Monthly Archives: July 2013

Why Isn’t This Creepy?

Or, more properly:  this is creepy — really, really creepy — but shockingly high numbers of people seem totally ok with it.

Over at Morgan’s there’s a discussion of those people who occupy

that lofty height where, the moment you make a mistake or commit a crime, it ceases to be a mistake or crime because you’re the mega-awesome guy who did it

The Germans have a word for this, as the Germans so often do:  Fuhrerprinzip.

The ideology of the Führerprinzip sees each organization as a hierarchy of leaders, where every leader (Führer, in German) has absolute responsibility in his own area, demands absolute obedience from those below him and answers only to his superiors.  This required obedience and loyalty even over concerns of right and wrong.

So far, so commonplace.  Everything a liberal does, thinks, or says is good, because he’s a liberal.  But — and here’s the creepy part — only if you’ve reached a certain level of celebrity.

Think about that for a sec.  Our Betters are constantly pushing for bigger, stronger, more intrusive PC regimes anywhere two or more of them congregate. Were I accused of workplace sexual harassment, no amount of Dennis Kucinich bumper stickers or Mother Jones back issues in my cubicle could save me.  A Bob Filner who managed a Home Depot would be torn apart by a howling mob of HR shrikes no matter how “progressive” his politics.

Bill Clinton, on the other hand, had no less hoary a feminist battleaxe than Gloria Steinem claiming — in the New York Times! — that he gets One Free Grope.

I don’t understand why more people don’t find this creepy.  It’s not just the breathtaking hypocrisy of a Nancy Pelosi, the highest-ranking field marshal in the #WarOnWomen, declining to pass judgment on Bob Filner.  Politicians, after all, look out for their own.  It’s that nobody else seems to have a problem with it either.  Are there editorials on Daily Kos calling for Filner to step down?  Does Democratic Underground have a few harsh words for Anthony Weiner?

As with President Obama’s many, many, many should-be scandals, the only “outrage” I detect from our friends on the left is frustration that they got caught.  If it’s wrong in principle to propose that your female underling come to work without her panties on, I surely can’t tell from any liberal commentary anywhere on the web.  And yet, should any private citizen try it…

Yet more proof, I guess — if any were still needed at this point — that cognitive dissonance only works on conservatives.

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Memo For File CLXXXII

For quite some time I’ve been convinced that a lot of the arguing people do is about things that aren’t discussed directly within the arguments themselves; they’re arguing about other things. Years ago I noticed that it seems to have something to do with how people have taught themselves to see the world around them, theorizing that every time people have to come up with their own solutions to vexing problems, they further entrench themselves into one of two “sides” of a supreme, great-granddaddy, top-level division, with all other divisions emerging merely as subsequent consequences of that. And then I identified some safe generalizations to make about it. There is a cycle at work here: Each of these complex problems can be resolved in one of two ways; the talents we’ve managed to build up for ourselves since learning to walk, determine how we’re going to try to solve the problem; once we’ve set out to solve the problem that way, our reliance on that certain set of techniques is going to be strengthened, even if we fail at what we’re trying to do. Much like a right- or left-handed person becomes more right- or left-handed every time he or she does something like writing, or shoveling, or anything else that involves hands.

Just wading back into the Architect/Medicator divide, deep enough to wet the toes: An Architect-type is going to rely on his understanding of, and his ability to figure out, cause-and-effect to get what he wants. He’ll try to figure out what the machinery is, what effect a component part has on another component part. A Medicator will rely on his social skills to do it; he’ll share his feelings. The Architect will rely on thinking and the Medicator will rely on feeling.

– I –

The other disagreements, I think, trickle down from that unified-common-ancestor division. Because the Architect plans on recouping his reward after, and only after, he’s puzzled out some Rube Goldberg type of array of interconnected pieces & parts, he works according to a doctrine of delayed gratification. The Medicator, on the other hand, is trying to start a socially relayed narrative of “I want me some of that,” hoping that the communication eventually reaches the ears of someone who will just give it to him, or at least make it more accessible to him. Delayed gratification has nothing to do with this. In fact, since the sense of urgency is what’s being rewarded, he’s really all about the opposite which is immediate-gratification. Why does he place his confidence in this? Because it’s worked. It’s always worked. Since he was a baby, it’s worked. You say what you want, and a bit later you get it. If you don’t get it, you need to try harder.

This may come off as sour grapes from someone who was raised — annoyingly, at the time — with the benefits of delayed-gratification in mind; as in, darn it, those other kids were able to whine and cry and get what they wanted, and I wasn’t. Well, I shouldn’t deny that there’s any of that going on. It would be natural. But that doesn’t invalidate the point, now does it. All that’s been asserted here is that some people have been motivated to work with details and other people have not. That, and the people who don’t work with details, who simply announce what it is they want and are very likely to get it, tend to keep that action-reaction, stimulus-response feedback loop going pretty much womb to tomb. And that these are the people with “charisma,” who walk into a room and light it up. But experience has shown this to be the case. And, it makes sense. Watch one of those room-lighter-upper people some time, you see this isn’t a talent you learn just a couple of Thursdays ago. It’s a skill that is strengthened and sharpened since before the baby can walk.

Some people are naturally bright and accomplished, and can burn the candle from both ends. They can write computer code that others can’t write, and also, brighten up the room by walking into it. But those are very rare cases, they’re the exceptions that prove the rule. There are even jokes about this: “What does a software engineer use for birth control? Personality.”

But the Architect/Medicator understanding goes a bit deeper than this, and takes a turn we don’t discuss before a general audience. There are parts to it that don’t make Medicators happy. That’s why we don’t talk about it; we’re inclined not to do things that make Medicators unhappy, because — well, Medicators are good at motivating people away from things that would make Medicators unhappy. They’re very, very good at this. It’s how they get the things they want, by motivating those around them toward the desired, and away from the undesired. For starters, Medicators are not, contrary to popular opinion, very strongly attracted toward creative efforts. We’re often made to feel like they’re in the process of building something big and grand, and it seldom occurs to anyone to look into the rear view mirror afterward and ask: Okay, so what exactly got built? If you do that, the answer that consistently comes back is: Not really much of anything. If a Medicator movement does culminate in the creation of something that didn’t exist before, it’s usually some kind of rulebook about what other people shouldn’t do. Beyond that, they don’t create much. Their energies tend to go into destruction. You have to think like an Architect to create something of any complexity. That’s only natural, because you have to think about states of objects, and their ramifications, and what-causes-what. That is not the Medicator’s bag.

