everything except their wallets, thus gradually forgetting how things come to be. Beef comes from the store. Corn comes from a can. Water comes from a bottle. Clothes come from Amazon.

Therefore, we are all susceptible to this sloppy, democrat-entrance-ramp thinking. It doesn’t have much to do with intelligence. A lot of very smart people slip into this. They get a “should” in their heads that excites them, forgetting about the “how”; they believe no idea is worth thinking unless it’s moved-and-seconded; and they think privileges and punishments should be decided and set-aside only according to how good or bad some class of people can be perceived to be.

Barack Obama has a good chance for a second term, actually. That isn’t to say it won’t be a tough fight for Him. But I would say most of the people voting for the democrat in the 2012 election, as of today they don’t know yet that they’re democrats. But their thinking is just as diseased.

Cross-posted at Right Wing News and Washington Rebel.

Dirty Jobs

Thursday, May 12th, 2011

Amazing and Awesome.

Mike Rowe’s Testimony Before the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation
May 11, 2011

Chairman Rockefeller, Ranking Member Hutchison and members of this committee, my name is Mike Rowe, and I want to thank you all very much for the opportunity to testify before you today.

I’m here today because of my grandfather.

His name was Carl Knobel, and he made his living in Baltimore as a master electrician. He was also a plumber, a mechanic, a mason, and a carpenter. Everyone knew him as a jack-of-all-trades. I knew him as a magician.

For most of his life, my grandfather woke up clean and came home dirty. In between, he accomplished things that were nothing short of miraculous. Some days he might re-shingle a roof. Or rebuild a motor. Or maybe run electricity out to our barn. He helped build the church I went to as a kid, and the farmhouse my brothers and I grew up in. He could fix or build anything, but to my knowledge he never once read the directions. He just knew how stuff worked.

I remember one Saturday morning when I was 12. I flushed the toilet in the same way I always had. The toilet however, responded in a way that was completely out of character. There was a rumbling sound, followed by a distant gurgle. Then, everything that had gone down reappeared in a rather violent and spectacular fashion.

Naturally, my grandfather was called in to investigate, and within the hour I was invited to join he and my dad in the front yard with picks and shovels.

By lunch, the lawn was littered with fragments of old pipe and mounds of dirt. There was welding and pipe-fitting, blisters and laughter, and maybe some questionable language. By sunset we were completely filthy. But a new pipe was installed, the dirt was back in the hole, and our toilet was back on its best behavior. It was one of my favorite days ever.

Thirty years later in San Francisco when my toilet blew up again. This time, I didn’t participate in the repair process. I just called my landlord, left a check on the kitchen counter, and went to work. When I got home, the mess was cleaned up and the problem was solved. As for the actual plumber who did the work, I never even met him.

It occurred to me that I had become disconnected from a lot of things that used to fascinate me. I no longer thought about where my food came from, or how my electricity worked, or who fixed my pipes, or who made my clothes. There was no reason to. I had become less interested in how things got made, and more interested in how things got bought.

At this point my grandfather was well into his 80s, and after a long visit with him one weekend, I decided to do a TV show in his honor…

Mike Rowe goes on to note that what we really need is a “national PR Campaign for Skilled Labor.” Truth be told, this is somewhat offensive to my libertarian sensibilities. In my universe, the government does not go telling us what is important to us — we decide that, and then we vote the government in or out and then they do that.

But that’s a minor quibble. How minor? If we did have a national PR campaign I wouldn’t shed a single tear. Because the man’s right. However we get there…we gotta get there.

We don’t have a lack of respect for skilled labor in this country. In a way, I wish we did. Because if that was the case we could say “Hey, there’s a lack of respect for skilled labor in this country” and then we could take that on. This is more like a slow burn, all smoke no fire — people who dis hard work, and then successfully delude themselves into thinking they don’t. Arguing with that is like nailing the proverbial fart to the wall. But the stink is still there.

