Archive for the ‘Poisoning Western Civilization’ Category

Freeberg Paradox of Political Tempests

Wednesday, January 5th, 2011

Posted to the Hello Kitty of Blogging tonight:

The Freeberg Paradox of Political Tempests: If you possess some superlative personal attributes that enable you to enter one, or be engulfed by one, and emerge as the last man standing, you’re probably not the sort I can personally trust with much of anything.

I’m thinking of a lot of things with that. I’m thinking of the character of Wesley Mouch; I’m thinking of some bosses I’ve had (some real, some pretend assholes who just wanted to be my boss). I’m thinking of that jackass Steny, the political party to which he belongs, and their general attitude right now. Which I would sum up as: Oh dear, we got our butt cheeks handed to us on a plate, those other guys are in charge now, so that must mean it’s oh so important to meet in the middle of the road and compromise. Yeah, right. That’s exactly what they were saying two years ago. Pffffft.

Also, those Pentagon dickheads coming after the Navy Captain for a video he made four years ago. Just wanting to make his guts into window dressing & confetti for the brand new DADT repeal.

Makes me want to barf. And you know why, if you have a brain: In such an organization where you can get sacked for making a video, if much later on down the line there’s some politically-charged change in policy and some scheming opportunists come sniffing around for blood to help highlight it…what sort of official manages to scurry to the top of such a heap? Someone honest? Sensitive? Respectful? A modern George S. Patton? Brilliant commander of logistics? Of tactics? Someone who loves diversity? Someone laboring tirelessly to make a new perfect world in which everybody enjoys mutual respect and tolerance?

Again: Pfffft. I’ll tell you who scurries to the top of such a heap. Lizards. Reptilian, cold-blooded creatures. Scavengers. Create the challenge, provide the vacuum, and the creepy-crawlies will scamper in to fill it.

And the more mature our society becomes, the more we’re providing this challenge. We’re rapidly approaching the point, assuming we haven’t reached it already, where everybody who has some weighty opinion to deliver on anything is some kind of cowardly scavenging reptile. Possessing no useful “superlative personal attribute” whatsoever, save for knowing when to stick the beady-eyed, scaly head out into the light, and when to pull it back in again.

Patton isn’t going to survive something like this. His head would be the first to be affixed to a pike. George Washington would be the next to go. And where does this leave us, in terms of providing a solid, robust, deadly defense for the country? It’s a serious matter.

Thing I Know #106. Making sure no one is offended, virtuous as it is, seems to be antithetical to real achievement.

Scrooge Was a Liberal!

Wednesday, December 29th, 2010

Until the three ghosts visited him, then he became a right-winger.

Ann Coulter took a look at the miserly-versus-generous behavior, vis a vis party affiliation, and came to that conclusion. It makes more sense than you might think:

Syracuse University professor Arthur Brooks’ study of charitable giving in America found that conservatives give 30 percent more to charity than liberals do, despite the fact that liberals have higher incomes than conservatives.

In his book “Who Really Cares?” Brooks compared the charitable donations of religious conservatives, secular liberals, secular conservatives and “religious” liberals.

His surprising conclusion was … Al Franken gave the most of all!

Ha ha! Just kidding. Religious conservatives, the largest group at about 20 percent of the population, gave the most to charity — $2,367 per year, compared with $1,347 for the country at large.

Even when it comes to purely secular charities, religious conservatives give more than other Americans, which is surprising because liberals specialize in “charities” that give them a direct benefit, such as the ballet or their children’s elite private schools.

Indeed, religious people, Brooks says, “are more charitable in every measurable nonreligious way.”

Brooks found that conservatives donate more in time, services and even blood than other Americans, noting that if liberals and moderates gave as much blood as conservatives do, the blood supply would increase by about 45 percent.

They ought to set up blood banks at tea parties.

On average, a person who attends religious services and does not believe in the redistribution of income will give away 100 times more — and 50 times more to secular charities — than a person who does not attend religious services and strongly believes in the redistribution of income.

Secular liberals, the second largest group coming in at 10 percent of the population, were the whitest and richest of the four groups. These “bleeding-heart tightwads,” as New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof calls them, were the second stingiest, just behind secular conservatives, who are mostly young, poor, cranky white guys.

Despite their wealth and advantages, secular liberals give to charity at a rate of 9 percent less than all Americans and 19 percent less than religious conservatives. They were also “significantly less likely than the population average to return excess change mistakenly given to them by a cashier.”
Interestingly, religious liberals were also “most confused” of all the groups. Composed mostly of blacks and Unitarians, religious liberals made nearly as many charitable donations as religious conservatives, but presumably, the Unitarians brought down their numbers, making them second in charitable giving.

Brooks wrote that he was shocked by his conclusions because he believed liberals “genuinely cared more about others than conservatives did” — probably because liberals are always telling us that.

Blogger friend Phil entered a comment yesterday that is even more persuasive:

What was Scrooge’s answer to the charity collectors?

“At this festive season of the year, Mr. Scrooge,” said the gentleman, taking up a pen, “it is more than usually desirable that we should make some slight provision for the Poor and Destitute, who suffer greatly at the present time. Many thousands are in want of common necessaries; hundreds of thousands are in want of common comforts, sir.”

“Are there no prisons?” asked Scrooge.

“Plenty of prisons,” said the gentleman, laying down the pen again.

“And the Union workhouses?” demanded Scrooge. “Are they still in operation?”

“They are. Still,” returned the gentleman, “I wish I could say they were not.”

“The Treadmill and the Poor Law are in full vigour, then?” said Scrooge.

“Both very busy, sir.”

“Oh! I was afraid, from what you said at first, that something had occurred to stop them in their useful course,” said Scrooge. “I’m very glad to hear it.”

“Under the impression that they scarcely furnish Christian cheer of mind or body to the multitude,” returned the gentleman, “a few of us are endeavouring to raise a fund to buy the Poor some meat and drink. and means of warmth. We choose this time, because it is a time, of all others, when Want is keenly felt, and Abundance rejoices. What shall I put you down for?”

“Nothing!” Scrooge replied.

“You wish to be anonymous?”

“I wish to be left alone,” said Scrooge. “Since you ask me what I wish, gentlemen, that is my answer. I don’t make merry myself at Christmas and I can’t afford to make idle people merry. I help to support the establishments I have mentioned — they cost enough; and those who are badly off must go there.

See, he would give none of his post-tax fortunes to ease others’ suffering because that’s the government’s job – in accordance with the progressive viewpoint.

And of course, after his conversion, he gave freely of his fortunes to those to whom he chose to give it. Which would be in accordance with the conservative viewpoint.

Phil nailed it. The liberal has seen to it that we have constructed our state apparatus to deal with this — therefore he has “given at the office,” as it were, and there is nothing to do but scold, scold, and scold some more.

All who doubt this, just let the air out of your own tire at some busy intersection, downtown, in an urban area in the middle of a blue state. Or the water out of your radiator. See what kind of help you get…see what kind of attitude you get…then drive out into the middle of a farming area in a red state and repeat the exercise. This is the real cost of the nanny-state: You get your prisons, workhouses, treadmills and “poor laws” up and running, and with them arrives a horde of Ebenezer Scrooges ready to talk about them. The “gave at the office” attitude. Just get that wreck out of my way!

Reaching out with a helping hand to someone you personally notice needs the help, it becomes a thing of the past. We have programs to deal with that stuff; go there.

Thing I Know #343. The hard obligations of “charity” wax, the charitable feelings wane.

“If People Stop Taking Something Seriously, it Ceases to Exist”

Tuesday, December 14th, 2010

Ann Althouse is calling out this canard, practiced most recently by Josh Marshall who says:

A year ago, no one took seriously the idea that a federal health care mandate was unconstitutional.

Althouse replies:

We don’t rule out a proposition of constitutional law simply because no one seems to taking it seriously right now. We work through the analysis, and maybe we discover that it should be taken seriously.

Notice she said “maybe.” The point is that the “nobody taking it seriously” litmus test is not a reverse barometer of logical validity; the point is that it is non-correlative.

