Archive for November, 2015

Who’s Got the Database?

Thursday, November 26th, 2015

National Review: Adverbs are hurting people.

According to a piece in the Huffington Post, the word “too” is sexist and hurts women by constantly making them feel like they’re not good enough.

In a piece titled “The 3-Letter Word That Cuts Women Down,” University of Vermont freshman Cameron Schaeffer explains that she had an “epiphany” about the word after talking with a friend about how she should cut her hair.

“Our conversation ended with, ‘Well you don’t want it to be too short or too long,'” Schaeffer writes.

“There is no proper way for a woman to cut her hair, let alone do anything right in this world…Everything is too this or too that,” she continues.

Now, when she says “everything,” of course what she really means is “everything as it applies to women.” After all, the very real damage inflicted by this word is yet another tragedy that only affects us: “In my experience, I rarely hear too thrown around about men,” she explains. “You hear someone say, ‘He’s short,’ but you seldom hear ‘too short.'”
“I never realized how deeply a three-letter adverb could cut,” she writes.

Alright, we’ll have to stop using that adverb then…along with maybe all adverbs? Soon as we get it figured out what we’re not supposed to use — don’t want to cut anyone, after all — we’ll just tack it on to the list.

Which arouses a rather fascinating question: What list?

For the natural disasters we’re supposed to be blaming on climate change, I see we do have a list, although I notice it doesn’t look like any one of the thousands of climate change advocates, paid or unpaid, could be bothered to compile it; seems to be the work of someone who’s sympathies are not with the movement. I know of no counterpart registry of items found to be offensive lately. No, not just lately. We wouldn’t want to forget about all the things we’ve already been taught are offensive, right? We should stop using all of them. Well, in order to stop using all of them, you have to know what “all of them” are.

Here and there, you find someone has taken the time and trouble to accumulate a lot of them…

Am I taking the complaint too seriously? Not at all, judging by what I’m reading here, and I can only judge by that. Schaeffer herself writes,

So what can we do? Well, there are an avalanche of issues women face — from rape to pay inequality to the defunding of Planned Parenthood. I would love to wake up tomorrow morning and see a completely egalitarian world outside, but I am not naive. Women are still objects to a disturbingly large number of people. If society continues on in this way, women will always be unfairly judged. But there are small and achievable steps we can take. We should call on both genders to cut the word too from their vocabulary when discussing women. If we ever want an end to the way females are put in boxes, this is the beginning of an important and tumultuous journey ahead.

Seems to me, it’s only reasonable to ask, at “the beginning of an important and tumultuous journey ahead,” where the journey ends. Banishing the adverbs should involve plenty enough tumult, but that’s only one complaint out of maybe thousands. Soon as the adverbs have gone the way of the Dodo bird, we’re going to have to remember what Item #2 on the list was…and so on, and so on, until we reach the end and women are no longer put in boxes.

And then there’s racism! “Hard Worker,” along with zillions of other things, is racist. Again the question arises: What are the zillions of other things, exactly? If we’re supposed to labor tirelessly to get rid of all of something, then what is it? Where’s the high-level map? How do we add things to the list, or check things off the list?

Is it web-enabled, where we can all get to it? Hosted in the cloud somewhere? Or would that be “ist” too? Er, I mean, also?

Related: If James Madison had been a liberal, Crowder supposes he might have seen the necessity in jotting out the entire list right there at the very beginning…and taken a pass on it, since a quill pen on a parchment can only do so much, right?

“Republican Uncle”

Wednesday, November 25th, 2015

Two e-mails yesterday, one from Media Matters and one from the DNC, referring me to this site and this site, respectively. So that I can figure out how to argue with my “Republican Uncle” during the Thanksgiving feast.

It would be interesting to look into what, exactly, do these starry-eyed young proggies envision as the link between winning these arguments, and fixing problems. I think I can see what the DNC has in mind: All across the country, the idealistic young progressive crusaders will argue their slope-foreheaded, doddering old Romney-voting senior relatives into stunned silence — and next year that will translate into more votes for Sanders/Clinton/whoever. But, then what? Because I’ve noticed, voters on both sides of the fence look at elections differently from the way these candidates, campaign-managers, advocacy groups, et al look at them. They don’t see an election as the end-game. More like a down payment, from them to the politicians, and then the politicians are supposed to start making life better. So, Media Matters and the DNC wish to remind the starry-eyed democrat voters that their interests are different from the voters’ interests?

Did they think this through all the way?

No time available for me to make any sort of exhaustive cross-reference between these two lists of bullet points. I did notice, however, that under “climate” they both rely on the throughly discredited “97% of scientists agree” thing…so if you find yourself embroiled in a silly talk over the mashed potatoes with young idealistic crusaders from your family tree, with stars in their eyes and air in their heads, and you catch wind that they have been imbibing intoxicating elixirs from these lists; go easy on ’em.

I haven’t got a single e-mail from a rightward-leaning organization of any sort, offering me some sort of talking-points list that goes the other way. Don’t think it’s going to happen. Which is indicative of a lot of things, I’d say. The right wing seems to be operating from the a premise that if the point has to be prepped and carried into such discussions, such that it takes shape without any direct involvement in what was actually said, it’s probably not a point worth making. Also, they’re concerned about actually making a living. Yes, even today, on the day before. Some of us have accepted the responsibility of bringing some portions of the feast…main course perhaps, jellied cranberries, squash, maybe some of the firewood. Whereas, the left wing is making preparations of its own. To win arguments.

I think that says quite a lot, don’t you?

Update: This is a rare example of me catching up on what’s happening slightly ahead of others. I heard Rush Limbaugh discussing the “Republican Uncle” retort-supply website, for a few minutes this morning, and then James Taranto had a few thoughts to add as well.

There’s an asymmetry here. After all, if liberals have annoying right-wing relatives who pick arguments at Thanksgiving dinner, it follows that conservatives also have annoying left-wing relatives who do the same thing. But as far as we know, the “How to Win Thanksgiving” genre is the exclusive province of the left.
If we were offering advice on how to talk politics at Thanksgiving (or in other ordinary social settings), it would come down to two points: 1. Think for yourself. 2. Be respectful, and prepare to back off or change the subject should things get heated.

The latter point runs counter to the spirit of the left-wing advice, which treats conversation as a contest and futilely aims at victory. The former runs counter to its substance—namely, prepackaged talking points. Liberals have no monopoly on truculence, but the need to be told what to think does seem to set them apart.

Limbaugh went a bit further. Quite a bit. So far, in fact, that he started in on what I had been thinking all along:

The thing that is striking about all of these is that the Washington Post and the New York Times and the DNC all assume that their readers are rational and reasonable, and it’s only their family members who are the kooks and the extremists and the racists. But remember: To other families it’s quite likely the person reading the Washington Post or the New York Times is the kook in the family.

It’s quite likely that the liberal reading all of these advice pieces is the real kook in the family, and the rest of the family is trying to figure out how to deal with this wacko showing up armed and loaded for bear after having read all this liberal talking point stuff to get ready for Thanksgiving dinner.

“Deserves to be Believed”

Tuesday, November 24th, 2015

Ah, her poor dumb inevitableness…the jokes just write themselves, don’t they?

Well, unfortunately for Queenie, the jokes don’t need to write themselves. We have the Internet, all ready to jump in and remind people of things. Should they ever need it.

And, someone on Hillary’s staff did. Could this be some sort of clever ploy I’m not bright enough to understand? Well, humility is important…Hillary’s side is running things, right now, kinda-sorta. But simplest explanations are usually the best, the millennials are running quite a lot too. And, by definition, they had not yet achieved awareness way back when. Or adulthood anyway. This shows all of the signs of someone having their finger on the “Tweet” button, thinking they knew exactly what to say, when they hadn’t heard the back-story. I’m rather likin’ it. Hillary tends to champion a lot of causes that don’t have my support, and in this case she’s suffering massively from ignoring something I think should be getting a lot more attention, which is the problem of rape hoaxes. The “victim deserves to be believed” ploy has a back-story of its own, going back quite aways in our society, enjoying all along the support of those with authority. Well, of course they don’t mean due process should take a back seat! They don’t, do they?

But there’s something else going on here that’s escaping notice. We’ve got this Thanksgiving holiday coming up, in which relatives will gather around a dining room table, start arguing about politics, of course very little will be actually learned by anyone, very few minds will be changed one way or the other…certainly it’s a lot less likely with the time limit imposed by the Cheesecake Nazis, or someone reaching up to drown out what they see as a lot of petty bickering with some classical music, or pop tunes, or heavy metal or whatever. Before that happens though, the subject of the Syrian Refugees is going to surface…and with that, a lot of dishonesty, since it’s pretty easy to cherry-pick some statistics that make it look like President Obama’s taken the correct position. And let’s face it, cherry-picking statistics to get that done, is what a lot of people in media seem to see as their guiding mission, each and every day. But this is not a statistical issue, it’s a national security issue.

It’s also a philosophical issue, and this is where it ties back to the “Hillary says rape victims deserve to be believed” thing. Awhile back, off-line in the e-mails, a couple of my blog brethren and I delved a bit deeply into the difference between the sophists and the dialectics, and how each one of those two sides sees truth.

