Archive for March, 2014

Pushing the Envelope

Thursday, March 27th, 2014

On the brink and, for the moment, pulling back:

Vulnerable Senate Democrats plan to introduce a bill as early as today that would alter some of the mandates in Obamacare and delay others, according to the Wall Street Journal:

Among the proposals likely to be included is one backed by Messrs. Begich and Warner offering a new kind of insurance plan, a “copper” plan featuring lower premiums and higher out-of-pocket costs than the “bronze,” “silver” and “gold” options on the government-run health-care exchanges.

Lawmakers also would like to make health care more affordable for small businesses by expanding certain tax credits and making them available for longer…
Many Democrats in tight races this fall have made clear they are committed to keeping the health law but want to fix it, drawing a distinction with Republicans who want to scrap it entirely. “The law is very good; it has some very good parts to it,” said Sen. Mary Landrieu, a Democrat running for re-election in conservative-leaning Louisiana. “I do not believe it should be repealed—my opponents do.”

This is a trap for Republicans. If they go ahead and help the Democrats by applying a bandaid to this gaping wound, it won’t help consumers and would dispirit the base of the party. On the other hand, that’s just what these Dems are counting on. By refusing to help “fix” Obamacare, they can run on the notion that Republicans don’t want to make the law better because it benefits them politically if it remains a mess.

There’s no reason for the GOP to alter what they’ve been doing. The mid terms will be a turnout election and anything that might keep their voters from going to the polls should be avoided. On the other hand, only those predisposed to think that a few minor tweaks could actually “fix” Obamacare would be influenced by the Democratic argument of GOP obstructionism. It’s far better for Republicans to keep the pressure on vulnerable Democrats than help them make meaningless changes to a bad law.

Thing is, though, this isn’t about applying patches to a bad law to make it into a good law, or correcting the implementation of a good law so that it’s a bit less messy. It’s about incremental movement. The questions have to do with quantity and not quality: How much of the poison can we swallow on any given day, or any given election cycle. How much furniture polish can you put in the stepkid’s soup before she complains about the taste and doesn’t eat it.

The way forward is not open to any sort of question or deliberation; it’s not on the table. I know this is true because I subscribe to the democrat party’s e-mail updates. They’re writing in this morning to get me all excited about taking back the House of Representatives. They need me to get fourteen people from my city to chip in $3 or more, so they can bring 218 seats under democrat control; see, that’s the thinking. When-are-we-done. What’s the bare minimum — to achieve iron-fisted, dictatorial control on a whole host of issues. When can we start forcing people we don’t know to do everything our way.

The question that would naturally come up to a truly political party trying to achieve success in a constitutional republic, would be: What would it take for us to win 300 seats? Or all 435? It is astonishing that liberals, as we understand that word today, have so little interest in such things. They know that the answers would have to do with chipping away at the agenda, giving something up. They don’t want to give up anything at all. They’re extremists by nature. They have no reason to be anything else; they know the ratchet effect works in their favor.

They know exactly what policies they want. The question is the size of the incremental steps, how quickly the electorate can be persuaded to absorb the “change” in each election cycle. This is much bigger than President Obama, He’s merely a device to speed up the sale. A bit of salt and seasoning in the poisoned soup, if you will.

And they’re doing this so we have better medical care? Been awhile since you’ve heard a democrat talk about that, though, hasn’t it. “The law is very good” and “has good parts to it.” But what about results? All of their talking points are “gonna-dooz” and very few of them have anything to do with “hav-dunz.” Even the disgraceful debunking of that cancer patient was chock full of “would be” and “will hit.” They have very few anecdotes to offer about people receiving better medical care at lower cost, and even fewer statistics to offer about a population staying healthy, or getting healthy, or saving money, or enjoying any other perks of state-managed health care services.

Like everything else they do to “help” people, it’s really all about control. Charge this much, pay that much, don’t own this, must own that. And how many such new rules can they pass this year without losing elections. And how many elections can they afford to lose without losing control of this-or-that chamber.

They’re not really representing people at all. They’re in our capitol to represent an agenda, not constituents. Whatever they haven’t outlawed or forced, they merely haven’t outlawed or forced yet. Republicans, as usual, suck at communicating so that hasn’t emerged as the central issue. But it’s really all about that. It has always been all about that.

“The Wealth in America Doesn’t Come from Government”

Thursday, March 27th, 2014

Kevin O’Leary responds to President Obama’s concerns about the minimum wage:

Even if the President’s facts and figures were correct, His logic is poor. You can effectively highlight the glaring gaps simply by relieving Him of the power to unilaterally choose phrases. Make labor more expensive, that would be an honest and balanced summary of what it is He seeks to do right now. Right?

Would even His defenders agree with the statement, “What we need to do right now is increase the cost of labor 39%”? Because if they won’t go along with that, then how come we have to use their phraseology when we debate measures like this?

People seem to forget: “Will increase the cost by such-and-such-a-percent” is not some abstract computation put together using some worst-case-scenario and then bandied about by the law’s critics; it is what the law does. It’s supposed to do that. It’s a minimum.

Eleven Hate Crime Hoaxes

Wednesday, March 26th, 2014

National Review:

This incident at Grand Valley State is just the latest of many instances over the past few years in which people claim to be the victims of hate crimes they inflicted on themselves or completely fabricated.

Perhaps attempting some misguided publicity stunt or perhaps trying to make others see hate where there is none, these people have gone to great lengths to claim they’ve been targeted.

When politicians manage to ram bad laws through the mill that are ripe for abuse, it’s a double-win for them. By subjecting ordinary citizens who are just minding their own business to casual civil and regulatory assault, they make The People less powerful, and in so doing make the state more powerful. They essentially pilfer rights away from The People. And politically, they help themselves by shrugging off concerns about this potential abuse, they set themselves up as believers in mankind’s inherent goodness.

Of course, if you noodle away on that last point with something resembling a working brain, you immediately understand that the “faith” they’re putting in mankind is nothing more than an illusion; if/when they turn out to be wrong, it doesn’t cost them a single thing.

Laws such as these rank high on the list of ways to empower the powerful, comfort the already comfortable, and afflict the afflicted.

“The Government Will Not Try to Determine Whether the Person is Telling the Truth”

Wednesday, March 26th, 2014

Washington Post, hat tip to blogger friend Rick.

The Obama administration has decided to give extra time to Americans who say that they are unable to enroll in health plans through the federal insurance marketplace by the March 31 deadline.

Federal officials confirmed Tuesday evening that all consumers who have begun to apply for coverage on, but who do not finish by Monday, will have until about mid-April to ask for an extension.

Under the new rules, people will be able to qualify for an extension by checking a blue box on to indicate that they tried to enroll before the deadline. This method will rely on an honor system; the government will not try to determine whether the person is telling the truth.

Nifty. Yeah, I can certainly see that Obama’s government has no need to be told what’s going on, when they’re plenty capable of making up all the truth they need.

Our nation’s first President supposedly couldn’t tell a lie…

25 Pictures of NFL Cheeleaders Who Should Put on More Clothes

Saturday, March 22nd, 2014

Rant Sports.

Showing Maturity

Saturday, March 22nd, 2014

I think this is completely great. What a fitting epitaph.

“Signs That Left Them Speechless”

Wimp Factory Tooling Up

Saturday, March 22nd, 2014

The joke around these parts is that when I started blogging, one of my favorite bitch-fests was that the Sacramento area didn’t have a single Hooter’s restaurant. Now there are three of them; so, all tremble before the power and wrath of The Blog That Nobody Reads. The serious side of it, though, is that market forces ultimately prevailed. And yet, since it took awhile, they obviously had to prevail against something. Prevail against what?

The answer is obvious: Prevail against the culture of “don’t want my husband looking at pretty women.” And the irony is that, since Sacramento survived a good long time without a Hooter’s, it probably could have survived without one indefinitely. The supply came because of the demand, and the demand was there because of the taboo against going. Going to silly restaurants with waitresses wearing skimpy clothes, and — any one of a number of other things. Don’t do this, don’t do that. It’s not the restaurant taboo that affects behavior, but the larger, broader taboo. And the NorCal culture is busy & thick with soft, silly, ineffectual rules; rules nobody takes the time to read, let alone follow, rules that command no respect. But, rules everyone likes to repeat over and over. It’s the land of a million rules that nobody ever follows.

We have a culture that is friendly to the little laws; it comes easy to us to complain that such-and-such is happening, unregulated and we need yet-another-little-law. Maybe an actual regulation, maybe just a new soft, cultural hand-slapping. No, we don’t have Hooters because a blogger complained. We have Hooters because of the people who wanted to keep Hooters out, or rather, because of the tension that built up around their mindset. It’s a case of the pressure building up under the blockage.

Half of us relieve our daily tensions by finding some refuge where we can get away from the little-laws. The other half of us, unfortunately, seem to escape similar tensions by passing those little-laws. Mencken said puritanism was the nagging fear that someone, somewhere is having a good time? What we’ve got is the widespread nagging fear that someone is able to do something they want to do. Not so much a desire to control others, as a phobia against liberty. Subtly different.

Those who have this phobia against liberty, I notice, seem to have a connected and inseparable loathing against success. The shrikes who won’t let their husbands go to Hooters, for example. What exactly is their problem, that the husbands have the freedom to go, or that the younger ladies are successful in trying to look good? Both are understandable resentments, but they tend to melt & meld together, no?

Not wanting the love of your life to gaze lasciviously upon another, is natural. Not wanting him to succeed at anything, is not.

A younger relative-of-sorts, who once shared a household with me due to one of my past relationships, put up a post at the Hello-Kitty-of-Blogging about the new configuration of his own household: Wife works, he’s Mr. Mom for awhile. Smart kid, knows how his bread is buttered. Wow, what a reaction! Like dragging tenderloin through a den of hungry lionesses. He netted lots of snotty lecturing about the laundry he may-or-may-not have screwed up yet, some you-go-girlfriends for the working wife, and a big mess of likes. And, silence from me, since contrary to my reputation I can figure out when my insight isn’t wanted.