Obama Wrecking BallAlso, creating things is not very fun; not if you’re disinclined from following the details. And it isn’t fun to watch. Sam Rayburn said, “Any jackass can kick a barn door down, but it takes a carpenter to build it back.” So if you don’t work with details, you’re pretty much confined to destructive efforts in life. This is the hard truth that tends to elude us. You can see it in the Presidents of the United States over the last hundred years or so. We keep trying to find that charismatic guy who just energizes everyone around him, and builds great, grand things. It hasn’t happened. Some windbag gets in there, gives a lot of speeches, and after four-to-eight years we have nothing to show for it but more debt, a lot of wreckage and more rules. The cycle repeats and repeats, and as we get frustrated we’re inclined to blame “the two parties” or “the system.” But deep down everybody already knows it’s the voters who are to blame for this, because the voters “know” something about how people work that they don’t really know. A true creator-of-big-things would not seek this job. If he did, he wouldn’t get any votes. That’s the plain truth of it.

We shouldn’t be entrusting the entire country’s creative efforts to just a coterie of elites, and if we do that, we shouldn’t be confining that trust to individuals whose talents are in destructive efforts. Bad things happen when we do that. That is not to say John Holdren’s weird smiley-face-Eugenicist take on things is the ultimate destination of everybody who has charisma; I don’t even know that the man is a good representative of them. For all I know he could be quite boring, a typical egghead-turned-mad-scientist straight out of the Wolfenstein video game. But…Rayburn, and the barn door. It is easier to destroy than to create. Holdren’s words impress me as the words of someone who simply got tired of putting in effort, and found a way to attach a livelihood to less effort. We’ve thought this before, back in the day: Oh, those undesirable classes of people, they’re too much trouble and they’re breeding too fast. Sterilize them.

Just as a destructive effort can be made to look like a creative one, so too can an endeavor toward chaos look like one toward order. Again, the details: Some are inclined to work with them, others aren’t. If you don’t want to work with details and you’re far enough along in life, and sufficiently entrenched in your chosen method of solving complex problems that you can’t quite build the aptitude to work with those details — your two choices for a life goal are chaos and idleness. And of course no one truly likes to be idle, because that means being ineffectual. And so we have these outspoken people running around, Medicators trying to do their medicating, embarking on all these moral crusades toward chaos; they drive us toward chaos by removing details and definitions from things. I fear that lately this is quickening toward some kind of climax, for haven’t you noticed? All of the big disagreements, lately, have to do with defining things. Or, not-defining things, or un-defining things, or re-defining things. All of our big quibbles seem to have to do with definitions of things. It was not ever thus. Perhaps I’m wrong, and this is all cyclical. Things in nature, particularly with living things, tend to happen in cycles. But then, I think about the Stein Rule that says, whatever cannot last forever, won’t. And yes, it does seem we are approaching some kind of climax. If that’s the case, then a choice confronts us, soon, about order versus chaos. And the choice has to do with the grappling of details; some among us can’t, or won’t. If there is a final “Gathering” about to happen, they’ll either be punished with absolute ineffectuality or rewarded with absolute monopolistic authority, depending on which one we choose.

– II –

From the above, a question emerges: Do the details even matter? This primary-split between Architects and Medicators leads to all, or most, of the arguing we do about anything else, because some of us have learned since toddler-hood that no problem can be solved without grappling with the details, and others among us have learned that there’s no effective solution that truly relies on them, therefore those of us who sweat and lose sleep over them are just being silly. The latter group is often seen, in a ritual that appears to make perfect sense to them, participating in absurd committee hearings and town hall meetings — in some cases even voting sessions, as a legislative body — “passing the bill so we can find out what’s in it,” to coin a phrase. This is, I think, what Dennis Prager was talking about when he said “I’d rather have clarity than agreement.”

I recall, on a personal matter, missing out on a meeting invitation I was supposed to be getting…when I made inquiries, I was told there wasn’t “any point” to inviting me, since it was known that I “wouldn’t get on board” with the prevailing consensus, and I think others have shared this kind of experience once or twice maybe. I suspect it is much more commonplace for this to play out, than for someone to actually admit to it like that, since it’s counterproductive and strange when you think about it: We’re going to have this “meeting,” ostensibly to gather opinions and build this consensus, but the reality is that the consensus is already put together and we’re just going to have this meeting to get it properly disseminated — and, reinforced. The Medicators, it turns out, would rather have the agreement than the clarity. Again, think back to how they become Medicators in the first place. “Mommy! Daddy! Lookit Me!” …and…that’s how you get stuff. That’s how it’s done. Get the attention, first, then get the stuff. In between the getting of the attention and the getting of the stuff, there is the formation of this “consensus” that will say you can get whatever it is you want at the time. It’s a powerful, powerful force, since it’s developed from the early years. Well, the fact is that once that’s done, clarity is going to be a barricade against getting that thing, and agreement is going to be an enforcement. So there is a natural consequential desire setting in here, toward agreement, and away from clarity. Have to pass it to find out what’s in it. No point inviting you to the meeting because you won’t get on board.

And from that, there is a natural desire of Medicators to elevate process over outcome, and a contrary and complementary desire among those on the other side, to elevate outcome over process. It is in the nature of Architects to be MacGyvers. Some of us get into engineering of some kind, in which MacGyver-ing is quite frowned-upon because each device, be it complex or be it simple, is to be designed and then implemented toward a designated and definable purpose, that & nothing more. But the truth of it is: There is no radioactive schism here, between the “Proper Engineering” Architects and the MacGyver-ing Architects. The MacGyver guys who are drawn toward using paper clips & chewing gum as divining rods and time bombs, can be hired on as engineers, observe the rules, and follow them; and the more straight-laced by-the-rules engineers, can be stranded on deserted islands and figure out how to make this-thing from that-stuff just like the best MacGyver there ever was. People adapt. But the broader split between Architects and Medicators, endures, and people cannot simply hop from one side of it to the other. They may think they can, but they can’t. It’s like a right-handed calligrapher doing his work with his left hand; it’s not natural, and if it’s any good, it’s slow. If it isn’t slow, it isn’t any good.

Did You Get Good Results?And so we have people who follow the process, even at the expense of common sense. They may say that they are after good results, and they’ll protest any insinuation that they’ve failed to achieve them; but if you watch them, you see that they themselves do not watch their own results. Nor can those results be even brought to their attention, if they happen to be undesirable results. Theirs is a world in which, when theory encounters a conflict with reality, the reality must yield to the theory rather than the other way around. They do not derive conclusions from facts; they accept and reject the facts, according to whether those facts comport with their chosen narratives. They do a lot of arguing, but if you watch the arguing closely you’ll see a lot of it consists of telling other people not to point something out. My own experience with being told not to come to meetings because I wouldn’t-get-on-board, is a good example of this. When you’re trying to achieve agreement at the expense of clarity, and your supreme goal is to adhere to a process and you’re not really paying attention to the outcome — you’re going to have to start to get choosey about what can & cannot be discussed.

Here we come to another baffling thing about Medicators: They have their own brand of science which works more-or-less in reverse polarity from what we classically understand that word to describe. Theirs is a sort of anti-science, a negative science — it works, not by way of the continuous accumulation of information, but by getting rid of it. I’ve now and then used the metaphor of the sculptor, asked how he goes about carving such beautiful statues of horses, responds with something like “I start with a block of marble and I get rid of everything that doesn’t look like a horse.” That’s very much how the Medicators achieve their agreement; it reveals how this is done at the expense of clarity. And, I suppose that’s why people are disinvited from so-called “meetings.” You start with all the opinions, and you get rid of anything that doesn’t look like the one you want.