It’s the critical thinking that takes a hit. If you never have to actually fix something, you can start thinking, you know, just plain idiotic things. Things like, we elect a black President and it will end racial discord forever…or…when there’s an oil leak in the gulf, what we need is a moratorium against drilling. Dumbass things like those. You’ll see they are most popularly championed in the urban areas. Where people call plumbers instead of doing it themselves, because they can.

Mike Rowe has long been a hero in my house. This just reinforces that. What a speech, and what a guy.

I’ve Got an Idea for a Comic Book

Thursday, May 12th, 2011

How’s this. Since NBC is rejecting Wonder Woman, she goes back to pages 1 through 22. She goes prancing around in that tiny Lynda Carter thing with her bare legs all hanging out and everything, the whole time. Some feminists try to get her to wear some pants and she completely blows ’em off.

Wonder Woman and CrewThen she runs up and kicks Superman’s fickle ass of steel.

Everybody ends up happy. Superman the hyper-nationalist super-patriot gets his ass kicked; Superman the sissypants internationalist bozo gets his ass kicked; a woman kicks a man’s ass; and the feminists who try to get all the good-looking women to cover up their legs, are told to stick it. Plus you have Wonder Woman’s bare legs. Everybody wins except ugly feminist women with mustaches, and who gives a rip about them.

Okay, seriously though. What makes comics great, especially comics from the Golden Age. We marvel at them for their consistency. They morph a little bit, but all that shows is that there are fine minds behind these pages, and not automatons. And let’s repeat: They morph a little bit. There’s a balance.

If they’re complete chameleons, then that’s nothing but a digest of current events. Might as well just bag the comic book and sit in on a fashion show. We are amazed by these works of art because something is remaining consistent; without that, they’re just drawings. Drawings aren’t nearly so precious. Lots of people can draw. I mean, I’m not one of ’em, and I don’t mean to put anybody down, but it’s true. In 2011 there are lots and lots of titles out there. But we buy DC and Marvel because? Right. The legacy.

I realize everybody who pitches in is going to want to leave their mark. That’s only natural. And it isn’t undesirable at all. So here’s the guideline I’m proposing: Stick to defining things that aren’t defined yet. Super-freeze-breath is stupid and not supported by the laws of physics…and I don’t mean like flight or super-strength, I mean, not even remotely, not even a little bit. Canx it, it’s dumb. Can Wonder Woman fly? If so, ditch the plane, it’s stupid. If not, keep the plane, but she can’t fly without it. Where the hell do Clark Kent’s shoes go? After 73 years maybe it’s time to come up with an answer to that, right? What happens if Wonder Woman tries to deflect a bullet and she misses? If nothing, then why does she bother trying?

So Superman stands for The American Way…oh yes he does…and Wonder Woman shows off her legs, and whatever brittle ugly women with wretched looking legs don’t like it, along with the “World Without Borders” maniacs wanting Superman to be more international — which he isn’t — they just don’t have to buy the damn thing. I mean, seriously. How much loot were they going to spend, really? How many sponsors’ products were they going to buy? Thought so. Toss ’em out on their ears.

This moment of common sense is brought to you free of charge. You’re welcome.

CompareUpdate 5/13/11: Aw, can’t believe we missed this. We must be more of a leg man than we thought we were. Even though we wrote about this before it completely went over our head.

The photos. Look at Lynda Carter’s costume…this is what I was talking about, there are elements of it that go clear back to the very beginning, the one with the “beauty contest winner” look and the long false eyelashes. Look down, below the waist. The boots and the skimpy panties that have these nameless no-account busybodies so huffy and peeved. Now look over at Ms. Palicki with the ridiculous horse-jockey outfit.

And then think about Superman renouncing the citizenship, and all that hoop-de-doo.

This is the same effort, the same attempt. They aren’t trying to make it so gorgeous, beautiful young women are dressing like men. That’s part of it, to be sure, but only just…

Wonder Woman, with the ridiculous trouser outfit, was shedding the stars and stripes. The shorts were white stars on a field of blue. The boots were red and white striped.