Yes, I do live in a different world. But no, sorry if this disappoints anyone, on my planet we don’t look down upon Mr. Mom. I’ve been one. So has my Dad. We have to do what we have to do. In my world though, the reaction is not huzzahs and atta-girls for the lady of the house who now has to pick up the pieces, but one of concern. Yes, it is yet another thing we are not allowed to discuss, but a household in which the woman is the primary breadwinner, generally, is a household that would be in a more comfortable situation if that were not the case. I said “generally.” Even that is charitable; exceptions to the pattern are are quite rare. So we share the concern about finances that we’re sure exists even if it’s unspoken.

Cheers because she makes more now? What’s that all about. It’s supposed to be a partnership, not a race. I wonder what my Mother would have done if she got a “girl power” shout of support while she was working and my Dad wasn’t. She got something close to that, a lot of times, during the years when she owned her own business. None of those compliments ever actually put down my Dad, or accentuated the difference in their roles. At least not that I recall. What I do remember are the congratulations to her, and her alone, for living the “American dream.” Even so, she seemed a bit uneasy about it all. What if someone took the extra step and actually belittled or insulted her husband? There’s just no way. She wouldn’t have tolerated it.

But my parents were in a partnership. I guess that’s out of fashion now, and someone needs to warn the next generation of growing boys: There’s this huge tidal wave of available females who want to couple up with men, without any aspirations of partnership. And again, we see a supply forming to suit a demand, because we have a growing glut of available males ready to become human fashion accessories, or human furniture. Unequals for our supposedly-equal society.

John Hawkins writes:

We conquered a continent, built the Hoover Dam, went to the moon, and not only did our Olympic athletes refuse to dip our flag to Hitler during the 1936 Olympics, we made the most evil man who ever lived kill himself in fear before we could get to him.

Friend ZoneThat’s the stock that Americans come from, which begs an obvious question: What the hell happened to us?

How did the toughest, most independent society since Sparta turn into a wuss factory full of people who’ve never had an adventure in their life outside of a video game? We now have an entire grievance industry full of losers who spend all their time complaining that they’re “offended” by everything from the name of the Redskins to the “Patriarchy” to politicians using “violent language” like “crosshairs” and “job killing.”

There follows a list of five ways our society is losing its manly and capable edge, through generational attrition. He had the good sense to make “ban bossy” the first item on the list. You really should sit down and read the entire thing; #3 was news to me, and I only learned of #2 a little while ago. But I was most interested in the theme permeating throughout all of it. The subject of my complaint up above. The idea that whatever the problem is, yet one more obtrusive yet ultimately ineffectual nagging rule will somehow fix everything.

Rules, rules, and more rules! Can’t! Don’t! Prohibited! Stop! Not allowed! More more more…keep ’em coming, we should achieve total bliss any day now. I’d pop the top off a bottle of beer and watch it all down by the swimming pool…oh, if I could.

Prof. Sowell says:

Much of the social history of the Western world over the past three decades has involved replacing what worked with what sounded good. In area after area – crime, education, housing, race relations – the situation has gotten worse after the bright new theories were put into operation. The amazing thing is that this history of failure and disaster has neither discouraged the social engineers nor discredited them.

That’s now five decades, not three. It’s a twenty-one-year-old quote. It hits the nail right on the head: We’re so busy-busy-busy in this Twitter age, that the twits don’t have the time to stick around and see how these ideas pan out, let alone form their mouths around those all-important words, “I guess that didn’t work out quite like I thought it would.” It’s easy to find an Obama fan who will concede that some of the magic from 11/5/08 has worn off, but you can search weeks or months without finding one who will admit anyone in that movement made a mistake or had anything to learn at the beginning. Isn’t that ironic? After all their manic babbling about “change,” they don’t see any that’s necessary at this point. Just more of the same.

They’ve got lots of something called “humility,” but none of the good kind, the stuff that makes learning possible, that makes things actually work.

Wimps don’t worry me. I’m not even worried about an increasing population of wimps. Because wimps are, when you get right down to it, people who lack the resilience to learn. They’re missing the good-humility, the humility that is the start of all practical learning, the humility that says “I did something wrong there, the results speak loudly to me, so let us see how I can do it better next time.” They don’t worry me because they will eventually get tougher, and if they don’t, then their sphere of influence won’t get bigger than it is right now so they’ll remain harmless.

What worries me is the building of the wimps. The wimp-factories are shifting into high gear, revving up, achieving greater and greater efficiency and perfecting new methods as they manufacture these contributions to the newer wimp-generation. Hawkins continues:

There is actually a basic formula for building self-esteem. You find something you have talent at, you work at it, your ability is recognized and you feel better about yourself. However, we’ve moved past that formula and may have become the first society in history to almost entirely disconnect self-esteem from accomplishment. It’s debatable whether our schools should be focusing on building the self-esteem of kids at all, but we certainly shouldn’t be teaching every kid that he’s a special little sunflower, regardless of whether he’s done anything to earn it. Yes, God thinks all of His kids are special, but the rest of us generally aren’t impressed with someone who has nothing going for him other than the fact that he exists and his teacher says nice things about him. The world doesn’t owe you a living, you’re not special just because your teacher didn’t mark your papers with red ink, and the harsh truth is that the world values you for what you bring to the table, not because your life has been one long series of participation trophies.

It’s not just a kid-issue. It affects all aspects of our western society, right up to the tippy top. You see it when we have heads of state bragging, not about what they’ve actually managed to accomplish, but about the conversations they’ve been having over the phone. They’re acting like they’re doing, when all they’re doing is talking. Those are our leaders, tweeting away and hoping for their “participation trophies.” How can we expect better from the rank-and-file?

So our kids are not pushing themselves to deliver good results, or at any rate they have no reason to do so; the grown-ups are not likely to insist on such a threshold if they don’t insist on this from themselves. And after the kids earn their participation trophies, they are overprotected (hat tip to Bird Dog at Maggie’s Farm).

It’s hard to absorb how much childhood norms have shifted in just one generation. Actions that would have been considered paranoid in the ’70s—walking third-graders to school, forbidding your kid to play ball in the street, going down the slide with your child in your lap—are now routine. In fact, they are the markers of good, responsible parenting. One very thorough study of “children’s independent mobility,” conducted in urban, suburban, and rural neighborhoods in the U.K., shows that in 1971, 80 percent of third-graders walked to school alone. By 1990, that measure had dropped to 9 percent, and now it’s even lower. When you ask parents why they are more protective than their parents were, they might answer that the world is more dangerous than it was when they were growing up. But this isn’t true, or at least not in the way that we think. For example, parents now routinely tell their children never to talk to strangers, even though all available evidence suggests that children have about the same (very slim) chance of being abducted by a stranger as they did a generation ago. Maybe the real question is, how did these fears come to have such a hold over us? And what have our children lost—and gained—as we’ve succumbed to them?

What they gain is loyalty to a phony kind of “reality,” and what they lose is their attachment to the real-reality. The one that is genuine and testable.

We live in an age of wimp-reality leaders and wimp-reality constituents. It’s a vicious cycle, because constituents in this faux reality elect “leaders” who will tell them what to think. They have to. That’s how they form opinions; they repeat what they have heard, from others. Affordable, affordable, affordable.

And why do these leaders tell the constituents what the constituents are supposed to be thinking? Because they have no other choice. Their policies are awful and the results they produce are terrible.

A weak President emboldens our enemies and endangers the safety and very sovereignty of our country. And our Marxist/Alinsky-ite Follower of a President does not have the intestinal fortitude of a field mouse….and Putin knows it.

They lack that “good humility” I mentioned up above. The humility needed to recognize a revision to the plan must be necessary, because the results have not been good.

Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy has just released a study of the relative effects of stringent gun laws. They found that a country like Luxenbourg, which bans all guns has a murder rate that is 9 times higher than Germany, where there are 30,000 guns per 100,000 people. They also cited a study by the U.S.National Academy of Sciences, which studied 253 journal articles, 99 books, 43 government publications, and it failed to find one gun control initiative that worked.

They talk about “science” endlessly but don’t know, or even seem to care, what that word is supposed to mean:

Real science (again, to them) isn’t real at all. The only real science is that which has been blessed by Al Gore, Barack Obama or his (allegedly non-political) Environmental Protection Agency.

Freedom, liberty, right and wrong are recognized by these types only — recently — in contexts that have something to do with gay sex. Huh, you know, some of us aren’t into that. Can we have freedom and liberty too?

It’s time to ask questions like this, I think, because force and freedom are measurable and rudimentary concepts. It’s true that “right and wrong” are not quite so simple. We can hash that one out across days, weeks, even years, with good points being made on both sides of a given disagreement. But I would expect any thinking individual to recognize the difference between, let’s say, taking in new information vs. deliberately blocking information out. I would expect them to distinguish properly between forming an opinion about nature in order to test it and validate it against measurements, vs. forming an opinion just to get along with everybody else. I would expect them to differentiate between discovering new things, and achieving unanimity within a collective by getting rid of any & all disagreement.

This is all part of our newer wimp-culture. Which, when you get right down to it, is a product of coddling. It is the product of too many people going too long without seeing prosperity connected to their wiser decisions, or seeing any suffering connected to their more foolish ones. They don’t catch on to these primitive and vital distinctions, because they don’t see the need and they don’t see the point.

They make these “jokes” about women being smarter than men; in so doing, they don’t look to me the way they think they’re presenting themselves. I know exactly what they want — I’m not supposed to take such comments seriously because they’re jokes. Well you see, the problem is that jokes are supposed to be funny, and in order to be funny they’re supposed to stay fresh. The “smart woman stupid man” joke is not fresh, it’s stale. The theme about President Obama being ordered around by the unforgiving First Lady Michelle, in particular, is now going on seven or eight years non-stop. As far as I can tell, there hasn’t even been any variance to it. So it doesn’t look like a joke. The guy telling it over and over again doesn’t look henpecked or humble in any way; not even respectful. The people who laugh at it don’t look sleek or sophisticated.

Who among us thinks for one moment, when the cameras click off, that President Obama says to Himself over and over “women are smarter than men, women are smarter than men,” and not — “Well, I pulled another one over on ’em.”

And what am I to think about these brittle biddies who know they’re being patronized like this, and laugh with their exuberant and theatrical approval anyway?

Where I come from, which I guess nowadays is another planet or something…this looks like what it is. Mass foolishness. Diseased thinking. The kind of faulty contemplation and deliberation that resulted in the launch going the way it did.