WANT. I have to pause to take note of that. Medicators are hooked on immediate gratification at the expense of delayed gratification; they do not deal with details unless they’re forced into it, and even then they only do the bare minimum, falling short of what would be required to anticipate a true need. This is where it comes hazardous to chair these “push” meetings, for purpose of forcing an already-defined conclusion down everybody’s throats, while pretending to “pull” opinions out of those in attendance — this established conclusion very rarely has anything to do with a true need. Medicators live in a world of wants-before-needs because, again, that’s the way it’s worked since before they could walk. If the baby-toddler really did need something but not want it, you’re going to find this is what mom-n-dad figured out for themselves, and provided before the baby-toddler figured out it was going to be needed. So, the baby-toddler grew older and older, being concerned mostly only about wants…and, with very few exceptions, grew up that way. Need is something you worry about when you actually sweat the details. When you’re really building something.

What is there for the rest of us to do? I don’t know. Obviously, the immediate goal should be to try to point out whatever it is that makes this desirable-opinion not really quite so desirable — if there is anything — but do it in such a way that it doesn’t tick them off. Well, it seems that two-part goal is unworkable because it contradicts itself: You have to go along, or else you’ve already ticked ’em off. The Medicator’s OODA loop is one of subtractive knowledge, they are winnowing and not gathering, they’re working like the sculptor with his block of marble. They like to think they’re truly discussing things. But discussing things calls for examining details, and the truth is they haven’t done that since toddler-hood because there hasn’t been any reason for them to do so.

As a matter of fact, eerily enough, an awful lot of the Medicator’s argument follows a rather elaborate but well-established template: This message is banned. I hate it, come gather around and help me hate it. It may be banned in the past, or it may be about to be banned…perhaps there is no movement, in the past or in the present, to get it banned and I am only now trying to establish such a movement. And perhaps it does not cause me personally any great offense, but I am showing my sensitivity by predicting — and I shall not take no for an answer — that some individual or group within my imagination may find it offensive. But none of that matters, for I have deemed the message to be intolerable, so help me get the ball rolling here, help me get “The Wave” started. And we shall rip out this weed from the garden of our larger discourse, and sow salt deep into the ground where it was, so that all our friends and foes will be repelled from ever mentioning it again.

That’s the template, and there’s a lot going on there. First, there’s the idea that we all become “better” in some way…presumably, smarter…from having knowledge removed. That’s your reverse-polarity science kicking in there, they think they’re learning more by way of knowing less. Secondly: The movement to get the knowledge banned, becomes more influential — and respectable — when more people participate in it. This is the consensus-thinking, the agreement-over-clarity; if we “all” agree on it, there’s no need for clarity, because we’ve already agreed. I have to put “all” in scare quotes because, as noted, they’re achieving this consensus by kicking people out of meetings, like the sculptor carving the horse. So their consensus argument ends up being a bit of nonsense, a bit of “We know we’re right, because everyone who agrees with us, agrees with us.” Thirdly, there is the idea that the message becomes a tumor that must be removed from the larger host, not because it is false, questionable or could lead to bad consequences, but because of real or imagined offense. This is in keeping with the clarity-agreement divide. If clarity is your goal, you don’t give a hang about offensive messages; quite to the contrary, you’d welcome the offensive messages before the inoffensive ones, knowing that a paradigm shift that may perhaps be a helpful one now & then, will naturally cause some measure of discomfort, just like a disinfectant on an open wound will always cause some stinging. Don’t you remember what your parents told you when you skinned or elbow or knee by being a bit too adventurous? That’s how you know it’s working. Well, information is the same way. But if you value agreement over clarity, and feeling over thinking, of course you’re not going to want that.

There is also the aggrieved person who is actually experiencing the offense. You’ll notice this is very rarely an individual. This just doesn’t pack a wallop. Imagine you’re at an office party and one of your co-workers experienced some family tragedy, either lately or from way on back. Obviously a joke at his expense referencing such a thing is going to be frowned-upon; but how much? Certainly it isn’t going to rise to the “Don’t bother coming in Monday” level, even if the target of the joke is a high-ranking executive. No, to get fired you have to offend a class. In fact, you have a much better chance of being given the bum’s-rush, offering a hypothetical offense to an imaginary class, than making a real and intentionally mean-spirited offense against an individual. So there is something else that starts to happen here: If you want to protest a real or imagined offense eagainst someone, to make yourself look more sensitive and empathic, you should protest on behalf of a class and not an individual, even if the class’ offense is something you’re only imagining. You have a much better chance of “proving” your worth. The point is, that with this kind of problem-solving methodology in place, and dominating the discussion, the individual always suffers in importance. It is unavoidable.

The sensitivity on behalf of these real-or-imagined classes, and their real-or-imagined feelings of offense, is phony of course. Hyper-sensitivity is not true empathy, although the English language falls short of making any kind of distinction between these two things. That does not mean, however, that this distinction is not there, or that it isn’t extremely important. Empathy is testable.

– III –

Because the Medicators place so much importance on this ritual of finding and censoring messages that might offend classes of people, and are thus inclined to diminish the role of the individual, yet another key question arises which, by answering it in a way that makes sense to them, causes conflict with the Architects who think in terms of cause-and-effect and remain sufficiently disciplined to figure out how to build things that actually work: Can people do that sort of stuff?

You see it in the “gun control” debates, you see it in the ObamaCare debates, you see it in the debates about Boy Scouts and home-schooling and labor unions: Are people self-sufficient and capable…and should they be?. You have to do some digging to find out what people are really trying to advance here (and you’ll notice, since 2005, the link behind that link seems to have died, so it’s a good thing I lifted the text). There are two cultures we’re seeing, here, thriving in their own home turfs, and then coming into conflict when they meet up with each other. The Architect’s frame of mind is one in which something is wanted, or needed, and the person pursuing it can see that certain necessities emerge. Cause-and-effect. So the prerequisites are completed…which requires individual action, or at the very least, individual planning. In the other culture, the want is communicated. It is then to be expected that some kind of system will be set up to deliver. And what if it doesn’t?

Here we see why there is so much complaining going on right now. When you’re dependent, and you don’t see yourself as an active individual capable of putting all the steps in place to reach the goal, and the only thing you can do is communicate the desire and communicate it again until it gets fulfilled, well…you communicate. It ends up sounding like complaining because — ta-da, by definition, that’s exactly what it is. The system is set up, and if it doesn’t work, you complain until it works. Here is something else people should take into account, I think, before enmeshing themselves further into the Medicator mindset: It is conducive, in this way, toward negativity. There’s not much gratitude toward the engineer who has to come out on a hot day and get the ticket dispensing machine working by the light rail station. There is only nastiness when it doesn’t work. The turnstyle is skipped, so the system is robbed of its fare, which is considered to be “just desserts” for the crime of leaving that machine broken. Sometimes, the machines are even more smashed up…that really oughta show ’em.

