Archive for the ‘Poisoning Capitalism’ Category

“Intellectual Cowardice”

Monday, October 25th, 2010

Also, props to our friend in New Mexico for finding the cartoon below. He possesses only a fleeting interest in this story — sees all of the foolishness in NPR’s move, and subsequent “homina homina” backpedaling, but only in a “now, back to football” way.

To me, it’s much more serious than this. All of our nation’s founding documents are clear on this point: Our legislative branch gets to boss us around, make new laws that will bind us, oblige us, tax us and prohibit us…they get to do this for a two-year term. For the enduring expression of our values, from now on into the generations ahead, that kind of “legislation” is left up to The People. Congress does stuff and then We, The People get to tell them what we think about it.

The danger that is involved in such a machinery working properly, is the same danger you have in any electrical circuit: It cannot run in circles. Government cannot be allowed access to any tool that tells the electorate what it should be thinking. It simply is not to be allowed.

This is why the First Amendment proscribes against the establishment of a state religion…and if all of the concepts of talk radio were crystallized and agreed-upon in 1791, the First Amendment would carry a statement about state radio stations as well, and for precisely the same reason. In fact, this is why we have a Second Amendment as well. And a Tenth. Government is not to be put in charge of re-electing itself through The People.

Which is exactly the situation we have, without some “wall of separation between radio and state” if you will.

So people like the quiet, sonorous tone of commercial-free radio. They claim it’s less noisy. I’m sure they’re right about that…not that I’d know…but they miss the point entirely. There’s just no call in this country for “public radio.” It is a constitutional aberration and abomination.

The point I think a lot of people miss when things like this happen, is that when you centralize a decision you create more conflict, and when you localize it you prevent the conflict from ever coming about. I remember many years ago I read a Thomas Sowell column — which I tried to find, subsequently, and have never been able to pin it down. But he was discussing, coincidentally, the idea that we should have some federal agency to decide what we should listen to on our car radios. Just laying it down as a hypothetical. Today’s official radio station is 92.7 FM, and all your car radios will be turned to it; tomorrow’s will be 88.9, and the day after we’re all going to be listening to 102.3. So if you don’t like country music you’re just going to have to learn to like it, and if you don’t like rock & roll you’ll have to learn to like that.

Can you imagine how much bickering there would be? But his point was: We don’t do things this way. You tune your radio to what you want, I tune mine to what I want, and we never even get into a fight about it.

Folks, that is exactly the way it should work!

I submit that this fighting Sowell was writing about a few years back as a theoretical, here in 2010, is precisely what we’re seeing happen in real life. We’ve centralized the decision about who is to be abhorred as a potential threat; as I said at Buck’s place a few minutes ago, if Juan Williams said it makes him nervous when fellow air travelers are tea party activists, I doubt like hell he’d be fired over it. So we’ve centralized the decision about who is to be perceived, on a personal level, to be a potential threat…and, here we are bickering. Ah, as predictable as a sunrise.

De-fund NOW. If there are teeming masses that absolutely must have their Car Talk, then that means there is a market for it. There is no call for “public” radio; no call, no need and no point.

Broken Window Fallacy

Sunday, August 8th, 2010

The epitaph for the times in which we live, is that it’s become radical to acknowledge that destroying things is destructive.

Hat tip to blogger friend Rick.

History of Environmentalism

Sunday, August 8th, 2010

Green & red, yeah they look good together.

Hat tip to Kate at SDA.

“Evidence and Denial”

Thursday, August 5th, 2010

Richard W. Rahn, Washington Times:

As almost everyone now knows, there are two competing theories about how to revive the American economy. One theory is to promote the supply-side of the economy by cutting tax rates or at least to maintain the Bush-era tax rates and reduce spending and government regulation; the other theory is to follow the Keynesians’ advice by allowing some or all of the Bush-era tax rates to increase while also increasing government spending and government regulations.

An item of interest here: I am a member of the first group, and have been for a very long time. I did not get that way by poring over textbooks about economic sciences and such, or even by being rich, or pulling in lots of money (those last two things are quite different, by the way, but that’s another story).

No, I got that way by putting myself into the other fellow’s shoes. Maybe it comes from growing up and entering the world of work in a small business community, but before I had my first job, I got to watch real job-makers make real decisions about how to grow their real businesses and whether it was time to hire real people to do the real work. It’s not a simple decision. It cannot be measured.

It really comes down to just two things, though: Magnitude of opportunity, and potential for achieving it. Now, if either one of those two are eroded by too much, the likelihood emerges that the decision will go the other way — let’s just forget the whole deal. Not open that office. Not hire those people. Don’t do it, and say we did.

Now, the people in the second group…if they started reading this to start with, and that’s doubtful…they’re thinking “that Freeberg character is off in the weeds again. It’s all about making the rich pay their fair share! No need to feel sorry for them, they’re too rich! And selfish, yeah!”

They’re the ones who presume to possess a monopoly on good communication. Sympathizing. Reading people. Empathy. Yeah, you just try explaining that to the space alien living in your laundry room. “Well, we’ve got these people called ‘liberals’ who pride themselves on being compassionate…and they spend every waking moment trying to figure out how to sock it to straights, males, whites, rich people, Boy Scouts, housewives, and anybody else who doesn’t live life the way they want them to.”

But we’re veering off from the main point of the article. Let’s get back to it:

The first theory was tried during the Reagan administration, and the second theory is now being tried during the Obama administration. Both administrations inherited an economy in trouble. President Reagan inherited an economy with stagnant growth, rising unemployment and double-digit inflation. President Obama inherited an economy with falling growth and rising unemployment, but little inflation. President Obama likes to say that he inherited the “worst” economy since the Great Depression, but the fact is that the economic “Misery Index” – which the Democrats used as a weapon against Republicans – was twice as high when President Reagan took office.

Reaganomics vs. Obamanomics
Reaganomics vs. Obamanomics

Reagan’s policy was to sharply cut individual and corporate tax rates, and to restrain the growth in government spending and regulation. The Democrats, who were in control of the House of Representatives, resisted and delayed the Reagan tax cuts, so they were not fully implemented until 1983. Mr. Obama had the luxury of having his party in control of both houses of Congress, so he was able to get his proposed, massive government spending increases enacted almost immediately.

This is all to give some background behind the starting dates for the chart you see to the right.

Bottom lining it: The liberals are right. A little bit of empathy and compassion goes a long, long way. If only they practiced it!

When Reagan left office in January 1989, he had presided over “seven fat years,” as Bob Bartley, the now-deceased editor of the Wall Street Journal, called the Reagan era. Unemployment was half of its recession high, economic growth averaged more than 4 percent after the recession bottom in 1982, the deficit was falling and was under a very manageable 3 percent of gross domestic product, the GDP-debt ratio was falling, inflation had dropped by about two-thirds, and every American individual and company had seen very sharp reductions in their marginal tax rates – the maximum rate fell from 70 percent to only 28 percent by the time Reagan left office.
Given the above facts – which have the benefit of being true (unlike many “facts” delivered by our elected officials) – would you follow the Reagan/Clinton II economic policies or the Obama ones?…Obama economic advisers Paul Volcker, Larry Summers and Christina Romer have, at times, all advocated polices totally contrary to the ones that Mr. Obama is now practicing. Are they, like many of those in the Democratic Party, all suffering from cognitive dissonance by continuing to push a failed model? [emphasis mine]

Mr. Rahn finishes strong. I’ll not send you there, I’ll replicate right here. Do RTWT anyway…but here is the punchline.

The economy performed better under Reagan’s supply-side policies than President Carter’s economic team had forecast it would if their man had been re-elected and continued his high-tax, Keynesian policies. The economy is now performing worse than Mr. Obama’s economic team forecast with its Keynesian policies. Looking at the evidence, it strains credulity to believe that the economy will actually perform better next year when all the tax increases are slated to go into effect. When will Congress wake up?

Let’s bottom-line it. In something (almost) suitable for a bumper sticker:

The economy is about economic opportunity, not just economic stability. It is about making money — for its own sake. It is about the rest of the nation getting out of the way, when those among us who have achieved sufficient solvency to part with a dollar, seek to so part with it and gain back two.

An economy is about making money.

The economy we have, is has no need of life support, or a breathing machine, or a heart massage, or a defibrillator. It doesn’t need get-well cards from the grandchildren or flowers or teddy bears in its hospital room.

What it needs is for our government to pull the fucking pillow out of its face so it can breathe. Businesses — people — will turn profits, just as soon as it stops being a crime.

Cross-posted at Right Wing News and at Washington Rebel.

“Our Divisive President”

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010

Patrick H. Caddell and Douglas E. Schoen write an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal:

President Obama’s Inaugural was a hopeful day, with an estimated 1.8 million people on the National Mall celebrating the election of America’s first African-American president. The level of enthusiasm, the anticipation and the promise of something better could not have been more palpable.

And yet, it has not been realized. Not at all.

Rather than being a unifier, Mr. Obama has divided America on the basis of race, class and partisanship. Moreover, his cynical approach to governance has encouraged his allies to pursue a similar strategy of racially divisive politics on his behalf.
The first hint that as president Mr. Obama would be willing to interject race into the political dialogue came last July, when he jumped to conclusions about the confrontation between Harvard Prof. Henry Louis “Skip” Gates and the Cambridge police.

During a press conference, the president said that the “Cambridge police acted stupidly,” and he went on to link the arrest with the “long history in this country of African-Americans and Latinos being stopped by law enforcement disproportionately.”

In truth, the Gates incident appears to have had nothing to do with race—a Cambridge review committee that investigated the incident ruled on June 30 that there was fault on both sides.

Well, the review committee got it half right.

They were playing to a modern mindset that says when persons of disparate race are involved in a disagreement that spirals out of control in any way, the person with darker skin must be found unconditionally blameless. These mobsters are being manipulated, in turn, by a swaggering elite that seeks to enslave the melanin-enhanced as well as the melanin-challenged, with a dysfunctional protocol that says skin color decides guilt & innocence. “Fault on both sides” was a concession to this anarchy, and it brought the anarchists an important victory: If you’re a white cop, avoid these confrontations in the first place. It’s the only way you can come out ahead. Pretend something’s wrong with your radio and you can’t hear the dispatcher.

But back to the President, since it’s a much more serious charge that this racial division goes all the way to the top.

It isn’t accidental. Listen to Obama talk about something that doesn’t have to do with race: I, I, I, Me, Me, I, I, Me, I just think, seems to Me, Michelle & I, I, I, I, Me, Me, Me, Me, Me. The subject shifts to race, and all of a sudden it’s we, we, we, we, America, Ms. Sherrod, bloggers, talk shows, Cambridge police, we. He stops talking about Himself, because He’s cataloging sins…things that have been done wrong. When that happens, He isn’t part of us anymore. Suddenly, He can grind out entire paragraphs without mentioning Himself one single time. He’ll re-join us when the lecturing is done. Then He’ll be happy to tell us, once again, what He thinks about things.

So our President is a divisive agent, a willfully divisive one, and not only does he see race as part of the division He seeks to deploy, but He has a carefully laid-out and executed strategy in place for dividing us along racial lines. He seeks to remedy & heal nothing. But it isn’t just about race. It’s also about money. Have you listened to this “full” video clip of Shirley Sherrod’s speech to the NAACP? I’m using scare quotes because there’s still some editing that’s been going on. But the point is this: It started out being about race, how a woman of color found herself approached for her legal assistance by a farmer of pallor. She didn’t apply the full force of what she could do for him, feeling that he should be helped but only by his own kind. The longer, 43-minute version becomes relevant because the speech is revealed as a “Grinch” story; the protagonist realizes her way of thinking about things is wrong, she reforms, and she does things she would not have done if she had not reformed. The speech was about this reformation, which is why there is such anger about the posting of the abridged version.

But why did she reform? I’ve seen lots of leftists subjected to this spiritual awakening, and it isn’t permanent, one-way, or spiritual. In my case, they’ve gone back and forth, and with the wisdom of hindsight I’ve come to realize something: What they were trying to decide, was whether or not I was a “mark.” Was I desperate enough yet that, if they short-circuited some rules to “help” me, would I give them my soul. This is the true face of the progressive movement: Put the non-producers in charge of figuring out how the goods and services are allocated, and if enough people are in desperate circumstances & stand to benefit from your little modern Bolshevik revolution, they will help you do this and you will succeed. You cannot succeed without them. This is how Shirley Sherrod saw that white farmer. She changed her mind about him. As his plight became more and more desperate, she figured out how he would come in handy.

This is a perfect illustration of Obama’s agenda. He is not a unifier because He cannot ever be one. He’s had a long time to enhance, rather than diminish, the control exerted over the production of things by those who do the producing; He hasn’t taken advantage of that opportunity one single time. Every move He has made has been to put the non-producers in charge. And ultimately, you have to drive wedges in order to do that. You have to have class envy. If we all have the feeling that we’re in the same boat, then our natural inclination is going to be to let the producers have the control that belongs to them, so the rest of us can benefit. To shift the wealth to the non-producers, you need to subvert the natural order of things, and you need to achieve broad interest in altering that natural course. Get the message out that the non-producers are the only ones interested in bringing a benefit to others across class lines. You need to spread a myth: Money makes a person naturally mean and selfish, unless the money a person has is money that came from somebody else, then that person becomes virtuous, egalitarian and civilized. Our poor, and the thieves who steal what they give to the poor, are the only enlightened beings in our society, or in any other. That is the Obama agenda and that is the Obama propaganda drive.

So anybody waiting for Obama to be any kind of unifier, is in for a long wait.

Partial hat tip to Irish Cicero, since I already had this in my “stack” when I was following a trackback to his place where he was talking about me…when I scrolled down I saw he already did a decent write-up about this.

You know, it would make a decent bumper sticker wouldn’t it:

Can We Elect a Black President Who’s Not Quite So Communist-ey?

Color Me Unimpressed

Thursday, July 22nd, 2010

“Have you ever seen such a bunch of self-righteous, ass-covering prigs? They don’t care what we do; they care what we get photographed doing.”