Affordable, affordable, affordable…

It’s all cyclical. Life has a way of teaching you the same lesson over and over until you learn it, then you can go on to the next lesson. But there’s always some pain in these lessons, and the lesson that someone needs to learn here is: You can only count on strong and good results when you engage in strong and good thinking. I’m not sure what kind of pain has to be brought about to correct this wimp-thinking. I can only hope it’s spread out over a good long time, for the course correction we’re talking about here, and the mass, are way off on the high end. As in: Think of a long-drive of a golf ball resting on a tee, as a “course correction.” Now think of that golf ball possessing all the mass of a battleship. That’s how far off we are, I’m afraid. That’s the kind of correction that’s overdue now.

Obviously we’re dealing, once again, with a mass disagreement about a fundamental thing, a fissure that runs down between us separating us into two halves, unseen, imperceptible most of the time, but nevertheless running long and deep. The fundamental disagreement has to do with opportunity versus security, and outcome versus appearances. This connects back to that Sowell quote about replacing what works with what sounds good.

On the headboard of our bed I have a huge stack of Modesty Blaise books. I’m constantly wondering what today’s goth-wearing, complaining college-age feminists would think about it all. The constant theme is that Modesty, a woman, is the boss of Willie Garvin, a man. But Willie Garvin is not Ray Barone from Everybody Loves Raymond. Not even. By the time the story’s done, you wonder if Garvin or James Bond would come out on top mano-a-mano. He’s tough, resourceful, resilient and sharp. But throughout it all, he takes the extra step to find out what Modesty Blaise wants done, and how she wants it done, because — get this — he wants them both to come out of it alive and he figures they have a better shot that way.

Outcome over appearances. When that’s the priority, you get mutual respect regardless of who’s calling the shots. When the priority is the other way around, you get wimpiness, lots of complaining and butt-hurt, a bunch of bossy females bitching about being called “bossy” (!), friend-zoning, and perhaps most damaging of all: Zero actual learning, consistent courses of action repeated endlessly, at unlimited expense, with the culturally forced anticipation of inconsistent results.


Thursday, March 20th, 2014

It’s that time again.

With Joe Biden and John Kerry holding down the international fort, President Obama fulfilled an annual obligation:

President Barack Obama, the nation’s first basketball fan, took marker to bracket with ESPN again at the White House and selected Michigan State to defeat defending champion Louisville in the NCAA men’s tournament title game.

The path Obama took to arrive at his national champion, an event that has come to be known as “Barack-etology,” was revealed on SportsCenter at 9:30 a.m. ET Wednesday. It is the sixth consecutive year he’s made them with ESPN’s Andy Katz.

“Tom Izzo is a great tournament coach,” Obama said. “I’ve got Michigan State going all the way. … He know how to motivate folks and he knows how to coach. My pick: Michigan State. Bring it home for me. It’s been a while since I’ve won my pool.”

Based on past “Baracketology” national champion predictions, Michigan State might want to request a waiver.

I remember how impressed I was, two weeks ago, when President Obama was asked during lunch about that inconvenient other thing and completely ignored the Ukraine question. “Asked what he ordered, Obama said ‘A Korean beef sandwich, along with some chili. So I’m going with beef. I’m going with meat.'”

Bread-and-circuses to distract the populace. Fundamentally Transformed America’s First Pharoah is going with Michigan State, and meat.

Psychologists really should check out the phenomenon taking place here. Oprah Winfrey has been doing this for years. From what I can tell, you don’t get famous doing this, you have to already be famous, and you have to be famous in a certain way. You need to have a large fan base, and most of that fan base has to strangely work your identity into the maintenance of their own. They must see themselves, as real objects in the universe who bear some legitimacy of claim for taking up that space, as fans of you.

Betting...Once you have that, it doesn’t matter which book Oprah chooses to put in her club. It only matters that she chooses something. That having been done, word gets around. But, again, there’s much more going on.

The word getting around is a very quick process. I have to wonder what it takes to get other news traveling that fast, more helpful assets in the arena of human knowledge, like “affect is a verb, effect is a noun, they’re not interchangeable.” When the picking-by-deity has to do with future events, accuracy is absolutely and positively not part of the equation. Not even close.

I see the hoi polloi plays the game, too, and again accuracy doesn’t even come close to being part of it. “I’m picking [blank] to make it to the final four,” for the future, or “I could certainly imagine Michelle Bachmann saying that” for what should have taken place in the past. Did it pan out? Is that what she said? It’s rather alarming how little they care.

It’s almost like…in fact, I might be persuaded to amend that, saying it is exactly like…their existence is affirmed, or legitimized, through the expression of these opinions. The expression, and the display of confidence behind the opinion. The confidence is always total, I see. They have no idea how many chips they’d want to put in the pile, nor do they care. The content of the idea is the point of the outburst, but at the same time, the outburst is calculated to produce the same effect it would produce if it was about any ol’ other thing. President Obama is producing the same social effect by “going with meat” that He would be producing if He went with kale, onions, arugula, avocados and sprouts. It’s the “I’m going with” effect.

And it’s for idiots, frankly. There is an inverse bell curve going on, because when President Obama says “I’m going with,” half the country drops whatever they’re doing, racing to the idea like piggies running to the trough, and the other half says to itself something like “if I were ever on the bandwagon, this is where I’d be jumping off.”

So clearly, either those who follow this stuff have something in their lives that the haters are missing, or else it’s the other way around.

I think what we’re talking about is the maturity you’re supposed to acquire when you become an adult, and it’s the other way around. Yes Virginia, there is a Ukraine crisis out there, along with a big long list of other things involving people, places and situations that are affected by the wisdom of good ideas, as well as by the idiocy of wretched ones. Actions have consequences. Expressing a preference doesn’t actually make anything better. It can be a first step, sometimes, but nothing more than that.

So What’s a Hero?

Wednesday, March 19th, 2014

I’m in Margot Magowan‘s corner on this one, although I suspect for reasons that are different from what she has in mind. She found out about a nine-year-old boy who brought a My Little Pony lunch container to school, and was sent home with a message from the principal advising on a different choice of equipment, to prevent the bullying.

Well, we all like to avoid bullying incidents, the question is how. Margot’s point, as I understand it, is one I can appreciate: Teaching individuals to conform with the whims and the tastes of the (bullying) group is hacking away at the leafy part of the weed and doesn’t fix anything. It elevates the evil above the good, or at least, the dysfunctional above the not-dysfunctional. Or above the Brony-functional.

But, I had to point out to her that this was taking things a bit far:

Gender stereotyping CAUSES bullying. Bedazzling shoes? Not a solution here. What is that teaching your kid? To do whatever the bullies say to do. And what is it teaching the other kids? Keep bullying. Is that the lesson we want to be teaching? I honestly don’t even think these 4 year olds know they are bullying, because not enough parents and teachers are telling them that. I think these kids believe that they are stating a fact. It’s up to grown-ups to teach them differently. Don’t know how? Teach your children colors are for everybody, as are games, as are books, and TV shows, and movies. Seek out narratives with strong female protagonists for your sons and daughters.

I’ve been subscribing to her blog for a few years now, because she’s attacking the mindless-movie-culture with a formulation that I think makes a lot of sense: That fiction, especially fiction up on the big screen, has a way of shaping reality by way of shaping the expectations and the behaviors of the people who watch the movies. In that way, movie content has a way of determining cultural content.

Margot and I often agree about the problems and disagree about the solutions, as is the case here. Boys are to see females are strong and heroic? Wouldn’t surprise me one bit if it turned out that’s why the nine-year-old became a Brony in the first place. In fact, to me this whole thing looks like a crisis borne from weak and inadequate definitions: The kid doesn’t understand the benefits of developing manly personal attributes, and as for the principal, well, he doesn’t seem to get the whole “good should win out over evil” thing. Principal and student could both have stood to see a few more John Wayne movies.

Margot’s solution, and this is the continuation of a pattern I’ve seen, is not to resurrect the strong gender roles, but rather to tone them down even further. So I can take it as a given she’s not going to like my John-Wayne-movie remedy too much.

But I know I’m right, because of what it means to be a hero. And it does — must — mean something. Heroes are more than just examples. I believe Margot’s questions are good, and her complaints are sound, that our children are being short-changed. Much has already been made of the damage being done to the Millennial kids; they’re being made to think that trying-hard is good enough, and if it ever isn’t, then that must mean a protest is in order and that, surely, will solve everything. They’re being pushed and bullied and coerced into taking on more debt to learn soft skills that won’t make them more employable so they could pay this debt back. But there’s another side to this. Their vision is being clouded. They’re not being pushed, the way kids were pushed in my generation, to see themselves as forces of good.

Oh quite a few see themselves as deserving, sure. But that’s different from my complaint. The “deserving” angle carries with it an expectation that the tough work is in the rear view mirror somewhere. Once again, a crucial point relies on a distinction to be made, and here it is the distinction between the near future and the recent past. This is important, because if the work is just-ahead, you haven’t earned your reward yet and failure is still possible. From what I’ve seen of the Millennial attitude, I’m worried, because they don’t seem to catch on to this.

This dovetails back to an observation I’ve made before about DC superheroes versus Marvel superheroes. I don’t like Marvel as much because it’s a “hipster” comic book publication. Both universes seek audiences of geeky kids who read comic books because — let’s be honest, now — they have not successfully cultivated an everyday social life that fulfills them. Most kids who have that going on, don’t do comic books. There are exceptions to everything, but when you look at the audience of this sort of product overall, you’re going to see a lot of kids who are still struggling with figuring out how to integrate, how to function socially. There’s nothing wrong with that, it’s part of being a kid. Heck, I’ll be fifty in a couple years and I’m still figuring it out.

Comic books can help out with this. It’s not a perversion of the literary pursuits. It’s a noble calling. Well, DC’s message to kids who are in this situation is a good one: Sure it sucks not being able to fully fit in, but you don’t have to let that define you. Things will change, you will grow tall, strong and capable, who cares about being exactly like everyone else anyway. The world doesn’t need that from you, what it needs are your gifts. Marvel’s message is not so rosy: Yeah, you don’t fit in and you know why that is? Because society won’t let you. And it will never let you. Let’s just keep obsessing over that.