Also notice that she’s granting Marshall the benefit of the doubt — conceding the point, for the sake of argument, that “no one” was taking the proposition seriously twelve months ago, so she can contest the reasoning of what this would & would not mean.

But there were people taking it seriously one year ago. How did Marshall ignore this? Easy. He made them disappear…by refusing to take them seriously. That’s the trouble with this kind of thinking. You start manufacturing your own reality. And you do it on purpose. Without explicitly knowing that’s what you’re doing. By being a craven gigglepuss.


Your Thomas Sowell reading assignment that deals with this, would be Intellectuals and Society, Chapter 5, “Optional Reality in the Media and Academia.”

But the Other Guy Did it First!

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010

One of our blogger friends up in Seattle advanced a fascinating argument Friday and we just managed to trip across it yesterday afternoon. If you’re a blogger who embedded that fantastic take-down by the other wise man named Morgan in which he says people should stop talking about race; and you went on to take note of His Holy Eminence’s use of the word “bamboozled” — then, he says in so many words, you’re doing a lousy job of sticking to your own knitting. You’ll notice those last two hyperlinks point back to these fine pages, so we presume he’s including us. “God” just got done telling us to stop talking about race, and here we are talking about it.

What a great point that is. Or would be, if he didn’t mention it. D’Oh!

But there are some things not mentioned, like the premises upon which the argument rests. I specifically have in mind the pure motives of our nation’s first Holy President — the notion that He was Shirley-Sherroded, didn’t mean anything by it, taken out of context. The argument presumes this as a given, while simultaneously shaming us into avoiding any thought or discussion of it.

But once we inspect these motives and find the innocence is not there; or to put it more precisely, once we inspect the motives and find proof, or compelling evidence, that Mister Wonderful was, indeed, making an effort to stir up a racial the hornet’s nest for His own benefit; then, at that point, the entire argument is rent asunder. Replacement Jesus becomes the person flouting the sensible advice of Morgan Freeman, and the bloggers are “guilty” of just noticing it. Ironically, at that point it ceases to be about race. It’s just another story of just another politician making more promises to eradicate a problem, while His political fortunes are inflexibly fastened to the continuing existence of that problem. This is something that has never worked and never will.

So yes, of course Barack Obama is continuing to agitate racial tension. And bloggers, by noticing this and pointing it out, are doing what bloggers should be doing.

Some will call this an exercise in the disgraced “The Other Guy Started It!” defense. I’d like to address that. But first, let us take note of something else that happened yesterday. James Taranto, writing in Wall Street Journal’s Best of the Web, had a few words to say about a tempest that has erupted in a teapot in the wake of Elena Kagan’s confirmation to the Supreme Court — the issue being the lack of a unanimous vote.

I do not mean to belittle the tempest. There is something that has come undone, when unanimous votes used to be the norm, and now it seems sensible to conclude we’ve seen our last for quite awhile. We have, then, lost something that we should have tried harder not to lose, have we not?

Those Republicans need to take a good long look at themselves! Well not so fast, says Taranto:

As a distressed Jonathan Bernstein observes on The New Republic’s website:

What would have happened if there were only 52 or 53 Democrats in the Senate, or for that matter 48 or 49. Elena Kagan appears, by all accounts, to be a mainstream Democratic nominee; she certainly wasn’t on the short list of liberal advocates, although she was broadly acceptable to most of them. Can any Obama nominee be confirmed to the Supreme Court next year? The problem here is that compromise is almost impossible to imagine over the Court…

If there’s a Supreme Court opening, and if the Democrats hold fewer than, say, 55 seats in the Senate, I think the odds of a real train wreck, a total stalemate, have to be well over 50/50.

It doesn’t seem to occur to Bernstein, however, that the Kagan vote is the mirror image of the Alito vote (D 4-41, R 54-1). Almost all Democratic senators, including future presidential candidates Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, voted to reject a mainstream Republican nominee whom they had no possibility of defeating.

After that, why would Republicans vote for any Democratic nominee?

This isn’t the only time Taranto’s column invokes other-guy-did-it-first. There is an eloquent argument wrapped up in the offering that the real turning point was in 1987, when the late Sen. Ted Kennedy indulged in a smear campaign against eminently qualified nominee Robert Bork. True, after that the flame of bipartisan unity flickered a few times, but then it ultimately died out. At least, for the time being.

If you were paying attention back in ’87 and saw what Sen. Kennedy was doing, then you know: The “he started it” argument has some real merits here that are not quite so easily dismissed.

And this is where it connects back to the other issue, of Replacement Jesus standing up at a podium and using the word “bamboozled” as a code word for whipping up a racial animosity. This hostility we have toward the “other guy started it” argument is something we get from dear ol’ Mom. Dishes, laundry, mopping, dusting…she didn’t have time to play detective and figure out who started what, nor did she have any interest in raising grown-up children who think any reprehensible conduct is just fine, so long as the other guy did something that could be said to have provoked it. This falls short of what is required for functioning in a civilized society.

And so she taught us to maintain control, and responsibility for our interactions with others. And this starts, necessarily, with forsaking for all time the he-threw-the-first-punch defense. We need to ignore the race-baiting of our President, lest we be guilty of the same. And we need to reject Taranto’s argument, pretend the Kennedy smear campaign and the Alito vote never happened.

And this gets down to my point:

Nobody ever said Washington, DC is emblematic of this civilized society in which we must learn to live by forgetting who started what. Quite a few knowledgeable people have said things to the contrary. And this republic is founded on a principle of everlasting vigilance against our so-called “leaders.” The citizens are supposed to be responsible. If we trust implicitly, then we betray the vision. This is a point that is overlooked often.

Did you notice how many times the word “forget” appears, as I describe Mom’s vision? You can’t do that without it.

What we have here, then, are two noble visions — one for our sensible adult conduct once we grow up, one for the country — that eventually come into contact and conflict with each other. The Founding Fathers cannot abide Mom’s advice to us because there is too much forgetting involved. An incompatibility has been created. This is why people detest politicians so much.

You forget that Ted Kennedy started our climate of intemperance with regard to the Senate’s advice and consent, and your forgetfulness fits in just fine with Mom’s advice. It feels like you’re doing your bit to foster a new era of congeniality. You’re doing what Mom said, aren’t you? Forgetting. But the effect this ultimately has, is just the opposite. The politician is taught, like a puppy shitting on the living room rug, that he can get away with this.

No, we have to remember things. We have to remain informed. It is what makes the country go. It is the only hope we have for keeping deranged sociopaths out of our nation’s highest offices.

This would not be complete, without some thought regarding what kind of detestable life form we’re trying to keep out of those mahogany offices. We’ve had a lot of people running the show, for a very long time now, who are supposed to be making it easier for us all to get along with each other. Straights and gays, blacks and whites, men and women, rich and poor. The time has come to acknowledge that if such harmony fit in with what they really wanted, and we have been doing a swell job of picking ’em, we’d be there by now…or, at least, we wouldn’t be having these flare-ups during every even-numbered year in the months leading up to November.

Anger and hatred are like erections. If you can keep ’em going across days, months and years, there is something terribly wrong with you. And there’s something terribly wrong with anybody who wants you to.

Vigilance. Not forgetfulness. That’s the only answer, the only way out. We’ve tried the other one already. Sorry, Mom.

“It Was During One of These Meetings When the Penis Question Was Asked”

Monday, August 9th, 2010

Blogger friend Rick reminisces about the past, unfondly…waxing morosely about a spiritual setback, but it’s not the kind you’re expecting.

The initial hurdle was a series of psychological tests. I had to trek up to Richmond for the day to take them. It took hours to complete the battery. Once I learned that I had passed that satisfactorily, I moved on to the next level.

I, and my fellow potential ordinands, met with a Diocesan discernment board made up of both clergy, laity and mental health professionals…

We met regularly over a number of months as I recall and it was during one of these meetings when the penis question was asked…

I’m trying to think of a personal anecdote I could toss into the mix that would compare, and…nope. The closest I can come is when, as a kid, I had to listen as my Dad griped and grumbled about “the hippies taking over the church,” because the blue jeans and patch-elbowed suit jackets were taking the place of the fine traditional velvet choir robes, and the guitars were gradually displacing the pipe organ.