But the truth is, when people don’t feel like they can do things for themselves, and therefore have embarked on this lifelong journey of greater and greater reliance on the system that dispenses their cough drops and their hand sanitizer and their doggie poop bags and their light rail tickets…and their health care…their confidence is never really complete. This is an exchange of opportunity for security, in which the full price is paid but the prize of the transaction is never quite realized. It “feels” like a win, because Medicators value the security more highly; and feeling is their way of perceiving the world around them, so “feel” is good enough. But, again, results. What are the results. What is the probability that a truly dedicated community-before-individuality kiosk-serviced Medicator is going to achieve perfect attendance at his job or his school, at the end of the year…compared to an Architect type who wears a Leatherman on his belt everywhere he goes…and maybe a gun. Packs his own lunch, packs his own hand sanitizer, packs his own chewing gum, packs his own sunscreen, drives his truck. The price is paid, but the prize is not acquired, for the guy who relies on things outside of himself doesn’t enjoy any greater probability for getting where he wants to go. This has to do with locus of control, the internal versus the external. It isn’t that the light rail will fail any more often than the other guy’s pickup truck — that actually isn’t very likely to happen at all. The question is: What happens next? Do you really think the light rail guy has a backup plan ready if something happens to his ride? Probably not. What about the guy driving his truck, who turned the key and found the engine didn’t turn over? He’s much more likely to have planned for this, and exercised his options. It’s part of relying on yourself, you do what you can as far as contingency planning. It’s just part of what you do.

This is not to say that Medicators cannot admire individuals. They do. They admire…Warren Buffett, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton. But they don’t know why. Ask them what Hillary has accomplished, or what specifically is so awesome and wonderful about President Obama, and you get back this biggest load of undefinable rubbish. Mr. Buffett, of course, is a billionaire, that’s definable. But you don’t have to discuss things with them too much longer, before you discover that in their world that is supposed to be a bad thing, at least when other people manage to do it. So it seems Warren Buffett and George Soros get some kind of pass, they’re allowed to make money? I’m not sure, I haven’t been able to get a meaningful answer out of them on this point, and you probably haven’t been able to either. They themselves don’t seem to understand how it works. Some people are allowed to make excessive amounts of money…and, some people are allowed to have glory, to be credited with individual accomplishments. The rest of us are not. Even if we agree with the political agenda, we’re not allowed to do these things.

But, again — you inquire what exactly are these accomplishments, you don’t get back too much by way of thoughtfulness. Very little detail, aside from what has been copied off web pages. “Worked really hard” and things like that. In the case of Joe Biden, Janet Napolitano and others, it gets downright embarrassing. What wonderful, excellent leaders these people are! And we know this…how? What exactly are the individual attributes they have that others don’t have? Conviction? Wisdom? We hear a lot about “leadership” and “passion,” since leadership can be left vague and undefined, and passion is, well, a pretty low bar to clear. But it is in the nature of the Medicators to confuse the excellent with the mediocre. The vanguards of their movement are all recognizable, nominally famous in some cases. But other than that, there isn’t too much to be specifically explored or cited insofar as what sets them apart.

It seems we can safely conflate this quality of being able to make money, and remain a good person, with this other quality of being able to be recognized as an individual who has accomplished something uniquely his, or hers. What we can’t safely conclude is: Is this merely a desire to advance the political agenda? It does not seem so, to me. There are a lot of good, intelligent people walking around out there who do not self-identify as “left wing” or “liberals.” But they’ll agree that John Kerry is the very best Secretary of State we can possibly have, perhaps even enthusiastically, although they’ll do it by feeling instead of by thinking — such that they cannot name a single quality Kerry has that makes him uniquely suited for this post. Same goes for all the left-wing superstars, or for that matter musicians or actors or anybody else with talent generally acknowledged to be superior to the average, but undefinable. Which I think provides support for what I said up top: Some people learn in childhood how to feel instead of how to think, and as a result, end up putting their faith, throughout their entire lives, in persons and institutions that are arguably unworthy. These people are known for, among other things, treating the entertainment industry as something other than the entertainment industry. They start to respect Julia Roberts and George Clooney and Bono as experts on climate change, and credit them for eradicating poverty in places where they haven’t actually eradicated it yet. It comes from spending a lifetime of treating toys as tools, and treating tools as weird otherworldly things that ordinary people shouldn’t be having.

Hope and HopelessnessThis has an effect on the belief in self-defense. This must be the entrance ramp to liberalism, for the “centrists” who do not self-identify as part of the political left, tend to agree with the political right about it. I’ve used the situation many times before of two students hauled to the principal’s office for getting into a fight, and it is somehow established that one kid threw the first punch and the other kid threw the last one. The common sense solution is that the bulk of the punishment should be for the one who started the fight. Centrists do not side with liberals here, even if those centrists are Medicators; the liberals stand alone in saying, punish the kid who finished the fight, always bring greater injury to whoever is stronger. But, over time, a process of seduction is applied against those whose life-travels have brought them into the Medicator mindset. The feeling over the thinking. The process over the outcome. The external locus of control. After a relentless drumbeat of propaganda, some new ideas set in, much like the serpent slithering in to the Garden of Eden to offer up an apple: Gosh, it’s so unfair…maybe the bully kid started the fight in the first place, because he’s misunderstood.

So this Medicator thinking leads to liberalism, by way of a cognitive avenue that is slick, dark, sultry, seductive, tempting. It’s also just incoherent. The “good” side is the side that manages to get the last word in…but that is only proof of what was known before, because the good side became good during something prior, in which the other side finished off a fight by throwing the last punch. Everything is compensatory, and therefore contradictory. And also useless. You don’t know what is to be done, other than giving this artificial advantage to the runts-of-the-litter who were short-changed, somehow, by nature…or by the marketplace. That much is plain, but what comes afterward is just a big black emptiness. Okay, so so-and-so is going to have the last word on something, and everyone supporting so-and-so is going to feel really good about that. Then what? What do we get, exactly? Fiscal solvency? Or less fighting and we all start getting along? More jobs? Fewer wars? None of these seem to materialize…but again…process over outcome.

I feel badly for them, really. It seems to me that while they talk a lot about hope, they deny themselves the optimistic vision and internal-locus-of-control that is necessary for real hope. They are confusing hope with fear, even in the midst of insisting that hope conquered fear the day their guy won the election. The more you look at what they think they know, and why it is they think they know it…and how they’re motivated to think about the next thing, and act according to it…how they “learn” more by getting rid of knowledge rather than adding on to it…you see they’re living in fear. They’re surrounded by fear, and have no idea that fear is their life-blood, because they refuse to admit it to themselves. But it’s provable, because their so-called “hope” is, as I wrote, “merely the pockets of emptiness between the clouds of dread.” They hope they don’t miss their light rail. They hope they’re not accosted or mugged while waiting at the station. They hope they can find a job, they hope they don’t get sick while they don’t have health insurance, they hope they don’t lose their stuff.