The bottom line is, sophistry — boiled down to its crude essentials — is winning the argument, period. Not quite so much at the expense of the winning argument being a useful one, but more like, with complete apathy toward that. An example would be…well, we can go back to the last time I blogged about something. A dead lawn looking cool — there isn’t much truth involved in that, since dead lawns look like shit. But the statement has a good shot at being the winning argument, if the value embraced has something to do with laziness. No need to water a dead lawn; no need to cut one either. A dead lawn is the lawn of a do-nothing. It is also the lawn of a sophist. You get to look cool (even if your lawn doesn’t), and act smug.

It is the contrast between the Architects and the Medicators, the former of whom think about things the way one must think about them, when one sets about the task of trying to build things that will actually work. And, to the latter of whom, the point of life is to be happy. The former demands thought, the latter involves feeling.

After seven or eight years of man-crush on Emperor Obama, an entire generation has figured out a new way of “thinking” and it isn’t healthy. You can’t create anything that will actually help anyone, thinking this way. You can’t grow turnips, or rice, or tomatoes, or slaughter some beef, pork or chicken, thinking this way. “This soil is good for growing grapes! Not only is it good for growing grapes, but it is the best soil for growing grapes on the WHOLE planet! And if you do not agree, unhesitatingly, my friends and I will all get together on Facebook, and mock you!” Just like “survivors of sexual assault deserve to be believed.” As is the case with sophistry, the conclusion has nothing to do with whether the soil is really good for growing grapes, or whether the survivor of a sexual assault really did survive a sexual assault.

Great PumpkinWhat Hillary — or her staff — did here, though, is arguably outside the realm of sophistry, since classic sophism is all about Arete, or “moral virtue“. It looks like this fits the definition as far as intent, if not achievement. But there’s something else, isn’t there? Authority figures, and advocates, who drone on about this “victim deserves to be believed” stuff endeavor to create a symbiotic relationship of sympathy, which persists even when the objectives of truth and justice are not being served, and there’s nothing morally virtuous about that. Their message to the rape-hoaxer is quite clear: Don’t worry about all that stuff, sweetie. You’ve got me. My loyalty goes above and beyond, and outside of, the evidence and the truth it speaks about what really happened. This is a prominent feature of what’s being offered, not a hidden one. It is a part of the packaging as well as the substance.

Oh what, she didn’t mean it? Well there were other ways to word the statement, and it was “tweeted” the way we see it above. Now there are two good reasons to wish things had been left unsaid, not just one. Hey, that Hillary Clinton is a real savvy political figure, right? Smartest woman on the planet.

This “deserves to be believed” aspect of the modern American progressive’s flavor of Arete, seems to have achieved dominance. Just as a belief that the accuser really did survive sexual assault, has nothing whatsoever to do with this conviction that she “deserves to be believed”; so too did a belief that Barack Obama would serve as a healing balm of the country’s race relations problems, have nothing whatsoever to do with the conviction that He deserved to be seen that way. It’s just like the crappy, toxic soil that deserves to be perceived as excellent for growing the vineyard — best on the whole planet! And don’t you dare say otherwise! Or even hesitate to believe it! Or we shall mock you!

The sophists of millennia ago who aroused the enmity of Socrates and Plato, would have stopped short of this. There is no “moral virtue” involved, cosmetic or genuine, in claiming to have been named after Sir Edmund Hillary. What there is, is a weird sort of group cred. Just like sophistry, it ignores truth, or rather makes a fair-weather friend out of truth, showing support for truth only when truth happens to take the side of the superior goals. But its goals are unique.

Today’s liberals have adapted themselves to take a place within a society in starvation mode. They believe the soil is the best in the world for growing the doomed vineyard, not because such a belief is in line with the truth, and not because once they’re seen professing the belief they’ll have a better chance of ensconcing themselves within a cloister of elites wielding real authority. They’re more like rats on a sinking ship, climbing over each other to reach the highest ground. Even their political animals drunk on power, like Hillary, are in this mold because we see them lose their enchantment with power as soon as it involves some actual responsibility. Hillary is just an example of this, but she’s a good one. For decades now, when power involves the power to remember key events in her latest shenanigans, and her butt is in a seat before a Senate hearing trying to figure out what really happened — she’s lost her famous lust for that particular power. Power will have to wait ’til tomorrow, today I’m a victim. Help me! I’m melting!

And They Bought ItThis is a fine distinction. It is between a desire to ingratiate within a peer group for the purpose of wielding this power and running everything; versus, for the purpose of mere survival. To be among the last to be cast out of the fortress on the eve of a deadly winter.

The takeaway? It could very well be that rape hoaxes are nothing more than a thing of the past, from here on every single accuser can be believed; and furthermore, that the Syrian refugee crisis is not being used as a Trojan Horse gambit by our enemies, and every single case can be safely admitted without negative consequences. And, that Muslims have nothing whatsoever to do with terrorism. But it doesn’t matter — these are not the people you want in charge when the ship really is sinking, or whenever there’s a reef, iceberg, another ship, or anything else that might sink it. These are not the people you want running things when there is a threat. Because containing and managing a threat, like dispensing justice, or growing a vineyard or building a bridge, is something you do competently only reckoning with real truth. Measurable truth, dialectic truth. “Doesn’t matter who’s cheesed off about it” truth.

And these people do not belong in the front seat, that’s not their bag, baby. They are political-animals through and through. Every now & then they are guilty of pretending otherwise, pretending that their hands really do belong on the steering wheel, but only rarely and only weakly. Behind closed doors, they’re probably amazed they’re getting away with so much, that it’s taking the country so long to come to grips.

We’re All Argus

Saturday, November 21st, 2015

Are we not?

The Preen

Friday, November 20th, 2015

Me, on the Hello Kitty of Blogging, earlier this morning:

Ever notice?

Things to do if you buy the conservative narrative:
1. Work hard
2. Find ways to enhance your skill set, so you can make more money
3. Spend time with your family, let your kids see what responsible adults do
4. DON’T turn in your weapons
5. Pay your taxes, but get angry when they’re wasted
6. Hold politicians accountable for wasting money on useless social programs
7. Invest
8. Give to charity
9. CHOOSE your own charities!
10. Start a business, if you’re really sure the time is right

Things to do if you buy the liberal narrative:
1. Support Obama’s latest plan to do X
2. Don’t resist
3. Go on Facebook and help us argue with people
4. Sign Joe Biden’s birthday card!!
5. Did we mention, don’t resist?
6. Do less something, do more nothing, emit less carbon
7. Get angry at businesses for…you know, being in business
8. Wait until WE tell you to work hard! — Keep waiting…
9. Send in extra money after you’ve paid your taxes! Nah, just kidding…
10. Just, like, you know, whatever liberal politicians say from one day to the next…just do that, whatever it is…

Point is, liberals talk a great game about “coming together and working together.” Very often they’ll get busted for trapping schoolkids in some activity that will never promote the growth of any sort of useful skill, and their defense will be “Well the little cherubs are learning to work together, and that’s worth at least as much as all that data, electricity, stuff.” But when you look at what they want people to do, you see there isn’t much opportunity for us to work together.

Here & there they’ll build whole narratives around some activity they want us to do together, but when that happens you’ll notice the “what are we doing together” amounts to just a big ball o’ nuthin’. Like #6 in that second list.

Follow the liberal narrative, and what happens is, to the extent any of us are doing “work” at all…ironically, it ends up being uncoordinated work. Stovepipe work. There’s a lot of chatter involved in coordinating, but that’s about all it is, chatter. Regurgitating Item #1, “Call your representative and tell him to support Obama’s plan.”

Comparing them to the workplace, liberals are — and they really wouldn’t have much chance to learn this, since it’s a workplace analogy and all — just like that guy who talks up a great game about how he did this, he did that…he’s got no clue what you’ve been doing, you don’t know the workings of whatever it is he’s doing, wouldn’t be able to coordinate with him if you tried. And behind closed doors, he’s telling the bosses “And this place would fall apart without me!! These other guys, I dunno what they do around here. I’m the guy who makes it all happen!!” If that guy has any influence, layoffs follow him around, like a shadow. Whether he does or not, bad morale follows him around like a shadow. Because, while he may talk a lot about teamwork, he does nothing whatsoever to promote it, and quite a lot to diminish it.

The Syrnian-refugee thing? Just another example. What is there, should we decide to follow the liberals’ plan, for us to DO?? Nothing. Just support Obama. Don’t oppose, don’t resist. Log on to Facebook and help us argue with people.

I got three e-mails from the DNC this week. They were asking me to host a Syrian refugee in my home…oh no, just kidding, no they weren’t. They were asking me to sign Joe Biden’s birthday card.

What inspired this? So much! The Biden birthday-card thing…the G20 remarks from America’s First Holy Emperor and the whining that was subsequent to that. A little bit of family stuff. And some frankly rather idiotic ideas I’m seeing about gun control, making college campuses more “safe” and infantile…

It’s not that the people peddling these ideas are looking down the road and saying, “Yes, I want people to be completely defenseless when a madman opens fire in a crowded public space.” I think they’re being honest, for the most part, when they focus on what they say is the big payoff…in that case, “If nobody has any guns, it won’t happen, because nobody will have any guns, like duh.” I think they really do have faith that that’s going to work somehow. Some of them, anyway.