That theme is always there. Even with Spider Man, and Captain America, it’s still there. I suppose the Fantastic Four may be an exception. The X-Men certainly are not. I just can’t work up too much excitement over that gang. The sense of despair and angst and resentment, it’s just so thick you can cut it with a knife.

In moderate amounts, that can be okay though. Spider Man 2 was most enjoyable, I thought, possibly an entrant into the short list of “sequels better than their originals.” Heroes who are wallowing to excess in the angst from failing to fit in, have the potential of reaching a rise-above-it moment in which they decide “Well, life’s bigger than that little problem, let’s see what else I can do.” Like Peter Parker did when he ran out of money and his girl was about to marry someone else. That’s heroic. It’s the sort of heroism James Bond shows in just about every story, out of the books as well as the movies: Can’t fit in, the world won’t let me be part of it, I’m so angsty, but oh well. Hey, here’s a situation I can make better, and hopefully prevent large numbers of total strangers from being hurt or killed, therefore I shall act.

Sometimes, the hero makes the ultimate sacrifice to bring that about. Or tries to, or thinks he’s going to.

Within DC, Superman and Batman rise above all the rest, joined by Wonder Woman, although that last is debatable. Why are Superman and Batman on top? Some of that has to do with sequence; they were out first. But that doesn’t explain all of it. And obviously it isn’t superpowers, since Batman doesn’t have any. I believe there are other qualities that haven’t been explored above. In their case, they represent archetypal end-points on a spectrum of premeditation of the heroic act(s): Batman plans everything, Superman is constantly in reactive mode. Wonder Woman could certainly be as big as they are. But she would have to find her place on this spectrum.

You’ll notice that other heroes, who you might say have “figured out” what story they want to tell with regard to this, manage to achieve a level of profile that has been denied to all the others. James Bond, for example, has a better story to tell when Q is involved. It’s fun to watch because what the equipment is has been defined, the resources allocated, and things have been tested, tested and tested again before Bond ever found out he was being issued this pen, watch, cigarette case, lighter, whatever. How it is going to come in handy during the mission…well, nobody anywhere has the faintest clue. It’s a mix, but it works because it is strongly defined.

And then there’s Indiana Jones. What’s he going to do? “I dunno…I’m makin’ this up as I go.”

The hero doesn’t have to be completely altruistic. Many a story has been made more compelling by way of a “revenge theme,” such as Pale Rider, Robocop, The Count of Monte Cristo, Death Wish, Kill Bill, Lethal Weapon, Hang ‘Em High, Gladiator, The Road Warrior, Hannie Caulder, and several others. Sometimes in these stories, the hero is stopped by someone wiser and cooler, or perhaps from within, right before delivering the killing blow. I personally prefer to see the bastard smoked because the “don’t do it he’s not worth it” trope has been, in my opinion, so worn-out over the years, and offered so little for deep thinking at the very beginning, that it never delivered anything to justify the build-up. This late in the game, after all I’ve seen, it just annoys me.

The incremental acquisition of skill, like the pursuit of vengeance, offers another opportunity for the audience to relate to the hero. This is why the older Star Wars trilogy worked so well. The first time we ever saw a lightsaber was the first time Luke Skywalker was ever handed one, and it was obvious from the beginning that he was barely more knowledgeable of the device than we were.

A big part of the magic of the franchise, back then, was that we were becoming more familiar with the ways of the Jedi and this strange galaxy along with Luke. We had six years and some 400 minutes to watch this play out. At my age, that’s a saga that begins when you’re about to turn 11 and finishes up as you’re closing in on 17. That can have a huge effect on how a growing boy sees the world and the challenges in it.

I worry for this generation in that they’re not being given the same message, at least as far as I can see, and so it’s difficult to see from where they might be picking up that sort of vision, of “I don’t know much about what I’m doing yet but I’m going to get this skill developed, then I’m going to go out and do some cool stuff.” What’s missing — seems to be missing — is this incremental learning. The idea that if a skill is developed to the point that it’s worth some bragging, or some challenging of total strangers to physical contests with some degree of confidence in the outcome, then dues have to be paid. Someone is going to have to show a great deal of patience as they develop the skill. Feeling like you deserve to win because you’ve worked really hard and stuff, is not going to get it done.

This slow-cooking acquisition of skill, is merely an extension of something much more meaningful and much more important: The symbiotic relationship the hero has to the adventure. Just has he defines his heroism by changing the outcome — think of James Bond shutting down that death beam in space, sparing the lives of millions of people he’ll never meet who’d surely cook to death if he hadn’t happened along — the hero himself is changed by the adventure. That’s the second part of the story, like the submerged part of an iceberg it is much heftier, deeper, more massive, even though it is far less often seen.

In fact, that applies to just about everything I wrote down above: Stories. Augmentative, annexed stories. Other things that were happening, states of objects that were changed, people becoming acquainted with other people and learning new things, just before James Bond put the death ray out of commission. If those aren’t in there, it’s just boring. You can’t have everyone churning along, with their outlook on life and their priorities and their battle plans all set, everyone possessing all the fighting skills they’re ever gonna have, nobody needing to learn anything, heroes and villains alike all kicking-ass…well you can. It’s done quite often. Right before I fall asleep.

Some of that’s my problem, I admit. I have a bad habit during the long lazy summer days of rising before the birds, packing my errands into a busy Saturday, then heading off to the drive-in with wife & kid(s) where the show doesn’t start until it’s dark again…ZZzzz. But, heroes-in-movies should make it more likely I’ll stay awake until the end. Not less likely. And I think that’s what everyone wants, isn’t it?

All of that is prologue to what follows: No, that is not the solution. You can’t just put a woman on a movie screen, have her do some cool hero stuff, and wait for the girls and the boys in the audience to ooh and aah and express their admiration that hey, a girl did some cool stuff. That’s why Hunger Games, in spite of all the hype, fell short. Yes it made a lot of money and won a lot of awards along with critical acclaim — that’s because Margot is right, there is a market niche that has been under-served here, and for a good long time. But is Katniss an intriguing heroine? Not to anyone who is outside of the agenda, who just wants to watch something entertaining. You wouldn’t want to pop that puppy into the DVD player on a boring Saturday afternoon, as you might with Raiders of the Lost Ark or any one of a number of film adaptations of Zorro.

To make that happen, you have to tell the story — in some form or another — of Joseph Campbell’s transformation:

One thing that comes out in myths is that at the bottom of the abyss comes the voice of salvation. The black moment is the moment when the real message of transformation is going to come. At the darkest moment comes the light.

The kind of hero we’re talking about, the fictionalized hero who fires up the imagination and gets people thinking and talking, does not & cannot live on past the end of the story. The hero is the story; neither one can exist without the other because each one is merely a part and not a whole. That makes things tough for the producer of a franchise — like, for example, the above-mentioned James Bond. The natural desire is that all significant situations should achieve orbit around something constant, so that by the end of each installment everything is returned to normal. The installments therefore become interchangeable; You Only Live Twice comes after On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, or maybe before, who cares? In the end, though, that ultimately hurts the hero’s ability to captivate and inspire, because he stops acting like some living and growing thing.

To do it right, the hero must become the story, and the story must become the hero. The two are interwoven and inseparable, in the same way you and I are interwoven and inseparable from our stories. They make us what we are. That is what makes us alive, and we want our heroes to be similarly alive, even if they don’t really exist.

Now if you can capture all that in a female action-movie-hero, then you’ll have something. Today’s militant feminists will never allow it, though. Because to get there, you have to tell a story that involves female fallibility; you’d have to explore her concession that she had learning to do in prospect, or her admission of some error in judgment in hindsight. They’re not even cool with Wonder Woman wearing shorts, so they’re certainly not going to sit still for any of that.

They’re making their own problem.

Building Things That Work

Tuesday, March 18th, 2014

My late Uncle used to tell me, “Morgan, there are two kinds of people in this world; the people who go around dividing everyone into groups, and the ones who don’t.”

I’ve learned over the years that there are actually three.

1. People who build things that work.
2. People who fail to build things that work.
3. People who build things that fail to work.

This isn’t any sort of significant enhancement; not many useful ways to differentiate between the last two of those three. The people in the third set are, essentially, people in the second set who have been backed into a corner and forced to produce something when they don’t want to. When that happens, we see validation of what Professor Sowell had to say:

…everything “works” by sufficiently low standards, and everything “fails” by sufficiently high standards.

The “work” is whatever they want it to be, the “results” will be whatever they’ll be; it is the standards that are determined in the aftermath.

The people in the first group — if they want to remain in the first group, which overall, they’re going to do whatever is necessary to make that happen — have to lock the standards in place. They have to assess their work objectively, according to metrics that were defined before the work started, and remained stationary throughout. In other words, they have to actually treat standards as standards, not as rhetoric. They also have to follow the twenty. Those items of truth that are completely non-ideological and non-partisan…or…darn well ought to be.

But, in this day & age, perhaps, aren’t anymore.

Every Parade

Tuesday, March 18th, 2014

The Other McCain, via Bird Dog at Maggie’s Farm:

Evidently, it is not enough to have a Gay Pride parade every June. Now every parade must be a Gay Pride parade.

I submit that our society is going through a bit of frustration here, frustration that goes beyond the obvious conflict. It is losing a crucial distinction between what one might call “doing a something” versus “doing a nothing.”

If you hold a parade, you’re doing a something. If you’re making sure every parade is X, what you’re really doing is — this is a simple rephrasing, nothing more, no logical revision to it — making sure there are no parades that are not X. It’s a cleanup job. Inherently negative. You’re not provisioning something, like the grand marshals of the olden days; what you’re doing is taking something away.

As Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said,

I’m disappointed that this year, I will be unable to participate in the parade. As mayor of the city of Boston, I have to do my best to ensure that all Bostonians are free to participate fully in the civic life of our city. Unfortunately, this year, the parties were not able to come to an understanding that would have made that possible.