Now of course, that all makes sense in some way. Comics are sold overseas. If you’re selling comic books, why settle for greenbacks when you can have those, plus euros and pounds and yen? They’re trying to go after an international audience.

But here’s the thing though. People in foreign countries have wanted to buy American products for a long, long time. People in foreign countries, Japan especially, have been interested in American culture. For a relatively long time.

SupermanSee, America isn’t changing that much. Superman and Wonder Woman, to the extent they exist — as icons of appeal, which I think have been defined through these latest failed attempts to reshape and change them — aren’t changing that much either. At the end of the day, when it comes time to get comic books & related products moved, Superman still embodies American ideals and Wonder Woman wears a swimsuit with boots that have American-flag colors.

Kinda. Depending on the venue.

It’s the rest of the world that is changing. This is what nobody’s paying attention to, and I think they/we should. People overseas who happen to have money, a generation ago, would see a product associated with America and say “I’ll buy that.” Maybe even, “because it’s American and I like American stuff, I’ll buy that.” This year, maybe they’ll buy it if you take out a razor blade and carefully remove the red, white and blue labeling…it isn’t so much the idea it was built in the United States…they don’t want the words, they don’t want that name, they don’t want the colors. We’re being boycotted. These new costumers and artists are still narcissistic pricks itching to be able to say “I’m the one who” completely re-made an icon that is timeless. But they’re acting on behalf of consumers, or potential consumers…who, in turn, are acting on behalf of others who might see them using, or reading, or eating or drinking something with red-white-and-blue. And this isn’t desired.

And no, from what I’m seeing this did not start in 2003 with the invasion of Iraq. From what I recollect, this subtle push has been going on since about a decade before that, maybe a bit more.

The solution is completely obvious. We need to boycott back. And no, I don’t think that is a lost option in this day & age in which we owe China a bunch of money. If we’re really suffering the fate of sharecroppers, then it’s in China’s interest that we stand up for ourselves, because debt that is owed by a country set to survive & thrive in the years ahead, is worth much more than debt that is owed by a country petering out of existence.

“I Thought Ed Darrell Debunked Thomas Sowell Decently”

Thursday, May 12th, 2011

So says Jim. Yup, I got sucked into another one. And, I have every confidence there are hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, who would agree with Jim on that. Provided they would be compelled to become interested in the exchange.

Ed Darrell did debunk Dr. Sowell, very, very decently. I agree with that; if, by “debunk decently,” we mean “Ed handed down a list of rules that make sense to Ed, about what people should be reading and what they should not be reading.” Ed debunks lots of things this way. It is, for the most part, the only weapon in his arsenal.

Along the way though, the Larry-Moe-Curly triumvirate of Jim Nick and Ed, all communicated the thought with crystal clarity — and it is important to all three of them to get this across, so I have decided I will aid their efforts here. The right wing, which they all think so poorly of, indeed seems to be exempt from the definition of “everyone” as they labor to build the perfect society that welcomes & functions for everyone…gets into the trouble with them, by absorbing information. The left wing, which earns their accolades and adoration, does so by coming up with reasons and excuses not to absorb information. Nearly all the arguments from the friendly crowd at Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub, from what I see, essentially boil down to the statement of “you should not be reading this thing over here.” Whether it’s Dr. Sowell, or Anthony Watts, or Steven Milloy or Gov. Perry of Texas.

Which is, I think, a situation worth commenting on…since it is a situation much bigger than Fillmore’s bathtub. It stands in perfect contravention to the liberal-self-love theme of “our side isn’t afraid of information but those evil Republicans don’t know how to handle it.” For those who can pay attention to things and remember things long-term, that mindset remains valid until arguments are presented on both sides and then analyzed. And then a pattern emerges: Conservatives say “well, like this guy said” and liberals say “I have a pre-catalogued, pre-circulated, pre-rehearsed reason not to read or listen to anything from over there.” They’ve got this blacklist to which they’re steadily adding names of loathed people. Which, ironically, is supposed to be a major selling point, for their side, against the conservatives. It’s supposed to be the right wing that blacklists people.