That’s nuthin’ compared to pre-ordination psychobabble questions about Big Jim & The Twins. I’ve just drawn a pair of sixes against Rick’s Full House.

I Made a New Word XLI

Monday, August 9th, 2010

Pres • ley (v.)

1. To kill an organism slowly, by means of poisoning, which in turn is achieved by denying it the ability to purge itself of impurities.
2. In politics, to bring an entity to a slow demise by stigmatizing against its autonomy in declaring what it is; specifically, declaring what is incompatible with it.
3. To deploy political resistance against a group’s ability to jettison something, with an intent to make it more ludicrous over time and thus to bring it to an end.
4. To declare that someone should never part with something, as if you have their best interests at heart, when you really don’t.

We’ve seen a lot of this lately haven’t we? Ann Rice lashes out against Christianity even as she insists she still believes in Christ; Meghan McCain tries to destroy the Republican party over the same issue, homosexuality, denying it the opportunity to declare and exercise a fidelity to its own principles.

The Republicans responded to a number of other moves like this one, late last year, by coming up with a “Purity Test.” Oh boy, after that, the process just started to get going. The purity test was watered down, by the folks who supposedly had the party’s best interests at heart. And after just a couple months, because of all the artificial heat involved, the purity test was dropped.

Now get your puke bucket ready — if someone isn’t Presley-ing you, you’re gonna be needing it. New York Daily News wants to call out the Republicans for getting rid of Bob Inglis.

The current Republican Party, one hijacked by hustlers and extremists, not only looks to destroy President Obama. It even starts to kill its own.

Rep. Bob Inglis, a voice of reason at a dumb, unreasonable time in American politics, is one of them. Inglis (R-S.C.) will be out of a job soon for not hating Barack Obama nearly enough. The irony, he says, is that he disagrees with Obama on almost everything.

Sounds pretty dumb and unreasonable, doesn’t it? Stupid Republicans! We need a new rule, requiring them to keep the candidate 71% of the voters did not want. For their own good!

But wait. Inglis says…

“I’d get asked a question and they’d all wait to see if I’d use the word – socialist – they were throwing around. I wouldn’t. Because I don’t think that’s what he is. To call him a socialist is to demean the office and stir up a passion that we need to be calming, rather than constantly stirring up.”

Now, that’s a problem. As we’ve pointed out before, it’s pretty hard to come up with something a socialist is supposed to do, that the President has not in fact already done. Inglis is effectively saying if you’re a socialist, once you manage to get yourself elected President, it becomes an obligation of all the citizens to pretend you aren’t one so that the office is not demeaned.

Sorry, Bob. Words mean things, as they saying goes. And since when do we elect our officials to calm ourselves down? Seems to me that’s not what your job is supposed to be. How’d this country get started in the first place, anyway? Was that a “calm” revolution? I missed that part of my history, please enlighten me.

But wait! At paragraph number thirteen (!!!), the reader is finally given the information needed to decide the paramount question: Is the Republican party cuckoo-burgers? Maybe they are, but if so, this might not be the decision that manage to demonstrates it. They purged sensibly. Not that this is evident to you if you stopped reading two-thirds of the way through.

Inglis is smart enough to know it wasn’t just his refusal to call the President names that turned him into one more unemployed American. He voted for TARP and against the surge in Iraq and even called out Glenn Beck, a rough, tough media guy who thinks ad hominem attacks are great until he’s the hominem.

In the primary runoff, Inglis’ opponent got 71% of the vote. It’s never just one thing when you get carried out of the ring like that.

“I was at a breakfast and somebody said the President wasn’t patriotic,” Inglis says. “I knew I was supposed to go along. Instead, I got up and said, ‘That’s simply not true. I disagree with this President most of the time, but he loves his country.’ Afterward a big Republican operative in our state grabbed me and said, ‘Don’t give him that.’ I said, ‘Give him what?’ And the guy said, ‘That he’s patriotic.’

“Why do I have to see Democrats as my enemies? I’ve got Al Qaeda. I’ve got the Taliban. I’ve got enough enemies. I’m supposed to call this President despicable? The people who are despicable are the ones who constantly mislead the public in the interest of selling books. Or themselves. And always cloaking themselves in patriotism. Shame on them.”

He laughs softly.

“But then what do I know?” Bob Inglis says. “I lost.”

His district did. His state did. His party did. He did not.

Yes, his party lost. It lost something it needed to lose, something toxic to it. If you are never allowed to reject anything, then there’s no definition to you and you’re never allowed to become anything.

Inglis did lose. He lost the confidence of his party, that he possessed the mettle required to effectively resist bad policy. He went on the record seeing things that were not actually there. He imagined a “love” of country, where the evidence doesn’t indicate any love actually exists. Like I’ve said before: If you love me like today’s democrats love America, then please stay the hell away.

But if the GOP is to show this dreamer the door, they are to pay as high a political price as is possible, for doing so.

In 2010, it seems that is a popular tactic of the left. Among the people who, strangely, inexplicably, are enamored of some frenzied fondness for higher taxes. Even though most of the people so intoxicated have no direct interest in such a policy, and stand to improve their lot in life not one bit through such a policy.

You know what? They could use a good purging, too.

Update: Oh look, there goes one of them right now. Raising money for Charlie Crist. It doesn’t even justify a separate post.

This is a word we’ve been needing for awhile. It’s an important concept, and we’re seeing examples of it more and more often lately.

If you’re never allowed to get rid of anything, you can’t keep anything.

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.

It Helps to Be Rich, Too

Friday, August 6th, 2010

Or, uh…so I’m told anyway.

Hat tip to Grerp.

Now, don’t forget those two most important rules of sexual harassment:

1. The intent of the guilty, er, I mean accused party is immaterial. It is the perception of the paranoid, uh, I mean offended person that decides freakin’ everything. Yep, some stranger with a screw loose and a fatal attraction can ruin your career for good. On a whim. We’ve let lawyers make for us a world in which nobody with a brain would choose to live. But hey, at least they can get crazy rich by chasing the right ambulance.

2. These rules are put in place to make a workplace environment that is comfortable for EVERYONE. Yup, everyone. Yeah, we’re going to say those two things, this bullet & the last one, in the same breath. Without even cracking a grin. That’s how you remember we’re reptiles.

Science: The Belief in the Ignorance of Experts

Friday, July 30th, 2010

Frank J. Tipler writes at Men’s News Daily:

“Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts” is how the great Nobel Prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman defined science in his article “What is Science?” Feynman emphasized this definition by repeating it in a stand-alone sentence in extra large typeface in his article.

Immediately after his definition of science, Feynman wrote: “When someone says, ‘Science teaches such and such,’ he is using the word incorrectly. Science doesn’t teach anything; experience teaches it. If they say to you, ‘Science has shown such and such,’ you should ask, ‘How does science show it? How did the scientists find out? How? What? Where?’ It should not be ‘science has shown.’ And you have as much right as anyone else, upon hearing about the experiments (but be patient and listen to all the evidence) to judge whether a sensible conclusion has been arrived at.”

And I say, Amen. Notice that “you” is the average person. You have the right to hear the evidence, and you have the right to judge whether the evidence supports the conclusion. We now use the phrase “scientific consensus,” or “peer review,” rather than “science has shown.” By whatever name, the idea is balderdash. Feynman was absolutely correct.

When the attorney general of Virginia sued to force Michael Mann of “hockey stick” fame to provide the raw data he used, and the complete computer program used to analyze the data, so that “you” could decide, the Faculty Senate of the University of Virginia declared this request — Feynman’s request — to be an outrage. You peons, the Faculty Senate decreed, must simply accept the conclusions of any “scientific endeavor that has satisfied peer review standards.” Feynman’s — and the attorney general’s and my own and other scientists’ — request for the raw data, so we can “judge whether a sensible conclusion has been arrived at,” would, according to the Faculty Senate, “send a chilling message to scientists…and indeed scholars in any discipline.”