But a lot of them aren’t looking down the road at all. This is the trouble with preening. All of this effort being plowed into shaping and molding a narrative: “Good thing we were here! See how much better we are than those other people?” Just like that hot mess on the workplace I was describing up above. Good thing I was here! Got no idea what those other people are doing boss, why do you bother paying them?

You can’t reliably, or regularly, generate good results when you do this preening. Because those who preen are not predisposed to improve, to repair flaws. To do that, you have to 1) hang around to see how the Awesome Wonderful Grand Plan works, 2) find some flaws and 3) be honest, with yourself first of all, that the flaws are there. That gets in the way of The Preen.

Which means, ultimately, that The Preen has to get in the way of improvement. Any improvement. All learning. The beginning of all learning is “I don’t know,” and you can’t say that when you’re preening. Because when you’re preening, you already know everything. Just like the guy who’s had a few too many, is the best dancer in the room and his jokes are all funny.

For an example of how practitioners of The Preen behave when confronted with these flaws, I can’t think of anything better than what I saw yesterday over at Obamacare Facts. The comment thread is absolutely priceless. Especially the contribution, directed toward the moderator who was scrambling around trying to polish the turd, from sue on 11/5/15:

You’re on glue. You have the stupidest solutions and suggestions I’ve ever heard. Just be honest and admit this is a sham, a shake down of hard working citizens and the freedom of this country. This is a cash cow for the government and the health care industry and we’re all held hostage and being forced to buy into something we don’t want and can’t afford.

We see this with discussions about: Social programs, income taxes, foreign policy, refugees, abortion, religion, campaign finance, free speech issues, gun control, the savings-and-loan mess, climate change, prayer in schools — pretty much everything.

And it wasn’t always like this.

What’s different, I think, is that people are grasping at straws for ways to show what good people they are. We have an epidemic of GoodPerson Fever which is really nothing more than a spike disrupting the supply-demand equilibrium. A generation or two ago, there were ways to naturally show what a good person you were, that didn’t require any actual showing: Pretty much, the ten items on that first list.

Nowadays, they’re all getting more difficult to do, and people are being offered incentive after incentive to not do them. So they’re stuck. Preening. Can’t do anything else, other than maybe vote for a black guy to be President to prove they’re not bigots. Or a woman, to show they’re not sexists.

It’s been a constant drumbeat for a decade, it’s never left us for more than a day or two at most in all that time. It has ruined just about everything…

If it gets any worse, we’re going to have to start considering that maybe it’s a real problem.

Was the Pharaoh Left Wing?

Sunday, November 15th, 2015

A rather fascinating discussion unfolded this last week under the comment thread under the “Were the Nazis Right Wingers” post. Severian was challenging some of my definitions, trying to figure out where I stood, making me go “hmmm” here and there; eventually he went back to the Rotten Chestnuts site, and jotted down some of his thoughts about the whole left-wing right-wing thing. Some of what I’m doing doesn’t quite fit in the orthodoxy, because with the left-wing you have to separate outcome from intent — the ideology has yet to achieve, in any significant measure, any of its stated goals. And I’m going by outcome.

This brings about a perception of orientation that has attracted some questions, since scholars tend to classify ideology by intent. Left-wing, according to that, should be about the elimination (or at least, the toning down of the effects) of social classes. In America, we see it always seems to follow the same pathway: “Social class” is re-interpreted to have something to do with actually working for a living, or not. Continuing on with that train of thought honestly would then mean, “Well then, let’s see to it that everyone who wants a job, has one.” Politicians on the left often say something similar to that, but their policies make it much harder for anyone to find work. So we see them taking the path of least resistance — raising the standard of living of those who choose not to work, and diminishing the standard of living of those who do work. That much “equality,” and that’s about all. As far as political power? That’s a bust. Sure, advocates on the left do work hard to increase the number of people who have power; but only insofar as bringing into the fold, people who are likely to agree with them. That’s not a real test of commitment, is it?

So as far as I see it, the distinction in ideology has something to do with maturity. At the extreme “left” people want what they want when they want it. If someone gets in the way, well, they shouldn’t be there. Toddler Rules. Dictatorships, therefore, are inherently left-wing, at least from an American perspective, because it is in our heritage that government power should be shared and not concentrated into a single point.

“Liberal,” according to the more orthodox definition, is supposed to have something to do with equal rights. It is a rejection of primogeniture. If you get a month in jail for jaywalking, and the son of a high government official gets just a stern lecture for exactly the same offense, that’s supposed to be an offense against liberalism. Doesn’t work, does it? We only have to recall how “liberals” reacted with Bill Clinton was caught in his shenanigans with a White House intern, to pop that soap bubble. Liberals are also supposed to reject absolute monarchy…which in the Age Of Obama also doesn’t work. Here in the United States, liberalism is associated with Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal program, and all that went with that. And herein lies an irreconcilable contradiction with that “absolute monarchy” business, since FDR had to threaten to pack the Supreme Court in order to get his way. For his plans to be adjudicated impartially, wasn’t good enough for the American Caesar. This is the trouble with judging by intent; you have to go by stated intent when you do that, and in politics, statements of intent are so unreliable.

“Conservatives” are supposed to be all about retaining social institutions. This is supposed to make them more resistant to new ideas, which are welcomed by the liberals. Well, Greg Gutfeld came up with three good exceptions to that one, those being school choice, flat taxes and market-based health care reform. There are others though. Conservatives came up with the idea of welfare block grants to the states, teaching girls and women how to use guns, the Laffer Curve, and the Balanced Budget Amendment — many of which, like Gutfeld’s three, pose threats to liberal-friendly and liberal-favored “social institutions” like deficit spending and teachers’ unions.

In other countries, there is a distinction to be made between “liberal and conservative” and “left-wing and right-wing.” The Left Wing opposes social inequality and social hierarchy, is friendly to communism and socialism, as well as to anarchy. It is much friendlier to the welfare state. Again, because of the historical backdrop involving FDR’s programs, these terms “liberal” and “left-wing” mean much the same thing in America, although it’s important to remember that these meanings diverge in different directions once you start talking about elsewhere.

The “right wing” defends, not so much inequality itself, but rather the institutions that might have contributed to it: Natural Law, economics and tradition (as in, a royal blood line). Communism intends to create a classless society, the “right wing” opposes communism. But then, see, there is that problem again: Intent. What communist society was ever class-less? Ten, maybe twenty hippies toiling over a garden patch back in the sixties; any bigger of a “society” than that, you have classes. And just maybe, the “right wing” is resisting that because they can see where it’s going.

In the United States, we have additional meanings for these terms since we have federalism, or at least, are supposed to have it. Liberalism, in the U.S., has a lot to do with undermining that particular constitutional concept. This gets back to that thing about a dictatorship again, the Toddler Rules. If the feds say it should be a certain way, it should be that way — nice and simple. The right wing, pain-in-the-ass that it is, keeps going on about “states’ rights” which the left wing says is just a code-word phrase for re-instituting slavery, or racism, or something. The right wing, on the other hand, points out that when the federal government can practice supreme authority over the states in all transactions, interstate or not, it invites abuse and that’s why the left wing likes it that way. Which side to believe? Well…we know abuse flourishes in the U.S., whereas slavery has been abolished. But I guess that’s a side-issue. Again, these are uniquely-American complications, so it’s important to maintain an understanding of whether we’re talking about global left/right-wing, or U.S. left/right-wing.

What is written above has to do with definitions made, or recognized, elsewhere. What follows has to do with the observations we can make about the events around us, and how they may affect those definitions.

We see certain behavioral characteristics in those who affiliate with The Left, of course. Joe Biden, before he became Vice President, let loose a famous “racist slip” when he talked about how you can’t go into a 7-Eleven without an Indian accent or something like that…yeah, that’s stereotyping, something left wingers aren’t supposed to do. But he stereotyped because he was grasping at straws for something positive to say that might have a connection with the person he was meeting, and he seized on a group, not an individual, accomplishment. And that’s textbook American left-wing thinking, that groups accomplish things, individuals don’t. Furthermore, that the accomplishment is decidedly bereft of any true excellence, just “fastest growing” and that’s it. It’s just one of many examples. On Planet Lefty, groups, not individuals, accomplish things; and groups, not individuals, have rights. This is distinguished from Classic Liberalism, which is concerned with the rights of the individual.

Rights, in turn, are not necessarily “rights” as you and I know them to be. You have a “right” to a free college education, if we can make enough people angry that this right doesn’t exist yet, nevermind that someone else has to provide it somehow. Or a right to get married, which actually isn’t a right at all. And far from obliterating social classes the way liberals and the left are supposed to be wanting to do, all around the world, American lefties are power-drunk on group privileges. It’s their bread and butter. Chief among these privileges is the privilege of bellyaching about statistical deprivation. Example: Female engineers are paid less, on average, than male engineers — that’s a thing. Heterosexuals are, on average, less well-educated and paid less than homosexuals. That’s not a thing, not worth mentioning. So there is a “bellyaching privilege” enjoyed by some classes and not other classes. And that privilege, in the Lefty Pocket Universe, is a “right.”

If defining is all we want to do, and we only need the definition to work in the United States, we can define the Left Wing around a sort of fairy tale, the Leftist Fantasy that is never quite told all the way. There is the status quo, in which the richer are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer; all is despair and darkness. Then comes the revolution. A hero, or band of hardy compatriots, busts open the walls of the treasury with their battle axes and sledge hammers and what not, inviting all of the poor, oppressed villagers to gather around and scoop up as much of the golden coins as might be practically carried. Which the villagers do, then they haul the lucre off in their aprons back to their humble mud huts. After that, all is lightness and good, and there is equality. The defenseless are defended, the guilty are punished, everybody is on equal footing and all is right with the world. That’s the fantasy.