He represents a sizable movement here, and the movement doesn’t have anything to do with rights or any sort of equality. It doesn’t have to do with “tolerance”; saying so is just silly. The movement reminds us of its existence by continually refusing to tolerate things. Think of the legacy. A hundred years from now, what can we say Marty Walsh did? Take part in a parade? No. The intended legacy is “He never supported such-and-such that would have excluded so-and-so.” He-never. A negative legacy. The distinction being called out here is between a go and a stop. The thing with the gay parade is a stop.

You look for legacy-opportunities like this one month in, month out, year after year…pretty soon, it adds up to a real stretch of time, during which you’re living out your limited lifespan as a non-person, not doing things. Timidly. Some of us abhor the very idea. Others welcome it.

But, I think on some level it is incongruent with the hard-wiring within us all. I think this makes people frustrated and hungry. There is the aspect of spiritual starvation, but on top of that, there is a secular way to be starved. I think people, conservatives and liberals alike, along with anarchists, libertarians, vegetarians, feminists, MGTOWs, anti-war protesters and greenies — all have an innate need to feel like they’re accomplishing something. Squeaking on through, from one date on the tombstone to the other without contaminating anything, is not enough. We have an instinctive drive to change the state of something. We don’t want to hide the fact that we were here. We want our presence to be recorded in some way, even if our chosen ideological pursuits demand otherwise.

It has not escaped my notice that those who believe humans are a contaminant, and make all sorts of demands of themselves and others that have to do with this “leave no imprint” mania, are not soothed by their victories. The more they win, the more frustrated they become.

The goals they have for the next victory, after a time, all seem to start with that word “every.” Classic OCD cases. They’re never done washing their hands.

Quietly Pocketed

Tuesday, March 18th, 2014

Ernest Belford Bax, on feminism…in 1887.

These dogmas of “advanced” faith in the Woman Question are… namely, that women ought to have all the rights of intellectual capacity with all the privileges of physical weakness, otherwise expressed, all the rights of men, and none of the duties or hardships of men. For it is a significant and amusing fact that no mention is ever made by the advocate of women’s claims of the privileges which have always been accorded the “weaker sex.” These privileges are quietly pocketed as a matter of course, without any sort of acknowledgment, much less any suggestion of surrender.

Well ya know…the rebuttal could be reasonably made, that there isn’t necessarily any incompatibility here. I don’t mind holding the door open for a woman, even as we both enter a business meeting in which she intends to compete with me, prove she can do a job as well as I can. I’ve done it quite a few times, actually. There’s the job, there’s the door — two different things.

The problem emerges as we become more militant about this false definition of “equality,” start to look for more and more ways for women to be equal, and when we run out of them, start inventing new goals for women to reach in a race to be more like men. When equivalence becomes the zenith of potential human achievement. When boys are raised to achieve nothing, save for finding out what some strutting female martinet wants, and to bring it to her, and the girls are raised to achieve nothing save for clearly expressing what it is they want brought to them.

That’s when people become ants. And it all starts with that double-standard: Everybody is absolutely forbidden from thinking of males and females as different in any way. But let her go first.

A hundred and twenty-seven years is an impressive stretch of foresight.

Superman with a GoPro

Monday, March 17th, 2014

Hat tip to Gerard.

ObamaCare is Very Successful

Monday, March 17th, 2014

Liberal blogger, in the comments, tells us why we should like it so much:

It pisses off those many self-hating people who hope for America to fail soon. It smokes out idiots who hate Obama more than they love America, it smokes out racists and bigots of many stripes. It exposes people who really don’t help our nation grow and thrive, so we can know who to avoid when we need patriots to trust.

Maybe we could label these people, make them wear some kind of symbol or something? That way, after we know who they are, we could put our health care rules back to the way they were so that people can keep those doctors & plans they were supposed to be able to keep, and avoid these higher costs they now see coming. Also, President Obama wouldn’t have to decide every day what to do with His phone and His pen. But, no such reversal seems likely in the near future, so the question continues to plague us: This is success?

It has the benefit of distinguishing “my political movement, right or wrong” liberals from those who possess common sense? Can’t speak for everyone. But I was able to noodle that one out before ObamaCare.

Well, Nancy Pelosi did say we’d have to pass it to find out what’s in it. Looks like division and anger. Must be part of President Obama’s new tone.


Monday, March 17th, 2014

Our purported obsession with it is the great mass-delusion of our times.

At 60, I have no dog in this fight. I am out to pasture. But from time to time I have asked women about this double standard, in which we vest with women the right to avoid parenthood but not men.The counter-argument every time is if you play, you pay. I am amused because of its similarity to the anti-abortion argument. Should what applies to the goose apply to the gander?
If men cannot, post-coital, rid themselves of their parental obligations, then women should not be allowed to either. Equal protection under the law means just that. The 14th Amendment may not apply to the unborn, but surely it applies to “all persons born or naturalized in the United States.” The ability to abort one’s parental responsibilities either applies to both or none.

That won’t happen, of course, when people enjoy “rights” because of class membership and not because of individual dignity. The rights are to be awarded to classes, and before that happens we have to know: Which class is it?

Wackiest Movie Deaths

Sunday, March 16th, 2014

From Time.

The Nine

Sunday, March 16th, 2014

This is a post on the Hello Kitty of blogging, that was essentially a brain dump and a request for any items I might have forgotten to add. They are problems with the Affordable Care Act. Not merely arguments against, which could be refuted, or debunked, or merely disagreed-with in good faith. But actual, objectively-measured and objectively observed, hiccups. Monkey-wrenches in the works. Rake handles in the bicycle spokes.

We may disagree reasonably about whether the ObamaCare albatross will eventually generate the lift to overcome the drag. But we can’t reasonably disagree that the drag is there.

I think, based on past history, the law’s defenders will put together some highly questionable evidence that this-or-that hiccup was never there, or it’s been overcome anyway — completely ignore the other eight, and brazenly call anyone who doesn’t climb on to the ObamaCare bandwagon, a racist. Therein lies the necessity of putting together such a list.

There’s a lot more than just one problem going on.

A quick, off the cuff, very high level listing of the breakage.

1. The most obvious one, “if you like your doctor/plan you can keep your doctor/plan, period.”
2. The web site’s “shaky start.” Odd since, I think I can safely presume, the computer that monitors your logging in to the flaky-crashy ObamaCare web site, is working JUST FINE even though it’s working its way through massively, massively, massively more transactions.Pass Another Law
3. The extra money people have to pay to stay covered. The failure to contain costs. The failure to hold up the “affordable” part of it.
4. The affordability from the perspective of the Treasury. Wasn’t so long ago this boondoggle was supposed to help balance the budget.
5. The signing-up, or lack thereof.
6. Where #5 is quantity, #6 is quality. Viability of the risk pool. Not enough young healthy people lining up to get fleeced.
7. The bait-and-switch. Hardcore leftists are already salivating for the plan to be pulled so it can be replaced with what is called “single-payer.” On the right, there is a line of thinking that this “halfway house” plan was always supposed to fail, to provide a pretext for s.p.
8. The structural stupidity of it. Problem: Too many people uncovered. Solution: Fine them for not being covered. Falls under the big umbrella of “just pass another frickin’ law…that’ll solve the problem.”
9. The unconstitutionality of it. Remember what President Obama said? It’s not a tax, it’s just a fine. And then when it went to the Supreme Court, the Supremes said: It is constitutional ONLY when it is viewed as a tax; as a fine, it is the product of Congress exceeding the limits of its regulatory authority because the transactions regulated do not constitute interstate commerce. So ObamaCare is a CONSTITUTIONAL boondoggle.

Anything I missed?

I’m most concerned about the first four. It isn’t just the web site needing some hasty patchwork. The web site’s problems represent a symptom and not a cause. This is the kind of result you get when the people in charge of something don’t know much about, or care very much about, what it takes to make something actually work.

Think about what the Amazon site does every single day.

ObamaCare reeks, both in reality and in public perception, because it is the most prominent triumph in this generation for the movement to put non-producers in charge of the producers. That’s the goal and that is the direction. People who do and build useful things other people can actually use, being told how to do it and how not to do it, by people who have never even come close to that. The results speak for themselves.

Burning Her Last Bridge with Obama

Saturday, March 15th, 2014

That’s a pretty important voting segment.

I’m not in it. I’m not in search of the perfect candidate who will say no to war all the time, I don’t think the United States can just wake up one morning, vote in the right guy, and drive war permanently off the planet. But, young voters like this one are just starting to figure that out.

It’s a bit regrettable that they believe in some kind of fight between good and evil inland, and then it seems once we’re talking about overseas situations with the prospect of war emerging, evil suddenly vanishes and anyone who makes an issue out of it must be some kind of “warmonger.” That dog won’t hunt. Evil exists, and it’s always been exceptionally talented at convincing the casual observer it doesn’t.

But she’s figured out how Obama’s snookered her generation. Vote for the magic-man, shed your tears of exuberance and happiness on 11/5/08, help end war and stick it to these evil corporations. She’s figured out the downside of voting friends into power and enemies out of power; that government works according to the interests of politicians, by its nature, and you can’t have it working for you unless you’re a politician. She’s beginning to understand that people who aren’t politicians need to keep government small. It’s on us. The politicians aren’t going to say “Okay that’s it, we’re interfering in their lives enough.”

The way these youngsters see it, though, is not like that. They say “not a dime’s worth of difference between the two parties.” And then, while I can’t pretend to speak for this shirt-burner lady, I’ve noticed many among them are all-on-board when the time comes to consider the next tax increase. They want to stick it to those evil corporations.

I’ve got a friend like that on Facebook. He’s not as articulate as she is, nor is he as pleasing to the eye. But I’ve asked him about this, a few times, this credo of “politicians are all out to get us, bunch of lying scumbags, so let’s raise taxes and give them more money.” He just rambles a bit about how terrible George Bush was, and goes right back to it.

I think they’re all like that. THAT is a problem. They get disappointed, as the years go by, again and again and again. Their problem is that they see the divide as being between the young cool hip types who are against war, and the old fuddy-duddies who want to ban their music and think war is some kind of awesome.

The people who see the fissure as between inside- and outside-the-beltway, on the other hand, aren’t forced to retreat from a cul de sac of any sort. They’re forced to look on sadly as their fellow citizens make regrettable decisions, but they’re not forced to re-think things. George Washington had it right. That’s why her words at the end…well, some of them…are so encouraging.