According the Faculty Senate of the University of Virginia, “science,” and indeed “scholarship” in general, is no longer an attempt to establish truth by replicable experiment, or by looking at evidence that can be checked by anyone. “Truth” is now to be established by the decree of powerful authority, by “peer review.” Wasn’t the whole point of the Enlightenment to avoid exactly this?

We’ve sometimes referred, here, to a logical fallacy we have given the name of “Malcolm Forbes’ Demise.” Back when the balloon-riding mogul assumed room temperature, we happened to have read about it first in some trashy tabloid (reading the cover while waiting to pay for our groceries, of course). Now, 1990 being well before the maturity of the Internet as we know it today, and at the time not really caring about it too much, it was some time before we learned of this from any other source. So pretending for the moment we were forced to rely on a tabloid magazine — if we were to try to arrive at a “scientific” hypothesis about Mr. Forbes’ health, and engage in this “peer review” process done by “science,” the first step would of course be to establish the level of credibility of these trash-tabs. It’s very low, of course. And from that we would then have to conclude, tentatively, that Forbes is alive and well until we hear differently from a more reliable source.

BalloonAccording to the methods we are told are sound, that’s only reasonable!

A man of genuine logic and reason, on the other hand, would ask himself how likely it is that the evidence in hand would arrive, were there no truth behind the statement. Well, a better source would be desirable, for sure. But our exercise, being one of deriving conclusions from facts, rather than of gathering the facts, says we are deprived of that…so in the absence of that, would the rag print up the headline if Malcolm Forbes was not dead? The potential for this is peripheral at best. Would you bet money that Forbes is alive? Or that he’s dead? Use your common sense. He’s probably dead.

It seems a piddling distinction to make. And when you have the luxury of demanding information out of Google on a whim, it does become mostly meaningless. But all human affairs are not scrutinized by the robots of Google. So “consider the source” remains good advice, but that’s all it is. It doesn’t decide the entire question. This is a mistake commonly made by esteemed experts in the scientific community, as well as by us “peons.”

Another way we’ve been putting it: If someone known to you to possess appealing attributes says something that is known to be false, how do you react? How about if someone known to you to possess harmful attributes, says something known to be true? Does it then become untrue? What if the “knowns” are not entirely known, but mostly-known?

I lately made the acquaintance of another blogger. “Made the acquaintance of” means “got into a big ol’ cyber-dustup S.I.W.O.T.I. (Someone Is Wrong On The Innernets) argument with.” Late in the exchange I had noticed our real disagreement wasn’t with regard to the facts, or the conclusions to be reached from them, but rather with the method used for deriving conclusions from facts. You see, he had come off a very intoxicating high, having successfully bullied all sorts of folks to stop looking at something, and I kept looking at it. So he started telling half-truths about the study being recanted, which turned out not to be true; then, all other approaches having been exhausted, he started having an electronic hissy-fit trying to get me to ignore what he wanted me to ignore.

Noting that what the study purported to prove wasn’t even anything outside the realm of agreement between the two sides, I made this observation:

Your blog is fascinated with, and named after, a canard that was started (unintentionally) by H.L. Mencken; mine is fascinated with, and named after, an ancient library administrator who figured out the size of the Earth. So you’re sort of a “Bizarro Eratosthenes” from an anti-matter universe: Instead of encouraging people to look at things, you’re encouraging them to look away. I’m a software engineer, and from your comments it appears you are a (failed?) lawyer.

It’s the “fruit of the poisoned tree” doctrine. Cop illegally enters my apartment and catches me building a bomb, or torturing my kidnapped toddler, or writing a confession in my diary about having murdered somebody — and the law has to pretend it never happened. Yes, I know the doctrine is refined across time and it’s a good deal more complex than this, but the fundamental principle remains: We are to allow our lawyers to decide for us what “truth” is, and they are to instruct us to disregard big chunks of real truth.

There is a skill involved in this, and it is a learned skill passed down through the generations from parent to child. Today it is all but extinct: Isolating a claim from those who make it and argue about it, focusing only on the claim, exerting one’s mental energies toward figuring out if there’s truth to it or not.

Our overly-mature society has lost this. We look to the “experts” to figure it out for us, and trust them implicitly even in situations where we have no idea who they are, let alone what their agenda might be. Much of the erosion has been relatively recent. I trace it to the early 1960’s, to mid 1950’s; the Warren Court had transformed the “Fruit of the Poisoned Tree” doctrine into an iron fisted jurisprudence requiring judicial and enforcement officials of the law to pretend false things were true and true things were false.

The good news is that we always have the potential within us for a revival. It is interwoven into our DNA. If you’re about to crawl under a car, you will automatically become a highly skilled philosopher, dedicated to love of wisdom and love of truth, as you set about the task of figuring out if the jack stand is worthy of your trust. We rekindle this spirit by doing work, and we rekindle it quickly, forcefully, keenly, by doing dangerous work.

We allow it to atrophy when we shirk our responsibilities, when we become comfy, when we allow our existences to whither and shrivel into these little menageries of iPods, iced coffee drinks and video games. That is when we curl up into a fetal position and look for someone else to tell us what truth is. That is when we stop peeking into water wells, imploring our aristocrats, our superiors, our overseers, to form their communities and publish their papers and define their collectives.

You see, “peer review” is actually a misnomer. A peer is a relative term, applied to someone who possesses equal stature. This is a process for declaring communities of demigods, to stand over us and give us orders about what to think, to strip us of our God-given autonomy, independence, masculinity and resolve.

Thing I Know #129. Leaders; votes; clergy; academics; pundits; prevailing sentiment; political expediency. Wherever these decide what is & isn’t true, an empire will surely fall.

“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?

Twenty-Four Little Hitlers

Monday, July 12th, 2010

While we’re waiting to see what blogger pal Gerard has planned for August, he still has lots of good stuff scrolling up every day on Ka-Ching! Like, for example, this — and I know you can relate to it, don’t pretend otherwise.

Freakin’ awesome.

If it were mine, I’d add on a few things. For most of these, I can envision a corresponding “li’l Hitler” who works by making his opposition look like that “li’l Hitler.” I’m thinking here specifically of column 1 row 2, column 4 row 2, column 2 row 3, column 2 row 4 and column 1 row 5.

Remember right after the P.A.T.R.I.O.T. act got passed we had all these liberals who were suddenly fond of Benjamin Franklin? Sacrificing liberty, temporary safety, deserve neither, blah blah blah…et cetera. Seems like a distant memory now, doesn’t it?

I gotta wonder what our first Postmaster General would have thought of it. The man was plenty sharp enough to spot a fair-weather friend from a mile off.

Another little-Hitler: The “pleasant dinner” little-Hitler. You know — “Oh, let’s keep things pleasant! There’s cheesecake!”

How familiar is the following exchange:

McGovern-voting Granduncle: Let the immigrants in! We’re a nation of immigrants! You fucking bigot!

You: Actually I’m not concerned about race, I’m concerned about why someone would choose to circumvent our immigration laws. How come I have to follow laws while we’re defining a whole class of people who don’t have to, and we don’t even know who they are?

Hostess: Oh, stop fighting you two! Here we are having a lovely dinner and you have to bring politics into it. Just let him call you a reprehensible, cross-burning scum-sucking douchebag asshole xenophobe and then let’s move on! There’s cheesecake!

And then there’s the “whoever’s fun must be right” little Hitlers. They get their news out of the Daily Show, and they’re fond of bragging about it, but if you’re the one who points that out they’ll say you’re just making things up because you’re a liar.

Right now they’re telling us if we have a shred of decency we’ll support the confirmation of Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court. They just have to. She’s really funny.

“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…

Warning Signs Are Not Enough

Sunday, June 27th, 2010

Hat tip to Cassy.

It would be nice if the President were to find something else to defend, with the same level of zeal with which He defends His own mojo.

Like His country’s borders, for example.

You know, directing a warning at the bad guys would be a step up from this. Just to clarify how far down we are on the macho-spectrum, here’s an example from that next-level-up:

It bears repeating:

We are on the next rung down on the ladder from this. Our warning signs are directed at the good guys.