So the armies of humility are lining up on the left & right of the blogosphere, as well as cable-teevee-pundit-land and Planet Newspaper, to apologize for driving Shirley Sherrod out of a job. I’ve reviewed the forty-three minutes myself, and although the seamy footage makes it clear this is still less than what actually took place, it’s undeniable that the spirit of her remarks is different than what I thought. So do I have some crow to eat?

Eating CrowPerhaps just a smidgen. A wing. A foot, maybe. Well, let’s get it choked down. Clean your plate when crow is on it, for if you leave leftovers you should expect a steady diet of it.

My words:

The wasp is dead, the nest remains.

Ms. Sherrod, according to her own words, was a Little Hitler. Check that chart; third column, fourth row, the Petty Tyrant.

Can there be any doubt we still have some petty tyrants?

The nest does remain. Sherrod’s wasp is dead, but it has been dead for a very long time now. That was the point of her speech. The edited version makes it seem that there is something very different going on. My assumption that no context could leverage the spirit into something different, was somewhat rash. Partly correct, partly incorrect. Ultimately, I have to admit I placed an excessive abundance of faith in the edited version. Got snookered. Might as well admit it.

So now Breitbart has some ‘splainin’ to do? No, not at all. In fact, his point stands, and rather solidly. The whole point to showing it in the first place was to examine this claim that the Tea Party has racism in its ranks, and needs to do a more forceful job of policing its own. It is an argument of “don’t criticize your brother for the splijter in his eye when you have a beam in your own.” This point is actually strengthened by the events of the last 48 hours. The NAACP was able to confront its accuser, release the footage, use the media to entice the public to pay attention while the iron was still hot. And as frosting on the cake, they were able get another lie out there about Fox News being responsible for Sherrod’s sacking.

Such a dizzying, dazzling assortment of privileges for the NAACP! I wonder, if the footage had been about a Tea Party member saying equally racist things, would that informal coalition have been similarly indulged? Do I even need to ask the question.

So yes, I was “snookered” about Ms. Sherrod as a person. My crow-eating begins and ends there. Her comments about her own behavior stand, monument-like, as a testament to institutionalized racism. And how reformed is she, anyway? As John Hawkins points out, this is open to question. From all the evidence we have about her, there really isn’t much to indicate she’s ready for a post-racial world. It remains an unsettled issue, one to which I do not assign much weight, but one that is besieged with suggestive noise on all sides. There is doubt, and I’m not inclined to grant her much benefit of the doubt.

But let’s grant it all anyway. She realized she was being a horse’s ass, cleaned up her act, and that’s what happens to all the racists in these agencies? The entire story is kaput because of Ms. Sherrod’s Scrooge-like conversion? I don’t think so.

And this gets into the actual point that I don’t see anyone making anywhere. It has to do with the two halves of that part of humanity that thinks about these things.

My half says that individuals have rights, and these rights are regularly violated by institutions like the NAACP.

The other half, which has all of the voice, all of the time, says the institutions are the ones with the rights. People just gum things up. The institutions are perfect, or can be made that way by means of identifying the contaminating people and tossing ’em overboard. Let’s call this the Vilsack Doctrine.

This is why I’m being somewhat stingy with my apology. To me, it was never about Shirley Sherrod. Firing her was just a bizarre, wrong-headed move, and it would remain that even if the footage was exactly what it appeared to be. Adam and Eve bit into the apple, humanity has been corrupted and corruptible ever since, and institutions that are made out of humanity are no better than the people who build them and work in them.

If I’ve got a terrible problem with keeping my farm, and I’m describing my plight to some pencil-pushing bureaucrat who decides I’m acting superior to him just because my skin is white — that black bureaucrat is well within his rights to think such a thing. You get to think mistaken things. We don’t have a government that regulates that.

So President Jealous of the NAACP can grandstand and spread more lies, and Vilsack and Obama can apologize…all they want. These fine gentlemen still miss the point. The point is that the “Could Be Construed As” standard is unattainable and irrelevant. It is not impropriety, it is not the appearance of impropriety — we’re never going to solve a single problem by ending the careers of people who become tainted by it, no matter what the color of their skin happens to be.

I am thankful that the heyday of this risible ritual has now passed, or at least I think it has. Today, if you asked most people about it and had an honest discussion about it, a consensus would emerge that agrees with my notion: You don’t fire bigots. You prove them wrong. Even if they have supervisory authority; we do not sentence people to losing their livelihoods and becoming wards of the state because of the appearance of the thoughts in their heads — this is not the way America was supposed to work. If you find your career is heading into a cul de sac because you happen to be working for a sexist or a bigot or a homophobe, that means you have a boss that hates you. It’s unfortunate, but welcome to the real world. It’s gonna happen to you again. It’s happened to me. It happens to everyone. Go work for someone else.

I’m not trying to be insensitive with that remark. What I’m pointing out is that we’ve tried the other method…the Vilsack method. Gave it a good go for a few decades. It has been a net loss, a failed experiment. It’s made people fearful for their jobs and their careers, and this has given them motivation to do all kinds of whacky, stupid, free-market-killing stuff.

Know how bad that can get? Last “sexual harassment training” I was forced to attend, they said something I found interesting and it’s probably the same thing they said at yours: The intent of the offender doesn’t matter, it’s the perception of the accuser that decides everything — and “these rules are put in place to provide a workplace that is comfortable for everyone.” SAME BREATH.

So a whack-job paranoid stranger with a random vendetta can end your career at any second. By bitching, the easiest thing in the world to do. Boy that really makes me feel comfortable. How ’bout you?

Worst of all, people don’t worry too much anymore about getting fired for genuinely screwing things up.

It’s called political correctness. And future generations will look back on it, I’m convinced, the same way we see fourteenth-century bedside-bloodletting.

Update: Andrew Breibart’s comment on it:

All I’m seeing is people right now seeing blood in the water and coming after me. And the amount of half-truths and falsehoods that are out there in the pursuit of taking me down because they perceive that I’m a threat, it’s astounding.
I believe that I’m held to a higher standard. If this video showed a picture of a Caucasian talking in the exact same way but talking about a black person with an audience affirming and clapping that behavior, the reporter would be getting a Pulitzer Prize right now.

Say what you want about the man, but he’s right about this. All of it; every word.

And it isn’t defensible.

“Why Would Anyone Want to Preside Over Our Nation’s Decline?”

Saturday, July 10th, 2010

“Hangdog Presidency”:

After 4 years of Jimmy Carters’ down in the mouth, hangdog,… we might as well get used to decline Presidency; voters confidence in Ronald Reagan’s enthusiasm and his self-assurance in ourselves as a nation resulted in a landslide victory in 1980.

Reagan’s election stalled leftist, counterculture onslaughts against traditional American Judea-Christian values. Like a new day, the very concept that anyone could achieve success through hard work was revived by Reagan’s inspired pride in our nations greatness, a satisfaction that we are a great nation that had been given to us as a gift from our CREATOR for a purpose: to honor the Almighty and be a shining city on the hill.

The 40th President summoned America to an “era of national renewal”. “It’s time for us to realize that we are too great a nation to limit ourselves to small dreams”, Reagan declared in his inaugural address. “We’re not, as some would have us believe, doomed to an inevitable decline”.

A man of great distinction, Ronald Reagan’s love for this country set the tone for this nation and he showed proper respect for the office of the President of the United States; he was a man of great cheer and good character,…soon enough we would remember why we need leaders with good moral and ethical traits. [emphasis in original]

Update 7/11/10: Preside away…decline away…

“The Rich Get Richer…” Yes, It’s Back Again

Saturday, July 10th, 2010

Susie Madrak, Crooks & Liars. Beware the wrath of the “Pie People,” especially when you see them actually using the word “pie.”

The Rich Got Rich And The Poor Got Poorer. But Ain’t We Got Fun?

Good thing Democrats control the White House, House and Senate, huh? Because we know they’re working hard to correct these horrible income discrepancies!

Bueller? Anybody?

The gap between the wealthiest Americans and middle- and working-class Americans has more than tripled in the past three decades, according to a June 25 report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

One Revolution AwayNew data show that the gaps in after-tax income between the richest 1 percent of Americans and the middle and poorest parts of the population in 2007 was the highest it’s been in 80 years, while the share of income going to the middle one-fifth of Americans shrank to its lowest level ever.

The CBPP report attributes the widening of this gap partly to Bush Administration tax cuts, which primarily benefited the wealthy. Of the $1.7 trillion in tax cuts taxpayers received through 2008, high-income households received by far the largest — not only in amount but also as a percentage of income — which shifted the concentration of after-tax income toward the top of the spectrum.

The average household in the top 1 percent earned $1.3 million after taxes in 2007, up $88,800 just from the prior year, while the income of the average middle-income household hovered around $55,300. While the nation’s total income has grown sharply since 1979, according to the CBPP report, the wealthiest households have claimed an increasingly large share of the pie.

Arloc Sherman, a researcher for CBPP, said the income gap is expanding not because the middle class is losing income, but because the wealthiest incomes are skyrocketing. [emphasis in Crooks & Liars transcript]

Check out the first two comments…comedy gold…

Isn’t this one of the reasons

Isn’t this one of the reasons this country was founded in the first place? Because us peasants were fed up? To bad for us peasants all land has been discovered and we have place else to go. We just have to keep bending over. Difference between the 17 hundreds is the rich don’t call themselves royalty, they just get perks and act like it. The tea party don’t understand the real reason for a revolution.

Not Really…

It is time Americans invested in an actual critical historical education and stop regurgitating PR tall tales. … this country was founded by a bunch of rich white slave owners who wanted to be free*

* freedom to the founding fathers meant: to conduct their business as they wanted without having to pay taxes.

This is a country founded by rich people for rich people. Seriously, how long of a pattern people need to see before they get the message? Can you tell me any significant period of time (other than FDR’s presidency) where the bidding of rich Americans and corporate interests haven’t been the overriding policy factor in the majority of policys/actions by the US government?

Don’t laugh too hard though. One of these deluded souls, or perhaps both, might be a public school history teacher.

I didn’t study the comments too closely. So maybe someone pointed this out: If you crack open the study itself you see the data cover a period ending just as the democrats were taking over Congress. So if they’re really upset that there’s one country left on the globe in which it’s possible for an individual or a household to make it, there’s just barely enough hard information here to “justify” some righteous rage directed at the GOP — again.

So keep your hopes up, Pie People. The democrats are still hard at work making sure we’re all past that…whaddya call it? That “certain point where you’ve made enough money,” yeah that’s it. And then nobody will be allowed to make a nickel more than the government says they should be allowed to make, and if they do, there’ll be an Internal Revenue Service agent on their front porch, to take away whatever some bureaucrat three thousand miles away has decided is “excess.”

And then we’ll all truly be “free.”

Good Lord, what miserable people. By which I mean, making misery and living it as well…

Hey, just out of curiosity, how fast can you move with a cord binding your ankles, ensuring your feet can never move too far apart from each other?

Best Sentence XCI

Friday, June 18th, 2010

John Hawkins takes the ninety-first award for Best Sentence I’ve Heard Or Read Lately (BSIHORL). This nugget distills the entire argument down to its bare essentials, and you can disagree with it only by avoiding the essence of it.

[T]his is not a statement that should have ever come out of the mouth of an American President.

I will meet with the chairman of BP and inform him that he is to set aside whatever resources are required…

The President and His followers have been working pretty hard this week to convince voters that the opposing party is in the pocket of big oil, and this business with Congressman Barton apologizing to BP has predictably helped that along. It’s the first significant event that’s been politically beneficial to the goals of the democrats since…well, a very long time. Obama’s inauguration, maybe. They’re bound to make the most of it and you can’t really blame them. Them’s politics. Politics occasionally becomes separated from the genuine state of things, and although that’s unhealthy, it’s always tremendously satisfying for about half of us.

As the wax strip of politics is peeled away from the pelvic area of reality, though, eventually you get to a point where enough is enough. I know lots of Republicans, and lots of folks who consider them to be conservatives. My informal polling indicates a clean split. A slight majority says Congressman Barton was completely out of line and may be bat-shit crazy. A bare minority is on the side of myself and Hawkins — we agree BP needs to belly up to the bar and own this problem, but the President is way out of line in ordering them to do so.

Even the wise people who agree with me, like Hawkins, concede it was over the top for Bargon to offer an apology that was not his to give. From reading his apology for the apology, as well as the original comments delivered just hours previous, I would even go so far as to count Congressman Barton in that.

I don’t know of anybody on the conservative side, in a position of leadership or simply voting, who thinks we need to go apologizing to oil companies that screw up.

But I do see a lot of liberals, in positions of power as well as simply voting that way, who seem to live in a sort of Bizarro-world of ecnomics. They seem to think if we “stick it” to the oil companies artfully enough, all sorts of wonderful things will happen. It’s got something to do with dirt-cheap gasoline, affordable in abundance even for those among us who barely scrape by, delivered into our waiting hands without any of that drilling for icky crude oil — anywhere. Not in the USA, not overseas, not offshore, nowhere. It’ll just be conjured up out of thin air and sold to us for 63 cents a gallon, if only we pull off a sufficiently vigorous job of telling the oil companies what filthy bastards they are.

If I could find a Republican who truly thinks we need to go apologizing to oil companies for getting in the oil companies’ way, I would find that position, by comparison, eminently reasonable.

But I cannot.

Congressman Barton Apologizes for His Apology

Thursday, June 17th, 2010

Here’s the original:

“I’m ashamed of what happened in the White House yesterday,” Barton said. “I think it is a tragedy of the first proportion that a private corporation can be subjected to what I would characterize as a shakedown, in this case, a $20 billion shakedown.”

He complained that “the attorney general of the United States, who is legitimately conducting a criminal investigation and has every right to do so to protect the interests of the American people, [is] participating in what amounts to a $20 billion slush fund that’s unprecedented in our nation’s history, that’s got no legal standing, and which sets, I think, a terrible precedent for the future.”

“I apologize,” Barton told [BP President Anthony] Hayward. “I do not want to live in a country where any time a citizen or a corporation does something that is legitimately wrong is subject to some sort of political pressure that is — again, in my words, amounts to a shakedown. So I apologize…I’m speaking now totally for myself,” he noted. “I’m not speaking for the Republican Party.”