Update: Morgan got sloppy with the cites this morning. Found the video here.

It’s Not Porn, It’s HBO

Wednesday, March 12th, 2014

Not safe for work, not even remotely safe for work. You’ve been warned.


I’m surprised it made it on to YouTube, let alone HotAir.


Tuesday, March 11th, 2014

No, thank you, I don’t want a woman as my “boss” if she’s afraid of a word.

That goes for the fellas too. Banning words doesn’t make you a boss. It makes you more of a micro-manager.

And…bossy as hell. Really, first time I heard of this, I was sure someone was playing a joke on Michelle Obama, who unfortunately decided to go for it, and then no one could clue her in that the whole thing was a joke, things sort of passed a point-of-no-return and everyone had to follow through. I still suspect that’s what happened.


For those who still can’t see why this is stupid, here are seven of the best reasons.

So wait, all the cool and beautiful girls who are super-popular and wealthy got together and decided that not only were they not going to use a word but that no one else could either? No, that’s not bossy at all, is it.

Julie Klose at PolitiChicks adds:

Why don’t we send the message to women and young girls to look beyond themselves and use our gifts and talents for the sake of helping others? Isn’t that what makes a leader? Isn’t that what mothers, teachers, and women of many different leadership professions do all over this country every single day?

Who cares what names you have been called throughout the years to become who you are? Look beyond yourself for a change and ban selfishness. After all, it’s a very big world and it doesn’t revolve around you!

More great commentary on this sad spectacle at Twitchy.

Boy or girl: Gifted, natural leaders don’t need someone else to move obstacles out of the way. It’s kind of in the job description.

“Jump Like an Idiot”

Tuesday, March 11th, 2014

And then there’s the legendary Ryan vs. Dorkman:

The Candyass Conundrum

Sunday, March 9th, 2014

Here is a question for the ages, at least within the United States of America: Why does The Left win? By which I mean, not, why is it winning lately. Why does it win at all?

Looking back over the last several decades or so, let’s say since the end of World War II; it has been a story of dogged determination in the face of repeated setbacks. The country figured out they’d been wrong the whole time, or else lying, about communists infiltrating the government. Then the country figured out their policies are disastrous, and rejected them. Then it happened again. And again.

In the face of these defeats, liberalism doesn’t just keep on keepin’-on. It doubles down. Today’s liberals are much more shrill and strident than the liberals before President Clinton’s impeachment trial, or the Florida election debacle. They’re also more militant, unwilling to accept compromise in any shape, form or degree. So-called “conservatives” would pile on any one among them showing even a fraction of this sort of intransigence, and blame that zealot for the Republican party’s setbacks — they’d turn on him that way in half a heartbeat. Liberals get to do that all day every day, and it isn’t speaking out against the party machinery, it is the party machinery.

Now if any sort of military general from any time in world’s history showed that sort of lunacy — and won some wars & battles — he would become the stuff of legend. Ballads would be sung about him. Movies would be made about him. Actually, that’s happened already.

It is this refusal to apologize for what they are, this refusal to back down, refusal to compromise or to accept defeat, that is the key to their success. If you even begin to think about resisting them, the sense of despair and futility is immediate. So the answer to my question must be rooted in this: They win because they have a mindset to do nothing else. They don’t understand defeat.

They get knocked down, but they get up again, we’re never gonna keep ’em down…

The conundrum comes about when we veer away from how they are achieving their political victories, and thus enforcement of their advocacy, and focus our attention on what it is they seek to advocate. It is a certain mindset, a certain way of looking at life and of conducting oneself in it. That mindset does not say — get up again when you’re knocked down, keep on truckin’, take no prisoners. It says the exact opposite of that.

It says that you, as an individual, are not capable. You can’t, and you shouldn’t. In fact, if you think you did, you didn’t.

It’s all futile. If you only make 25 grand a year now, then trust them on this, take it to the bank — you will never, ever, ever make more than 40 a year. Ever, in your entire life. That’s their vision.

You’re helpless and you need them. That’s why they have this rotten crappy attitude against religion. It isn’t quite so much that they detest God or disbelieve in Him; the truth is that they are in competition with Him. The faithful say that with God, all things are possible. The American Left says that without them, nothing is possible.

But of course, it’s always bait-and-switch. If you make the mistake of relying on them for anything, first step toward the goal is a bunch of rhetoric about the goal being wrong, and you shouldn’t be trying for it.

So: What they want to sell to us, is the message of futility and despair. Stop trying. Give up. You can’t do it. You’ll never win. The boss is trying to screw you anyway, so clock out, go home, spend more time with your family, and most important of all be sure and elect liberal politicians so they can take the money from that evil boss and give it to you. Because Lord knows, you little peons in flyover country will never get hold of two nickels to rub together any other way.

How they seek to sell that message of pack-it-in-and-give-up to us, is the Tubthumping thing. Defeat doesn’t despair them, it only galvanizes them. Their lack of sentient thinking is the key to their victories; opposing them is like playing a game of “chicken” with a blind man.

How is this reconciled?

Part of it is vision, I think. They’re simply treating themselves differently from the people they want to “help,” because they want to win. You see it in their foreign policy. Is President Obama winning out in his conflicts against Vladimir Putin? The question practically answers itself; He isn’t even trying. And how do leftists counsel the country to resolve its international conflicts, in general? “Sit down and talk out our differences with our purported enemies.” And find “common ground.” Do democrats treat Republicans that way? Again, the question answers itself. Their methods for the party, versus its constituency, are different because their vision for the party is different compared to their vision for the country.

We have books out like this

Where’s the companion book called “The post-democrat-party United States”? After all, I’ve been looking forward to one for a very long time now. I’m probably not the only one. Shouldn’t we be able to look to our friends, the liberals, to provide the vision for a near-future country without liberalism? Sure that’s essentially expecting them to hop into a hole, reach up and yank the hole in after themselves. But that’s exactly what they’ve been expecting everyone else to do. But it isn’t happening. Because of the conundrum. Liberals want the country to accept futility and defeat, even though they’ll never even think of accepting such things for their precious agenda.

We know why they appreciate defeat, of course. Everyone who’s ever rejected defeat understands its appeal: It’s much easier. For the millions of decent Americans who are seduced into accepting liberalism every year, that is the selling point. They’re not embracing defeat, what they’re embracing is sloth. That’s the sweet side of despair: I never had a shot anyway, and now that that’s settled, heck it’s much warmer and comfier under these bedsheets. Besides, who knows? If I got dressed and headed out the door, I might get run over by a car as I cross the street. Now where’s the remote?

From whence comes this energy to turn all George S. Patton when the time comes to get the agenda sold? How come they never hunker down under the warm comfy bedsheets for a marathon of The View when it’s time to do that? No hold, no retreat, advancing all the time, gonna go through the enemy like crap through a goose.

There was an opinion column coming out in the last few days about Ellen Degeneres that I forgot to bookmark, and can’t find. It made an excellent point about Ellen’s mean joke about Liza Minnelli, and how Ms. DeGeneres is suddenly on the receiving end of a politically-correct beating-down about her being a “transphobe.” To people like me who live in the real world, that would be almost funny if it wasn’t sad. Ms. DeGeneres really is gay. Liza Minnelli, to the best of my knowledge, is not a transgender, she’s just a four-times-divorced substance-abusing Hollywood diva whose femininity is in rapid retreat. My own opinion is that the joke was juvenile, unnecessary and mean, but I would not have predicted a sudden restructuring of the political-correctness-hierarchy totem-pole of this sort.

One Quora contributor, asked about the issue in general, wrote:

Politically correct people usually think they are fighting for justice and what is right… They think they are protecting the weak and oppressed. Yet they often end up being exactly what they hate.

I haven’t liked “political correctness” since I saw it in university in the 80s to promote oppression, censorship, bigotry, and rude behavior.

Once a young women, educated to be “politically correct” rudely “corrected” my grandmother who used the word “Orientals” instead of “Asians”. My grandmother worked in Okinawa alongside the people she called “Orientals” without prejudice. But this young white Occidental politically correct woman had gone to her classes and learned that was the “wrong term” and so she took control to protect those poor weak Asians against my grandmothers linguistic oppression. My poor grandmother. The word use changes among the “educated” to turn my grandmother into an accused bigot.

Political correctness attacks the wrong target. Of course my grandmother was white and therefore an evil oppressor.

The essay I forgot to bookmark, which did not name Patton, nevertheless waxed lyrically of his credo as it is practiced by the politically correct crowd: Not holding anything, not retreating, always advancing, all the time. Imagine what good fortune would lie ahead for the United States, if its leadership upheld that attitude about the nation’s interests.

And, it made a great point. It is all about the journey and not about the destination. This, I think, answers the question. They conquer one goal after another after another, through the magic of incremental progress, while simultaneously rejecting the very practice of achieving goals through incremental progress. They reject that very dream. While living the dream.

The illusion is in their attraction toward the goal. It isn’t really there. As the Ellen DeGeneres episode made clear, there was no genuine back-slapping or high-fiving or victory parade after any sort of greater societal acceptance had been won for openly-gay personalities like Ms. DeGeneres. Maybe there was some for theater’s sake, but none of it was heartfelt. No sense of “Okay we got that done, now back to our day-to-day struggles in our real lives.” Because the truth is there is no “real life” to which to return. No fields to be plowed or crops to be sown after the springtime surrender at Appomattox. Not feasting with the Ewoks after blowing up the Death Star. Nothing of the sort. They are a post-industrial-age movement, and for them the conflict is the feasting/farming. The war is never over, ever. It isn’t possible for such a war to end. Their defeats don’t get it done, and their victories don’t get it done. Endless fighting is the only possible result left.

So now the politically-correct advocacy is for the transgenders. Not only is yesteryear’s victory forgotten as if it never happened. but Ellen suddenly finds herself in the position of the despised, oppressive bully. Maybe she deserves it; I think so. But even so — quite a switch! Hard to even think about it without getting a case of whiplash.

Well, this theory does explain it. Nothing else does. Liberals only appear to work toward goals, while they don’t believe in working toward goals, because they don’t even envision the goal let alone make any progress toward it. All this progress of theirs, which draws the envy of other people who really do work toward goals, is made without even a conscious understanding of the concept. What they’re acting out is nothing more than an impulse. Like a nervous tic.