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.

“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.

Gitmo Detainee Released

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

Wall Street Journal:

A suspected al Qaeda organizer once called “the highest value detainee” held at Guantanamo Bay was ordered released by a federal judge Monday.

Mohamedou Ould Slahi was accused in the 9/11 Commission report of helping recruit Mohammed Atta and other members of the al Qaeda cell in Hamburg, Germany, who took part in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the U.S.

Military prosecutors suspected Mr. Slahi of links to other al Qaeda operations, and considered seeking the death penalty against him while preparing possible charges in 2003 and 2004.

Judge James Robertson of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia granted Mr. Slahi’s petition for habeas corpus, effectively finding that the government lacked legal grounds to hold him. The order was classified, although the court said it planned to release a redacted public version in coming weeks.
Brig. Gen. John Furlow, who helped lead a Pentagon-ordered probe of detainee abuse at Guantánamo Bay, has testified that at one point Mr. Slahi was “the highest value detainee” at the site and “the key orchestrator of the al Qaeda cell in Europe.”

Plans to try him by military commission were derailed after prosecutors learned Mr. Slahi had been subjected to a “special interrogation plan” involving weeks of physical and mental torment, including a death threat and a threat to bring Mr. Slahi’s mother to Guantanamo Bay where she could be gang-raped, officials said.

Although the treatment apparently induced Mr. Slahi’s compliance, the military prosecutor, Marine Lt. Col. V. Stuart Couch, determined that it constituted torture and that evidence it produced couldn’t lawfully be used against Mr. Slahi.

The Constitution: Strong enough to stop us from defending ourselves, but far too weak to suggest there may be shenanigans going down when Congress orders us to buy health insurance.

Elections have consequences.

Memo For File CVIII

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

It was an evil magic potion that drove men insane. Some said it was the pitch extracted from some long-dead tree that in life had been possessed by the devil. Whatever its source, unscrupulous men sought it out. It made such men dangerous, for its power was to end debate. A man cast a spell with this evil sticky black stuff, and all who sought to contest him on this matter or that one would be rendered powerless — even if they were immediately affected by the outcome, and he was not. The elixir had no name so they called it the “Do It My Way” potion.

It was pure tyranny in liquid form.

The mightiest nation on the face of the globe had used this terrible ooze to lay taxes upon her colonies. Do it our way, they said. This much tax on lead glass, this much tax on your playing cards. This much tax on pins, this much tax on your rum. And so the colonies rose up against their mother nation. But the war was really against the awful sticky black-magic stuff. They started a new country and declared the stuff would never, ever be used here again. This was to be their founding principle; their home would be stuff-sanitized, now and forevermore, a tyrant-free zone. They wrote documents about Inalienable Rights and Separation of Powers to make sure no one single man, or small group of men, could lay claim to decisions that belonged to others. They even started a government with no single head, now isn’t that silly? And yet it worked for a long time — three co-equal branches of government. No king or kingmaker could cast such evil spells, and effectively geld the people who were most directly affected by the decisions being made. They spent months, years even, deliberating the best way to keep the evil sticky black magic potion out of their new country. The embargo against the stuff that had no name, was firm, uncompromising, unyielding, and effective. For generations and generations it remained effective and the nation remained clean. And free. Violent, at times; war-torn; certainly rugged and often even dangerous. But there was no ick. Free men of all sorts of background, even humble backgrounds, had the final word in shaping their own destinies.

And it worked.

For awhile.

The experiment began to unravel with the mere appearance, not established fact, that the evil stuff had somehow made it into the borders. It started with the railroads. Wealthy men bought up land, and were able to make decisions about what took place on that land, decisions that obviously had an impact on others. Concerned citizens made the charge that the railroad men were wizards who were using the forbidden evil sticky black stuff to cast their spells. What does it matter if we do or do not find some actual stuff in their massive basements? The outcome was the same, was it not? This was sufficient evidence to heap the first abuse upon the free market, and so the young country outlawed “monopolies” because they found it so utterly reprehensible that anyone within their borders could cast spells with the evil sticky black stuff that had no name. It was not to be allowed, even in appearance. The irony was that, as soon as a man was barred from having the final word about his own property, it became just a matter of time before everyone could have the final word on everything. Which of course meant nobody could really decide anything.

A few generations onward, someone was allowed to use the evil potion that no man could touch. Womens’ suffrage was imminent, and it was such an event that they allowed the witches to cast the spells forbidden to the warlocks. The issue was the prohibition of consumption or sale of alcoholic spirits. The debate, with the aid of the evil sticky black stuff, was ended prematurely. Stop talking about it. Stop discussing it. Become accustomed to the new “reality.” Prohibition is here to stay, and you need to deal with it. That is the way the ladies want it. Or will want it, as soon as they start voting.

After that, people knew the evil sticky black stuff was in the country and would always be in the country. Not a single document was torn apart, or re-written, to this effect. But things changed. History was altered. The country was not about keeping the evil sticky black stuff out of our lives; it was about each man getting his hands on the potion that had no name, before the next fellow had a chance to use it. And so we started trade unions, which were created specifically for the purpose of seeking out the evil sticky black stuff and casting spells with it. They called it “collective bargaining,” and they described it in terms of giving “the little guy” a “voice” in the “decisions” at the “table.” But there was no table and there was no bargaining. Unions were, and are now, all about getting hold of that evil sticky black stuff, and using it to cast spells; to force the other guy to do things the union’s way.

Hard, cynical men who had spent their entire lives operating outside the law and laughing at it — would be told “The Union Says…” and they would immediately stop in mid-sentence, gulp hard, and resign themselves to the idea that the debate was now over. The evil sticky black stuff had been hauled out and the spell had been cast.

After the trade unions, it was a whole menagerie of embittered special-rights advocacy groups. The evil potion was consumed not out of need, but out of addiction. By the gallon it was consumed; by the bucket; by the barrel, by the truckload. The more we used, the more we wanted. The nation’s young people used it with a whole bunch of other funny mind-altering substances. The embittered, “liberated” women, the civil rights advocates, all with a mix of some causes noble and worthy, others not-so-much. They all said the same thing: “Do it our way, because right or wrong, we are together and we are using the evil sticky black stuff.” They used the evil sticky black stuff to defeat their enemies, and to make their enemies sorry they ever became enemies. They used the evil sticky black stuff to end careers. They called it the “vanishing.” It was a novelty at first, and then it became a habit. Someone would say something, or do something, and it wasn’t pleasing to someone else who had a stash of the evil sticky black stuff. So the spell would be cast and the offender would vanish. The stuff got him. People got used to it in a great big hurry because they didn’t want to be vanished. Before it was over, men were afraid to put up swimsuit calendars over their desks at work. Oh, they pretended it was because they were decent men. That was always the claim. But the real fear was that someone would use the evil sticky black stuff to end their careers and vanish them. And they still had to worry about retirement, and sending their kids to college. It wasn’t “worth it,” they said.

It took the country a century before it had any real fear the evil sticky black stuff had arrived at its shores. It took a century and a half for the country to actually use it. As it reached its bicentennial, it was now wallowing in it. Too late, we had realized: You need to have a social contract in order to keep any enclave clean and free of the ick. And the social contract demands that men who believe their positions are right, should be ready to put them up against the different positions of other men who believe their positions are right.

And when you participate in an argument, you have to be prepared to lose.

The cold hard truth is, we just weren’t that good anymore. We had gotten some ick on ourselves, and it would not wash off unless we wanted it to. We didn’t want it to.

The sticky black stuff is evil, therefore it is never used to create anything, only to destroy. It brings power only to the man who wields it, and it rots his soul from within. It does nothing good. That is why it was banned here.

People have now so reconciled themselves to living lives under the tyranny of the evil sticky black stuff, that the nation has been consumed by a modern plague: the proxy offense. Someone, wielding the now-commonplace evil sticky black stuff, might find that joke offensive. And so I shall act as his agent. You are to be vanished. And so, here and there a new business might be started free of the sticky evil black stuff, and within a fortnight it would be awash in the ick. Because the nation had already been engulfed. And so you are to be vanished because a handicapped person might find your joke offensive; you are to be vanished because you might have offended the homosexuals; you are to be vanished because that word you just used was phonetically similar to something that is actually a racial slur, didn’t you know?