Charles Krauthammer says this was the politically most stupid statement of the entire year. This may explain why Barton was forced to retract these comments. The whole episode really is the first significant problem the Republicans have had in re-taking Congress.

So if you’re talking politics, I suppose I would have to agree. But waitasecond. Suppose, somehow, BP had managed to cause this much damage to the Gulf or to some other piece of Creation, without suffering any of this tarnish to their image. There would be no slush fund; there would be no shakedown. Now turn it around. Suppose BP did the damage and then managed to hang it all on someone else…a contractor, maybe. Or suppose someone else did the damage and hung it on BP. The extortion would be done against whoever got the black eye, not against whoever did the damage. You know it, I know it, we all know it.

Oh, and would anybody like to step forward and express their brimming confidence that the $20 billion will be effectively used to repair the environmental damage?

So this isn’t about the fact that BP screwed up…although, for the record, they most certainly did. If the cost of putting things right exceeds their worth, then I see no earthly reason why they shouldn’t be subjected to corporate euthanasia and parted out like an old car at a junkyard.

Leaving that aside though, Barton’s original statement was completely right. The precedent is horrible. In fact, the spectacle of the Congressman being bludgeoned into apologizing the very same day raises very disturbing possibilities. The appearance — to me, anyway — is that Republicans and democrats alike who work in the beltway are putting together a phantom industry. It is an avenue toward fantastic profits to be enjoyed by the non-producers.

I know, it’s the beltway. I really shouldn’t be surprised.

Is it entirely unreasonable of me to suggest that such a phantom industry of non-producers, should perhaps enjoy all of the power of real industries but no more than that? Think about what we’re looking at here, it is utterly reprehensible. We already saw it with the Tobacco settlement. Now this phony industry is bullying Congressmen who speak inconvenient truths.

Think about any other business doing this. Grabbing a Congressman by the lapels and giving him the “Don’t ever take sides against The Family again, Fredo” speech.

I’ll just come out and say it. There is not a single thing wrong with what Congressman Barton said. Well, except perhaps for the apology. Krauthammer’s right, that was dumb. Even if you agreed with it, and I most certainly don’t, it was not Barton’s to give.

But “shakedown” is absolutely accurate. Who can give me a qualifying criteria for that word, that does not apply here? Who can provide me with some assurances that this won’t change the landscape of corporate America forever? BP was subjected to entirely legitimized extortion, the chosen enforcement angle of a brand new subterranean alternative legal framework.

Not because they killed fish, shrimp, birds and whales. Not because they despoiled beaches. But because they were, in the moment at hand, unpopular. So who’s next?

I’ll say something else; something that I hope just cuts right to the quick. Unkindly.

Our nation’s Constitution provides us with two critically important assurances: That We, The People will be in charge of our government — that they will fear us, rather than the other way around — and that, once we are put in charge of our own destinies, we will enjoy an absolute and unfettered right to our own profits and property.

I wish we could muster up just a fraction of the righteous outrage to safeguard the latter, as we do to protect the former. I could go up to Capitol Hill tomorrow and say “I don’t think you should be able to vote if you haven’t paid attention to what’s gong on,” and people would be ready to tar & feather me. You know they would. I could threaten to take the vote away from…people with very low IQ’s. People who don’t know the name “Barack Obama.” People who won’t take the time to go out and vote unless ACORN offers them a ride and a free pack of smokes. Anybody. I make noise about disenfranchising someone, and critics will come out of the woodwork.

Politicians make all these restrictions on how much money the “corporations” can make, and when they can keep it…it goes without saying all these restrictions apply to everybody else…and we just, aw well, that’s alright. Carry on.

“Don’t Get Mad, Get Even”

Sunday, June 6th, 2010

Frank Rich of the New York Times…makes an ass out of himself yet again.

The frantic and fruitless nationwide search for the president’s temper is now our sole dependable comic relief from the tragedy in the gulf. Only The Onion could have imagined the White House briefing last week where a CBS News correspondent asked the press secretary, Robert Gibbs, if he had “really seen rage from the president” and to “describe it.” Gibbs came up with Obama’s “clenched jaw” and his order to “plug the damn hole.” (Thank God he hadn’t settled for “darn.”) This evidence did not persuade anyone, least of all Spike Lee, who could be found on CNN the next night begging the president, “One time, go off!”

Not going to happen. Obama will never unleash the anger of the antagonists in “Do the Right Thing” or match James Carville’s rebooted “ragin’ Cajun” shtick. That’s not who Obama is. If he tried to go off, he’d look ridiculous. But the debate over how to raise the president’s emotional thermostat is not an entirely innocuous distraction. It allows Obama to duck the more serious doubts about his leadership that have resurfaced along with BP’s oil.

Unlike his unflappable temperament, his lingering failings should and could be corrected. And they must be if his presidency is not just to rise above the 24/7 Spill-cam but to credibly seize the narrative that Americans have craved ever since he was elected during the most punishing economic downturn of our lifetime. We still want to believe that Obama is on our side, willing to fight those bad corporate actors who cut corners and gambled recklessly while regulators slept, Congress raked in contributions, and we got stuck with the wreckage and the bills. But his leadership style keeps sowing confusion about his loyalties, puncturing holes in the powerful tale he could tell.

His most conspicuous flaw is his unshakeable confidence in the collective management brilliance of the best and the brightest he selected for his White House team — “his abiding faith in the judgment of experts,” as Joshua Green of The Atlantic has put it. At his gulf-centric press conference 10 days ago, the president said he had “probably had more meetings on this issue than just about any issue since we did our Afghan review.” This was meant to be reassuring but it was not. The plugging of an uncontrollable oil leak, like the pacification of an intractable Afghanistan, may be beyond the reach of marathon brainstorming by brainiacs, even if the energy secretary is a Nobel laureate. Obama has yet to find a sensible middle course between blind faith in his own Ivy League kind and his predecessor’s go-with-the-gut bravado.

By now, he also should have learned that the best and the brightest can get it wrong — and do. His economic advisers predicted that without the stimulus the unemployment rate might reach 9 percent — a projection that was quickly exceeded even with the stimulus and that has haunted the administration ever since. Other White House geniuses persuaded the president to make his fateful claim in early April that “oil rigs today generally don’t cause spills” — a particularly specious (indeed false) plank in the argument for his spectacularly ill-timed expansion of offshore oil drilling. The Times reported last week that at the administration meetings leading to this new drilling policy the subject of the vast dysfunction at the Minerals Management Service, the agency charged with regulating the drilling, never even came up.

That was pretty reasonable. I’m so glad the community of hardcore liberals won’t be listening to any of it. They’ve been having their fantasies about President Obama getting mad at least since September of ’09, and this accident with the oil spill has kicked it into high gear.

This is what democrat defeat is made of. “Life would be wonderful if only our guy would become angry!” He should kick something. No, he should yell and swear. No, he needs to rip people’s arms out of their sockets. Oh no, he needs to get all big and green and tear his shirt to shreds.

It plays in Manhattan but not in Peoria. Normal people, with no party allegiance but who decide elections, look at this stuff…they spend maybe a second or two trying to figure out how this relates to an oil leak a mile beneath the ocean’s surface. And they quite sensibly say, “You people are whacked in the head. We can’t afford to let you decide anything.”

We have intellectual children doing the work of grown-ups. Few things illustrate this as starkly as when the kiddies start to debate the proper display of anger, in situations in which anger does nothing to solve anything.

Here’s where the Frank Rich trolley really comes off the tracks.

Obama’s excessive trust in his own heady team is all too often matched by his inherent deference to the smartest guys in the boardroom in the private sector. His default assumption seems to be that his peers are always as well-intentioned as he is. The single biggest mistake he has made in managing the gulf disaster was his failure to challenge BP’s version of events from the start. The company consistently understated the spill’s severity, overestimated the progress of the repair operation and low-balled the environmental damage. Yet the White House’s designated point man in the crisis, Adm. Thad Allen of the Coast Guard, was still publicly reaffirming his trust in the BP chief executive, Tony Hayward, as recently as two weeks ago, more than a month after the rig exploded.

It’s not that his conclusions are unreasonable, Lord knows there’s enough blame to go around. It is his premises. They scare the hell out of me.

Consider what is being presumed here. BP does not have good intentions, but Barack Obama does. Perhaps these are both true. And to give him proper credit, he did say “seems to be.” But where does he ever subject them to serious question, and upon which facts did he decide them?

This is part of a very old and very troubling mindset among American liberals. If you ideologically lean toward the hard-left and you are on a government payroll of any kind…well then, the discussion is over. Your motives are not to be challenged, they are as pure as the driven snow.

BP’s record, as Rich goes on to point out, is pretty awful. That is why they are subject to government oversight and audits. Our liberals made us do it, you see; they figure if you work for an oil company you must want to dump toxic sludge into our waterways. They saw it on Captain Planet and the Planeteers. Therefore, whatever an oil company wants to do, we have to get our well-intentioned government people to say it’s alright before it can proceed.

And they did say it was alright.

This is the kind of logical cul de sac in which you find yourself trapped, when you think like a child while confronting grown-up issues like this. We’ll just put super-good, super-well-intentioned people in charge of things, and then everything will work all wonderfully. Until they don’t, then we have to do it again. The government regulators, they must have been well-intentioned but sleepy.

The idea that they could all be Looking Out For Number One, and also somewhat well-intentioned, just doesn’t even enter the realm of consideration.

The point is, this is ultimately why liberal policies don’t work. They rely on putting “Perfect People” in charge of everything, and when things still don’t work out the thing to do is put “More Perfect People” in charge of the Perfect People.

And to get mad.

How does an adult handle it? Well, funny you should ask. I’m looking at Allahpundit’s column in which he “gulps” that, in light of the disaster involving the BP oil spill, 51% now oppose new offshore drilling…

Opposing Offshore DrillingIt’s a poll of adults, not registered or likely voters, but there’s no reason to doubt the trend. A Gallup poll taken last week showed a double-digit reversal in just two months between whether energy production or the environment should be a higher priority for America. A Quinnipiac poll from mid-May showed 53 percent support for continuing offshore drilling, but that was before “top kill” failed. Now, per CBS, the majority is pointing the other way.

And I don’t see what all the gulping is about. Offshore drilling is becoming increasingly unpopular; of course it is, I’d be wondering about peoples’ sanity if it were not.

My grown-up take on it is this: Lots of people say offshore drilling is too risky, so fine. Move the drilling inland. Drill on land. Open the Bakken, open ANWR. Any environmentalists get in the way, show ’em a picture of an oil-covered pelican from the Gulf, then kick ’em out of the way just like “The Rock” Obama. Maybe give ’em a taste of their own medicine: “Oh if you get in my way you must want more dead birds,” something like that. Can’t say they don’t have it comin’.

A majority of respondents, a growing one, agrees with this approach right? Off shore drilling is too dangerous. Let’s do the environmentally conscientious thing, tell the environmentalists to get lost, and drill on land where we can manage whatever mishaps take place.

Then we don’t have to worry about getting mad. We don’t have to worry about getting even. We don’t have to put “perfect” people in charge of things or wonder about what their intentions are.

Unless I’m missing something here?

You Can’t Cite the Spill as Evidence That Big Government Works Well

Thursday, June 3rd, 2010

Jim Geraghty, National Review Online:

President Obama, speaking in Pittsburgh, today:

But I also understand that throughout our nation’s history, we have balanced the threat of overreaching government with the dangers of unfettered markets. We’ve provided a basic safety net — because any one of us might experience hardship at some time in our lives, and may need some help getting back on our feet. And we have recognized that there have been times when only government has been able to do what individuals couldn’t do and corporations wouldn’t do.

Not on that list: Fix a leaking drill hole in the Gulf of Mexico.

That’s how we have railroads and highways; public schools and police forces. That’s how we’ve made possible scientific research that’s led to medical breakthroughs like the vaccine for hepatitis B and technological wonders like GPS. That’s how we have Social Security, a minimum wage, and laws to protect the food we eat, the water we drink, and the air we breathe. That’s how we have rules to ensure that mines are safe and that oil companies pay for the spills they cause.

Except that recent months have shown big government to be asleep at the switch on those fronts. The other side of the aisle keeps arguing that we need bigger and more expensive government, but it never seems to be all that much better; we find federal employees accepting gifts from those they regulate and watching pornography at work, taking all of five minutes to approve last-minute equipment design changes, going whitewater rafting with their wives as part of “official business,” EPA administrators making plans to attend Democratic fundraisers, etc.

Citing the oil spill while making the case for a more expansive and more powerful government doesn’t require the audacity of hope, just audacity.

How come it’s so rare that I hear that word “greed” attached to government? What is the mentality at work here, that relies on the premise that this is a purely private-sector concept? Is it a personal bias or is it just laziness?

We’re Too Broke To Be This Stupid

Tuesday, June 1st, 2010

Mark Steyn:

Back in 2008, when I was fulminating against multiculturalism on a more or less weekly basis, a reader wrote to advise me to lighten up, on the grounds that “we’re rich enough to afford to be stupid.”

Two years later, we’re a lot less rich. In fact, many Western nations are, in any objective sense, insolvent. Hence last week’s column, on the EU’s decision to toss a trillion dollars into the great sucking maw of Greece’s public-sector kleptocracy. It no longer matters whether you’re intellectually in favour of European-style social democracy: simply as a practical matter, it’s unaffordable.

How did the Western world reach this point? Well, as my correspondent put it, we assumed that we were rich enough that we could afford to be stupid.

Irritating, because some of us didn’t need the lesson. The snarky reader had already lost us with the implication that stupidity is a luxury affordable to the wealthy. If that’s the case, then how come when I am so privileged to make the social connection to those from a more affluent class than Yours Truly, albeit only on a temporary basis, I find them putting so much more effort into trying not to do stupid things?

If You’re a Goof-Off, You Can Afford to Bully People

Tuesday, June 1st, 2010

Go back and read that headline again. Think about informal, small-group human politics. Imagine you’re in a group of people, perhaps a work/office environment, and you want to bully everyone else into doing things your way.