They have an obsessive-compulsive need to morally preen. Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.

I wonder how it would hold up, if they were more frequently on the receiving end of blame for the conflict they create and maintain by doing this. I guess we’ll never know the answer to that.

“All Purpose Progressive Comment”

Tuesday, March 4th, 2014

Via Gerard:

Every day millions of lesbian polar bears are dying because of Israeli apartheid policies and what do you people like you do? Nothing?! Because you don’t care do you? Raaaaacist Rapists!!

These people can’t handle a world in which everybody is the same. How are they gonna be better than everyone else?

I Made a New Word LXVIII

Tuesday, March 4th, 2014

Actually, I made it up much earlier today. At work.

Became something of a hero-for-the-day when I conceived of a new color coding. I was concerned about watching people form opinions about things, and then wander off in all different directions, each person convinced everybody else was in complete agreement about how to categorize each of what…when I could tell people weren’t in agreement.

The memorandum I wrote said I was concerned about “the EtherSync.”

Should have invented that word a long time ago. The false sense of round-table-agreement that hasn’t actually been achieved, probably costs Corporate America hundreds of billions of dollars every year.

Spectrum Thoughts

Monday, March 3rd, 2014

Found this one over on Facebook:

Reactions break down into: 1) Teacher had it right, this is inaccurate; 2) this is completely accurate; 3) neither one is accurate.

Think I’m in #3, at least as far as the “right” goes. No qualms about the left three-quarters of the bottom one, or any of the top one. The quibble is with anarchy being freedom.

This connects back to the “Outhouse Test,” which is all about persistence or lack of persistence in the face of a task so unpleasant or intimidating that one loses sight of the limit of his ability. In the example of fishing car keys out of an outhouse, we can all certainly feel the temptation of saying “this is beyond my ability and I shall have to rely on someone else to do it” even though, if we were on a deserted island living by ourselves and somehow confronted with the same task, we’d find a way to get it done. The Outhouse Test is, therefore, all about our fellowship in a community being abused. We begin to conflate the unwillingness to do a task that needs doing, with a much more laudable confession that the job exceeds our capacity — even when we may know darn good and well that the job doesn’t.

The test is: After you find you “can’t” do something, if someone else can, are you genuinely impressed. I think a lot of people who “can’t” do things, if they’re honest about it, would ‘fess up that they aren’t impressed and don’t have any ambition to learn how to get it done. Gratitude would be the best they could rustle up. Solving the computer problem is something they think is beneath them, just like the extraction of the car keys from the outhouse. Dodged that bullet. No, thank you, I do not want to learn how…I do not ever want to learn how.

But if there wasn’t anybody else around, they’d do it.

Someone somewhere said something, and I found it thought-provoking, that — totalitarianism versus freedom is a circular band, that if followed to its endpoints will be found to connect and close a loop. The argument goes like, what is the epitome of authoritarian control; that would be prison. And where can you go to get ALL of your freedom, that would be out in the wilderness living like Grizzly Adams. Are those two situations so different? In the prison, you are confined to a cell and you get three square meals a day. So those don’t translate to living in the wilderness. But as far as control is concerned, the situations are identical — you have little to none.

There is the matter of the development of the mind. The Outhouse Test, for example. The guy living in the wilderness would never be tempted by it, would he; the job’s worth doing or else it isn’t. No use feigning weakness so someone else might come in and do it. The guy in jail, on the other hand, would have it done for him. Or, he’d be the guy doing it, whether he likes it or not. This would make a difference in how people would think about things, and within a short matter of time that would make a difference in how their minds strengthen.

There is a paradox emerging here about freedom. The kind of freedom people on the political right champion, includes the freedom to choose not to be free. Once again, we see ObamaCare is the perfect example. I saw President Obama and His political allies urging people to log on to the website that didn’t work, and sign up. And I saw lots of advocates and pundits and politicians on the “right,” making much of the website’s problems and the potential for compromise of private health information. But I never did see people on the right saying “don’t sign up” or “we have to stop people from signing up.”

Conservatives aren’t like liberals. A real conservative allows for other people not to be conservative. Just don’t force your kids into these unwise lifestyle choices, absorb the consequences of your own bad decisions, and pay for your mistakes as well as all the other expenses involved in your existence. So no, conservatism is not anarchy. Conservatism, rather, champions the freedom of the anarchist to be an anarchist, so long as the anarchist is at peace with the consequences of being one, and doesn’t make those somebody else’s problem. Conservatives are no less enthused about championing the same freedom for centrists, and for liberals.

And themselves too. You shouldn’t have to pay a special price just for being a conservative. You shouldn’t be getting audit notices from the I.R.S. just because you’re a conservative.

In the conservative’s perfect world, everybody is not necessarily conservative. But everyone — that is, everyone who matures to the extent required — feels an incentive to eventually become one if they aren’t one already. People can be liberals if they like, so long as they’re willing to accept that their options are, and of right ought to be, limited. They don’t advocate for unnatural consequences; they object to entirely doing away with the natural ones. And the natural consequence of spreading the wealth around is that, if nobody else can be extraordinarily wealthy, then you can’t either. The zero-sum game delusion becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, since nobody is allowed to enjoy the profits from bringing more wealth in to the collective, so no new wealth enters. The collective ends up impoverished, some are surprised by this, others are wondering why anyone’s surprised. It’s all about owning consequences.

A dogmatic liberal will refuse to own consequences, even the costs of bringing their own fantasies into reality. “Raise taxes on the rich” is the standard pat-answer whenever the funding question comes up. A liberal is a fellow who’s so nice he’ll give you the shirt right off another guy’s back, as the saying goes.

When You Only Get the Information You Want, it Makes You Stupid

Sunday, March 2nd, 2014

Andrew Klavan:

Michigan mother Julie Boonstra, suffering from leukemia, lost her health plan because of Obamacare. She told her story in an ad opposing Democrat congressman and Senate candidate Gary Peters. Peters’ lawyers are trying to stop TV stations from running the ad — a reaction which, after all, is only in keeping with the reported White House campaign to pressure insurers to keep their criticisms of O-Care to themselves.

Journalistic titan Charles Krauthammer wrote a column for the Washington Post pointing out that dangerous global warming is by no means settled science. Environmental activists gathered over a hundred thousand signatures on a petition demanding the Post cease publishing Krauthammer. I guess Charles can be glad they didn’t take a tip from a recent op-ed cartoon in the New York Times suggesting “climate change deniers” should be stabbed in the heart with an icicle!

At the leftist website Salon, they’ve just had it with this diverse information thing altogether. Fascist (or is it socialist? I always get those two confused) Fred Jerome is calling for Fox News and other outlets to be nationalized. Smart thinking, Fred. Because then the government would own the press and, you know, government would never do anything, like, bad or dishonest or anything!

And did I mention the IRS targeting of conservatives? Or White House spying on reporters? This is not anomalous left wing behavior…
When you only get information you want to hear, it makes you stupid.

Newsbusters has the lowdown on the above-mentioned Times cartoon.

The Outhouse Test

Sunday, March 2nd, 2014

Mrs. Freeberg and I are both regularly called geniuses. We both make our living by making computers do things that other people don’t know how to make those computers do. She’s in Information Technology, I’m a software engineer. Which in some companies is thought-of as Information Technology, so there is some overlap there. In my case, it’s a little bit awkward because I don’t think of my work as smart-guy type work. To me, it’s a matter of persistence over brains. It always has been that. My guiding credo has been “the beer is now stretching the walls of my bladder, but before I can go pee I have to make this goddamn fucking thing do what I want it to do.” In the meantime, in other walks of life, I make just as many mistakes as any other average-to-dumb person.

This causes a certain queasiness when people start talking about how smart I am. One disaster that occurred a couple years ago has intensified this a bit. I had a big failey-fail moment that came about when someone said “Morgan’s a super-smart guy, he can do this,” and at the end of it I had this huge career meltdown thing going on. During the post-mortem I came to realize I’ve always had some soft squishy patch in my career path, just after someone said something about how Morgan’s so smart he can do-anything-or-whatever. In those last two years, my queasiness has crystallized into a genuine phobia. Someone says “Morgan’s so smart” and I immediately think, oh no, what the fuck is it NOW??

What disaster is coming down the pike NOW??

Perhaps because I’m not actually that smart, it has taken me this long to figure out: I am — we are, actually — being tapped for our “knowledge,” quite regularly, particularly in the field of computer-work, by people whose talents should not be falling too far short of fixing the problems themselves. It makes me wonder who’s the smarty-pants in these situations. But it isn’t just computer stuff. You remember the old saw about Tom Sawyer and the picket fence? This is kind of like the opposite.

It’s not all about computers. But, to make the issue more easily illustrated, let’s talk about the computers for just a second. There are, as I’ve observed before a few times, two different and opposite visions for creating some sort of computer software application. Vision One: The application will supply the dogged determination that the human element will not have to supply; if there is any way to get the job done, the app will draw on its rich supply of programmed resourcefulness to get it done. If, for some reason, the situation confronting it is outside of its programmed parameters then that will be an “exception” which, as the code base matures and the execution improves, will happen with decreasing frequency.

Vision Two: Regression mode. The application’s reason for existing is not to complete the task, but to generate the correct error message explaining in useful detail why the task cannot be completed. It is the successful fulfillment of the task that is the “exception.”

I should pause here to let that thought sink in. After all, it took me a great many years to fully form my appreciation for Vision Two, and make my peace with the fact that I like it better than Vision One.

But the paradox is that it is Vision One that commands the dollars. Nobody likes to shell out “real” money for software, install it, run it, and find themselves at the business end of an error message telling them why something can’t be done.

And this post is not about computers, or retail software versus regression-testing utilities. It’s about the persistence. This is about the “feeling overwhelmed” by the task at hand…as the retail-users feel overwhelmed by the endless procession of error messages. It’s about that seemingly unsolvable problem that comes up again and again: Is it time for me to stop slaving away, and go get help? Some of us are to be legitimately faulted for never doing it. Others are to be similarly faulted for doing it at the drop of a hat. After a lifetime of figuring out how to make computers do things, I’ve been forced to learn something about people: On this one-dimensional spectrum of getting help too quickly or two slowly, there is an inverse-bell-curve at work here. The bulk of the anecdotes fall onto the two extreme ends. People, for the most part, pretty much abandon the exercise and “get their help,” all of the time, or not at all.