Do it my way, because I make movies.

Do it my way, because I’m gay.

Do it my way, because I’m a woman.

Do it my way, because my dad’s a senator.

Do it my way, because I’m black. Or because the President’s black. Either way, you just have to stop talking and learn to live with what I’ve decided. I don’t need to argue with you. I don’t even need to make my decision look good. I don’t need wisdom, or logic, or common sense. I don’t need to show standing, injury or interest. All I need is a gimmick. Then I can cast my spell, and we’re done talking.

Now, we’re 234 years into it. And we’re about to build a massive engine that is actually fueled by the evil sticky black stuff. The new machine will run on barrels and barrels of it, daily. It’s supposed to be a “health care” plan, but the politicians hammering it together haven’t been talking too much lately about getting health care services to the people who need them. It’s been many a month since we’ve heard any of that kind of talk. No, this machine is built to consume a certain thing, not to build a certain thing. It gulps thirstily at the wellspring of ick, for it is constructed to do nothing else. It is an instrument of destruction, and like all other instruments of destruction it needs not draw on too high a threshold of design talent, to become an engineering masterpiece. The ancient, Revolution-era wizards of the evil ooze could never have dreamed of such a device or what it will do.

It will cast evil magic spells, now well-known to us, and secretly dreaded by each and every one of us. Massively, laboriously, unrelentingly, by the minute, by the second. It will churn through the ick and it will blacken the sky with the exhaust from its smokestacks. All according to plan…

No one who is in the process of building this evil device, talks about making sick people well. Ever. Not anymore.

But when they do give their speeches, we notice they seem to be awfully fond of that evil sticky black stuff. That sticky oozy substance that ends debate, and forces all involved to just do it so-and-so’s way. We started a nation to make sure the sticky stuff would never be used again, and now we’ve started a lifestyle that is devoted to it, in fact, seems to depend on it. Generations of young people, and not-so-young people, now know of no other way to live. Ah, well. It was a noble experiment while it lasted.

Are You Raising a Douchebag?

Saturday, February 20th, 2010

DouchebagLet us begin with the assumption that if you are a parent, you wish for your child every advantage and opportunity. From the ergonomic high chair to that all-important first sushi experience and beyond, life should be as golden for your little one as it is for, say, Pax Jolie-Pitt.

But inevitably the moment arrives when all your doting and care come back on you in the form of a precocious little barb that reminds you in no uncertain terms of…you. It might be that his friend Jake’s eighth-birthday party was “unbelievably lame” or that “it’s weird that Brandon’s family flies first-class and we don’t,” or maybe it’s simply that “these taquitos taste like turd.”

Yes, of course I see a problem here. I have for awhile

Thing I Know #321. We have an awful lot of parents walking around who seem intent on raising their kids so that problems of future generations can be avoided. That is a good thing and it is to their credit. But they seem to think the biggest problems of those future generations have to do with people not feeling good about themselves, being unready to claim special perks and privileges. I don’t know how they settled on that. I wish they’d put a little bit more thought into this.

What is missing is a sense of commitment…obligation…duty. A feeling of self-worth that is won, through a process of earning things. Without that, you can’t teach a child that he’s a meaningful individual unless you teach him he was born that way, and if you teach him he’s a meaningful individual because he was born that way then what you’re teaching him is that he is somehow pre-destined to come before other people and things in terms of priority. Regardless of what he does.

And that, my friends, is the very definition of an asshole.

Update: I notice, a few months later, this was still on my mind:

Thing I Know #339. I’m not the first cranky old fart to say this and I won’t be the last. Back in “the day,” grown-ups yelled at kids, punished kids, shushed kids up, made kids feel like subhuman vermin anytime they felt like it; the kids grew up to cure diseases, invent wonderful machines that revolutionized civilization, and kill Nazis. Now, kids are wonderful no matter what they do. “Oh, Susie! You didn’t burn down the school today! Oh Johnny, you didn’t crap on the teacher’s desk! So precious!” And the kids learn how to text each other, play games, and do nothing else. You can’t tell them a goddamn thing. But don’t you dare call them lazy, unimaginative or inattentive. It’s a disability.

“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.”

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.

Best Sentence LXXXII

Friday, February 5th, 2010

The eighty-second award for Best Sentence I’ve Heard Or Read Lately (BSIHORL) goes to The Blog Prof, writing about local politics in Macomb County, MI.

The first rule in a Democrat hegemony is to threaten public safety to either 1) raise taxes, or 2) continue to fund overgenerous benefits to unions and thus avoid making necessary cuts. This is what I termed the “human shield” strategy, and Macomb County has trotted it out many times. How many more examples does the electorate need that Democrats simply have priorities backwards? The first role of government is the protection of its citizens. First role! Numero Uno. The prime directive. Yet, when faced with budget crises of their own doing, the Democrat modus operindi is to cut public safety, but also to wrap golden union benefits in an impenetrable shield of bureaucratic red tape.

Hat tip to Proof Positive.

I was noticing this myself. As a philosophy, the democrat worldview seems to have a lot to do with giving up freedom and opportunity in order to bolster personal security to unrealistic levels — so many of their identifications of deficiencies in the status quo seem to revolve around bad things that might conceivably happen — but they flip over like a pancake the minute a threat becomes genuine. Or measurable.

Here, I’ll sum it up in a single sentence:

Global warming is a real problem we have to solve but jihad-based terrorism is a nuisance.

Maybe they really don’t give a rip about freedom or safety…they’re just opposed to reality.

Or maybe they’re just telling people whatever they have to tell them, to get hold of more loot to distribute to their friends. That would explain just about everything. Except then, the democrat politician becomes, uh, well, pretty much exactly what he says the Republicans are. Just with different friends. The Republican is the friend of that awful guy with the mustache in the pinstripe suit smoking his cigar in the corner office…who is accountable to the court system and to the shareholders. The democrat is the friend of the union boss who is accountable to nobody. Everyone who might possibly do something to him, is bought off with money taken from other people. Money that represents wealth the union boss did not create.

Perhaps we don’t need to be concerned so much with the democrat who tries to be Robin Hood. Maybe the nightmare scenario is the democrat who plays the part of the Sheriff of Nottingham.

Megyn Kelly Schools Gloria Allred

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010

Two issues are involved here, they’re both important and one of them doesn’t even have to do with abortion. The first one — abortion-related — is all these nihilists, eugenicists and other assorted crackpots walking around claiming to champion a woman’s “right to choose to abort or to carry to term,” either which way so long as the decision is hers. And in reality, that is absolutely, positively not what they want. They like abortions. They want more of them.

The second issue is just as invasive and insidious. For over forty years now, it has been a tactic of the world communist movement to infiltrate our government and our society through this sneaky tactic of “oh I’m for free speech, but I’m also against misleading speech, and I don’t want to restrict your speech but if you’re going to say this thing over here you also have to say that thing over there.”

What Allred is arguing is the essence of the Red Lion vs. FCC decision of 1969 which says exactly this. Americans need to start rejecting this because we really have no excuse not to. We’ve seen a few rounds of this; we know how the game is played. It is exactly as Ms. Kelly has described it. You want to say A, A happens to be completely true but here comes this arbitrary authority to say you can say A only if you include B. Saying B happens to be costly and unworkable, but it’s an unfunded mandate and it’s all your problem. If you choose to pay the costs of saying B, there will be a C, D, E, F and G…because we wouldn’t want to “mislead” anybody.

Finally you throw in the towel, and the arbitrary authority says “Oh well. Just remember, we didn’t restrict your free speech!”

Smile. Wink.

Just disgusting.

You know what our problem is? We’re way too cynical in some ways, and not nearly cynical enough in others.

Gloria All<<RED>>. Somethin’ else. You know, if she was a character in a work of fiction, I’d say the author should have put a little more work into choosing her name. The metaphor is too obvious. And her tactics are, too.