If you’re the work-a-holic, it isn’t going to work out. You’ll be seen as what you are, which is a buttinski meanie-cow.

But the goof-offs, as you’ll see in the video below, manage to make this work for them just fine. They get to point their goof-off fingers in the air, make some kind of proclamation, and start waggling that lazy finger in the faces of people who’ve managed to get a whole lot more work done, and tell them what to do.

In fact, how many little kids movies have you seen in which the moral of the parable, realized in the last fifteen minutes of the film, has something to do with not working so hard. How many doofus-dad movies have you seen that are doofus-dad movies because doofus-dad barely manages to figure out “Hey! I spend too many hours at the office! I need to spend more of my life trying to figure out what my (step)kids want, and making sure they get it!”

Watch CBS News Videos Online

Know what I think? I think the desire to boss around total strangers comes first. The desire for more vacation time is simply an outgrowth of that, because you can afford to be a control-freak if you’re for more leisure but you can’t afford to be one if you want more work to get done.

Most of the “revolutions” arriving in our sterilized, pasteurized, overly-mature, overripe, metastasizing society lately adhere to this central theme: Things aren’t cushy enough, and we gots ta have a new law. And the motivation? Very rarely does anyone say now that I see things work a certain way from my experience building something, we’ve got to do x x and x. No, as you can see in the video above, it so often comes from consensus. The “aw gee Ma, everybody else is doing it” argument.

This is the kind of thing that achieves momentum with people, when they’re bored. How is it that we’re so stressed out about our economic situation, and at the same time, we’re bored? That’s the other problem. We don’t see our economic wherewithal, or lack thereof, as a consequence of our actions. Here’s this differential between the way things are and the way we want them to be, and — nobody grabs a hammer & nails. Nobody goes looking for firewood. Nobody talks to anybody else about bartering something, or “Where’s the best place to buy a (fill in the blank).” Our national character has changed; now, the energy is immediately, automatically, channeled into that new law we need to have.

And then everything will really be perfect.

But since only goof-offs can get away with such bullying, the new law never, ever, ever has to do with getting more work done or more business transacted. That won’t happen. And yet this frenzied, chaotic construction of the out-of-control nanny state, will continue.

Hat tip to Boortz.

America’s Culture War

Monday, May 24th, 2010

Arthur C. Brooks

This is not the culture war of the 1990s. It is not a fight over guns, gays or abortion. Those old battles have been eclipsed by a new struggle between two competing visions of the country’s future. In one, America will continue to be an exceptional nation organized around the principles of free enterprise — limited government, a reliance on entrepreneurship and rewards determined by market forces. In the other, America will move toward European-style statism grounded in expanding bureaucracies, a managed economy and large-scale income redistribution. These visions are not reconcilable. We must choose.
I call this a culture war because free enterprise has been integral to American culture from the beginning, and it still lies at the core of our history and character. “A wise and frugal government,” Thomas Jefferson declared in his first inaugural address in 1801, “which shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government.” He later warned: “To take from one, because it is thought that his own industry and that of his fathers has acquired too much, in order to spare to others, who, or whose fathers, have not exercised equal industry and skill, is to violate arbitrarily the first principle of association, the guarantee to every one of a free exercise of his industry and the fruits acquired by it.” In other words, beware government’s economic control, and woe betide the redistributors.

…is the latest to see the difference between Architects and Medicators.

Architects tend to see property and wealth as compensation for time, services or goods. Consequently, they see an unusually high personal accumulation of wealth as a sign of productivity, efficiency, or possibly theft.

Medicators do not see material property as a metric. Their tendency is to envision wealth as a desirable commodity that is distributed randomly. They see a distribution that should have taken place, and another distribution that really did take place — these two are always different.

Brooks continues with a perplexing question:

The irony is that, by wide margins, Americans support free enterprise. A Gallup poll in January found that 86 percent of Americans have a positive image of “free enterprise,” with only 10 percent viewing it negatively. Similarly, in March 2009, the Pew Research Center asked individuals from a broad range of demographic groups: “Generally, do you think people are better off in a free-market economy, even though there may be severe ups and downs from time to time, or don’t you think so?” Almost 70 percent of respondents agreed that they are better off in a free-market economy, while only 20 percent disagreed.

In fact, no matter how the issue is posed, not more than 30 percent of Americans say they believe we would fare better without free markets at the core of our system. When it comes to support for free enterprise, we are essentially a 70-30 nation.

So here’s a puzzle: If we love free enterprise so much, why are the 30 percent who want to change that culture in charge?

And an observation…

The irony is that it is the 30 percent coalition, not the 70 percent majority, that is fundamentally materialistic. What do they consider the greatest problem of poor people in America? Insufficient income. What would be evidence of a fairer society? Greater income equality. For the leaders of the 30 percent coalition, money does buy happiness — as long as it is spread evenly. That is why redistribution of income is a fundamental goal and why free enterprise, which rewards some people and penalizes others, cannot be trusted.

…which I’ve been noticing, myself, for awhile…

Architects are not concerned about whether someone else possesses more wealth than they do. Their concern over whether someone else possesses more skill, begins and ends on the question of whether or not that other person can help them in some way, and whether there may be low-hanging fruit for them in the self-improvement department.

Medicators don’t want anybody else to have something they don’t have, be it skill or money. Jealousy is a common failing for the Medicator. They easily fall prey to “Tall Poppy” syndrome.

“The Wussification of the Workplace”

Wednesday, May 19th, 2010

Anchoress, hat tip to Gerard:

A man I know began working 20 years ago at a large corporation that he deemed it a pleasure to work for. The CEO and founder was (gasp!) a commoner, an ordinary engineer who had an idea and ran with it. Perhaps because he had worked for a living, and had not simply stepped out of a “good” school with an MBA, he knew how to treat the people who worked for him; compensation was generous; enthusiasm and imagination brought perks, and morale was high. People worked late because they were excited; they wanted to keep working.

Then the CEO sold his enormously successful company to a corporate giant. Out went the upper management that had been honed “from the ranks,” as it were. In came the suits; the “sophisticated” men and women, “from the right schools,” who could talk about what wine went with what entree, or their walking holiday in Burma, but had no understanding of the dreamers (and engineers are dreamers, before they are anything) whose knowledge and imaginations they needed to ensnare and encourage, and whose intelligence and dignity deserved respect.

Not just respect, but inclusion.

Morale quickly went down. Working for suits who knew all the “theory” of business, and how to read numbers, but had not the least understanding of what made a “human resource” so resourceful, the engineers and developers and testers and marketers and admins began to rush out the door as soon as the clock struck five. The fun was gone, the energy sapped; enthusiasm was no longer on the radar.
These suited MBA’s can’t seem to get it. Huddled in their enclaves, they have difficulty understanding that a hard-working engineer with excellent problem-solving skills, a positive outlook and a knack for team-building needs more than an official performance review that ends with a condescendingly vague note about his being “a valuable member” of the collective whole.
The men who built the Empire State Building stood on bare planks to work in the sky; paradoxically, they were grounded in reality, not theory. They did not have to concern themselves with tones and timbres; nor did the educated architects who dreamed up skyscrapers. One suspects that if either the man on the beam or the one with the blueprints had been approached by a tanning-booth-bronzed-and-manicured corporate bureaucrat, and asked to enumerate their “goals” as part of their “performance review” they both would have hooted at him in derision. “My goal,” the first would say, “is to not fall. It’s to stay alive so I can pick up my pay, have a beer with the wife, raise the kids and get into heaven a half-hour before the devil knows I’m dead.”

Anchoress the latest to discover the Architect-and-Medicator paradigm. I must say, every year that I see roll on by, instills in me a tiny bit more reluctance to refer to this divide in male-female terms. I keep running into these tough-as-steel Dagny Taggarts, along with their opposite pussy beta males, who upset the trend. It isn’t boy-girl. It is a way of doing one’s daily problem-solving.

Architects think.

Medicators feel.

The Architect yearns to make a difference as an individual.

Medicators long to join a collective.

Architects draw a perimeter around what they do, and enforce the perimeter, as well as the rules inside it.

Medicators seek and destroy. They become aware of something within earshot or line-of-sight that isn’t adhering to protocol, and go all control-freakish all over it.

Architects see the world as a confluence of autonomously-working objects, which come into contact with each other, and in so doing create cause-and-effect relationships with each other. This is how the Architect learns how to do things. He doesn’t see it as “grab your pencil this way, and draw the line.” He sees it as “When you drag the pencil across the paper, it makes a line.” There’s a big difference between those two statements.

The Medicator is unlikely to come up with new ways of doing things, because he learns step-by-step. What he knows how to do is all scripted, and he is therefore doomed to always learn, at most, just a piece of how to do it. Which suits him just fine. Push this button. The light will come on. But what if the light doesn’t come on?

The Architect labors toward a state of things which has not been seen before. If it has been seen before, he can’t wait to get off this project and onto a “real” one.

The Medicator labors toward a state of things that was seen exactly this time last year. He prepares reports. They are not excellent reports; the best they can be is identical to last year’s. The fabric of his very innermost mind is clerical.

The very best outcome the Architect can envision for his work, is something that ends with “er.” Taller. Bigger. Faster. More powerful. Stronger. Farther.

The very best outcome the Medicator can envision for his work, is the word “compliant.”

The world needs both to spin properly. But if both work together and conflict is entirely avoided, the Medicators will get rid of all the Architects because they care more about what everybody else is doing, and it’s in their nature to get rid of whatever doesn’t conform.

And so a civilized society will hang onto its own cajones only when its Architects become Architects with teeth. When the Architects become fearsome-when-cornered. When they are ready, willing, able — and permitted — to utter those all important words, “Begone From Here, You Medicator, And Go Do Your Medicating Someplace Else!” When the project perimeter can be enforced again.

Because every wonder-machine-of-tomorrow, needs a garage in which to get built. With big ol’ heavy wooden doors that can be locked shut.

How ObamaCare Hits Industry and Threatens Jobs

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

Short answer?

We’re democrats. We make things more widely available by making it unworkable and expensive to provide them.

Longer answer here:

The people at Zoll Medical Corporation saw a ray of hope in January when Scott Brown was elected senator from Massachusetts. Located in Chelmsford, 30 miles outside Boston, Zoll is the nation’s leading manufacturer of heart defibrillators, which save thousands of heart attack victims each year. Back in January, as the Senate race was raging, both House and Senate Democrats wanted to impose a crippling new tax on the makers of medical devices, Zoll included, to help pay for Obamacare.

The total tax on the industry would be about $2 billion a year, or $20 billion over the next decade. Companies watched nervously as lawmakers pushed ahead, first the House and then the Senate. But then Brown was elected on the promise to be the crucial Republican vote to stop health care reform. For Zoll, things were looking up.

Not anymore. The bill passed by the House Sunday night contains a particularly damaging version of the $20 billion hit for the medical device industry, meaning Zoll and other medical device makers could well be headed for hard times.

“We believe that the tax will cost us somewhere between $5 million and $10 million a year,” says Richard Packer, Zoll’s chairman and chief executive officer. “Our profit in 2009 was $9.5 million.”

My letter to my senators, on a different subject which was the S&L bailouts Fannie/Freddie mess, politely inquired if the motto for the 111th Congress was “Our approach to any given problem is to make sure no one can earn any money providing a solution to it.” Now, I think I have my answer.

A somewhat less thoughtful deliberation takes place here:

Should We, The People try to strike the law down? Charles Krauthammer is not optimistic:

Neo-Neocon (hat tip to Gerard once again) provides a much needed sanity check:

I hear this defeatist attitude nearly everywhere. I could understand it if the nay-saying came from Democrats as a taunt, but it comes from Republicans as a lament. I disagree with the idea. One thing’s for sure, though—if most conservatives and Republicans have the same attitude as Krauthammer, it certainly won’t be repealed.

So I think this sort of talk needs to stop. Remember, there is no precedent for this bill and how it was passed against the will of the people, and we should not imagine that any precedent about not repealing entitlements would hold, either. As I’ve said several times, we are in uncharted waters. Let’s try not to lose our compass—and we may need our celestial navigation, as well.

Kruathammer and NN could both be right here. This is the flaw with American constitutional government; it is based on a theory that doesn’t really work. What happens if Congress passes a blatantly unconstitutional bill and then the President signs it? The theory is that it is eventually appealed, all the way up to the Supreme Court and SCOTUS will have the final word. All the stars in the heavens could line up for the unconstitutional law, The People could want it like the dickens, all the politicians who know where the bodies are buried want it…but the Constitution is not compatible with it, so out it goes.

Trouble is, this supposed “power” within our third branch of government to say so, has always been wielded out of political expediency. It was born that way, you know; Marbury vs. Madison. Chief Justice John Marshall found, in 1803, a perfectly wonderful excuse not to act.

So, if a law be in opposition to the Constitution, if both the law and the Constitution apply to a particular case, so that the Court must either decide that case conformably to the law, disregarding the Constitution, or conformably to the Constitution, disregarding the law, the Court must determine which of these conflicting rules governs the case. This is of the very essence of judicial duty.

If, then, the Courts are to regard the Constitution, and the Constitution is superior to any ordinary act of the Legislature, the Constitution, and not such ordinary act, must govern the case to which they both apply.

Those, then, who controvert the principle that the Constitution is to be considered in court as a paramount law are reduced to the necessity of maintaining that courts must close their eyes on the Constitution, and see only the law.

This doctrine would subvert the very foundation of all written Constitutions. It would declare that an act which, according to the principles and theory of our government, is entirely void, is yet, in practice, completely obligatory. It would declare that, if the Legislature shall do what is expressly forbidden, such act, notwithstanding the express prohibition, is in reality effectual. It would be giving to the Legislature a practical and real omnipotence with the same breath which professes to restrict their powers within narrow limits. It is prescribing limits, and declaring that those limits may be passed at pleasure.

My point is that as brilliant and sound as the logic may be, the resulting power has never really been brandished to comfort the afflicted or afflict the comfortable. Perhaps during that string of decisions in the 1930’s, it got as close as it’ll ever come. But in 1937 we had the disaster with “The Switch in Time That Saved Nine,” in which the Supremes fell more properly in line with Roosevelt’s agenda to save their own necks, in deference to the political realities.