Their difficulty is, it’s hard to keep an awareness of the concept of time while you’re telling this story. The Toddler Rules say, they want everything the way they want it, all of the time. So if the revolution is happening tonight, then that means tomorrow there won’t be one. It’s like trying to drug yourself into a high without crashing afterwards, or trying to have sex without a real orgasm. That darn “time” thing, it says that if this is your moment, then the moment’s going to end soon. They can’t quite get with that part of it, so they live out their entire lives on a hairpin-turn of sorts.

Because a “right” is whatever a regional society declares it to be, The Left has an awful lot of trouble with the whole “good and evil” thing. They have a deserved reputation for failing to see evil when it’s right in front of them. And when the job is one of confronting it, these are not the guys you want leading the sheriff’s posse. They’re great for when non-aggression is the right answer, the problem is they can’t tell when it stops being the right answer. The enmity that they bear, as an ideology, against George W. Bush for the invasion of Iraq is a lifetime superlative. Political anger isn’t supposed to be something that’s measurable, but by any measurement, this is at the top. And the funny thing is, they can’t say why. “Illegal, unjust war” they say. Illegal how? They can’t answer. What would’ve happened if the U.S. hadn’t invaded? They can’t answer that either.

As easy as it is for The Left to proclaim brand new “rights” here and there, even when they cost actual money, they’re not quite so quick to figure out if they’re affordable rights, or who is going to be affording them. It doesn’t even rate an afterthought to them. Health care is a right that should be free? You’ve just revived the institution of slavery, and imposed it upon health care workers. College education is a right that should be free? You’ve just done the same thing, to the college professors. Oh wait though, no…doesn’t quite work that way for the profs. But anyway, this is yet another adequate distinguishing characteristic of the Left Wing in the US of A. Such-and-such is a right, we don’t know who’s paying for it, and we don’t very much care.

They do, though, put some thought into sticking the bill to classes of people they don’t like. “The one percent,” in the case of the video clip linked above. So there’s that.

Their level of commitment with running a check on the distribution of politcal power, or lack thereof, ties into this. You don’t have to study this very long to figure out their game plan: If the indigent have more power at election time, democrats win more elections. This creates, for us, another distinguishing characteristic. Anyone with some common sense, and a desire to see the republic endure, would have to have some feelings of dread about “One Man, One Vote”: Should work out fine as long as a majority of people can see fit to back some plans that are good for the community as a whole, and resist plans that are not good for the community as a whole. But as long as there are economic classes, it stands to reason that the classes with the greatest class membership will be the ones more further removed from actually producing anything. What is to be done to protect this system of government from the wreckage that may result? The Left Wing may be distinguished by their answer to this: Nothing, and isn’t that great? And, by their desire to exacerbate the problem. Greater political influence is to be placed on those who don’t actually pay the bills. All in the spirit of “One Man, One Vote” of course. But The Left would be plum-peachy with the idea of depriving the producers in society, of that one vote, so that isn’t really what motivates them.

And you see this, all throughout the modern world. Wherever you have a “leftist regime,” you’ll see a configuration that has become most familiar to us throughout the twentieth century: One man has all the power in the country. And still, there is some sort of phony charade going on, where they can pretend it’s all about one-man-one-vote. In fact, the dictator just recently won 100% of the vote in some sham election. I’m talking about who, exactly? I haven’t even offered enough criteria to narrow down these regimes just yet — could be any one of ’em. One guy, self-promoted to Sooper-Dooper Field Marshal Ten-Star-General Supreme Blah Blah Blah…sinuses long-ago eaten away by cocaine, mind half-gone with venereal diseases, since the whole damn country exists solely for his amusement, and men like this are running out of ways to amuse themselves. If any one of his entourage looks at him funny, he has them shot or worse. Thus, my remark that led to the question that is the title of this post.

The American Left, far from being in favor of any sort of “equality,” is all about castes. The apex of the power pyramid, with his syphilitic problems and his weird military title and funny hat, is the dictator. Easily identified — “no one is above the law,” but if the law ever comes into conflict with his will, the law changes on the spot. He’s in charge of separating the nation from reality. If the question is “square root of sixteen” and he says five, the answer becomes five. Then you have his entourage, climbing all over each other for the coveted position of second-in-command. And then, within the enclave, those who support the dictator — and, those who do not. Those are the four castes in a leftist regime. Dictator, entourage, supporters, pariahs. Again, I’m talking about who exactly? A plurality of regimes, and far more than just a plurality in fact, fit; so it’s a generalization, but as generalizations go it’s not unsafe.

Lack of critical thinking is a key ingredient of the Left Wing, a core requirement. They live in the ad hom, even while they project this onto their opposition. Many who have endured the frustration of arguing anything with them, or merely discussing anything with them, have seen this-or-that subtopic come to an abrupt halt within a cul de sac of sorts, with “Oh you can’t put any credibility on that, it came from Fox News!” or, “Are you seriously going to question this, when 97% of climate scientists say it’s the right answer?” Point after point after point they throw out there, for which there is no rebuttal — and no way to agree, either, really — and you’re constantly asking yourself “Yes maybe, but what can we do with that within this discussion?” The question does have an answer: Nothing. These are weighty matters, for the Pharaoh and his entourage to solve, not fit for discussion among the riff raff. Our place, in the leftist universe, is merely to support what the powerful have decided. Remember our place. The science is settled. In fact, any definition of the decisions made by the powerful elites, more granular than what the elites are willing to provide, is anathema. Definition of their strategy is very often not forthcoming, and it is wrong to ask the question. It isn’t even fitting to ask for a qualify definition of the problem they’re trying to solve. The Left, in general, is opposed to definitions. They like ’em so long as they may lead to broader and/or more passionate public support. Outside of that, the process of defining anything is to be shunned, along with anyone who calls for it. Quoting myself on where the definitions fit into it:

What exactly does conservatism seek to conserve? Civilization, the blessings that come from having it, and the definitions that make civilization possible. From what does liberalism seek to liberate us? Those things — starting with the definitions.

Such passion The Left holds against definitions, that it seeks to obliterate definitions that don’t even pose any sort of a problem for it. Like gender. They hold that this is nothing natural, nothing more than an artificial societal construct, and yet at the same time there is one gender that is vastly superior to the other one. How to reconcile all this? You don’t. You’d have to define things to recognize the problem in the first place, and they’re opposed to defining anything. They think, correctly, that definitions get in the way of what they want to do, which creates fascinating conundrum because the question that naturally arises is, what exactly is it they want to do? And you’re not allowed to ask it. Not unless you’re prepared to take their stock answer word-for-word, and move on to the next question like a good leftist, with total apathy about the conflicts kicked up as this stock answer brushed up against reality. The People, it turns out, are just a bother when they ask too many questions. In fact, people are a bother anyway, a pestilence upon the planet. Children are to feel good about themselves, all of the time, but what are they really? Just an expense. They don’t have jobs, paying or otherwise, other than to sit, do as they like, feel happy. But they cost an arm and a leg. When they reach adulthood, they become what the rest of us are: A blight. A plague upon the planet. Not really part of nature.

Because they refuse to define anything to any useful level of detail, and are perpetually intent on dismantling the definitions we already have, they are a hot mess upon what they themselves call “the economy,” which they constantly brag about strengthening — somehow. A typical argument between a right-winger and a left-winger about the economy, in the Age of Obama, might go something like this:

Right: It stinks.
Left: You think so, because you won’t stop watching Fox News. Truth is, we have X many more jobs this quarter than last quarter.
Right: Yeah, that’s because if someone lost a good full-time job due to ObamaCare, they have to take 2 part-time jobs and that counts as 2…
Left: You just have to stop watching Fox. And anything else I’ve decided you shouldn’t watch.

What’s interesting in this exchange is that the Right Wing antagonist has left himself open, with some speculation entirely (or mostly) unfounded. We don’t really know that this is what’s happening, we just have some data that supports parts of it. A good enlightening discussion could unfold from that, probably with some good points made on both sides. But The Left will have none of it. They’re missing the mark of the educated mind:

It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.

They can’t manage it. They’re fanatics. Control-freaks, too: “Don’t watch anything I’ve decided you shouldn’t watch.” Just like a controlling husband telling his wife which friends she shouldn’t have.

The idea that the economy is doing better when there are more jobs, is one that has outlived its usefulness. You don’t have to be a practicing economist to see that this has done us great harm, by being what it is: A metric that is just plain wrong. It’s not unlike pulling a car out of a ditch by attaching a cable to a part of the car that’s not part of the frame. Is it possible to construct a scenario in which this flawed metric is doing just great, while the “real” economy is capsizing? Absolutely. In fact, it’s easy. We’re living it now. You just have lots of people “employed,” busting their butts doing work that doesn’t actually help anyone — provides no useful service, manufactures no valuable product. Then you leave the citizenry to wonder, year after year, why the standard of living seems to be on a long, slow decline, even though they’re working their fannies to the bone. Sound familiar? And here we have another distinguishing characteristic: The Left thinks that’s just wonderful. They think the “economy” is “strong,” when there is a lot of activity.