Now liberals don’t have a monopoly on this. But it certainly has emerged as one of their defining traits. Prerationalism; yellow-light red-light. “I don’t read anything from there and you shouldn’t either, everyone who reads anything from there is less cool than anybody who doesn’t read it.” That’s yellow light. Right light is the tried-and-true “You are no longer of the community, you shall be shunned, whoever does not shun you shall be shunned, whoever does not shun he who did not shun you will likewise be shunned.”

Larry-Moe-and-Curly, in their rush toward prerationalism, missed a point about Sowell and my citation of his column: It needs no “experimental” support, since I did not cite Dr. Sowell because of his base of knowledge, but rather because of his skill with the written word. Sowell had made a good, and important, point.

One of the sad and dangerous signs of our times is how many people are enthralled by words, without bothering to look at the realities behind those words.

One of those words that many people seldom look behind is “education.” But education can cover anything from courses on nuclear physics to courses on baton twirling.

You have to be a subscriber, or some kind of regular reader, of Fillmore’s Bathtub to appreciate what really happened here. The focus of this particular blog is somewhat narrow. There is an occasional historical tidbit about Texas; a lot of sniping and grousing about Milloy’s blog and Watt’s blog; much alarmism about people walking around somewhere, thinking the wrong things, reading the wrong things, which do not service the interests of the democrat party in Texas or in the nation. Lots about global warming, much more about DDT and eggshell thinning. The balance of what remains, and what remains covers perhaps half of the total volume, perhaps more than that — is a lot of bitching about Governor Perry and other Republicans bringing harm to “education” by cutting a budget item, or making moves to cut it. Rest assured, Darrell does provide support for his claims. But you can forget about any balanced argument, any mention of why someone would think of cutting the item. You’d think it would be set up once in awhile to be made an object of ridicule, but I don’t see it happening much. Just — these evil guys who hate education are about to cut something, so help me hate them.

The word “education” is being used as a label which, on inspection does not seem to apply to what would be described by a reasonable person in such a way. And, if the method of argumentation is a model for what this is supposed to mean…well, it doesn’t come off as very educated.

By pointing out that the e-word is very often used to describe a spectrum of things that is so broad as to become linguistically unworkable, it is Sowell that has done a decent job of debunking Ed Darrell and his two lackeys. Reams and reams and reams of what they have had to say, in fact. With just three well-crafted sentences making up two short paragraphs.

The takeaway from all this is another recollection of Thing I Know #183:

When an education has given you the ability to dismiss ideas more quickly, it’s not really an education.

Which I suppose builds on Sowell’s point (before I heard of it). Too many people are living among us and making much out of a habit of blocking information out by means of something they describe with this word “education”; they seem to think of education as a process of essentially sticking your fingers in your ears and going la la la. You see them do this all the time, really — this awful loathed person over here actually paid attention to that awful loathed bit of information over there…therefore…he is uneducated…while, contrasted with that, me and my friends made a point of not paying attention to the awful loathed bit of information, therefore we are better educated.

Nevermind that this “in-crowd” is now thoroughly unable to describe the details of the information that was exchanged, which they then want to complain about. And they’re proud of not being able to explore it in detail, as they proceed to complain.

I don’t know about you. But that isn’t what I think of as “educated.”

By the way. The other article Sowell wrote, which got him on this Larry-Moe-Curly-McCarthy-blacklist thing, so that “educated” people prove their education by making sure they’re never exposed to what Sowell has to say…is here. It makes an important point: “[A] democracy needs informed citizens if it is to thrive, or ultimately even survive.” Many among those who claim to be “educated,” and to value something they prefer to call “education,” don’t seem to be in favor of this informed citizenry. This particular Sowell column is complained about a whole lot in liberal circles, especially on the web. Interestingly, you won’t find too many links directly to the column. Many more of such screeds will only point to other such screeds, and not to the source of the outrage.