It is logically unsustainable, in my view, to declare in 1935 that the AAA lacks compatibility with the Constitution, and in 1937, that the NLRA somehow has it. There never has been any logical basis for this famous Switch-In-Time. It was all politics, and always has been; our judicial branch follows the Constitution, logic, common sense, reason — when it can afford to, and no more often than that. Krauthammer does have a point.

But Neo has a point too. Where politics matter, popularity also matters; and Roosevelt’s alphabet-soup nonsense was much, much more popular than Obama’s new health care framework.

It’s like a lottery ticket: Can’t guarantee you’ll win if ya buy one, but I can guarantee you won’t if you don’t. And besides, in logic, in spirit, the law is unconstitutional. Congress is making us buy something? To simply exist as a living thing, and therefore to be susceptible to illness, is “interstate commerce”?

If repealing it or striking it down is too complicated to even try to do, then I daresay the same must be said of anything that can be done by anyone in this country. What’s the point of any of it?

Update: You who are looking for hope, would be well-served by looking here I think.

“More Facts and Figures to Make You Mad”

Thursday, February 18th, 2010

Nealz Nuze:

So here are a few tidbits to gnaw on, thanks to the Wall Street Journal:

When the Democrats took control of Congress in 2007, the debt held by the public was 36.2% of GDP. It rose to 40.2% the next year. This year it will be about 63.6%, next year 68.6%, then 77% of GDP in 2020. And the Obama administration’s budget estimates 218% in 2050.

The deficit in 2007 was $160 billion. In the next year the Pelosi-Reid Congress took it up to $458 billion, and when President Obama came into office in 2009 it hit $1.4 trillion. The current 2010 projected deficit is $1.6 trillion, which will lead to a tripling of our national debt from 2008 to 2020.

The Washington Post’s Robert Samuelson calculated that to fund all the future deficit expenditures would require taxes to increase “by roughly 50 percent from the average 1970-2009 tax burden.”

Best Sentence LXXXIII

Wednesday, February 17th, 2010

The eighty-third award for the Best Sentence I’ve Heard Or Read Lately (BSIHORL) goes to the aptly named That’s Right.

As is occasionally the case, it’s a little bit more than one sentence. Oh well. Deal.

Sometimes I Feel Sorry for Barack Obama
Any sensible, rational person learns three things from looking at and studying the political philosophy best characterized as “collectivism” and that is that, 1) it didn’t work, 2) it will never work, and 3) most importantly, it cannot work. Barack Obama is simply an absorber and a regurgitator; he is not a learner. His comments in his early life, on the campaign and during his first year in office are literally plagiarized from any collegiate socialist textbook. There’s no learning involved. There’s no contemplation involved. There is only a desperate need to believe in something that he hadn’t found anywhere else.

Hat tip to Camp of the Saints.

Memo For File CVII

Monday, February 15th, 2010

I’ve decided the time has come to honor the advice of The Bastidge, and follow it. There is certainly a valid point to be made that the world, and therefore the populace that inhabits it, straddles a chasmatic divide separating two unacknowledged communities, and that each of these communities in perfect isolation would enjoy a harmony that must elude us as we co-exist with each other as a monolith. The divide has something to do with order versus chaos, clarity versus obfuscation, substance versus packaging, individual rights versus community obligations, opportunity versus security, pulling your weight versus fitting-in, logic versus emotion.

We’re seeing it right now with the health care debate. And it substantiates the point all the more when we observe that much of the controversy and dissention swirls around this ramshackle, oxymoronic thing called a “public option.”

I called this “Yin and Yang” out of a desire to get to the bottom of what causes people to pursue, throughout their entire lives, one way of thinking over another. The Yin work within boundaries; the Yang do not. The concept is centuries old, and dates back to periods in different world cultures in which femininity itself was a concept synonymous with the stewardship of quiet, contemplative female chores. In societies like this, it naturally follows that men think of things the way women do in ours, and women must think of things the way men do in ours. Here’s a litmus test: Friend of a friend buys a new car. Or, gets carjacked. It’s a great story to tell for sure, but who is to spend time talking about it?

In an agricultural setting, what happens to one has at least the likelihood of impacting everybody else. And so it makes good sense for people to get together somewhere and swap stories. But these are “Shut Your Girl Mouth Men Are Talking” societies. To whatever extent checking-this-out evolves to become a necessary household chore, it is a manly chore. A railroad’s coming to town, maybe (how does this change things?). Farmer Brown’s crops got wiped out by the cold weather (are ours next?). Who goes down to the saloon to find out about this stuff. It’s not the Mama; there are meals to be cooked, a floor to be swept.

Now, we have the automobile. The printing press. The Internet. Womens’ Lib. And when the time comes to swap tidbits of useful news, who does that? Here is what a lot of people are missing: This is a perfect reversal. We do not have mead halls where the men go to drink beer out of steins and compare prices of bushels of corn. It would be awesome if we did, for sure. But it’s not happening, because the gender roles in our society have flipped around in a perfect one-eighty. Men retreat into their own little worlds, not unlike the kitchens that enveloped their great-grandmothers. Their “kitchens” may be just about anything: A computer with a stubborn virus on it; a classic car that’s being rebuilt; a ham radio or a model train set down in the basement; but there is always a project, it always has a border around it, and that’s what men do.

This awesome Art of Manliness article offers a chronicling of what happened to our mead halls. It began, irony of ironies, with us guys being decent and kind enough to give the ladies the right to vote. Prohibition followed that, and…

For centuries, a man could visit a bar and be in the exclusive presence of other men. Because drinking was seen as a corrupting influence on the “purity and innocence” of women, bars were completely off limits to ladies (exceptions were made for prostitutes, of course). Out of the presence of women and children, men could open up more and revel in their masculinity over a mug of cold ale. However, the bar as a men’s only hangout would quickly see its demise during the dry years of Prohibition.

By banning alcohol, Prohibition forced drinking underground. Speakeasy owners, desperate to make a buck, accepted all drinkers into their establishments, regardless of gender. Moreover, the economic and political empowerment women experienced during the 1920s and 30s made drinking by women more acceptable. By the time Prohibition was repealed, the female presence at the local watering hole had become a common appearance.

World War II only further eroded the male exclusivity of bars and pubs. As more women entered the workforce, it became acceptable to socialize with their male co-workers in taverns and lounges after work.

Today, there aren’t many bars around that cater only to men (gay bars being an obvious exception). Instead, bars have become a place where the sexes come together to mingle and look for a special someone.

Note the article’s title: “The Decline of Male Space.” Men used to own the world. Now, we don’t. We have relinquished the privilege and obligation of socializing, turned it over to the gals, and toddled off to the basement to go play with our train sets. The women do what we used to do — they hold court and they compare their notes with each other, try to see if there’s some hidden meaning of everyday events that might affect the family.

This is precisely what their great-great-grandfathers did. The very same thing.

And so I grow weary of having to explain this. Yes, “Yin” is traditionally female, although I use it to describe a personality attribute that predominantly is to be found in our males. Yang, likewise, is traditionally male, although it describes things our women usually do and that our men, typically, don’t. The concept didn’t flip around, the gender roles did. And so, I have to concede that The Bastidge is accurate in his critique:

Your theory’s alright, if a bit vague and rambling. But Yin and Yang have a specific meaning, and you’re using them more or less backwards.

Yin is a concept roughly aligned with the female, but the concepts covered in your theory- group consciousness, socializing, consensus, softness, weakness, emotion, passivity, are all associated with it.

Yang is roughly male, but also strong, factual, direct, resolute, hard, aggresiive, etc.

In their crudest, most basic form, yin and yang refer to the female and male sexual organs.

My use of these names was arbitrary anyway, and that was on purpose. For the last five years I have seen these as placeholders for something more descriptive that would, and should, come later. After I’d given it another think. Well, with this morass of a health care “debate” that has been taking place, and will surely flare up again later this year, I’ve been forced to give it another think. Besides of which, I’ve met lots and lots of manly-male guys who do their thinking in a much “Yangy-er” way than a lot of the females…so the genders don’t fit well in any case.

And I think the terms are these:

Architects and Medicators.

The word “Architect” is chosen with care. Way back in our history, when written language was a novel idea, architects were “master builders” (which is the etymology of the term). These things they labored to construct, with every little piece of it not put in place properly, could very likely collapse and wipe out an entire family in a heartbeat. And so laws were passed condemning failed architects to a death by stoning (Code of Hammurabi, Law 229). That’s a little gruesome, but it had the effect of galvanizing their chosen profession into a noble discipline.

In their own little community, a “Climategate” e-mail scandal would not, could not, have been tolerated even for an instant. Things were the way they were — period. An angle was ninety degrees, or it wasn’t — period. Up was up and down was down — period. There was no room for bastardizing the peer review process into some mutation of what it was intended to be, to ostracize and excoriate colleagues who spoke measurable truth. The architect, hundreds of years before Christ, lived in an object-oriented world and thought about that world in an object-oriented way.

Okay, now let’s look at what I’ve set up as the polar opposite.

“Medicator,” similarly, is chosen with deliberate thought and intent. “Physician” doesn’t work because physicians are supposed to adhere to the Hypocratic Oath and First Do No Harm. The verb “medicate” is applied to addictions, primary among those being mind-altering substances. It speaks to a process of adjusting one’s emotional response to reality as a first priority, with recognizing that reality as a distinctly second-place priority. Medicators do not heal. Nor do they seek to do harm. The long-term welfare of the body is simply outside of their concern. It isn’t that they don’t care, it’s that there is an emotional well-being that they prize more highly.

To recognize reality as it really is, and to adjust one’s emotional profile in response to the reality so that it is unconditionally cheery, are two mutually-exclusive goals. It may not seem to be the case when reality happens to be pleasant. But when reality is unpleasant you can choose to wrestle with it to whatever extent is required to fix a problem, or you can choose to ignore it in order to keep your emotions on a high and even keel. The sacrifice of long-term satisfaction in order to achieve a short-term high is, of course, a defining hallmark of medicating.

One Revolution AwayNow, these people trying to shove this fustercluck of a health care bill down our throats: It’s no mystery at all where they come down. They are medicators. It is not a primary goal of theirs to actually treat illnesses, heal the sick, bring “healthcare” or “access to healthcare” to “the uninsured.” Nor are they trying — architect-style — to solve any kind of a problem, President Obama’s unceasing speechifying notwithstanding. Think on it: When is the last time you heard anyone in Washington use those phrases above? Been awhile, hasn’t it? No, lately it’s about “getting this done.” Beating the opposition. Winning. Make things the way they/we want them to be. But wait just a second…we’re half way through an election cycle, one that began with their decisive victory. They already beat the opposition. Their victory is forgotten, however, just like a druggie’s high, and they find themselves incomplete, hungry, after-buzzed, struck with a raging case of Delerium Tremens if they don’t score another victory. And after they get that done, of course, they’ll need another and another and another. They live out their lives on a hairpin turn, just like a druggie. Time loses all meaning for them. Bliss is constantly one hit away.

It’s not about health care, of course. It’s about how we think about the world around us. The medicator lives in a gilded cage, waiting passively for someone to come along and fix the latest problem. He does not solve real problems, he does not support anyone who would solve real problems, he does not live in reality. He considers reality itself to be an inimical force. This, ironically, provides a liberating effect. Of course it’s all about the way one does one’s thinking to perceive the world around him, and with someone else assuming the burden of actually fixing the problem, the thinker enjoys the luxury of thinking about things as a non-architect. In a non-object-oriented way. With every little thing on God’s creation, melted together into a sloppy mess. And this overly-medicated “thinker” does not think, in turn, about the resulting mess; instead, he picks up an emotional vibe from it, and shares it with other self-medicated thinkers. That’s the model of reality as perceived by the medicator: A great big ball of warm, gooey wax that’s all melted together, and is now giving off vibes. Hopefully good ones, but if they’re bad ones then someone else needs to fix something — or it’s time for another “hit” of something via one-more-revolution.

Disciplining a child provides a similar contrast. To the architect, everything is cause and effect: The child engaged in undesirable behavior, therefore something needs to be modified about what the child perceives as proper or improper. The solution is to teach the child a new taboo. This can be done through direct communication if the child shares the desire that his behavior should be proper, or through punishment if he does not. First of all the transgression has to be properly categorized — bad attitude, or simple misunderstanding? Then we assess what the child understands about etiquette and go from there. In the Architect’s world, that’s what we do.

In the Medicator’s world, the exercise really is one of medication! Concentrating on something is not a task that was, for one reason or another, failed in this case; it is an ability that has gone missing because the child’s “brain isn’t wired quite right.” Of course the solution is to put the child on a prescription for some goop that will alter his emotional state, and make the process “easier for him.” (It’s nearly always a him.)

Another acid test is when a complex system of any kind starts producing the wrong output, because some unit within it starts to go all wonky — with all the other units in good order. To the Architect and Medicator alike, this is a no-brainer, but they come up with polar-opposite solutions. The Medicator wants to chuck the whole thing and start from scratch, whereas the Architect sees a puzzle to be solved in separating what’s good from what’s busted. Think of Blondie and Dagwood getting in one of their matrimonial melees about whether to call the plumber.

I commented last month that I had finally expunged the malware from my HP Mini notebook. My victory announcement was premature, it turned out. The beastie lived on, downloading other crap onto my platform. It shames me to say it, but if I were to act purely on logic and reasonable cost-benefit analyses, I would have taken the “scorched earth” approach much, much earlier than I did, and lost a lot less time. It became an Ahab/whale thing; I lost sight of fixing the problem, and concentrated instead on figuring out entirely useless trivia about it. Where’d I pick up this thing? What exactly does it contaminate? How come these packages over here can detect it and fool themselves into thinking they’re cleaning it, when they’re not? How come that package over there seems to have “wounded” it (toward the end, it locked up the netbook instead of popping up an ad, which is what it was clearly trying to do)…but can’t quite get all of it?