Part of that is because their appreciation of “hard work” is nothing more than fakery. They don’t really believe in it; if they believed in it, they’d have been doing it at some point. You haven’t long to wait to listen to an impassioned leftist describe, in graet detail, the evilness of the “Koch Brothers,” but so many of them couldn’t even get started on telling you what the Koch Brothers did to make their money. The truth is, they don’t think there’s anything noble about making it. They think the nobility is in being impoverished — not just in poverty, but dependent. That’s important. A mountain man who has figured out how to get by on zero dollars, therefore labors under the burden of poverty but not dependence, brings them no value. They value the inner-city dweller, the panhandling bum. Same income level, different level of dependence. The panhandler is the yardstick by which we measure the compassion of society, as such he possesses infinite importance. The mountain man, on the other hand, can be ignored. It’s all about getting democrats elected. So their value system is fixated on the impoverished, so long as they’re properly dependent.

Does that mean they don’t want the economy to do well? Why yes, it does; it means exactly that. How are you going to get democrats elected, when the average American citizen sees a pathway to his own prosperity, by way of thinking for himself, and providing valuable products and services to others?

They don’t think money is earned. They think it’s distributed. They themselves will have no qualms about admitting this, since with each new election cycle, the economic plans put forward by their politicians are concerned mostly with tinkering with the distribution. Tinker, tinker, endlessly; so-and-so has “slipped through the cracks” and we need to “shore up” something. Oddly, this doesn’t mean we should ever revisit any plans of theirs that were implemented before. They can’t ever bring themselves to admit that reality fooled them. I suppose that’s true of all politicians, but The Left is an interesting case study because their politicians are essentially trotting out more-or-less the same plans every two to four years. So if they could ever bring themselves to admit, hey we tried fixing this, our fix didn’t take because of this thing we’ve learned since then; it would sound perfectly credible. I think they avoid doing this because they know if they’re going to do that 2 or 3 times about the same problem, they might as well do it 30 times, and by the time you say it that many times people will start to figure out you’re either lying, or don’t know what you’re doing.

Those would be the two messages The Left wants to avoid most avidly, because there is some truth to both of them. Truth is dangerous to a leftist.

No, each new plan has to be inspired by new outrage. The classifications of the outrage do not change: Someone died in police custody, or someone else has too much money, or power, or racism still exists, or women aren’t making as much money as men. Fresh anecdotes bring value to the leftist, because their real estate is limited there, and as the election cycles tick by they can’t keep feeding on the same ground. They need these stories of discrimination lawsuits getting thrown out of court, so they can stir up fresh, new outrage.

Those are the distinguishing characteristics of The Left; the politicians, advocates and voters. The Right comes into conflict with them, mostly because The Right — being composed of people who actually work for a living, build things that have to work properly so they can get those things sold — is concerned with something that doesn’t even rate an afterthought to The Left: Sustainability. The Right looks further down the road. Their mindset is the one that says: “If I paint this brick and sell it as a gold brick, it might work one time but that buyer won’t be back, so what good does it do over the long term?” Their understanding of human nature is vastly superior to The Left’s, which doesn’t say very much at all really. They may be repulsed by the newer generation’s music, but they’re not going to write angry letters to the radio station to stop playing it. They’ll just turn the dial and listen to something else. Partly because that’s practical, but partly because they know that if Katy Perry fans go months or years without being able to get access to her music, those fans will just start to miss her and they’ll like her music even more. This sets them apart from The Left, which is constantly inundating us with things they want us to learn to like, and scheming to deprive us of things they want us to learn to dislike. We’re looking for distinguishing characteristics to support our proper definitions, and in this case we get two-for-one. The Right is more mature; they understand absence makes the heart grow fonder. And they don’t work so hard to try to control others.

The Right is much less likely to be satisfied with “experts say” statements, even when such statements happen to be friendly to their pre-existing biases. If the details are missing behind such a statement, rightward-leaning people are going to want to have those details; they’ll at least go through the trouble of initially wondering about them, which is another characteristic that distinguishes them from The Left. The latter, upon hearing “Ninety-seven percent of climate scientists believe in global warming” will ask very few questions about that. This gets them into trouble over and over again, as they use the “hammer” for its intended purpose, ending arguments once and for all, only to be confronted with these bothersome questions for which they’re unprepared, like: Do 97% of climate scientists agree we can head off a calamity by moving money around the way Al Gore wants us to move it? The Right Wing is much less likely to make this mistake, although it still does occasionally. It has nothing to do with intellectual capacity or intelligence. It is the curiosity that naturally arises when you build something upon which you, yourself, will be depending later. Did I tighten the lug nuts on this wheel? They understand that the same goes for any effort to build anything that possesses genuine value: You have to define things.

The Right doesn’t see the “leaders” or the experts as part of any sort of deity class. They just see these people as people with jobs. And they see them as strangers. Trust is earned, not given. Politicians, climate scientists, pundits — if these people have influence, that just means these people have the ability to break things, just as much as the ability to make them any better. So these impressive offices filled with these impressive people with impressive titles, to the Right Wing, are just nothing more than responsibilities. Which might not be met. And We, The People also have a responsibility, to keep an eye on those people. They’re our servants. They work for us. It’s a tradition that goes all the way back to George Washington. No royalty here; we don’t need it.

The Right is further distinguished from The Left, in that its adherents are much more likely to have actually read the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. As such, they know this country is not founded on any sort of fundamental premise that government provides our rights; it is the place of government to merely recognize that we have them. The way The Right sees it, humans are sacred, dignified creatures; we are a part of nature, in fact we’re the most important part of it. And children are not just expenditures, or cudgels to be used against estranged fathers by vindictive mothers. Children are precious. You put them all together, and you have the generation that will be living in, and leading, the world of tomorrow. That’s another natural consequence of The Right looking two steps down the road, whereas The Left can see only as far as one step.

Because people are sacred, it logically follows that the work they do is also sacred. This puts The Right in the position of being far more open to the likelihood that work can help others. The Left very often envisions The Right as retrograde, some sort of throwback to a past time — “conservative.” This is as fitting a situation for that observation as any other: The Right hails from an earlier chapter in our developmental history, in which profit was a way of assessing the net value of work. The Left seeks to depart from that plane; and this isn’t helpful. Profit is how we figured out what activities were worthy of blossoming into businesses, and what businesses were worthy of launching leviathan industries. The Right still sticks to that, and assesses the performance of the economy by how easy it is to make a profit. That’s our “yes” and “no” signal, it tells us where to steer the economy, allows us to figure out what is worthy of greater investment, and what should die on the vine. The Right Wing dreads the day when, anytime and anyplace an investor makes the inquiry by participating in some new venture, the answer that comes back is always no. They understand that on that day, the oxygen supply will have been cut off for all of us. It comes back to definitions, again. If you invest in something and make a profit, not only do you know that there must have been a demand for that product or service, but you also know there had to have been some quality work and some good decision-making involved too. You have to have all of those things to make a profit.

If there aren’t any profits, that’s exactly like a network device acknowledging every single packet with a failed checksum. With the behavior unaltered, the sending peer will re-send so many times, and then come back with an error that the transmission couldn’t be completed. Then you could reprogram it, but how do you alter the behavior? There’s no right answer. Network no go. The same is true of our economy, and The Right is unique in understanding this. Some things, every now & then, are going to have to work. “Investment” is really nothing more than a question, “Profit or Loss” is an answer. That’s how we find our way around, figure out where to go. On The Left, these are dirty words.

Because you can only make a profit if you make correct decisions, there is a certain nobility about being able to provide for yourself. Like the network packet checksum, it shows everything is aligned and working, in the correct sequence. There’s no such thing as “excessive profit,” because more profit simply means more productive, hard work, and more correct decision-making, more investments that are possible. See, The Left has spun this highly successful deception, this Big Lie, that because they’re looking forward and the Right Wing is looking backward, they must be the ones for progress. But you can’t be for progress if you see profits as evil, or good only in certain situations, in which the level of the profit has to be contained beneath some limit. That’s not progress, that’s anti-progress. Also, the Right Wing’s political leaders are not committed to selling more social programs for the benefit of the indigent classes in order to ensure their longevity — therefore, there’s no vested interest in increasing the population of the indigent classes. This is supposed to be heartless, or lacking in compassion, or some such. That’s actually the way it’s supposed to work. Successful, strong economy, that means more rich people, easier to make a profit, fewer indigents. That’s the desired outcome.

Because The Right has this check routinely run against their suppositions, whereas The Left only has its beliefs, its zealous statements in support of those beliefs, and navel-gazing self-appreciation for how it makes these statements, it follows that The Right is much more strongly tethered to reality. Anybody who’s ever tried to do anything that relies on a strong tethering to reality, will be able to attest to the fact that it isn’t always easy to maintain one. Constant testing and re-evaluation, these are important things, the most precious tools in the toolbox. And you can’t continually test and re-evaluate without the strong definitions, mentioned previously. Gender is not something to be “re-assigned” or re-thought or torn apart, or anything of the like: It is a part of nature. Our place is not to meddle with it, but to accept it for what it is. The Right, also, has a much better understanding of this thing we call “science”; they understand that it is a method. It’s not a club of credentialed elites, it’s not a great dusty thick sealed-shut book full of engraved catechisms. It isn’t a seal of approval affixed by some authoritarian body. They understand that science is a means of discovery, and they understand that when someone says something asinine like “The Science Is Settled,” that person is either trying to hoodwink someone else, or has been hoodwinked himself.