Yeah, it’s just crazy old white guys in the late stages of dementia who babble away about “the commies are taking over!” Maybe I’m turning into one, I dunno. One thing is making me crazy like a fox over this stuff, faster than any other: facts. The more I learn about what really went down, the clearer it is that communism is not a hard, tangible organization from a dead empire, like the KGB. It’s a way of looking at the world, a jaundiced spirit. It is invasive; it did invade; it’s still invading. It’s an ideological prybar, with a great wealth of proven techniques and tactics behind it for sticking its nose where it isn’t welcome. It is recognizable by these tactics.

It is the enemy of human dignity itself. Keep saying no.

Thanks to Danny Glover at Hot Air, who blogs at The Enlightened Redneck.

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.

Bin Laden Blasts US for Climate Change

Saturday, January 30th, 2010

Uh oh, someone’s been drinking the Kool Aid

Osama bin Laden sought to draw a wider public into his fight against the United States in a new message Friday, dropping his usual talk of religion and holy war and focusing instead on an unexpected topic: global warming.

The al-Qaida leader blamed the United States and other industrialized nations for climate change and said the only way to prevent disaster was to break the American economy, calling on the world to boycott U.S. goods and stop using the dollar.

A position that comes naturally to anti-human-rights folks, collectivists, plutocrats, tyrants, demagogues, and violators of women.

Kinda hard to keep a straight face about it. It’s like a “Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup” of your favorite issues. Hey, you got ManBearPig in my terrorists! Oh yeah, well you got terrorists all over my ManBearPig!

From Allahpundit at HotAir.

Christianity, Conservatism and “Reality TV”

Sunday, January 24th, 2010

Reality teevee is starting to look like droopy butt-crack jeans to me: It appeals to morons, it looks (consequently) as stupid as all holy hell, but for reasons nobody can explain it’s just hanging around like a bad smell, year after year and decade after decade. Who thinks this looks cool? Who likes it? Someone somewhere must.

Anyway. Ryan Mauro, writing for Pajamas Media, was inspired by some vapid piece of “reality” trash, and after he distilled it for me in writing, I was inspired as well. I tried watching the clip, but the way these twenty-year-olds talk just grated on me after awhile.

Let’s go with the written summary:

The argument features Ty, an atheist; Mike, a bisexual Christian; and Ashley, a pro-Obama Christian who tries to referee…Ty is immediately angry, obviously bitter at Christians and threatened by any potential credibility of the faith. He says “everyone who is religious is so narrow-minded” and challenges Mike to say God doesn’t exist. When Mike refuses to, that is proof that he isn’t open-minded, according to Ty. For the most part, Mike stays cool throughout, reflecting a confidence in his faith and position…
Mike explains how the idea that his bisexuality means “you can’t be religious, you can’t follow the Bible, you can’t follow God … is stupid.” This may sound like a hippie version of Christianity that means there is no objective right and wrong, but he further explains.

“My church is come-as-you-are and we’ll teach you Christ and we’ll make you better and if you’re flawed, everybody’s flawed, just do what you can,” he says, and then he goes onto explain the concept of Christ’s sacrifice and God’s love. Again, this sounds like an acceptance of sin, but if you listen closely, he’s acknowledging that we’re all sinners and in need of salvation. And as all sinners require God’s mercy, this means we are all on the same plane — whether you’re a bisexual, or lie, or act selfishly, or ever step into any of the pitfalls that all of us have — unless you think you’re perfect, which is a pitfall in and of itself.

This just completely nails it. And if you’re really paying attention, you see how the American experiment fits right into this: All men are created equal, and all that. Ted Kennedy was not a wonderful demigod whose poop didn’t stink; Barack Obama isn’t one right now, nor will He ever be. We’re all just people. We make our imperfect institutions within our imperfect lives on this imperfect plane of existence, and we do the best we can.

Hit the Nail on the HeadWe sometimes embrace a spirit of community to correct mistakes for each other. Like, for example, you could confuse “health care reform” with a process of corrupt politicians washing each others’ backsides, making closed-door deals to get “The Legislation” passed. If you can fall for that, then as an individual you can make mistakes, which it’s up to the community to then correct.

We sometimes take that too far, and declare a kind of war on the individual, pronouncing the community to be the source of all that is wise and good. That, too, is a mortal mistake. Or, we revert to our primitive urges and start to align ourselves into stratified, aristocratic layers. That, also, is a mistake made by terrestrial, flawed ordinary people.

If you think this is veering off into the Supreme Court decision, you’re right.

Ben Shapiro, at Townhall, did a great job of summarizing exactly what this means:

The case, entitled Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, dealt with Citizens United’s “Hillary: The Movie,” a 2008 documentary highly critical of the then-Democratic presidential candidate. The Federal Election Commission saw the documentary as a political advertisement in violation of the McCain-Feingold Bipartisan Campaign Finance Reform Act (BCRA), and shut down Citizen United’s publicity efforts. Citizens United sued. And on Thursday, the Supreme Court ruled that corporations no less than individuals have a right to political speech.
The unspoken rationale behind campaign finance reform has always been the equalization of access to political influence; many leftists feel that a poor man’s speech is not truly “free” unless it counts as much as a rich man’s in the public square. In this view, free speech is a commodity to be parceled out by the government in the name of equality, not an opportunity or a restriction on government interference in political action.

Because this rationale is not palatable to most Americans — we don’t want the government rationing our speech — the campaign finance reform gurus have cloaked themselves in the guise of “anti-corruption.” In Citizens United, however, the Supreme Court came out foursquare against that flimsy facade. “[T]he First Amendment,” wrote Justice Anthony Kennedy, surprisingly lucid for once, “does not allow political speech restrictions based on a speaker’s corporate identity.”

This drives home exactly what liberalism is: Like conservatism, it acknowledges that people are inherently flawed. Since we’re flawed, we are capable of doing things that are bad — once we get ahold of the resources needed to do harm. Like a gun. Or mass-communication access to voters. Or what is surely the most dangerous weapon of all: The faith in the idea that we were put here for a reason, and if are sufficiently determined, we will succeed in what we were put here to do.

Liberals have a solution for this. Although this stain of flaw is certainly on us, from somewhere deep in their nether regions they’ve pulled out this hypothesis that it’s not interwoven with our DNA; instead, it is drizzled down upon us disproportionately. Some of us are awash in it. Most of us are just spattered with a light coating, and just a few fortunate folks have missed the smearing entirely. They may not be living on a plane of perfection, but somehow, doggone it they just are.

The solution therefore is clear: Identify who among us is least tainted by this meandering paintbrush of flaw, and install these Special People into some high position in which they can deprive the most grievously flawed from the tools that could & would be used to do harm. For an example, look no further than that awesome little document put out by Janet Napolitano’s agency…remember that? How it called out targeted classes of — citizens? For special scrutiny, to make sure they don’t do anything dangerous? Liberalism in a nutshell. Argue forcefully against any kind of “profiling,” come up with a new variant of it, and then go ahead and practice it without reservation, apology, or even a hint of irony.

We therefore need to organize into Elites and Commons. There needs to be an aristocracy. These Superpeople at the top, like Barack Obama, Barney Frank, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi, therefore, are best suited to figure out what our health care habits should be, what kinds of cars our companies should build, what magnitudes of “Executive Bonus” are alright, when we should go to bed, what kind of food we should eat. The rest of us should then just do what they say.

Oh yeah: And get extra, extra nasty toward anyone who disagrees. Raise our voices to drown them out.

Spirit of 1776The conservative viewpoint is different…and yes, it has a relationship with Christianity, even among conservatives who happen to be atheists. It says, since we’re all descended from Adam, we are all tainted. Like the reality-teevee guy said, the tainting is conceptually uniform, and places us on a unifying, level egalitarian plane. So no, this layering of Special People versus plain ordinary hoi polloi, this just isn’t going to work.