See, neither Architects or Medicators enjoy a monopoly on always having the right idea. Medicators throw things away in bulk — they are much more inclined to announce “this entire thing is bolluxed!” That is often the right approach, and I have to make a confession…my second one, now…that I’ve often missed out on this advantage when it comes up. Medicators seem to think life has no puzzles in it, none whatsoever. And they probably think this because, in the world they construct around themselves by accepting some responsibilities and simply walking away from some other ones, they’re absolutely right. Choices confront them — choices in which the wrong answer results in some kind of personal suffering — and they become petulant, unpleasant, and then someone else swoops in and solves it for them.

In their world, the question of who gets the “rep” as a problem solver, is completely isolated from the record of who did or didn’t actually solve problems. At no time has this been more evident, than this first year of watching our new President struggle with the demands of His new job. He is a dedicated Medicator. He fixes nothing. The only responsibility He takes is to refine the emotional buzz that comes from this thing or that one…and having failed even at that, He has a ready finger-of-blame to point somewhere else so He can give Himself a good report card. Which He did, actually. That one single act speaks volumes not only to how He thinks about the world and the challenges within it; it is a tip-off to how medicators think as well. You’ll notice this about them if you know some really dedicated ones personally. They enter into conflict with others, because they tend to demand the final word about their own work. It was up to par, the other guy just has a mistaken interpretation of “par.” They followed the instructions they were given, it’s the other guy’s fault for not giving them the right ones.

Running a meeting is yet another good litmus test. Some meeting chairs do it right: Agenda item, question, answer, does anyone have any objections, next agenda item — boom, boom, boom. Others engage in this ludicrous and time-consuming practice of using the forum to adjust the emotional tenor of the participants, as if it’s a high school pep rally. Buying a car: Any salesman will tell you, some people turn their thoughts to the TCO with considerations such as gas mileage, service records, availability of parts. Others worry overly much about how they look when they’re tooling around in the car, what strangers will think of them.

Homeowners’ Association bylaws can be written to accommodate one of these halves of humanity, or the other, or both. This is a rather interesting situation, because the bylaws represent an attempt to “architect” a successful neighborhood, through the “medication” of the emotions of the people who observe it. Here and there, though, we see stories in the news surrounding HOA bylaws that are, to turn a rustic phrase, just plain stupid. They don’t do anything to make people feel good and it seems extravagant and far-fetched to suppose they could have anything to do with preserving the value of the property. Banning the American flag is the one example that springs immediately to mind, since those stories have a way of jumping onto the front page.

The last time we linked one of these, the story in question showcased a persistent trait among the Medicators: proxy offense.

[M]anagement told them the flags could be offensive because they live in a diverse community.

The controlling curmudgeon lays down the curmudgeonly rule, and the curmudgeon is silent on whether he or she personally finds the emblem, the e-mail, the cologne, the pin-up calendar, et al, offensive. It’s much more often proxy: Some third party is offended. Or some third party could be offended. The impossible-to-meet “Could Be Interpreted As” standard of cleanliness. It is conceivably possible, therefore the contraband has to go. The curmudgeon will oversee the removal. But it’s business and not personal, see? Just like something out of The Godfather: “Tell Michael I always liked him, it was business, not personal.” Some nameless faceless anonymous person complained, or could complain.

This dedicated Architect says — Medicators really shouldn’t be running anything. They don’t want to. They don’t want the responsibility. This is why these columns are now coming out, some serious and some satirical, that speculate openly that President Obama is perhaps bored and disenchanted with His own job. I no longer consider it to be commentary outside my sphere of knowledge, to proffer that President Obama had some serious misgivings the first time He made a decision about something that had little-or-nothing to do with winning an election, saw that His decision had a direct bearing upon the outcome, and emotionally recoiled. I have seen this happen too many times, up close. In the months since then, the country has been buried in this “awkward stage” in which He tries to confront each and every single challenge with a vision that, as this-or-that chapter reaches the final page, the emotional buzz of those watching has been fine-tuned and frothed up into a desirable state of bliss. This is, I’m sure, why we’ve seen so many speeches out of Him during His first year, and will doubtless see about that many out of Him during His second.

We live in a society in which our every want and need is met, with resistance or inconvenience that is at best negligible. It may not seem like that to us at the time because we’re spoiled; we tend to mistake a temporary slow-down, or wrong turn, or setback, for a real possibility of failure in acquiring what we’re trying to acquire. Deep down, we all know we’re not really being challenged by much of anything; we will get what we are trying to get, one way or the other, so long as some minimal quantity of our peers are also trying to get the same thing. If all else fails we’ll band together and our populist rage will force someone to give it to us. We’re supposed to be so worried about “the economy” but we have our beer, our coffee, our big teevee screens. The only things that are really in jeopardy are the self-respect and dignity that come from having a job, and the same for our children. All other things are guaranteed, in one way or another. They don’t face any real jeopardy.

This state of hyper-safe hyper-civilization has aggravated the divide between — whate’er you wanna callzem, Yin and Yang, or Architects and Medicators — as I’ve pointed out before. It creates a bigger divide on such fundamental questions as: What is a good speech, anyway? What is a convincing argument? Is it thinky-thinky or feelie-feelie? In other words, do you progress systematically among the first three pillars, basing your opinions/inferences upon available fact and things-to-do upong the opinions/inferences. Or, do you just stir up a whole lot of motivating emotions in your audience, get them all outraged against some straw-man Snidely Whiplash, anti-logical exuberance for your “ideas,” Obama-style?

And the fact is, Architects have a definite idea in mind about the answer to such rudimentary questions.

Another fact is, Medicators have a definite idea about the answer as well. These ideas are not the same. They are opposites.

Another fact is, neither side is willing to budge on such issues. If you have a pulse, and a brain, and you’ve been using your brain to solve problems that confront you here and there…each day you stay alive further enmeshes you in the answer you chose, way back, before you were five years old.

And the least inconvenient fact of all is that if we cannot agree on questions like those, we aren’t going to agree on anything else.

We are engaged in a discourse between people who understand how to make real decisions, and those who do not understand this and do not seek to understand this. They don’t see the need. But since they’ve “won,” for the time being it is their job…even if they continue to find ways to weasel out of it, and blame others when the job goes undone.

So If You Wanna Be a Socialist, Whaddya Gotta Do?

Thursday, February 4th, 2010

A new poll has really got a lot of people chattering around the innerwebs and elsewhere. It says two thirds of self-identified Republicans believe President Obama is a socialist. Those who would like more people to be receptive to President Obama in general, and to His policies in particular, have responded the way they always do: Like a six year old who has no arguments. Yoooooouuuu’re Stooooooooopppiiiidddd!!!!

This argument was already hashed out a couple months into Obama’s term. Similar technique. Identify the attack as a “myth,” pick out some factoids that pose a little bit of a problem for the attack, and then act as if you’ve rained down a devastating salvo upon the argument and pronounce it “debunked.” Don’t treat it with any respect at all; that way, you can start out precisely where you want to end up, and not do any intellectual work at all.

OF ALL THE inane accusations about President Obama, the silliest has to be this: The president is a socialist.

Obama’s plans are “one big down payment on a new American socialist experiment,” asserts House minority leader John Boehner. He’s “the world’s best salesman of socialism,” says Republican Senator Jim DeMint.

“Lenin and Stalin would love this stuff,” declares Mike Huckabee. Sean Hannity derides his agenda as “socialism you can believe in.” Obama is “a radical communist,” warns kooky Alan Keyes.

“Epithets are substituting for thinking,” observes Marc Landy, professor of political science at Boston College.

Are they ever.

Well…funny thing about that. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the term rather broadly.

1 : any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods
2 a : a system of society or group living in which there is no private property b : a system or condition of society in which the means of production are owned and controlled by the state
3 : a stage of society in Marxist theory transitional between capitalism and communism and distinguished by unequal distribution of goods and pay according to work done

And I’m thinking Definition #1 qualifies Him pretty easily. President Obama is generally not neutral on the question of centralizing decision-making authority, particularly when it comes to running businesses. And He certainly isn’t generally hostile to such centralization.

If you want to assert that Obama is taking us down a road that would, if pursued to the end, ultimately lead to communism — and I’ve got a feeling a great many of those polled would say precisely that — then it becomes reasonable to qualify Him under the third definition as well.

The dictionary definitions all mirror each other so perfectly, it seems they are xeroxed from a common prototype. There is one exception: Wikipedia, the encyclopedia that anyone can edit. Unless the “mods” don’t like the edit that you did, in which case you are a “vandal” and they’ll revert it right back again.

Socialism refers to the various theories of economic organization advocating public or direct worker ownership and administration of the means of production and allocation of resources, and a society characterized by equal access to resources for all individuals with a method of compensation based on the amount of labor expended.

Not centralized control, not collective control, not government control; worker control. Got their material out of a socialist pamphlet, it would seem.

Turn to the talk page, and you’ll find a real party goin’ down.

Barack Obama is not a socialist. Anybody with even the most basic knowledge of socialism is perfectly aware of that.

Like I said. Yoooooouuuuurrrr’e Ssstttooooooooooopid!!!

And there’s more.

And besides, “national socialization” is a nonsense phrase. Get an education!
If we’re calling Obama socialist, we’d might as well call Bush fascist by those standards
I think that the widespread description of Obama as socialist is an important factor in society, particularly among the political right, but at the same time I think that it should be noted as largely baseless accusations and not as widely accepted.
Obama is not particularly seen as a socialist. The political right just uses it as a meaningless buzzword for anyone they don’t approve of. Bill Clinton was called a socialist plenty of times as well.
Obama is no sort of socialist. Period.

That is the form and substance of the counterargument. Shut up!

But this one has gotta take the cake:

Another Vandal Oh dear. While we are over here on the talk page discussing the fact that Obama is nearly as far from Socialism as Reagan yet another vandal was linking Obama into the Socialism page. I can tell this one will be on my watchpage basically indefinately.

You don’t know whether to laugh or cry. I’m sure the ostensible reason for the “watchpage basically indefinately” [sic] is so that Wikipedia preserves its value as a resource, to enhance the reasons people would have for going there, and diminish the reasons they would have for going somewhere else. Simonm223‘s achievement, I’m afraid, is the polar opposite of the intent behind it.

And no, before anyone asks: I’m not the vandal. I guess there are quite a few of us getting snookered by this.

I’m still waiting for something to save me from being hoodwinked. So far I’m not saved. One thing you will not find at that talk page, or anywhere else so far as I can see, is this: What, exactly, do you have to do to fulfill a minimalist litmus test for this word, that the Obama administration has not, in fact, done?

The whole question, once evaluated logically, would boil down to essentially that. Wouldn’t it? What am I missing here?

Apple-Milk Cycle

Thursday, February 4th, 2010

I was just wondering about this comment I put up at Old Iron & KC’s place. Background: Old Iron was noticing (with great glee) that yet another member of Canada’s upper crust elite is doing the southward walk-of-shame, turning his back on the glorious canuck ‘free” health care system to partake of some of our own services. You remember our health care system, right? That horrible awful one that needs changing so badly? And so he proceeded to grill KC about it and make her squirm a little. Or maybe a lot.

And I made the point that when you remove the meaningless details from our recent health care fiasco — I don’t know if I can write about it in the past tense or not, but God I really do hope I can — the whole thing is nothing more than another ride on the same stupid merry-go-round. And health care itself is one of the meaningless details. It’s just the latest thing to be “reformed,” or for them to try to reform, and the reform always goes the same way.

The “health care” aspect of it really doesn’t matter, because it’s the same story as any other commodity. Just name one. Education for your children, legal services, barrels of crude oil.

Trickle Up Poverty“The rich” can get ahold of it and the poor people cannot, so someone gets the idea of “reform.” No one defines what the R-word really means, because anyone who’s in a position to communicate with the public about it understands reform is only appealing until people understand what it is. So some new laws are created to make the commodity “equally available to everyone.”

Which, it turns out, doesn’t mean the poor can get it. It means the rich people can’t. And was anyone wondering why people refer to socialism as “trickle-up poverty”?

Except if you get to watch how the politicians live, up close, you see something rather interesting. Whatever the commodity is…they can get ahold of it a lot more easily than the rich people were ever able to. Proceed to re-enact the scene with Squealer and the milk & apples from George Orwell’s Animal Farm…

This cycle [is] absolutely consistent, event for event, with each and every market the United States has semi-nationalized…and the U.S. has semi-nationalized quite a lot. My country’s gutless this way; we like to go halfway on things. That way we don’t have to admit that some things work and other things don’t.

Yes, that last part is worth re-reading again. Admitting that there’s a right way & a wrong way to do something, really does take balls. Some people just don’t have ’em. They don’t want to admit this is true about anything — even though, in reality, it’s probably true about damn near everything. And so everything is “middle of the road” because of the balls these people don’t have. These loud, loud people. Their one consistency ends up being “I am absolutely opposed to the death penalty”; and then, given enough time, they’ll come across a situation that requires an exemption from even that.

So they don’t want any rules; they’re anarchists who don’t want to admit that they’re anarchists. They want every little thing to be decided on a case by case basis. They are gregarious, friendly, trusting people, and they seem to have gotten it in their heads that any “common sense” decision anybody ever makes about anything, will be to their liking. I don’t know where they get this. I don’t think they know either. But it isn’t stopping them.

Let us count all the other things worth mentioning, shall we?

1. The “Status Quo”: Irony be here. One of the hottest squares in Obama Speech Bingo is the one captioned “false choice.” As our President uses the phrase, it has diminished to the level of a thoughtless verbal tic, a reflex. He can’t stop Himself from saying it anymore. What He’s really talking about is the False Dilemma Fallacy: “When two alternatives are presented…[t]his can lend credence to the larger argument by giving the impression that the options are mutually exclusive, even though they need not be.” The irony is — quick, what’s the best possible example in recent memory? Why, it’s President Obama’s favorite dichotomy! If you’re not for the “reform”…you must be among “those who want to preserve the status quo.” How’s that work out? Can you find me a hundred people who are opposed to the reform? Won’t take long to round ’em up…now, once you have those hundred, can you promise me each and every single one of them is tickled pink with the status quo? Cross your heart & hope to die, stick a needle in your eye? Of course you can’t. At least sixty…and probably eighty…are wrestling with avoidance-avoidance conflict. President Obama’s choice is false. But he continues to repeat it. This is part of that cycle that continues to play out, across all those other events involving semi-nationalization of those other commodities. That is how they were done. You had to support the “reform”…or else you must be in favor of the “status quo,” and nobody liked the status quo. So reform it is. Except — in each and every single case — things didn’t really go so hot in the long run.