Those are the available distinguishing characteristics between Right Wing and Left Wing; at least, the ones that come to me, and apply in the United States. Again, you see (thanks to FDR) we here in the U.S. have the luxury of conflating “liberal” with “left wing” and “conservative” with “right wing,” which doesn’t work so well in other countries, for a lot of reasons. Primogeniture never really was much of a thing here, so we don’t have “conservatives” harkening back to a bygone era in which the firstborn son got to live in the castle and pass the title down to his firstborn son, etc. etc. If anything, they’re merely “harkening back” to the bygone era in which people aspired to work for a living.

Still and all, it’s a bit wordy. So I would distill all of those paragraphs down to the following three broad categories of distinction.

Cultural Drive: The Right Wing seeks to drive our culture in one direction, where the Left Wing seeks to drive our culture in the opposite direction. We could pose to each side, or to an opinionated-person of unknown orientation, the following question: Is work just for suckers? This lacks the virtue of tact, but certainly does get right to the heart of the matter. Leftists will certainly object to it, but it would be silly and counterproductive to try to deny that they look at “work” very much differently compared to their Right Wing counterparts. To them, if someone has to work in order to survive, and work harder than they’d like to be working in order to survive, that means something is broken and needs fixing. The Right Wing, on the other hand, figures that if it’s “work” it goes without saying that you’re going to have to do some work, and you’re going to have to do some things you don’t want to do — that’s why they call it that. If you got to pick everything, it wouldn’t be work.

Relationship Between People and Government: One of my left-leaning Facebook friends said he doesn’t believe there is any such thing as “Natural Law,” and as I mulled over this I realized this is a good way of locating the surveyor’s twine, to draw the boundary. Is there such a thing as N.L.? This leads up to a question that has been asked, for ages, by Americans who couldn’t be bothered to read the Declaration of Independence: Do our rights come from government? And that leads to: What is a “right,” anyway? Is a right a right, if someone else has to pay for you to have it?

Foreign Policy: Where the above two have to do with domestic matters, The Left is divided from The Right (as well as from common sense) when it comes to overseas situations, and how to handle them. Having been born in the sixties, I’ve often had the impression I’d have a better idea how this came about, if I were born, oh, somewhere around three decades earlier. Liberals don’t define “peace” the way normal people define it. They seem to understand that for a peace to endure, someone has to do some compromising; but they don’t want to be the ones doing it. So if there is peace, but they’re not getting everything they want, then there can’t be any peace. Somehow, this means every military conflict that comes along is the fault of their opposition. It’s all unnecessary. They seem to go so far as to say, without saying it, that the military itself is a useless relic from an earlier time, and if we work at it we can get rid of all armed conflict, like Smallpox. They don’t say so; and this would directly contradict their hero-worship of FDR, who “won World War II” and so forth. But such a belief would pose no contradiction whatsoever, against the ideas they have for the problems that confront us in the present. In fact, going by the policy proposals they advocate for foreign policy today, it’s difficult to see any use they have for international borders, at all. And that would make sense. Borders are, among other things, definitions.

So these are the meanings I have in mind; the long and the short of it, literally. Severian objected, at least at first, to the realization that under this perception of what the ideologies really mean, every dictatorship in the history of the human race, going all the way back to the Pharaohs, would be “left wing.” To which I say, yes of course this is true, how can it go any other way? “Right Wing” is a belief in, among other things, Natural Law — which would get in the way of a good, honest dictatorship.

To which he replied, with his description of the five buckets. This is great stuff. Had to Facebook it right away. His explanation of it:

Imagine that we set a whole bunch of famous leaders down and gave them a pop quiz: “What is the purpose of government? What is the State for?” Then we sort them into buckets.

One common answer would be “the State exists to create Utopia here on earth,” and guys like Lenin, Hitler, Mao, and Obama would be in that bucket. Their Utopias would all look different, and they’d employ different means to get there, but all those guys would agree that their governments are trying to create a perfect world.

Another bucket contains guys like Oliver Cromwell, Suleiman the Magnificent, Charlemagne, and Ferdinand and Isabella. Their answer is something like “government exists to give greater glory to God, and/or punish His enemies.”

A third bucket is full of guys who answered “the purpose of the State is to give me and my entourage the highest possible standard of living” — Genghis Khan, Louis XVI, pick your ancient empire-builder.

A fourth bucket reads “the State exists to keep the natural world in balance.” Egyptian pharaohs and Confucian emperors fit here — they have to do their daily rituals or the world falls out of whack.

A fifth — very small — bucket reads “Government exists to protect its people’s life, liberty, and property.” Here you find George Washington, Jefferson Davis, William Pitt, and (arguably) guys like Pericles and the consuls of the Roman Republic.

I’d argue that the guys in the “state as utopia” bucket are the Left, and the “protect the people’s rights” bucket are the Right. That leaves the vast majority of all governments that have ever existed in the middle three buckets. Doing it this way, I think, helps clear up some of the confusion about behavior and attitudes — Obama, as you note, behaves as if he believes His presidency has kept the seas from rising, but I don’t think He actually does. Nor do His followers.

Here, I think we are wrestling with another question that, although it might not serve adequately as a distinguishing characteristic, nevertheless highlights the difference between how left-wingers and right-wingers think: Believe. The more we look into it, the more we return to that pivot-point, like a homing pigeon, which is the difference in consequence. The Right Wing has to work with it, the Left Wing does not. It’s almost as if…I would say, exactly as if…the Left Wing formed its relationship to reality, when it got busted by its mom for taking cookies out of the jar, and pulled a fast one on her with a bit of nonsense about “Actually, I was putting it back.” And that worked, either because the small-em mom wasn’t into confronting them about the obvious falsehood, or she wasn’t the sharpest tool in the drawer.

Whereas the right-winger, in the same situation, ended up having to carve his own switch.

Truth, therefore, to a left-winger is whatever successfully sells the pitch. Belief is a dedication to whatever that “truth” is. It is only the right-winger — and, true, genuine centrists — who see truth as truth, something that is inextricably fastened to consequences. This brings us back to the analogy of “Did I put the lug nuts on the wheel the right way?” It inspires a whole different way of thinking, a whole different direction of thinking.

So it is belief, but not as we know it. Over here. They do “believe” that Obama has something to do with the rising of the seas. They’re willing to say it…and there’s nothing more to it than that, in their world. Say this thing, get to keep my cookie.

Anyway, as I said at the beginning, Severian found the topic sufficiently engrossing, as do I, to go over to the “daughter site” and jot down a few extra thoughts. “Three Signs You Might Be a Secret Leftist.” The three signs are:

1. You think the world is perfectible.
2. You never trust your own lying eyes.
3. You claim dictatorial powers for yourself, because you’re the victim in everything.

It seems to me that he and I disagree about the “Pharaoh,” because we see different things in that example. It’s too late to psychoanalyze Ramses The Great, but we can put together some crude profiles of dictators more recent, and the traits we see in dictators we know are pretty much the traits we should expect to see. Toddler Rules. There is an atrophied ability to resolve conflict, or no ability to resolve conflict at all, because there’s never been any need to do so. “I want what I want when I want it.” They do a lot of twiddling once they’re in charge of things, but they don’t grapple with consequences, don’t spend a lot of time wondering “did I tighten the lug nuts,” since they don’t put in a lot of lug nuts, and in any case won’t be the ones driving the car.

I should say something about their destructive impulses. Somewhere I noted that the leftist regimes we see here in the U.S. recently, over the last forty years or so, all have it in common that they make a big show out of building something great and grand, but can never quite articulate what exactly that is. If you were to ask them “All fine and good, but what are you destroying?” they’d be able to tell you. Now if someone can tell you what he’s destroying but can’t tell you what he’s building, doesn’t seem to have that figured out himself, that might be a good tip-off that this person is a destroyer and not a creator. The Left Wing, in our country, can’t quite make that leap. They want to think of themselves, and be thought-of by others, as creators and not destroyers; but, that seems to be nothing more than spinning a wild yarn about putting the cookie back in the jar.

Eleventh Blog Birthday

Thursday, November 12th, 2015

Yay. Yes, we’ve slowed down quite a bit as of late, but we’re still ticking, at 8,079 posts and 25,806 comments.


“Who Made These Monsters?”

Thursday, November 12th, 2015

Brendan O’Neill, editor of Spiked, finds a link between the Yale rioters and the generations that came before:

Video footage of Yale students losing the plot over a faculty head and his wife, who said everyone should calm down about Halloween, has caused much head-shaking in liberal circles. And it isn’t hard to see why. The head’s crime was that his wife sent an email suggesting academics and students should chill out about ‘culturally insensitive’ Halloween costumes. It’s okay, the email said, to be a ‘little bit inappropriate or provocative or, yes, offensive’ on this one day. For his wife issuing this mildest of rebukes to over-sensitive over-18s, the head was accosted by a mob of students insisting the email made them feel unsafe. When he told the crowd that he thinks university is about providing education, not a ‘safe home’, they screamed at him to ‘step down!’. ‘Who the fuck hired you?!’, the most unhinged of the students cries.