Hoping that something bad doesn’t happen to you, isn’t hope. It’s fear. Nothing more, nothing less.

– IV –

I mentioned that Medicators have a propensity for confusing the excellent with the mediocre. The confusion seems related to, and is perhaps one and the same with, confusing true “hope” with merely an empty pocket within a vast deluge of fear. Since we know Medicators are Medicators because of upbringing, and an insufficiently expanded worldview that makes external-locus-of-control look like the natural order of things (arguably, Architects are Architects for the same reason, they believe in internal-locus becasue they’ve never known anything else), a fascinating possibility emerges: They will not consider the idea that John kerry and Hillary Clinton’s and Joe Biden’s sense of judgment is anything less than stellar and godlike, because they simply don’t appreciate the rewards of truly good judgment. They see it where it does not exist, because they don’t know what it looks like.

In fact, I think they see all sorts of wonderful human qualities, that exist at the individual level, in places where those qualities do not exist — because they just don’t understand them. I do not mean to say these people lack decency, compassion, intelligence, or any of all the other positive human qualities. I wouldn’t say that; I don’t believe it is true. What I mean to say is this: They do not truly believe the individual is the best place to find these qualities. It’s like Sen. Kennedy was saying with his “facing down individualism” thing. But here is an enigma: Because they do not believe it is there, somehow this leads to them “finding” it where it doesn’t exist. This is not the logically expected outcome; if someone believes something isn’t there, I would expect him to do something different — seeing it in front of him, and refusing to admit it. This is more like the exact opposite. All these mediocre democrat public “servants,” they are individuals, are they not?

There is something social happening here. Socially rewarding. And punishing, too. Recall the thing about getting rid of opinions, and facts as well, that do not fit a narrative. Those who’ve been dis-invited from these agreement-over-clarity meetings because they “wouldn’t get on board” know what I know, that before you’re finally asked to step out and not let the doorknob hit you in the ass, there is an escalating procession of these little mid-course corrections…and rebukes…and put-downs and beat-downs, leading, should the ritual proceed this far, to the opening of a can of whoop. And then the final ostracism. Well, that’s the punishment. There are rewards, too, or at least the anticipation of these rewards.

If the narrative is that Hillary Clinton is the smartest woman in the whole world…then, simply put, you have the prospect of increased stature in the community, if you opine exactly that. Similarly, you diminish your stature if you say something to the contrary, or “no I think Sarah Palin might be smarter,” or “If Danica Patrick came in fourth, does that meant there were three guys who did better?” Those don’t fit the narrative, so not only do they get a beat-down, but there is a perceived cumulative reward for those who participate in the beat-down. This is, I think, a holdover from earlier times in which the town hall meeting was only an occasional necessity, and something of a novelty. Survival itself was actually something of a luxury.

When people decide things in groups, it seems to be an inevitability that just a very few within the group are going to amass the lion’s share of influence in deciding what the group is going to be deciding. Someone is at the pinnacle, and it may or may not be the person who wears the actual title. There’s always a lead-dog in the pack…and, as the saying goes, all the other dogs can see nothing but someone else’s ass. If the group is very large, there is going to be an “inner circle.” This part seems almost mathematical: There will be a “Big Five” if the overall group numbers between fifteen and thirty, or so. If there are more than a hundred in the total membership, the inner circle will be between ten and twenty. But always there is that one guy at the tippy top. All these people pack more of a punch than the average bear…but nobody, anywhere, can say exactly why. Other than one word: “Charisma.” Everybody wants to do whatever it is they say should be done, because they look around and see: Everybody else is also going to want to do whatever it is they say. Conflict would be unprofitable, futile, and injurious to the self. It is an expedient calculation.

It is most visible when it doesn’t make sense. Which is something that happens quite a bit, actually. Example: How much does Barack Obama know about health care? Even the most ardent Obama supporter would (eventually) admit this isn’t really Our First Holy President’s shtick, right? Maybe after a few drinks. But here we are; the whole nation is going to count on Him to make the system all wonderful. It’s a good thing He’s not the one who wrote what He’s selling, Congress did that. But then again, it doesn’t seem like Congress understands too much about it either. Again, details. Passing the bill so you can see what’s in it. Does anyone, anywhere, insist this is the best way? No. So how did we get here?

How we got here was group-think. Lots of groups, lots of meetings, in which members of the group were threatened with non-membership if they didn’t go along. That, and the prospect of social elevation for the people who did go along. It always strikes me as a fascinating exercise, and a bit surreal, not unlike watching hot coals around a campfire: Those which are positioned more toward the periphery, will eventually extinguish and become ineffectual nullities, contributing nothing to the fire and drawing nothing from the fire. If they’re shoved inward they have a chance at becoming part of the “inner circle” where the blue flames dance excitedly, and become part of the “in-crowd,” contributing much and drawing much benefit.

Here is the contradiction of the Medicator mindset: It feels, it believes it has some measure of empathy, it relates, it “groks.” With the underdog. It wants the underdogs to be helped — whoever didn’t throw the last punch, should have the last word, remember? So all noble efforts are compensatory in nature, redressing a previous unfair defeat with an artificial victory. Equal, equal, equal, we all should be equal. But it’s tethered inseparably to group think, and group think has to work around a caste system. There’s no other way for it to happen. So as much as they prattle on about “equality,” the truth is that a complete victory here would ruin them, as inequality is the gasoline for their engines. They bludgeon others into this agreement-over-clarity consensus-science pattern of thinking, by way of briberies and threats against the social stature.

You are to go-along-to-get-along…and in so doing, prove what a wonderful person you are. The results are not favorable, we’ve learned; in fact, much of the time they’re quite wretched. We should expect them to be. Because what is really happening here is that, as an arbiter of human goodness, the community or the government is being put in God’s place. We are putting a decision in the mortal domain, what belongs in the heavenly one.

Once that is done, everything rots. Respect becomes phony. People bow to one another…the peripheral coals long for and lust for positions closer to the center…and so they dutifully follow along, and insist that Eric Holder is uniquely qualified to be our country’s Attorney General, he’s an impartial and fair-minded dude and all that. But it’s phony because it isn’t heart-felt, it’s just something muttered to avoid banishment.

Cognitive DissonanceThey say things they don’t really mean. They support a stronger collective, with greater authority and more intrusive powers. But they don’t really mean any of it. As far as anyone can figure, they want more sacrifices to be made from individuals, so the “greater good” can win the day…but they always mean other individuals, not themselves.

The other thing that happens is, weakness and incompetence start to become desirable. Oh, nobody admits it. But…you become what you watch. If the underdog is championed every hour of every day, then the underdog is watched. The mistakes that were made by the underdog, that made him the underdog, are not called out. Instead, they are emulated. The people who are doing much better, on the other hand, are not watched, except with lots of scorn and resentment. Therefore, they are not emulated.