Liberals do that an awful lot, I’ve noticed.

Update at 2010PDT Today: The trackback from this post has had an effect very much like tossing a lit match into a barrel of gasoline, as I knew it would. New life has been breathed into Ed’s post, and Larry Moe & Curly are now climbing all over themselves. Once again — it has degenerated into a jerk-off session which examines and re-examines all the things that make left-wing people more wonderful and awesome and decent than right-wing people. Mr. Darrell seems to have forgotten his original point was about the funding of public schools, and now wishes to examine the tragedy of all families in said schools not making an equal amount of money — his new lamentation is about the lack of funding to the households I think.

It’s not possible to determine that, of course. Here’s the thing about Ed Darrell: He goes on and on about such-and-such an opposing force having failed “to provide evidence for their claims” or “provide support for his claims.” But the targets of such criticism are one-up on him, because whether supported or not at least their claims are defined. Ed’s claims are not defined. He links to a page full of statistics and graphs and charts and data, pointing out this debunks something Dr. Sowell said. But there are no specifics. What is being debunked, exactly? I can’t answer that and neither can you, unless your name is Ed Darrell. But Darrell won’t.

But who cares. It’s all about those three being better people…than…whoever is on the other side of some imaginary fence. Makes this quote from Orwell’s 1984 seem apropos:

But always — do not forget this, Winston — always there will be the intoxication of power, constantly increasing and constantly growing subtler. Always, at every moment, there will be the thrill of victory, the sensation of trampling on an enemy who is helpless. If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face — forever. [emphasis mine]

This is why it’s important to discuss this. Nick Jr. typifies the cognitive dissonance. This is the guy who said:

What is the one thing in this country that can bring everyone together?


…and then self-corrected to

Correction. That should “the one and only thing that can bring people together in this country.”

If you take the time to look (it’s a lot of looking, Nick’s posts never seem to stand on their own, he tends to post again and again and again, he’s a bit of a scatterbrain) you’ll see pretty much everything he’s had to say is that Republicans are worse people than…something. Liberals, democrats, Michael Moore fans, anarchists, something. It requires a great deal less courage, less intellectual fortitude, to oppose something than to build something.

Nick, whether he realizes it or not — and I think he does, but who knows — entirely lacks passion about the personal goals he has in mind as he has defined them, in writing. He doesn’t really want government, or anything else, bringing anybody together with anybody else. But the Orwell quote, along with Nick’s flip-flopping, really captures what applies to all three. A thrill of victory running in a vicious cycle. A boot stepping on a face, forever.

Again, there is nothing unique here. Nothing special about Fillmore’s Bathtub at all. This is a very big phenomenon taking place. It’s going on, right now, coast to coast. Our liberals are batshit crazy.

A Republican Talking Point is Answered

Thursday, May 12th, 2011

A popular talking point among the GOP has surfaced in response to the President’s “gutsy” call to take out Osama bin Laden, and it goes something like “well, what kind of idiot would have made any other call?”

It’s popular because it makes an important point that is forgotten all too often, which in turn means something. President Obama’s greatest achievement, ever, is now defined and crystallized. He is never going to top this one, and what it says about Him is — not a whole lot, when you get down to it. You can’t point to an Obama policy that started a chain of events culminating in the death of bin Laden. But you can certainly point to a lot of such policies of His predecessor, that guy He castigated over and over again on the campaign trail, and over and over again after He was inaugurated and started His “rule,” as if He was still campaigning.

So Obama takes credit for policies that not only are on the outside of anything He ever would have enacted, anytime, anyplace, ever…He also takes credit for policies He repeatedly spoke out against, even after He was sworn in and there should have been no further need to campaign. When He was supposed to have been so busy doing His job that there shouldn’t have been any time for campaigning for a job He already had. In fact it’s fair to say He neglected that job so He could take time out of it — inexplicably — to campaign for it.