And this seems to be where all the conflict emerges. The Constitution, in letter as well as in spirit, adheres to a principle of Separation of Powers. And so the debate is about — shouldn’t we just bulldoze that whole thing out of the way? These Special People need their Special Powers to make us just a little bit more perfect, like them. If we don’t give them these powers, we condemn any & all opportunity we may have to get better, and therefore it’s inevitable that we’ll get much worse! That’s just sensible, durable logic isn’t it?

And the conservatives continue to cling to this reckless and foolhardy notion of something called “freedom.”

Perhaps there is no way for these two sides to get along with each other. What we should do, is get rid of these Christian Conservatives. We should banish them somewhere; let them start their own country. They could write up some documents defining how this strange, expurgated malignancy is supposed to work…you know, dedicated to their sick, weird proposition that all men are created equal. They can go there and worship their strange little sky-fairy, maybe even include Him in their special little documents, how self-evident they hold it to be that they are endowed by their Creator with certain individual rights, that chief among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness…

Hmm, where in the world should we put them, I wonder? Could there be a country somewhere on the planet that already believes in this silly stuff? What could it be called, and where is it?

Cross-posted at Right Wing News.

“When We Allow Freedom Ring, When We Let It Ring…From Every State and Every City…”

Monday, January 18th, 2010

The speech contains, by my count, twenty mentions of the word “freedom” and five instances of the word “free.”

I propose we celebrate this man’s great dream, by measuring our current leaders according to this standard. With an open mind, let us gauge their appreciation, or lack thereof, of this concept of a very basic human birthright.

Freedom, to me, is when you’re doing something someone else does not like. Someone rich. Someone powerful. Someone well-spoken, who can talk to a crowd and really get it all stirred up and excited. When that person loathes what you are doing or saying, and you’re allowed to keep right on doing it anyway, then you are free.

If this is not possible, for whatever reason, then you are not.

Let us celebrate Martin Luther King’s birthday with a clear and honest inspection of the job we have done, as a society that calls itself free, adhering to and fulfilling his vision.

Best Sentence LXXVIII

Tuesday, January 5th, 2010

Proof Positive takes the Best Sentence I’ve Heard Or Read Lately (BSIHORL) award today:

I don’t think that there’s much question that our culture is going over a cliff. I think the only question may be: “How long are the skid marks?”

“Health and Safety Gone Mad, Mate”

Thursday, December 24th, 2009

I was praying to the GooglGodz trying to get ahold of some remnants of Mark Steyn’s brilliant co-hosting of the Rush Limbaugh program yesterday morning. I’m using “remnant” as an umbrella term. Evidence backing up what he was saying…partial transcript…audio. I let my 24/7 membership lapse, and the service, while amusing at times, has landed in my “luxury” file. Which means it isn’t up for consideration until I’m a zillionaire and own everything. Maybe not even then.

And even if I had it, I don’t recall it being much use to me when it came time to find transcripts of what substitute hosts have had to say.

Evidence to back up what Steyn was saying; I did find some. His point was this: “little laws,” like our leviathan of a health care act that has just made it past both floors of our Congress, represent not only a death-by-a-thousand-paper-cuts to freedom and liberty. They change the character of the people over whom they have their jurisdiction. People start to look at life differently and start to think differently, just as a man’s brain cells die off one by one when his oxygen supply has been cut off. In the UK, says Steyn, the phrase that is the headline of this post, has become a popular cliche. It comes out reliable-as-rain, anytime a bewildered newcomer is informed that he can’t do this-or-that because he doesn’t have a license.

He told the story of a funeral being held for an acquaintance of his, and his own surprise at seeing this large shopping-cart thing being used by a decent chap who was supposed to be a “pall bearer.” Any attempt to do justice to this clip would be futile. Let it just suffice to say the conversation quickly drifted into bathos in the first minute, and then floated downward into thickening absurdity for several minutes more.

Stepladders are banned in the library, so if you want something from the top shelf and you’re less than eight feet tall you’re just outta luck. What can I say? Health-n-Safety Gone Mad, Mate.

Blog-Uncle Gerard thinks we have followed our mother country off the precipice and we aren’t coming back. His argument is a weighty one packing much substance and historical evidence. But it is a disagreement of spirits, not of fact, and in spirit I cannot disagree more.

It comes down to this: His facts and trends are historically valid, but cherry-picked, and there are other facts and trends to see. Mankind desires freedom — there’s one. For over a generation now, America has been the last nostril unplugged all over the globe. Every other country is murmuring some variant of “it’s health-n-safety, mate.” With the last blowhole now obstructed and our known universe airtight, is it really a foregone conclusion what will happen next? The doom-n-gloomers (you’ll see by the comment thread, I am vastly outnumbered there) all share this insurmountable contradiction: We are sure to lose our freedom because nothing ever remains static…and yet…after we have lost our freedom, things shall remain static. My rejoinder to this is you have to pick one of these or the other. You can’t have both. And if you cannot have both, your argument is rent asunder.

If we are sliding inexorably toward a bloodbath, then at some point the bloodbath has to be over. All of mankind won’t live in a nanny-state; not over every single square inch of the globe. And that is history talking, too. At some point the adrenaline has to kick in. It would be truly unprecedented for this not to happen.

Hope for the revolution to be somehow bloodless? Of course we can hope for that. We should; we must; we have great reason to keep it alive. We are, still, the one place most friendly to the bloodless revolution.

But it is useless to hope for, or despair of, no revolution at all. The anti-freedom people, like Sisyphus, roll their boulder to the top of the mountain yet one more time — and it finally stays there?

It’s just contrary to the way the universe works. Can’t happen.

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?

That Jackhole Harlan Ellison

Sunday, December 13th, 2009

Might as well link to this tempest-in-a-teapot we had last week over at Daphne’s place about Harlan Ellison, brilliant science fiction writer, creator of such fine classics as Demon With a Glass Hand, which I consider to be among the finest Outer Limits episodes ever made.

Commenter Gordon nails it:

Harlan Ellison is an asshole. Just ask him.

Could be. I certainly think those who are defending Mr. Ellison, trying to take issue with the fact that he’s an asshole, therefore asserting he is somehow not an asshole, are short-changing the curmudgeon and handicapping his effort. Yes, effort. This is what is so right about what Gordon’s saying. Ellson is not an accidental asshole. He’s on a mission to be one.

He finds the faith others place in God, to be “ridiculous and annoying.”

As President Obama might say — Let me be clear. I don’t think this makes him an asshole because I happen to believe in God. What I think makes him an asshole, is finding such private matters to be ridiculous and annoying. Yes, you could say the football player is making it a public matter by saying it out loud. But it’s still the relationship the football player has to the Almighty, which remains a private thing. It certainly isn’t being offered up for discussion or debate.

I’m not Jewish. But if someone else finds Jewish people to be ridiculous or annoying, this is not alright with me. I don’t want to be around this guy, I look on him contemptuously, I don’t want him making decisions about anything. Ditto for the Catholic who finds Protestants to be ridiculous/annoying…or vice-versa. We, as a civilized society, to our credit, do not put up with this. It doesn’t matter what religion you have, or what the other guy has.

Well, atheism is a religion. Maybe it isn’t as long as it remains pure agnosticism. But ask an atheist to explain how everything got here, he’ll have an explanation ready to go — and by the time he’s laid it out on the table, what you’ve got there is a religion, no two ways about it.

How come they get a pass on this? They got a nose-flattening coming just as surely as any Jew-hating gentile, Muslim-hating Jew, atheist-hating Christian, Shi’ite-hating Sunni…et cetera.

I’m sorry, there’s “eccentricity,” as in “oh, you lovable whackadoodle, you just keep cranking out those wonderful stories and I don’t care about the other stuff!” And then there is pure bile. This is the latter. Harlan Ellison is an asshole.

Update: Once again, from the quill pen of Gerard Van der Leun as he comments at Daphne’s spot…to my scrapbook…

Another author of mine who was a sciencefiction writer once told me about a convention of SF writers and fans.

At a reception, a group of old SF hands were standing about and watching a younger writer regal[e] a chunk of enthralled fans with this or that bit of boasting and self-aggrandizement. One writer said, “You know, that guy reminds me of a young Harlan.”

Another looked for a moment and said, “You’re right. Let’s kill him now.”