2. Debunking “Urban Myths”: Since vagueness is the best friend of the proponent of the “reform,” no one is in a position to definitively state what exactly is involved in the final “reform” plan until it has been signed into law. By which time, of course, it’s too late to talk about anything. And so as the critics do what critics are supposed to do, and enlighten the public about some of the things that really deserve attention as the details are being hashed out, the proponents highlight these concerns as “urban myths” and start to “debunk” them. Case in point? Sarah Palin’s “death panels.” Politifact named it “Lie of the Year.” I seem to recall more than one left-leaning commenter pointed out that hey, it can’t be true, the legislation hasn’t even been written yet. Well no duh…that’s kind of the point isn’t it, Sparky? Wherever there’s an unknown, you have to figure out who you’re going to be asked to trust, and how much you trust them. Even as of today, to my knowledge, the debunkers have yet to come up with a single example of a country with socialized medicine that doesn’t have some kind of Death Panel — call it what you will.

3. Aristocracy. There always is one, after all the dust has settled. The people who write the legislation that ultimately defines what kind of [insert name of commodity here] we are going to be consuming, and how it is to be apportioned among us, never, ever, ever use the same machinery to get theirs. They enjoy the exclusive use of a bypass gate. From time to time we all make a bunch of noise about it, and people get really upset. But it blows over.

4. Half a Loaf. The people who are “for” the plan, after it has been put in place, end up making such an incredible weak show of their apologia that it hardly sounds complimentary at all. Go back and read KC’s commentary about the Canadian health care system. That’s precisely what I’m talking about. The waiting is interminable and the “free” services aren’t really free, they’re expensive as all holy hell. BUT — well, but something. It’s a mix of good-and-bad. The road always leads back there…mix of good and bad. Now ask yourself this: Would you ever, in a million years, be able to sell “reform” that way to a country that hadn’t yet signed on to the reform? I can just see Obama with that one now: “Folks, Let Me Be Clear. Make No Mistake. After we enact my ‘reform,’ things are still going to suck a whole lot and suck large. It’ll be a mix of the good and the bad. But For Far Too Long, as a country we’ve been tring to make things better than they were before when we try to fix things. We need to have the courage to change, even if it’s scary change, change that makes things worse. Even bad change is better than no change at all. For you little people, I mean. I don’t need to change of course, I’m perfect as I am.” It would be honest. But I don’t think the pundits would gather the following Sunday morning to proclaim “His last speech was the Best Speech Evar, until this one, and now this is the Best Speech Evar!!” At least, I think they probably wouldn’t say that. But at this point who the hell knows.

5. NOW! President Obama took a lot of hammering over his strong-arming Congress to pass health care “by Christmas.” And after it became clear it was costing Him some support, He kept right on doing it. That’s because this is part of the cycle. It always goes this way. It happens to you, you’ll see, when you think back on your own personal past events. It’s how salesmen sell shitty things. “Of course you don’t have to sign today, but I have another couple interested in this house, matter of fact they came by here just the other day…hey why don’t we go to my office for some coffee, and you can sign some papers and at least get your name in? Have you got your checkbook?” This is starkly at odds with the other thing that happens, about the status quo. It’s supposed to be such a widespread realization, an undeniable one, that the status quo reeks so much. If that was really the case, and a point presented honestly, you’d be able to put your “reform” on a table and let it just sit there, while the representatives eventually come ’round to the unavoidable conclusion that buying-in is just the smart thing to do. See, that is how good products are sold. But the Apple-Milk bandwagon cannot afford to tolerate it. It’s like a “gorgeous” actress whose time has passed, one who is overly-reliant on the perfect makeup and lighting. Up close, she doesn’t look that good and she damn well knows it. So it has to be sold now, now, now! When we buy things for our household, a lot of us raise a red flag when we hear that pitch. Somehow, with public policy, a lot of us don’t.

6. Bad Examples. Even though nobody can say anything good about this “reform” after all’s been said & done, other jurisdictions will seek to emulate it as if it had been wildly successful. The results here will be far superior to the results there, the proponents (in the new country) will say. The same basic framework may have been tried a dozen times…a hundred times…and failed each and every single time. Still people will want to go for it. They’ll say the reason it didn’t work out too well in whoozeewotsitplace is — well, the right people weren’t in charge. Some variant of that theme. You know why that is? It’s because the proponents aren’t really proponents of the plan per se. They are proponents of a lifestyle that is associated with the plan; the lifestyle that has to do with sacrificing opportunity and freedom for the sake of a little temporary security. There is something obsessive-compulsive and manic-depressive about viewing life through this lens. People who do it that way want everyone else they know to do it that way, too. So the plan is to the lifestyle, you might say, as a man-carved idol is to the deity it is supposed to represent. It’s just a manifestation. If prosperity surrounds the idol, this is testament to the power and the benevolence of the deity. But if there is suffering wherever the idol goes, it ceases to carry any symbolic weight and is no longer representative of the will or karma involved in the deity. The stupid sculptor must not have carved it right. Our village is dying, and our suffering has been most acute since this idol was put up, but our deity is a good one.

My 42 Definitions of a Strong Society

Saturday, January 30th, 2010

Yes, once again it is time to dig into the obsessive-compulsive-list-making “what’s been ripening in the innards of the smartphone” file. And nobody disagrees with me about any of it.

At least, when talking-out-loud most people don’t disagree with much of it. Being a liberal, lately, seems to involve saying something to the effect of “Oh in a perfect world I wish (insert some of what follows here)…BUT…we have all these problems, so therefore we must ‘invest’ in my program.” And being a “moderate” liberal versus an “extreme” liberal, seems more than anything else to have to do with how quickly the liberal gets to that “but.”

Regarding what makes a society free, strong and healthy, there does not appear to be a lot of disagreement. Except for craven disagreement, the disagreement that must cower out of sight, hiding behind red herrings.

Some of these things can be measured, in service of producing an actual number. Where that is possible, and the number is found to be in a decline, that place is coming off the rails. So you can probably form a guess about my thoughts regarding the direction our country has been heading for the last year.

1. Taboo versus Law. There is a vast, yawning gap between laws that are written down, and unenforced cultural taboos that are universally observed as a sign of respect the individual pays to the sensibilities of the community. There is an abundance of little things that are frowned-upon, and because they are frowned-upon they are very seldom done. They carry absolutely no penalty whatsoever. In fact, making any kind of “hard” law against some of these things, is one of the taboos.
2. Stigma is firm but soft. Rule #1 notwithstanding, nobody ever has to profess a false belief, or keep their silence about a genuine belief, to keep from losing their property, their business, their kids, their spouse, their house, their job, their stature in the community, or anything else. Hey let’s face it: If thinking a certain thing is evidence that you’re a wonderful person, and then you get penalized for thinking something else, then thinking that thing is no longer evidence of your wonderfulness, now is it?
3. Men do things. Able-bodied men, of all ages, are knights. They defend women, children, old and handicapped people, from trifling inconvenience as well as danger and bodily harm. They never, ever remain sitting when a lady approaches.
4. Failure. Universally available, and free. No person, enterprise or industry is “Too Big To Fail” — ever. Failure is regarded as something that is always possible, to be avoided at all costs, but never to be ignored or sidestepped once it is earned. Depriving a man of the failure he has justly earned, is rightfully seen as just as deplorable as depriving him of wages he has justly earned.
5. The high wall. Coarse humor and other material are kept away from children, as well as adults who might not prefer it. The girly mags kept behind the clerk, rather than at knee height out front; the blogger who takes the effort to write “not safe work work language in this video”; the curtain in front of that special room in the back, at your video store; South Park scheduled on the cable teevee for 10pm or later. These are fundamental building blocks of any civilized society. The spicy stuff is freely available, but walled off.
6. Promote strength and not weakness. If an individual falls short of a physical or mental challenge, he is encouraged to try again, and discouraged from developing the one-time failure into a lasting disability.
7. Keeping and bearing arms. There really isn’t any telling who does & doesn’t have a gun, but it’s probably not too far from the truth to suppose everyone is carrying something.
8. Egalitarianism. A penalty for a crime is constant, regardless of the class, economic status or birthright of the convict.
9. Take your place. Children wait for grown-ups; grown-ups make sure the women go first; the women see to it that, among them, the elderly and infirm go first.
Nucular10. Say it. At work, rest or play, nobody ever mumbles; misspellings are exceedingly rare; if an idea is worth expressing, it’s worth expressing properly.
11. Earn your pay. The employee sees his employer as a partner in the business — nobody ever does half-ass work, or less work, to avoid making his co-workers look bad. He does what the boss says, not what the union boss says.
12. Non-Discrimination is a taboo and not a law. Opportunities are not awarded to, or withheld from, people because of their religion, race or gender (unless applicable).
13. Getting rich by watching the rich. People don’t pay greater attention to indigents and ask “Who is at fault?” They pay attention to those who are better off, and ask “What wise things did he do that put him in this position?”
14. Independent thinking. It starts early on. Teachers teach and grade children to produce a good outcome, not to follow a certain sequence of steps.
15. Children wait. Children are afraid to interrupt adults. When they play or are otherwise too distracted to move out of the way of someone else, they do their playing in low-traffic areas, where they aren’t likely to obstruct.
16. Faceless kingmakers. There are no anonymous panels of experts artificially creating other experts. When men carry great respect and authority, the people who show them this respect are ready to list the wonderful things those men have done, not the titles, awards and other gimmicks bestowed on them by anonymous commissions or third-parties.
17. Faceless kingmakers, continued. With regard to #16, nobody can earn respect, authority, titles, awards or other gimmicks by talking a certain way; they have to accomplish something, and it has to be something measurable.
18. Rehabilitation and Recidivism. If a man continues to prove himself unable to live safely among others, he is ultimately put to death.
19. Ownership. People ask “Is it my place to pass judgment?” before asking “Would I have done it the way he did it?”
20. Individuality vs. Groupthink. Groups just aren’t very important. The individual is the de facto master of any given task, challenge or situation. Very few things in life are decided by a vote anywhere, or for that matter by passages out of some kind of rulebook. Committees, where they exist, exist only for brief periods of time and decide practically nothing at all.
21. Mind-altering substances. No one ever uses hallucinogenic drugs. They see their fortunes in life as being linked to their ability to think things out capably, so they just don’t want to mess with that.
22. Nobility of labor. People spend time doing their own manual chores; many of them possess an abundance of tools that they have designed and constructed themselves. It is impossible to do any of this when you engage in the sloppy ramshackle thinking I see of late; and, I suppose, it is perhaps not possible to avoid the sloppy ramshackle thinking I see of late, if you haven’t done something like this in awhile.
23. Keeping up with the Joneses. Nobody ever wants to buy something just because someone else they know bought the same thing.
24. Headwear. Men and boys never wear hats indoors. Ever. Headgear above…or a roof…never, ever both. Simply not done.
25. Strong and silent. The more powerful the leader is, the shorter his speeches are, the greater the passage of time before he gives one, and the less likely it is that he’s ever heard to blame his predecessor for anything.
26. Family first. Nobody who lives in a household ever tolerates disparaging comments about anybody else who lives in that household.
27. As the ladies go, so goes civilization. Girls give their attention to boys who are serious about what they’re trying to do, and show some drive when they’re trying to do it; not to whoever “makes me laugh.”
28. School. In school, when one child picks on another child and the other child tolerates it, the officials see to it the weaker child “mans up” and that the stronger child is punished — BOTH of those, not one or the other. The lazy school official who turns a blind eye, or enforces discipline only upon children who’ve shown the intelligence and civility to respond positively to it, and in so doing allows this adolescent boy-coming-of-age juice to pickle, like improperly-fermented homemade beer — he is universally regarded as the lowest and most detestable form of bureaucrat, something toxic to natural human development, inimical toward manhood. And that goes double for erring in the opposite direction…handing down some ill-thought-out “hard rule” (see #1) trying to make bullying into a relic from the past. Not gonna happen. Bullying is not something to be expurgated, it is something to be handled.
29. School, continued. With regard to #28, children who can communicate with other children but not do the work, are seen as needing improvement; children who can do the work but who lack “communication skills,” are seen as successful and worthy of emulation.
30. Husbands. Women and men mate for life; all of her children are biologically his.
31. Charity. When any member of the community is enduring urgent need, nobody is condemned with such disdain as the other member who could help and refuses to — except for whoever else wants to force him to. Nobody seeks to make himself, or anybody else, “better” by passing some obligatory law requiring charity. (Again, refer back to #1.)
32. Charity, continued. With regard to #31, to receive such charity and then gripe about it in quality or quantity, is regarded as one of the lowest possible transgressions.
33. World travel. The most respected community members are the ones who have traveled to other countries. But before they traveled they personally worked to earn the solvency needed for their traveling. Traveling is not used as a bully pulpit to promote some sick vision of hyper-internationalism, or to promote materialism and extravagance as if luxuries should be prioritized as staples of life.
34. Central, unifying language. There is one and only one dominant spoken and written language, and whoever isn’t functional in it, does the best they can to learn that one before any other.
35. Immigrants speak the language of the community. With regard to #34, whoever immigrates to this place, speaks that one dominant language before their mother tongue — even at home.
36. Children speak the language of the community. With regard to #34 and #35, children of immigrants are taught to speak the language of the community before their mother tongue — at home.
37. Parents don’t raise boys and girls, they raise men and women. Parenting is seen as a process of making kids capable first, and “safe” second. A parent who delivers a child to adulthood, happy healthy and whole but not capable, is seen as a failure at parenting (see #4).
38. Taxes pay for things, where they are unavoidable. Taxes are never levied, increased or exempted to reward or punish classes of people. Social experimentation by tax code is an unknown thing. Taxes are collected for the purpose of funding vital government activities, and for no other reason.
39. There is a(n unwritten) Hays Code. The fiction that people enjoy, has heroic characters who do good things, villainous characters who do bad things, and nobody ends up prosperous at the end by avoiding honest work or by breaking the law.
40. People acknowledge each other. The everyday greeting is not only desirable, not only obligatory, but sacred. Men who once fought over a woman, take the time to do it with each other, friendly or not. Very few tasks justify withholding a handshake, eye contact and a decent Hello. And for this reason, people don’t spend much time at all with their “personal tunes.”
41. Weaknesses are not coveted. Nobody ever brags about, or connects an identity to, an inability to do something other people can do. People do not greet new acquaintances with that most odious of self-introductions, “I don’t know anything about computers.” People don’t form relationships around weakness. People don’t say “That’s my friend Carol, she doesn’t know how to cook.” They say “That’s my friend Carol, she’s the best interior designer around.”
42. Armageddon is not breathlessly anticipated. Very rarely does anyone talk about the entire world ending, for any reason.