Had He spent more time making decisions in that job & following up on those decisions, rather than campaigning for the job as if He didn’t have it yet when He actually did…a lot of those policies, which culminated in the death of bin Laden and thus the beneficial result, probably would no longer have been in force. In this way, the talking point is a powerful and persuasive argument — although it probably requires a much greater attention span to receive all of it, in the case of anyone outside the audience of those who really need to hear it.

But you know what? Now the talking point has an answer. President of the United States Ron Paul.

Ron Paul says he would not have authorized the mission that led to the death of Osama bin Laden, and that President Barack Obama should have worked with the Pakistani government instead of authorizing a raid.

“I think things could have been done somewhat differently,” Paul said this week. “I would suggest the way they got Khalid [Sheikh] Mohammed. We went and cooperated with Pakistan. They arrested him, actually, and turned him over to us, and he’s been in prison. Why can’t we work with the government?”

Asked by WHO Radio’s Simon Conway whether he would have given the go-ahead to kill bin Laden if it meant entering another country, Paul shot back that it “absolutely was not necessary.”

“I don’t think it was necessary, no. It absolutely was not necessary,” Paul said during his Tuesday comments. “I think respect for the rule of law and world law and international law. What if he’d been in a hotel in London? We wanted to keep it secret, so would we have sent the airplane, you know the helicopters into London, because they were afraid the information would get out?”

The Ron Paul Apologia Squad is aptly represented in the comment section, I see. But I have yet to see a single comment say something to the effect of “When Bush went in and got Saddam Hussein back in ’03, that’s the way we should have done it.” See, if you’re really going to do something about a problem and discard the option of “ostrich diplomacy” sticking your head in the ground and hoping the problem goes away — you want to do something about it — then it’s one or the other. You work your way through the bad-guy military one flank at a time, which means body bags; or you send an elite squad in to make a neat little hole in the BigBad’s head.

This is why I find it hard to respect the Ron Paul movement; or, for that matter, those who support that movement. If these people are being sincere in discussing how decisions should be made at the top of our government, by which I mean they’re conducting their own lives in a manner consistent with the way they want these decisions to be made — then, they must not be capable of making decisions, since they cannot meaningfully comprehend the list of available options.

We’ve got a lot of people running around with this problem, I notice. They aren’t all Ron Paul fans. They like to speechify, and they can do a grand job of doing it, against some decision someone else made. But they can’t pick something themselves, and what’s worse, they don’t seem to care.

Just speaking for myself, if both options are available, I like Obama’s solution much better. People in the military are, generally speaking, about half my age or less than that. I like seeing them live. And I like seeing bad people humiliated as they’re taken down, by being taken down without too much of a fuss. Many’s the time I said, before Saddam was taken down, that that’s what should happen to him. One bullet, a .22 short, and save the casing. Then let it be said that the terror that is the regime of Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, was taken down by a bullet thiiiiiiiis big. That would have been ideal. Plate that puppy in 22k gold and display it in the Smithsonian.

Yes, this leads to a debate about whether the .22 short can be lethal. It should be considered as such, in the sense that proper safety on the range (where the .22 short is used most often, I expect) demands that all projectiles be considered potentially lethal. But in a highly coordinated move on a compound based on a decade of accumulated intelligence work, would you use one where it counts, with no second-chances…custom-made, sharpened, depleted-uranium slug? With some snarky insult chiseled on it. Can you fire DU with the measure of gunpowder in a .22 short cartridge? That debate becomes more technically involved than it’s worth. Still a fun thing to think about.