Material goods, be they luxuries or be they vitals, after awhile are no longer earned. All noble pursuits are compensatory in nature, remember, so rather than being surrendered to those who earned them, through hard work, contract, or both; they are made available to those who “need” them. This is a consequence of replacing the blessings of God with the approval of man. It turns out mortal humans don’t do this very well. Weakness and need become the “coin of the realm,” as I think Ayn Rand put it somewhere; and so, people are rewarded for doing all of the wrong things, things that bring injury to themselves, and do nothing to help out the community as a whole.

All this while everyone in the community — all the campfire coals, from the ones around the periphery on the verge of being extinguished, to the ones at the very center under the spectacularly hot blue flames — are under threat of banishment, every minute of every day, for possibly thinking the wrong things. This gets back to the earlier point about transactions, prices paid and prizes acquired; once again, we see it’s a bone-headed transaction because the price has to be paid in full, and the prize is not forthcoming. Opportunity for security; independent thinking for security; plans made that might truly work out, for security. But the security isn’t there. Everyone is under threat of ostracism, all of the time. Because, since humans have made themselves the final arbiters of whether they’re good humans or not, they have made themselves anti-human. They may think themselves wise, and shrewd, and full of “hope and change” and all that. But they’re no longer sacred, because according to their own credo, they no longer exist as the fulfillment of a wish of some greater, higher, more glorious being.

And so this credo leads to a worship of death, in one form or another. It always has. A resentment against success, has to metastasize into a resentment against life itself. It’s unavoidable.

– V –

Since Architects and Medicators disagree on how thinking is done, on whether thinking or feeling is the proper approach to a vexing problem that demands a complex solution, the very structure of the thoughts they think is remarkably different. Medicators live according to the passive voice sentence, the “it was the consensus that…” or “it is recommended that…” It’s almost unfair challenging them on why they think the things they think. It probably feels unfair to be asked, to them. After all, they’re just doing the same economizing that we all do, when it comes to remembering things long-term. The conclusion is important; but who said that? What was the rationale? Aw, heck. It is to be recommended…that…

The conflict that emerges most frequently and feverishly, is the one I pointed out earlier, about solving problems versus following rules. I was reading an interesting article lately on how to establish and preserve a culture of creativity, particularly within Information Technology…no mean feat, that. And it made an interesting point. “In our effort to normalize, standardize and optimize our industry, we have systematically stymied the creative forces in our teams. And that has left us vulnerable.”

But this is a much older situation than IT. It is in the nature of Medicators to take over and dominate. That’s because Medicators cannot truly negotiate; they will not learn how; there is no reason for them to do so. They don’t measure things. Measuring things is just meaningless detail. They are Monsters of the Id, wanting what they want when they want it. And, they get what they want by communicating — so, they have a reason to communicate, but no reason to compromise. They will always come out on top, in any organized society, unless & until specific countermeasures are put in place to keep them from dominating. That’s what has happened to IT, and only in the last fifteen years or so. People approached problems creatively, thinking about details, coming up with creative and productive solutions…sometimes they did it with good engineering principles in mind, sometimes they MacGyver’d it, sometimes it was a combination of those two things. And then, almost as if someone yelled “stop,” they began following rules. If that meant the problem went unfixed, then so be it.

The author of the article ‘fesses up to being part of the problem. Well, I’m part of the problem too. I was promoted from one engineering position to the next, until there was no place higher to which I could have been promoted. Then I became a project manager and started…well…enforcing rules. It became my job to destroy what others had built, because those things did not follow rules.

Process over outcome. It has long held a mysterious allure for us.

The new Jewish bride is making her first big dinner for her husband and tries her hand at her mother’s brisket recipe, cutting off the ends of the roast the way her mother always did. Hubby thinks the meat is delicious, but says, “Why do you cut off the ends — that’s the best part!” She answers, “That’s the way my mother always made it.”

The next week, they go to the old bubbie’s house, and she prepares the famous brisket recipe, again cutting off the ends. The young bride is sure she must be missing some vital information, so she askes her grandma why she cut off the ends. Grandma says, “Dahlink, that’s the only way it will fit in the pan!”

Just as this creates two different cultures, one living independently and one living kiosk-to-kiosk, it also creates two different economic systems. In the one, you work to earn money and then use that money to pay your bills; your sense of independence contributes to, and is nourished by, your work, since without your independence you have no ability, and without your ability you have nothing to sell. In the other, you hobble on from one day to the next, wanting things, and making a pain-in-the-ass out of yourself, to someone, until someone gives it to you. Just like the Medicator babies-and-toddlers being medicated with minute-to-minute fulfillments of their various wants by way of repetition of the “mom dad lookit me” litany. The difference is, of course, that if you earn money with your work, you have a claim on that money; the other guy has to give it to you whether he wants to or not, because it is now your property. In the other economic system, you have to make the guy feel like giving it to you. That’s done by making him feel sorry for you, or annoying him into it. Those are your two choices, and in either case, the results are soft; it may or may not work. You don’t have an actual claim.

Fleeing Their GovernmentOnce again, we see humanity is diminished when we live our lives the Medicator way. Governments always become oppressive, and after a time start to resist, and then attack, the governed. Nobody has a real claim to what they need to acquire, in order to survive. Even the bosses have to follow rules that don’t make any sense, and nobody can say who’s bossing the bosses around, because everything is viewed through a passive-voice frame of reference: The Rules Say that Congress can’t send out Christmas cards. How do we find out who’s bossing around the bosses? Maybe we could shed some light on it if some boss went and broke the rule, and waited to see who came along to punish him. But it doesn’t seem to happen. Meanwhile, the rules beckon not only inaction, but action as well, so we struggle along doing silly things that don’t actually help anyone anywhere. Building products nobody wants. Providing services nobody requested. But working…really, really hard.

This is a road to Communism; which, if we are to define it in a way that is truly meaningful to us and accurately reflects reality, applies not only to living in a commune, but doing so unproductively. It aggravates natural human jealousies to confuse the all-important difference between creation and destruction, and then it uses that confusion to harness good human energy toward destruction while making the actors think they’re acting creatively. It seeks to broaden the population of the lower classes, and to narrow the population of the more affluent ones, so it can achieve the greater support throughout the electorate for legalized plunder. It insists on failure. It guarantees failure. We know it will fail, every time.

STACI: They behave as if S)taple supplies are in short supply and should therefore be rationed — all of the time, as if we’re always in the Zombie Apocalypse, fighting for quarts of gasoline, firewood or drinking water. T)ime always began yesterday, they can’t remember that their last grand plan failed, or has yet to yield success, and total bliss is always just one revolution away. A)bundance is the sure-fire way to force people to like something, and to force people to dislike something all you have to do is conceal it from view and deprive them of it; the exacdt opposite of the way human nature really works. C)ommerce is something that becomes healthier and more robust if there is merely more activity; there is no “business” other than being “busy,” and prosperity doesn’t come from people genuinely helping each other. And I)ncentive is a mythology, if people are told what to do in the right way, they’ll forget all about their natural inclinations. Or they darn well should! Five ideas…five flawed, erroneous, always-mistaken ideas…and you’ll always find at least some of them in the wake of every failed plan from our friends, the liberals, the grown-up Medicators. They medicate too much, and loss of freedom, loss of respect for human life, poverty, blight and disaster, are the consistent results.