Cross-posted at Right Wing News.

JFK’s Stimulus Program

Tuesday, January 5th, 2010

Interesting concept. Let’s call it “anti-American,” then maybe Obama will give it a try. Naturally, He’d want to kick it off with a wonderful, wonderful speech.

The fellow speaking at the end is running for the Senate seat that was once occupied by JFK and then by his brother Ted.

Hat tip to Rick.

Green Studies

Monday, December 28th, 2009

Okay, up until now it might have been just irritating. It has just now ceased to be harmless.

Green TechnologyColleges are rapidly adding new majors and minors in green studies, and students are filling them fast.

Nationwide, more than 100 majors, minors or certificates were created this year in energy and sustainability-focused programs at colleges big and small, says the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education. That’s up from just three programs added in 2005.

Two factors are driving the surge: Students want the courses, and employers want the trained students, says Paul Rowland, the association’s executive director.

“There’s a great perception that there’s a sweet spot with energy to do good and do well, and it appears to be the place of job growth,” says Rob Melnick, executive dean of the Global Institute of Sustainability at Arizona State University.

Uh, yeah. That’s the problem. It’s going to appear to be the place of job growth for a good long time…I give it about a decade.

At the end of which, we’re going to be acutely feeling the effects of all these professionals walking around, every bit of fluff stuffed into their noggins pure symbolism, no substance. Which means they won’t know how to build a goddamn thing, and they won’t know how to think like builders either.

Already, during any stretch of time that sees you accumulating…oh…let us say…twenty things of which you feel the need to complain — nineteen times or more, you are told “I don’t make the rules.” Or “that’s the way we’ve always done it.” Or “company policy.” And these aren’t you-charged-me-too-much types of complaints. Overcharging benefits somebody. It makes sense on one side. This is stuff that is unreal…sur-real…inexplicable…doesn’t help anyone. You present your logical, well-thought-out argument that this is the wrong way to be doing it, and you’re given some bulletproof iron-curtain policy that says they gotta keep doing it that way, whether it makes sense or not.

You see what’s happening here? We’re becoming experts in doing things efficiently…in theory…while carefully avoiding testing it out in practice. “Education” is quickly becoming proficiency in following sequences of steps scripted by invisible, alien, otherwordly others. We’re not trying to become efficient so we can do more of something. We’re becoming skilled in going through the motions, that appear to be the delivery of the substance behind truckloads of marketing bullshit. Green health insurance. Green Karate studios. Green banking. Green coffee, and green cups to hold it. Green Chinese food — blecch. Yes, sure, it looks like a genuine market demand. It really is, for the next few years or so.

This green graduates are still going to have solid careers, at the time their own kids are going to college?

How’s that possible? We’re losing the notion that revenue comes from other people…from our neighbors who are just like us. Something goes right at work, your sales guys land an account and it’s “an account.” It’s just there. Usually begins with “State department of.” They have an open bid on — something.

Real people needing things? That’s so yesterday. So our business world is becoming something of a festering swamp of narcissism. Each one of us wants to end up with “all” the money…or enough to live in comfort…but these green guys have their entire professional disciplines dedicated to servicing faceless agencies trying to satisfy arbitrary rules. Not people. The circle has been anti-circuited.

And they’re navigating a vast ocean in a canoe made from a giant salt lick.

Enough of your “green” marketing twaddle. For every unit of carbon you don’t emit, I’m going to emit three.

Requeim for Detroit

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009

We’ve linked to Rick often enough lately, but you really have to go and check this one out and we owe him a hat tip for the find even though Crowder’s pumping out these installments reliable-as-rain every week…because hey, there’s better-than-even odds we’d have missed this.

This latest installment’s chosen topic: Detroit’s a shit hole. But why.

I was struck immediately with three thoughts:

1. This is dangerous work even in the daytime. Is Crowder, or someone within his camera crew, packing heat?
2. Hey, are you allowed to pack heat in Detroit?
3. Who am I kidding — nobody really knows if you’re allowed to pack heat in Detroit, because nobody really gives a shit.

This is important because it looks at Detroit through the lens which focuses my own mental image of Detroit, which casts it as what it really is: A laboratory for brain-dead left-wing policies. People still aren’t getting the maliciousness of it all. I would take it to the level of — if God is weeping over us, losing faith year by year in His experiment, the problem isn’t war, sickness, yawning divide between rich & poor, injury to the environment or any of that all garbage Hollywood keeps spoon-feeding you on a whim. It’s these narcissistic fuckwads we keep electing. He must be wondering if we’re ever gonna learn, just like any decent conservative wonders if we’re ever gonna learn.

Now we get to watch the sad, sick opera play out across the entire national stage. All these columnists and talk show hosts and Sunday-morning pundits loftily wondering what the ultimate effects are of crap-n-trade and ObamaCare, they can just save it & stuff it. We already know.

Watch all the way to the end about the “urban farms” and the bears starting to take the place over. Yeah that’s right, the urban blight has gotten so bad it’s starting to deteriorate into nothingness.

Do you know someone you hate so badly that when you think about them, you feel yourself losing a grip on your own sense of compassion and humanity? Like you would send them to Hell without a second thought? Fine & good, but you probably wouldn’t send that guy to live in Detroit.

Liberalism is despair. It is revenge taken on total strangers, with no prior offense recalled to justify the revenge. And its most bumptious cheerleaders love to wail away about “the failed policies of George W. Bush.” So they’re into failed policies, are they…next time, get ’em to offer some kind of opinion about Detroit and what that says about “failed policies.”

The Blog That Nobody Reads is not to be responsible for brain aneurysms, strokes, tumors or cranial implosions resulting from that tired ol’ grasping-at-straws exercise of trying to blame something on Bush. This is a divide-by-zero equation — although some would surely attempt it — you can’t blame this on Bush, or anyone besides dedicated, hard-boiled lefties. As Crowder points out, they’ve had a perfect isolated laboratory for 48 years. They own this.

Detroit is just the vanguard sample. Crowder could have made a similar documentary in…oh, there are about ten other liberal urban strongholds that come to mind immediately around our nation, and God only knows how many others could be drummed up through a meticulous study. Where are the conservative counterparts is what I really want to know. Where are our modern Dickensian Londons with their squalid, rotting townships of blight caused by too much respect for the individual’s right to bear arms, businesses being treated too well, and capitalists being allowed to keep too much of their money? Where is the conservative citadel with its “failed policies” that can compete with Detroit?

Greedy Fatcat Bankers

Tuesday, December 15th, 2009

Melissa Clouthier is making sense.

So let me get this straight.

Greedy fatcatStupid regulations by Democrats cause the banking crisis. Banks tank on bad debt that was required by stupid regulations by Democrats. Banks “saved” by being owned by the government with tax payer dollars. Banks pay back money, because, surprise!, government is a harsh task-master. Government blames the bankers for….fulfilling their obligation. Then, President Obama tells bankers to make more loans….probably to the very people who couldn’t afford loans to begin with.

How about the government minds their own damn business? How about banks giving money to good risks? How about people and businesses taking on responsible, minimal debt?

The democrat party seems to have gotten ahold of some polling data — or maybe they just pulled it out of their asses, right after the fudged-up climate change “data” — that say the public has forgotten all about the Community Reinvestment Act, or never knew about it in the first place.

Ever week it seems I hear out of a democrat cakehole this tired old trope about “greedy fatcat bankers that caused this recession in the first place.” Funny thing is, as Melissa points out it is true. The regulations put in place by Jimmy and Bubba required them to cause a recession by lending to non-credit-worthy individuals, and forget all about the consequential risk, and they dutifully followed those steps to cause our current recession…

So maybe He should be calling them “greedy compliant fatcat bankers.”

“The Last Guys on the Planet in Love With the Sound of His Voice”

Sunday, December 13th, 2009

More awesomeness linked by Gerard at American Digest.

The squealing Obammyboppers of the media seem to have gotten more muted since those inaugural specials hit the newsstands back in late January. His numbers have fallen further faster than those of any other president — because of where he fell from: As Evan Thomas of Newsweek drooled a mere six months ago, Obama was “standing above the country . . . above the world. He’s sort of God.” That’s a long drop.

The Obama speechwriting team don’t seem to realize that. They seem to be the last guys on the planet in love with the sound of his voice and their one interminable tinny tune with its catchpenny hooks. The usual trick is to position their man as the uniquely insightful leader pitching his tent between two extremes no sane person has ever believed: “There are those who say there is no evil in the world. There are others who argue that pink fluffy bunnies are the spawn of Satan and conspiring to overthrow civilization. Let me be clear: I believe people of goodwill on all sides can find common ground between the absurdly implausible caricatures I attribute to them on a daily basis. We must begin by finding the courage to acknowledge the hard truth that I am living testimony to the power of nuance to triumph over hard truth and come to the end of the sentence on a note of sonorous, polysyllabic, if somewhat hollow, uplift. Pause for applause.”

It didn’t come but once at Oslo last week, where Obama got a bad press for blowing off the King of Norway’s luncheon. In Obama’s honor. Can you believe this line made it into the speech?

The Great Barack Obama…our last, best hope for redemption in the eyes of the international community, and in the eyes of Gaea…or at least, His speechwriters. Tin-eared and tone-deaf.

Kinda like Letterman not being funny anymore. Only one thing was being brought to the party in the first place, and now they’re fresh out of it.

There’s more. At the close, Steyn makes some brilliant points that handily demonstrate this stuttering, teleprompter-driven shimmering narcissism has real consequences for us…that is, for those to whom it is still somehow news:

The news this week that the well-connected Democrat pollster, Mark Penn, received $6 million of “stimulus” money to “preserve” three jobs in his public-relations firm to work on a promotional campaign for the switch from analog to digital TV is a perfect snapshot of Big Government. In the great sucking maw of the federal treasury, $6 million isn’t even a rounding error. But it comes from real people — from you and anybody you know who still makes the mistake of working for a living; and, if it had been left in your pockets, you’d have spent it in the real world, at a local business or in expanding your own, and maybe some way down the road it would have created some genuine jobs. Instead, it got funneled to a Democrat pitchman to preserve three non-jobs on a phony quasi-governmental PR campaign. Big Government does that every minute of the day. When Mom’n’Pop Cola of Dead Skunk Junction gets gobbled up by Coke, there are economies of scale. When real economic activity gets annexed by state and then federal government, there are no economies of scale. In fact, the very concept of “scale” disappears, so that tossing 6 million bucks away to “preserve” three already-existing positions isn’t even worth complaining about.

At his jobs summit, Obama seemed, rhetorically, to show some understanding of this. But that’s where his speechifying has outlived its welcome. When it’s tough and realistic (we need to be fiscally responsible; there are times when you have to go to war in your national interest; etc.), it bears no relation to any of the legislation. And, when it’s vapid and utopian, it looks absurd next to Harry Reid, Barney Frank & Co’s sleazy opportunism. For those of us who oppose the shriveling of liberty in both Washington and Copenhagen, a windy drone who won’t sit down keeps the spotlight on the racket. Once more from the top, Barack!

Who is Scaring the American People?

Saturday, December 12th, 2009

Boortz does such a good job with this one, I can’t see any need, any point, or any way to trim things down. He doesn’t even have his customary stress-puppy mad-as-hell misspellings in this one. All he’s missing is a link to what he’s talking about. Having supplied that, I’ll just read the whole thing in:


Now Give Me a Reason You're Not HiringThis really is rich. The Community Organizer told House Republican leaders that they needed to “stop trying to frighten the American people.”

First of all, the American people need to be frightened .. very frightened. The only people in this country who should NOT be frightened are those who work or aspire to work for government. Right now people totally and completely infatuated with government are in control in Washington .. and if you have an entrepreneurial spirit, or if you would rather work for a dynamic business in the private sector rather than buried in the bowels of some government office somewhere, then you should be shaking in your boots.

Scare the American people? Well … let’s look at America’s jobs machine; the small business. If you’re an American dreaming of a strong economic recovery, this is where it must occur. You need to know that the owners of these small businesses, the people you want to step up and start hiring and expanding, are looking at the following:

* Democrat threats to raise their taxes by 5.4 percentage points to pay for health care “reform.”
* Democrat threats to make them pay a “war tax” to pay for the war in Afghanistan
* Democrat threats to make them provide health insurance to employees, or to pay a penalty if they fail to do so
* Democrat threats to create onerous regulations relating to carbon emissions if the Senate doesn’t pass Cap-and-trade.
* New costs if the Democrats DO pass Cap-and-Trade.
* Democrat threats to remove the earnings cap for Social Security

All of these things have lead to a virtual hiring freeze with America’s small businesses. Why aren’t they hiring? They’re not hiring because they don’t know what in the hell is going to happen to them over the next year.

And it’s the REPUBLICANS who are frightening the American people?

You know what’s worse? If you sat Obama down and explained all of this to him he wouldn’t understand.

Cartoon brought to my attention by Buck.

Why Are They So Doggone Stupid???

Saturday, December 5th, 2009

Yes, it is nice to see some real straight talk once in awhile.

The answer to the question, I think, is that they aren’t really that stupid. The problem isn’t in their heads, it’s in their hearts. They’re full of hate.

Hat tip to Don Surber, by way of Let’s Think About That.