Back to the subject at hand. It’s still a valid talking point the Republicans have. Obama is in a precarious position with this business about “I’m the badass who who took down bin Laden” propaganda gravy train, because the facts say His singularly greatest achievement anywhere is something He got done by staying out of the way, letting better men getting the work done, and being the meaningless figurehead who just happened to have been in charge when it went down. If you really want to dig for something He did that led to the good results, you end up with a bunch of broken promises. He was supposed to shut down Guantanamo but didn’t; He was supposed to stop the War on Terror but didn’t; He was supposed to “change” this, that, or some other silly thing, but didn’t.

You want to have your singularly greatest achievement within this earthly existence, ever, accomplished in such a way? Again, I must confine my remarks to my own personal situation and speak solely for myself. But no. A decisive negatori on that.

Be all that as it may: Going forward, let us not call this “what idiot would’ve” argument unanswerable…for it has been answered. There is an idiot who would have made another call.

Hat tip to Memeorandum.

“Were a Conservative Leader to Take the Same Actions…”

Monday, May 9th, 2011

Victor Davis Hanson explores the written rules and regulations of targeted-assassination warfare, and then the unwritten rules & regs we actually follow:

It’s…easier to conduct assassinations abroad if the Commander-in-Chief is liberal. This neutralizes criticism from the media, universities, the legal community, and Hollywood. Obama the law professor can assassinate bin Laden in Pakistan, dump his body in the ocean, and with first-person emphasis boast of our brilliant mission in a way Bush the Texan could not get away with—in the same manner that killing the son of Qaddafi, and the effort to kill Qaddafi himself, are not really forbidden targeted assassinations under Obama, and in the manner that Guantánamo, tribunals, renditions, preventive detentions, Predators, wiretaps, and intercepts that so bothered Senator Obama and others are now deemed essential. This paradox is just the way it is; the media will report a liberal president’s Predator drone attack or commando hit as done with reluctance and without other viable choices. Were a conservative leader to take the same actions, he would be portrayed as a trigger-happy war-monger reveling in the violence. Thus, the street celebrations that ensued when news of bin Laden’s death broke are seen by the media as a new unity inspired by Obama. Three years ago, they would have been seen as macabre triumphalism.

Hat tip to blogger friend Rick.

High Gas Prices…Expanding Deficit…

Monday, May 9th, 2011

The solution, obviously, is to make it less profitable to bring the gas to market.

Linking two of the politically volatile issues of the moment, Senate Democrats say they will move forward this week with a plan that would eliminate tax breaks for big oil companies and divert the savings to offset the deficit.

With high gas prices and rising federal deficits in the political spotlight, senior Democrats believe that tying the two together will put pressure on Senate Republicans to support the measure or face a difficult time explaining their opposition to voters whose family budgets are being strained by fuel prices.
“Big Oil certainly doesn’t need the collective money of taxpayers in this country,” said Senator Robert Menendez, Democrat of New Jersey, one of the authors of the legislation that Democrats intend to showcase. “This is as good a time as any in terms of pain at the pump and in revenues needed for deficit reduction.”

It’s a bigger issue than gasoline. The liberal democrat solution to any commodity becoming more expensive, is to take the profit angle out of it, sit back & hope for the best. Scoring: Problem remains but profit is gone == success; problem solved but profit is made solving the problem == failure.

And, problem remains and someone’s still making a profit == try again.

Hat tip to Instapundit.

It has to work this time around. When a company is forced to give up its profit through increased taxes, isn’t that company’s natural reaction one of “Golly! That Congress, representing The People, sure does hate us a lot! We’d better lower our prices!” Yeah, there is a long and rich history of this working out just great. Never fails.

Discussed further at Althouse’s place, where Crimso comments:

In order to be “fair,” the government should only take the “collective” money that reflects profits. What percent of revenues (on average) of the oil companies is profit. Never mind. I already know the answer, and I know there’s a shitload of companies who have much higher profit margins.

So now some jackass, or perhaps more accurately looter or thief, a member of Congress (but I repeat myself) wants to decide how much of “our” money the oil companies deserve. “A republic, if you can keep it,” indeed. I guess we can’t.