When you don’t plan for success, you plan for failure.

– VI –

Because of all the above, the Architects and Medicators naturally disagree on not only what humans are & are not capable of doing, but on what the human individual should be doing. The disagreement is between the ordinary and the extraordinary. In Medicator communities, the natural hostility unleashed against those who don’t fit in, leads inexorably to a lust for more and more cleanliness; more and more purity. This is a problem, because you can’t have “more and more” of something that exists, in actuality, only as the absence of something else. But Medicators work by social elevation. They want to become more-and-more of whatever they are, so they can get closer to the inner circle. They have no other way to succeed…

…they used to have other ways to succeed, but they got rid of those.

And so whatever it is they’ve been cleaning, they have to make even cleaner. Hence the many-times-repeated ritual of “look how much I hate this thing, come gather around and help me hate it.” Cleaner, cleaner, all the time, until there is nothing left to clean. Then, they’re like the dog that caught the car, they don’t know what to do next. Well, actually they do; that is the problem. They know what success, and right-minded thinking, look like — so anything that looks like anything else, must be wrong. So everything has to emulate the model. Which ends up looking rather silly and cartoonish by the time they’re done with it.

Through a long serialization of abuses of common sense, they eventually have to do away with confronting evil in any way. That doesn’t fit the pattern. It’s still something of a mystery as to whether or not they actually support evil, but they certainly do oppose any resistance to it. You have to define things in order to confront evil, like start by defining the evil. That means definitions, and definitions mean details. They’re not fond of details. You can test this: First thing they want done in the presence of an enemy, is to “sit down and talk out our differences with him/her/them.” What’s actually said during these sit-downs? What concessions are made? What promises are extracted? How are these concessions/promises to be prioritized? They will not say. They can not say. Can it really be said they have faith in diplomacy, when they refuse to define what it’s supposed to do? The family has to go the way of the Dodo Bird, that’s another must-have. Family means definitions. Beauty is a human achievement, and they’re none too fond of that…or, at least, they’re much more fond of the natural jealousies that seem to follow beauty around everywhere it goes. Family, and beauty, involve gender roles; gender roles involve definitions.

Modern EducationUltimately, there is only one definition they favor, and that is the definition of a model — a model to be emulated. Emulated competitively, so that the negligible deviations in reality that exist and are forgiven today, become untenable flaws tomorrow that are to be excised on pain of obliteration. When they call themselves “progressives,” that is the progress they have in mind, whether they realize it or not. Progress — subtractive, not additive, using their special brand of reverse-polarity anti-science, which learns in a subtractive way and not an additive one, by forgetting bad things. We are to reach downward and not upward. We are to do less, each year, not more, than we were doing the year before. This is why they’re all for “education.” They aren’t using that word the same way you and I use it. They mean indoctrination. They mean to take all these incoming freshmen, with all their weird strange undisciplined ideas sprawling all hither and yon, and get them all arranged. Synchronized. Make them all the same. Agreement over clarity.

That’s because, in the liberal/Medicator mindset, human deeds are dirt. They are to become “better” by being made less of what they were before; becoming cleaner, not bigger. They are opposed to human achievement, because they are opposed to human life. They see humans as a contagion. To them, the grand achievement is to be a better and better GoodPerson, but the only way to do that is to apologize for oneself and the space he takes up in the universe. And so to become accepted, you become less and do less — then you can feel smug.

Short of that, there is no way to distinguish yourself in any way…and you shouldn’t want to. Producing good results is certainly not an adequate substitute. Your role in this world is to be, and not to do; and what you should want to be, is a nothing. That’s the ultimate goal, to jump into a hole, reach back up, and pull the hole in after yourself. That’s the mindset.

Cross-posted at House of Eratosthenes and Right Wing News.

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D3: Beachhead Facts

ddayMorgan has a good post about liberal “arguments.”  The catalyst is some bullshit about Global Weather, but it applies across the board — these people talk and talk and talk (and talk and talk and talk), but nowhere in their blather is there anything approaching an actual argument.

With, you know, facts and reason and stuff.

One of the reasons we started this blog was our collective frustration with liberals who claim to be science’s BFFs, but conduct their lives with the adamantine imperviousness of grand inquisitors.  They claim to want debate, yet summarily reject anything that isn’t one hundred percent compliant with their opinions.

Even facts.  Especially facts.

They will claim, of course, that the facts have a liberal bias.  Oxymoron aside, though, they can do this without their heads exploding from cognitive dissonance because they’re in possession of what I’ve come to call “beachhead facts.”  An amphibious attack has to establish a beachhead, a secure perimeter where reinforcements and supplies can be landed, before the rest of the invasion can continue.  So liberals glom on to one or two facts — they hoard ’em up with the grim compulsiveness of squirrels before a particularly hard winter — and from there proceed to launch the rest of their attack.

Problem is, like a poorly planned amphibious landing, the beachhead facts just aren’t big enough to handle the rest of the argument.  Imagine Eisenhower compressing the whole of D-Day down to a single landing zone the size of a putting green.  The best troops in the world can’t win under those conditions.  Even if the Nazis don’t get ’em, they’ll simply be crushed to death by all that materiel stacking up in the surf behind them.

Global Weather is a great example.  Here’s how Morgan puts it:

Oh, you might delight in repeating over and over that the “science” is on your side because CO2 acts as an insulator and the greenhouse gas effect exists. It’s an established fact! Look it up! But when we get to that more crucial, thorny matter…of WEMUSTACTNOWORITMAYBETOOLATE!!. That’s where the problem is.

The starting points of the Global Weather argument are both indisputably true.  There is such a thing as the greenhouse effect, and carbon dioxide is an insulator.  The conclusion, though….

There’s just no scientific way to get from “carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas” to “we need a Global Climate Gestapo.”  The assumptions behind just one of the standard Warmist talking points could fill a phone book.  Like Ike trying to cram all of Operation Overlord into Utah Beach, the facts get smooshed by the weight of all that apocalyptic rhetoric.

I’ll give most liberals the benefit of the doubt (if that’s quite the right phrase) — I don’t think they’re doing this consciously.  They’ve got their good intentions, and they’ve got their two precious little beachhead facts, and they’re nobly setting off to save the world, but they’re not quiiiiite able to see how the one doesn’t naturally lead to the other.  It’s less ideological malice and more the “protective stupidity” of crimestop:

The faculty of stopping short, as though by instinct, at the threshold of any dangerous thought. It includes the power of not grasping analogies, of failing to perceive logical errors, of misunderstanding the simplest arguments if they are inimical to Ingsoc, and of being bored or repelled by any train of thought which is capable of leading in a heretical direction. In short….protective stupidity.