Generation Butt HurtIt’s unnerving, odd, a terrifying snapshot of the new intolerance. We could see the culture of ‘You can’t say that!’ in all its swirling, borderline violent ugliness. It wasn’t a whispered or implied ‘You can’t say that!’, of the kind we see all the time in 21st-century public life, in response to people who criticise gay marriage, say, or doubt climate change. No, this was an explicitly stated ‘You can’t fucking say that, and if you do we’ll demand that you be sacked!’ That it was stated at Yale, and in response to a bloody email about Halloween, has added to the hand-wringing among liberals, who want to know what’s gone wrong with the new generation.

Okay, fine. It is indeed interesting, and worrying, that students are so sensitive and censorious today. But I have a question for the hand-wringers, the media people, academics and liberal thinkers who are so disturbed by what they’re calling the ‘Yale snowflakes’: what did you think would happen? When you watched, or even presided over, the creation over the past 40 years of a vast system of laws and speech codes to punish insulting or damaging words, and the construction of a vast machine of therapeutic intervention into everyday life, what did you think the end result would be? A generation that was liberal and tough? Come off it. It’s those trends, those longstanding trends of censorship and therapy, that created today’s creepy campus intolerance; it’s you who made these monsters.

I think it’s even worse than that, though. The prior generation is not acting just as an enabler of this sort of behavior; it has been a forerunner. The ramifications of this are heavy, in that they would mean this whole lunacy is inter-generational, it didn’t just start this year because it’s never really stopped.

I’ve also noticed something about it: It’s theater. Correcting whatever caused the offense is not nearly as important as manifesting that the offense took place. Also, the drama that ensues has a lot of value nobody ever seems to discuss, as a diversionary tactic; the expression of offense alters the outcome.

The perpetually offended, therefore, have a loathing against whatever conclusion would most likely have been produced, had the discussion not been interrupted. It’s not just an isolated defensive outburst against “offense,” it’s a whole way of life. Down in Missouri, that Melissa Click woman who called for “muscle” to block that reporter from covering a protest — I’m still having trouble with the concept of a protest that isn’t supposed to be seen — just did it again, citing “death threats” as the reason for canceling her class as she deals with the ensuing troubles. Death threats, yes it’s always death threats…

PussyLosing the argument? Stir the pot a bit. Death threats, not feeling good, sprained ankle, being offended. These are people who start arguments, and figure they ought to be the ones to finish them. If ever it doesn’t go that way, they reach for a sort of “ejection seat lever” and there’s your real cause of offense. That’s why we’re seeing so much of this. It isn’t an ever-evolving society reaching new heights of sophistication and learning that certain things should be taboo, and it isn’t even (completely) a thing with thinning skin, upon those who are getting offended. It’s a tactic. A tactic used by those who just want to skip ahead to the fun part, where they win the argument, without slogging through that boring thing that involves some actual arguing.

Viewing it through that lens, we see this embiggens the ramifications involved somewhat. Quite a bit, actually. These are not isolated incidents at Yale and Mizzou. Like Rush Limbaugh said, “It’s only getting started here, folks.” Even that isn’t completely right, “it” isn’t just getting started.

These are people, being groomed to run the world of tomorrow, to make all of the Big Decisions That Really Matter within our society of the near future — being taught how to start arguments and not to, in any civil way, finish them. Now think of that. That’s really not much different than teaching a whole generation of passenger airplane pilots how to take off, but not how to land. Tomorrow’s executives, professors, politicians and other authority figures are being taught how to hit the emergency-eject button when they figure out they’re losing the argument, so they can get their way even when they find out in mid-course that they’re wrong. Taught that, by the precious snowflakes of yesteryear, who were taught precisely the same thing, and have been getting offended constantly since then — and have taken over academe.

The point is, nothing significant just happened, except that we’ve been forced to give a greater share of our attention to something that’s been happening already, for a long time. When we bring it to a stop, that’s when life starts getting better for everybody.

Veterans Day 2015

Wednesday, November 11th, 2015

Nothing to add.

US Marines’ 240th

Tuesday, November 10th, 2015

Happy Birthday, United States Marine Corps.

Gasbag Theory

Saturday, November 7th, 2015

I’ve long had a theory percolating away in my cranium about the English language. That’s about all I can do with it, since the theory, while refutable, is not provable. Until it’s directly refuted, I have found it occasionally worth mentioning because it explains what is baffling to so many people, but it’s a bit involved and weighs somewhat on the listener’s capacity to pay attention. So perhaps if I spell it out here, this will ultimately be revealed as a more proper forum, down here in the blogging “basement” where it can hang around, dehydrate, molder just a bit, while I see fit to link to it. Or not.

One of the virtues of this theory is that it explains not only what is baffling about the English language, but also about software engineering; not only the challenges that arise when one coordinates a team effort to build something new, but why it is we’re surrounded by so much stuff already built that…that…well, you know…

Perhaps I should just dive into it.

English LanguageThe many observed and mostly-unexplained inconsistencies involved in the English language come from two simple causes. One, the language was defined & refined back in the olden days, obviously before the Internet. Of course, there were other things back then to serve as precursor substitutes for the functionality of the Internet — but, not the Internet’s ability to offer up some sort of instantly accessible, centralizing “Oracle” resource, like for example a time server. The language, therefore, accumulated all its various permutations through an implementation of what we in software engineering call the Stovepipe Antipattern.

Publishers acted like software developers. Publishers, and dictionary-editors. They processed a bit until ambiguities arose, and then they coped a bit. Process, cope. Cope, process. They didn’t work completely in these “stovepipes” while settling their encountered ambiguities, in fact I’m sure they were more conscientious about the necessary coordinating than today’s software engineers, even when today’s software engineers are trying hard. But they did all their “networking,” of course, within walking distance. If an encountered question was truly perplexing, it would be escalated as high as any other pressing question…but, again, within walking distance. All the way to the (local) top: Some old gasbag. The senior senior editor guy, whose WordsCarriedGreatWeighttm. That gasbag, in turn, would create the problem.

He, of course, did not enter the question on some listserv, or search engine. In resolving the thorny problem, he drew from his massive personal experience — and that’s all. How else could it have been done? So he would have had to have harkened back to his previous experience, which was after all the commodity he possessed that drew all these other professionals to him, seeking his counsel. Perhaps back to when he was just a freckle-faced copy boy running around on the publishing-house floor…when some answer had been produced to the thorny question. By that previous generation’s local senior gasbag.

And that previous, generations-past old codger who “had” the answer; was he giving the question the attention it commanded later? Almost certainly not. Ambiguities, I’ve noticed, have a way of becoming visible only after the passage of time. It’s pretty often people discover they’ve been wrestling with them without realizing it, offering up the “right” answer that is so certainly and so unanimously right, only because no one has ever questioned it. So this old codger whose WordsCaarriedGreatWeighttm would “answer” the question, once and for all! — locally. Which would create a wrinkle, because if there was an ambiguity in that publishing house, there almost certainly was another encounter with the same ambiguity over in some other publishing house, which in turn relied on the vast accumulated wisdom of some other old duffer with big bushy gray eyebrows in which you could hide cigarette lighters. And he, I think, within the same timespan would resolve the same question. Differently.

It’s undeniable, isn’t it? To deny it would mean to presume the questions did not arise, which would be daffy. Or, that they arose, and were settled, conveniently, exactly once per generation, with one single answer for each — just as daffy. We can test that. At least, if we have spent any time in a career that deals with words. How many places have you worked in which someone was wondering where to put the ‘M’s in “commemorate”? Or why the word “inflammable” exists? From such tests, we postulate that the same questions must have arisen in many different places, within relatively the same span of time. And we know for a fact they didn’t have any convenient or expeditious ways to coordinate the answers.

We further know, without a doubt, that this “Ask Yoda” method must have worked — but only for the immediate need, just to resolve the pressing issue so the day’s work could be completed. Just to get an answer. Acquire the best and most informed opinion that might be acquired…within a few footsteps.

James Bond is NOT a Code NameA cultural grudge or two, brought on by previous historical events, can do wonders to keep these “right” answers to a common question anchored in opposite directions, even after the discrepancy has come to light. This is easy to prove, if one is honest about one’s own passions. I have no problems admitting I’d like to chuck an extra crate or two of tea into a harbor, whenever my browser settles on the idea that I’m some sort of cockney or canuck writer and starts underlining words like “honor” or “theater” as if they’re misspelled. It’s human nature to arouse a little bit of ire about it, as in “THIS way’s right, that way’s wrong…fuck those people.” One does tire of seeing the same idea re-presented over and over again, when one “knows” how wrong it is. I’ve just about had my fill of this idea that “James Bond” is just a code name, and lots & lots of different characters in the franchise have been having these adventures using the moniker. Fuck those people who keep coming up with this bad, wrong, terrible idea.

Anyway, yes, the English language is broken in lots of ways. So it necessarily follows that it’s a real tragedy it has become dominant, right? Wrong. I said at the beginning, there were two causes of these many fractures. The above paragraphs explain just one cause. The other cause is, simply, that the English language was used, and therefore, abused. Had another language achieved dominance, the same questions would have surfaced in the same publishing houses with that other language, and it would have been exposed to the same abuse, just as you find more bugs in a software system when you run more tests on it.