I’m one of the not-at-all types. My performance reviews at the place where it didn’t work out, say so explicitly.

The all-the-time people are therefore in constant contact with people like me, and yet after decades of constant exposure to them I still can’t figure them out. They feel overwhelmed by tasks that they’ll insist they don’t know how to do, but — they do know how to do them. It isn’t that they’re lazy. There’s something going on here, something that isn’t entirely simple, in fact is quite complex. It’s got to do with the vision. They see the job as being bigger than they are. But they see this before they measure anything. If you were to actually measure the job, in terms of minutes or calories, in prospect or in retrospect, and compare that number against what these people have been known to sink into other jobs without a moment’s hesitation about it, you would find the challenge confronting them to be negligible. And yet, they can’t see themselves winning-out against it because they just haven’t been seeing it that way.

I struggle to relate to this. It’s so hard. I told my wife the very best example of which I could think…the one job in which, were I to be confronted with it, I might be tempted to say “Oh no, that’s not me, you’ll just have to find someone else” even if there was a gun held to my head…it might be scraping barnacles off the hull of a boat. Toward that end, I considered using the name “Barnacle Test” to describe what comes below.

OuthouseAnd then I reconsidered, thinking of those signs in the park saying “Please do not throw solid waste down this outhouse, as it is extremely difficult for us to remove” or something. THAT is the job. Ever since I was a little boy, if a job needed doing and I was the only one within line-of-sight who might get it done, I considered it out-of-bounds to say: I can’t do it, we need to find someone else. I guess that’s why I’m a computer guy. Not because I’m smart or anything, but because others took a pass on the challenge. People think I still work at it because I’m always excited about it. I’m thirty years into it, and from all that time…hoo boy, have I got stories to tell. No, it isn’t always exciting. It isn’t always fun. Far from it.

If I were ever tempted to say, no I don’t know how to do this job — when I do — it would be that job. The guy who has to fish the candy wrapper, or the car keys, out of an outhouse.

The Outhouse Test: You are heard to say, or you think about saying, “No this is outside of my ability” — and yet — if someone were to say “Oh yeah, well this other guy managed to get it done no problem”…you would not be genuinely impressed. It is a situation of pretending to profess a limitation to one’s strengths, when in actuality, the limitations of that person’s strengths have nothing to do with the topic at all. When what that person is doing is ducking responsibility.

The point to it is that we are often way too quick to involve the limitations of ability in conversations like this, including conversations about help being “needed.” People feel overwhelmed by the challenges that arise…simply because, the option is open for them to abandon the challenges. On a deserted island with no one around, they’d just have to nut-up. And on some level, they know this.

The Outhouse Test fails if you ‘fess up that you can’t do something…a hero rises, someone who can manage to get ‘er done…and your emotional response is one of something like “Golly! Here I was thinking it is impossible!” Or something like “Shazam! What have I got to do to learn to do that for myself!”

It passes if your response is more like “Yeah, whatever…glad I dodged that bullet.”

Because when push comes to shove, I really do know how to fish car keys out of an outhouse. If it ever becomes necessary for me to do so, and I hope this does not come to pass, I’ll be “able” to do it.

But I might be tempted to feign ignorance if I can dupe someone else into doing it for me. And I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in that department.

We Disagree

Saturday, March 1st, 2014

Conflict. Let’s talk about conflict. We certainly should; there’s been so much of it lately. Why do people disagree with each other about things?

We could think of disagreement as merely the opposite of agreement, and if we accept that then we could perceive one of these opposites to be a nothing, merely the opposite of the other. Just as cold and darkness technically don’t really exist, they are merely deficiencies of heat and light, respectively. The dictionary says that to agree is:

1. to have the same views, emotions, etc.; harmonize in opinion or feeling…
2. to give consent; assent…
3. to live in concord or without contention; get along together.
4. to come to one opinion or mind; come to an arrangement or understanding; arrive at a settlement…
5. to be consistent; harmonize

As we inspect the meaning to figure out why people are so contentious lately, I think — you may not agree — all five of these might have some connection to what we’re trying to find out, but as we try to root-cause it we’re going to be shying away from definitions #2, #3, #4 and #5, and concentrating more on #1. The four are consequences of the one. This creates a problem for us because #1 isn’t too specific. So let’s look at how these “views, opinions, etc.” are formed.

There is a pattern that holds up when we make decisions, particularly when we make decisions to challenge someone else about something, or decisions that are likely to be so challenged by others. First, we collect information somehow, either observing things ourselves or relying on some trusted source to bring us news, measurements, or summaries of measurements. Secondly, we figure out from this information a sense of what is happening. Finally, we reconcile that sense of what is happening, with our objectives and from that we form a strategy of what should be done.

“I saw Bob take a sticky-note pad out of the supply room and take it home.” “Bob is stealing from our company.” “Fire Bob.”

You’ll note that each of those three might be open to reasonable challenge. Furthermore, such reasonable challenges may be entered at any stage of the game. Once it’s proven that Bob did indeed take the supply home, you may disagree with the last two; or you can agree with the first two and offer an alternative to that final step. So there are three definable ways people might end up with disagreements.

Abortion would be a disagreement about the first, the fact-finding. “It’s a life.” Global warming, or climate change, whatever ya wanna call it today, would be a disagreement about the second: “The Earth is heating up and the humans, Americans in particular, are making it happen.” Many other issues would be issues because of the final step, the action-decision. Recognize gay marriage. Cut defense. No borders. Equality of income.

Lately though, there are many disagreements popping up which seem to fall into a fourth category of disagreement. In fact, you could make a reasonable argument that they all do lately, including the ones I categorized above. This would be: Disagreements that come about because one side wants to define something, and the other side doesn’t. There are those who would object to my merely breaking down the decision-events. And they’d have a good point, wouldn’t they. Abortion, climate change, pretending marijuana-smoking and illegal immigration are legal, pretending gay marriage is marriage, pretending defense is unnecessary because we can merely legislate wars out of existence. You may notice, on each one of these, there is always a side that is keen on defining things and another side that works to stop the definition from taking place.

Interestingly, you’ll notice the two sides don’t change seats too often. The people who see an easy victory for themselves on the one issue, if only the information flow can be restricted and others can be bullied away from getting the facts and deciding for themselves what those facts might mean — they pretty much handle all the other issues that way. “Pro-choice” advocates, for example, see something good & right happening if only they can pressure, bully, and intimidate their fellow citizens to “stop watching Faux News.” They’re not too pleased when pictures get out showing how a baby develops, before birth, and they don’t like people talking about when the heart starts beating, when the fingernails start growing. That stuff is all “above my pay grade,” they say. What they really mean to say is that it’s above yours too. They don’t want anyone talking about it.

Issue after issue, we see one faction valuing information exchange and working toward it, and the other one working against it. Oh, we can rationalize against our noticing this, soothing our consciousnesses with the observation that new information often looks like problematic confusion when you’re not familiar with it and have some learning to do. But, so many among the people who bring this “new information” so obviously consider the job to be done when the confusion has set in. They’re not really working to educate anyone.

Now with the climate change and what we might think of as the “No Such Thing As God” thing, the darkness-workers have put on a good show and gotten a narrative going that they have some sort of monopoly on “science.” You only have to question them a little bit to find out that isn’t true. Their “science” is nothing more than a messy mosaic of labels. “Peer review,” for example. They speak so loftily of it, but when you point out the problems with it you find they don’t want to engage the argument by providing a proper rebuttal. All the rebuttals they have amount to some kind of credo that nobody should be noticing such things, and peer-review is simply a magical incantation to make inconvenient information go away. If you take it literally, you’re immediately confronted with the problem that some peer-reviewed work poses problems for their “science,” and suddenly they’re not too fond of it.

Truth and HateWith the what-to-do stage of making decisions, the advocates of darkness put their efforts into trivializing the whole process, making it seem like it’s what-to-do and nothing more. I earlier offered the examples of gay marriage and getting rid of borders. The supporters of these positions will oppose the spelling-out of any arguments, because their agendas don’t stand up to argument. Illegal immigration — why should we argue about whether or not that’s legal? It’s right there in the name.

This is, perhaps, a new chapter in human history. I’m just finishing out my fifth decade on the planet so I’m not in a position to say that for sure. But right now, we have the sophistication to break these different arguments down into their component parts, to figure out which part may be faulty, and we also have a new widespread recalcitrance against doing exactly that. Biggest lie in the modern world is that we need to “sit down and talk out our differences with our enemies.” That is a slogan uttered often, and for many years now, by those who labor toward darkness and confusion. They don’t say, you’ll notice, what will be talked-out. They just wish for the “sit down,” and stop their wishing right there. We don’t even know what to call these people. They used to be progressives, then they wore out the label and started going by liberals. Now they’ve worn that out and they’re going back to being progressives.

If this is indeed something new, it’s not good. Because we lately seem to have morphed into a new stage of development, in which by merely taking steps to start measuring something, you’re already walking in to some conflict and in fact there is a better-than-even chance that you’ll end up with some blame headed your way for having starting it. That would be a good thing for everyone to work on helping to change, if they feel so inclined. Reasonable people can certainly disagree on whether Bob really took the sticky notes home, or whether he’s actually stealing from the company, or whether or not he should be fired; they can agree on what was measured, what is to be inferred from it, and what to do about it. But we shouldn’t be having disagreements about whether or not to do the measurements, whether or not the measurements should be thrown out solely on the basis of some political agenda, or whether our fellows should be bullied into forgetting about things or not-talking about things. If we really are an information-age society, then we should have complete…ya know…agreement about that. Give a fair hearing to the measurements and statistics offered up by both sides. And to what someone thinks that means, and why they think it must mean that. The details. What we’re hoping is going to happen when we say something should be done. How we’re going to know, at the end of it, that it worked.

But I suppose, politically, that wouldn’t work out too well for one of the sides. The side that tends to do most of the talking. Getting lots and lots of syllables and words out there, but saying very little apart from “don’t talk about that” and “don’t listen to that guy.”