“Being Wrong”

Wednesday, November 4th, 2015

The Z Blog:

There’s a genre of expository writing where the author explains in detail how he got something completely wrong. The name for this form is “nonexistent” because no one ever does it. Similarly, you will never hear a lecture from an economist explaining how he got some prediction totally wrong. For instance, Obama’s economic team swore that the stimulus bill would set off an economic boom through the magic The Multiplier. They were wrong and it was a flop, but no one talks about it because it is simply not done.

This is something you see in all fields, not just public policy. You never read about scientists discussing how they screwed up an experiment or fell for some nutty idea that sounded good at the moment. What we expect and what we get is equivocation, denial and when that does not work, an attempt to flush the incident down the memory hole. It usually works too. Paul Ehrlich was hilariously wrong about human populations, but he has paid no price.

Well, I can explain it, I think. Opinion-makers and opinion-distributors like Ehrlich pay no price for being wrong, because very few people care; and people don’t care because they, in turn, also pay no price. “Turned out to be right/wrong” has little practical meaning anymore. Our system of forming and governing societies, our style of discussing weighty issues, come from times in centuries past when being right or wrong meant the difference between living or starving. Now, it means the difference between strutting like a peacock on Facebook, or…fuming away on Facebook.

It has almost as insignificant a bearing on our station in life, families, fortunes, careers, all the things that matter, as…the outcome of an organized sports event? Well no. Nothing has less impact than that. But it’s pretty close. Been that way for awhile, and our dedication to the dialectic has suffered as a consequence.

“How Much is Liberalism Like a Religion?”

Wednesday, November 4th, 2015

Tyler O’Neil writes in Pajamas Media:

Political views and religious belief are indeed two very different things, and many liberals have even criticized the pseudo-religious trends in their movement and party. Nevertheless, some recent events should make us wonder just how religious liberal orthodoxy has become…Perhaps liberalism is more like a religion than we thought.
“When a group confuses politics with moral doctrine, it may have trouble comprehending how a decent human could disagree with its positions,” [David] Harsanyi explained. This, he suspected, “is probably why so many liberals can bore into the deepest nooks of my soul to ferret out all those motivations but can’t waste any time arguing about the issue itself.”

The accusations are endless. If you don’t believe in liberal positions about climate change, the minimum wage or social justice programs, you must have been bought off — there simply is no other possible explanation. How could you hate the poor so much? How could you doubt established facts? How could you hate yourself?

“Don’t like big government? You’re a nihilist,” Harsanyi adds. Supporters of traditional marriage and sexuality are “transphobic, homophobic.” Pro-life advocates “may claim that you want to save unborn girls from the scalpels of Planned Parenthood, but your real goal is to control women — even if you’re Carly Fiorina.”

This move to silence the debate does not end with Twitter. Last month, 20 climate scientists petitioned President Obama to use the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) — a law intended to fight organized crime — against people who “denied” climate change.
Any mature Christian who has struggled with his or her faith has likely encountered the idea of theodicy, answering the question “if there is a good God, why is there evil in the world?” Christian history is rich with this perennial struggle — to explain God’s goodness to a world where injustice prevails.

Recently, liberal pundits seem to have taken up the cause of explaining why bad things happen to good people: we don’t have a large enough federal government. In May, an Amtrak train derailed, making national news. Who better to blame than congressional Republicans, who capped federal funding for Amtrak (a private for-profit corporation) at a measly $1 billion? Even as preliminary reports suggested the driver was to blame, liberals argued that a lack of “infrastructure spending” was the real culprit…congressional Republicans are to blame, because they were unwilling to dedicate more taxpayer dollars to the nebulous, job-creating savior “infrastructure.”

This thinking is so off-base it also proves an insult to religion, but sometimes liberal ideas can only be explained by comparison to faith.

Whether self-styled progressives question your ideas by calling you psychotic, demands that you “check your privilege” or blames all our woes on the insufficiency of big government, please understand that they are merely acting on the basis of firm convictions. We must not stoop to their level by questioning their motives or mental health. Only acknowledge that their faith can be as bigoted and entirely wrong as the most benighted religion.

If We Were All Arrested For Making Our Kids More Prosperous…

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2015

One of the most effective bumper-sticker slogans that spiritual leaders have used to encourage their flock to re-think their dedication to the faith, has been some variation of “If you were accused of being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?” It’s a good question in that it directly targets the fair-weather friends. Christ, like anyone else unfairly persecuted in the times in which they lived, would not have too much use for fair-weather friends. It’s not too hard to find some New Testament scripture that confirms this.

I have long been wondering the same thing about elevating the next generation, and giving that next generation the tools it needs to elevate itself, to a platform of independence and prosperity. There, too, we need a test of fair-weather friendship. I’ve noticed quite a few people are pretty good at slinging around the stock phrases. “Get him the help he needs to succeed in school and life” and so forth. My all-time favorite has to be “We don’t teach them what to think, we teach them how to think” — so seldom does it turn out to be true.

Old people fear outliving their savings. Now that I’m fast approaching the stage of life where one becomes an old person, or can at least start to see the “old person zone” looming on the horizon, I notice what life has to teach old people, as much as what old people have to teach others about life. I’ve noticed life is teaching them they didn’t save enough. There were all sorts of problematic expenses they didn’t anticipate, and in some cases, brand new expenses they did not predict. The young, the old, the in-betweens, seems everybody’s problem is not enough cash. How come the old people don’t say something like: It’s far better to overestimate your expenses than to underestimate them?

Or: Find a livelihood in which the money comes from helping others, work your ass to the bone at it, see to it you pay yourself first?

What’s the measure of dedication? If we were all arrested for making our kids more prosperous, or for giving our kids the tools and skills they need to become prosperous, would there be enough evidence to convict us? There would? Are you so sure?

You may need to read John Hawkins’ latest for a reality check. We actually do quite a lot to keep kids poor, and over their entire lives.

The 7 Keys To Trapping As Many Americans As Possible In Poverty

Keeping Americans poor in a prosperous country like America is not as easy as you think. After all, this is the “land of opportunity.” Legal immigrants pay tens of thousands of dollars and wait years for the opportunity to come legally and illegal immigrants often risk their lives just so they can get here and do menial work. This is the country that made Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and even OPRAH into billionaires and it’s a nation where you can have everything from hoverboards to medicine for your pet delivered right to your door. So when there’s so much wealth and opulence everywhere, how do you lock Americans out of that success?

No matter what you do, there will always be a few poor people around, but to really maximize those numbers there are very specific government policies abetted by a few cultural attitudes that will make all the difference.

The seven pointers are: Keep taxes and regulations high, encourage dependency, encourage people to have babies out of wedlock, demonize success, screw up the education system, have massive immigration, and ratchet up expenses.

The babies-out-of-wedlock thing is a sticky problem for me, since I’m guilty. For others, I’d say the biggest problem is the “screw up the education system” because it is the most subjective. To follow the conversation along, you have to have a little bit of what they used to call an attention-span…which is something I notice lately is going out of fashion, and maybe that’s an eighth point that could go on this list. Within my own history of making money, not that I’ve made a lot, but it’s been a consistent observation of mine that the money follows the paying-of-attention. This new generation, which I sometimes call a “Not a Lifeguard Worth a Damn” generation, concerns me most of all because so few within it possess the ability to just stop, watch a designated target, and invoke some sort of plan when the target changes state in any way. It’s way too far above them. Or beneath them.

I’m generalizing, of course. There are exceptions.

But the education thing — the worst offenders are going to say, of course education is critical and that’s why we started this curriculum that…blah blah blah. And if you happen to notice, some of this blah-blah-blah is only weakly connected to, or isn’t connected in any way to, the actual making of money, you get back this half-truth litany. Something about how, the point to it is not to make money, necessarily, but to broaden horizons or some such.

There is truth in this.

But, it just brings us back to my original question. If the crime is one of elevating the next generation to prosperity, and we’re arrested for it, is there enough evidence to convict?

In other words, where is the level of commitment? The spirit of dedication? Same thing people asked me all the time when I didn’t marry somebody…which turned out, when all was said & done, to be the correct decision. But in this case, we don’t need to worry about the correct decision. Life is being quite consistent, with regard to all sorts of age brackets, womb to tomb, in its repeated teachings and it doesn’t very much care if we learn it or not: Not enough savings. Not enough funding. Not enough margin for error. You forgot about how to pay for X.

Before free trade was possible among the hoi polloi, the way you elevated your stature was to capture territory, which usually involved killing. Or you could take the direct approach, and bonk someone over the head for the money in his purse. Capitalism gives us a way to realize our fortunes, change the future for our descendants for the better, while helping others. What a wonderful gift the ages have given us, by unfolding this relatively young chapter in human development during this lifetime. Do we have sufficient appreciation for it?

Well, if we were arrested for & charged with the crime of showing proper appreciation for it, would there be enough evidence to convict?

Were the Nazis “Right Wingers”?

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2015

This thing at about 2:00 has always bugged me. The idea of a “guy who can do no wrong” at the very apex of a nation’s power-pyramid; to believe Nazis were right-wingers, you have to believe that configuration is left-wing here, here, here, there, there, there and over there too…but with that guy with the tiny mustache, suddenly that’s right-wing.

From the comments:

I think the problem we have is that people have no idea what Conservatism is. It’s baffling to think that someone could even associate Conservatism with the Nazi’s, when we support limited government, and we’re against socialism.