How can you acknowledge that the greenhouse effect exists, but not worry about global warming?  Don’t you care about The Earth?

Some of them do know what they’re doing, of course.  They’ll thunder like an Old Testament prophet about the obvious, indisputable truth of their beachhead facts… only to get caught on the logical errors, misperceived analogies, and all-around sloppy thinking that leaps from one or two small truths to globe-spanning conclusions.  These are the folks who gave us moonwalking, the Maudochromatic flourish, and all the other gruesome dodges the Dim Devil’s Dictionary exists to document.  These are the folks who will never, ever concede an opponent’s point — even if it would advance their own argument.  They retail the rottenest chestnuts of them all.

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The Two Economic Systems

I haven’t pointed it out directly here, although perhaps I’ve made more-than-occasional reference to it…since it’s like preaching to the choir. But it’s probably more appropriate here than as a Facebook post.

There are two economic systems fighting each other for supremacy right now. With the one, you go to a job and exchange your labor for money, your employer gets that money by selling products and services to customers. You take your money, pay your utilities and your installments and buy your food, with what’s left over you either save or splurge as you see fit.

The other economic system is called “Occupy.” In that one, you wait until you want or need something and then you do a lot of yelling and obstructing and generally make yourself into a pain in the ass, until someone gives you whatever it is to shut you up…or, forces someone else to give you whatever it is. Then you shut up until there’s something else you want or need, at which time you become a pain in the ass again.

It is spooky how consistently the Obama administration supports one of these economic systems over the other. I don’t believe in “conspiracies,” generally, but I do think the folks in charge now are fully aware of this battle between the two economic systems…and they have their preference about which one should win. And they’re not alone.

Some of this has been going on for quite awhile, since the industrial revolutions of the 19th and 20th centuries. Hey, that’s why political arguments tend to go on awhile, often spinning around in circles, generating much heat and little light…different classes of people being hurt & helped. Are Barack Obama’s policies “good”? What about Gov. Jerry Brown’s policies, are they “good”? Are labor unions “good”? Do they help this thing we call an “economy”?

Watering My HippiesThe democrats will say: Look at these poor wretches over here, look at this program that helps them. Think about what would happen to them without that program. And there is some truth in this. We know it doesn’t work out over the longer term of time. If it did, you could show me ten big cities that haven’t elected a Republican in a couple generations or more, and I could show you ten little islands of paradise. Anyone want to go traipsing down those solid-milk-chocolate sidewalks in Detroit petting the Unicorns and eating the jellybeans and liquor cups that grow on the trees there? Thought not.

The truth is, this “conspiracy” is not about making it harder to sell or buy things, any more than it’s about helping people. It’s about making it harder to sell or buy things that way. The bureaucrat’s nightmare is that you can wake up one day, see that your house would be better if you added a wing on to it, buy the materials to do it, put in the work, realize the rewards, and everyone goes home a bit wealthier and City Hall is not involved in some way. That would imply self-sufficiency at the individual level. That would imply a strong and proud people, looking to their leaders in government to enforce contracts, defend the nation, police the cities, fight fires, provide sidewalks & other centralized services…and not do too much else.

And so you can’t build the wing of the house. Not just yet; you need a “permit.” Like the radio guys say every now & then — and it’s worth repeating, since people forget it — “permit” is a verb as well as a noun.

You have to feel bad for those Occupy protesters on some level, thinking about what badasses they are, existing outside the hated “system.” Was there ever a more splendid example of human fools, toiling away in an effort diametrically opposed from their purported passions? They think they’re caught up in a struggle between dependence and independence. They’re right. But they’re woefully mistaken about which side they’ve joined.

Related: Charles Koch describes how the minimum wage hurts the poor. ThinkProgress is not fond of having that pointed out…

Cross-posted at House of Eratosthenes.

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Of Libertarians and Borders

I’m generally more sympathetic than not to libertarian positions.  But Libertarians themselves drive me nuts.

Many if not most of them seem to have the same problem Our Betters, the liberals, do:  They want their binkie.  They also want to be highly principled deep thinkers.  So they apply all that brainpower and conclude, whaddayknow, that giving them their binkie is the apex of principled intellectualism.

Take this immigration mess.  I had fun being called a racist while trying to point out that cultures can have lots of good, solid, non-ethnocentric reasons for wanting to keep other cultures off their turf.  The culture of Silicon Valley would be fools to roll out the welcome mat for a roving band of Luddites, just as a tribe of hunter-gatherers would be entirely justified banning a tribe of lawyers from its borders.

Based on the ten seconds I spent scanning it — and ten seconds is all you need with Libertarians, as they’ll repeat every point about eight thousand times — the Libertarian enthusiasm for open borders boils down to 1) the principle of comparative advantage, and 2) the role of the state should be limited to ensuring a free market in labor.

But when you point out that people aren’t fungible — that “the principle of comparative advantage” inherently strips out all the social and cultural factors that make up most real-world productivity, because that’s what huge, bloodless abstractions like “the principle of comparative advantage” do by definition — you’re accused of using a “euphemism for bigotry.”  When you point out that the state’s enforcement of free market contracts violates another, larger contract — the “social contract,” i.e. the reason governments are instituted among men in the first place — you… get called a bigot.

Funny how that works.

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Gun Owners Getting You Down? There’s An App For That!

Well, isn’t this interesting….

Apparently, it’s now possible to download a new app onto your smartphone which will warn you about those evil, ooogedy-boogedy scary gun owners lurking in your neighborhood. Think of it as a sort of sex-offender, er, gun offender registry…except the reporting is done by your neighbors instead of by the local government. And the locations reported by the app aren’t even suspected of actually breaking any laws.

Nonetheless, gun owners are now on a par with rapists, pedophiles, flashers, and those who sleep with underage girls. Welcome to the brave new world where exercising your Constitutional rights is seen as much the same as being a pervert. You know, cause it’s for the chillllldrunnn, and all.

Here’s an excerpt from the app description:

The Gun Geo Marker operates very simply, letting parents and community members mark, or geolocate, sites associated with potentially unsafe guns and gun owners. These locations are typically the homes or businesses of suspected unsafe gun owners, but might also be public lands or other locations where guns are not handled safely, or situations where proper rights to own or use any particular type of firearm may not exist. Electronically marking these locations can help others in the area learn about their geography of risk from gun accidents or violence.

The product description goes on to note that all information comes from volunteer app users, not law enforcement criminal databases or any other reliable & unbiased source of information on where unsafe weapons (or their use) are to be found. It also doesn’t tie into any official government registry, such as the one the State of California maintains for handguns sold since 1991, when it began entering them into its database at the point-of-sale.

However, we are apparently given some guidelines on reporting these dangerous unsafe weapons and their owners:

There will naturally be some uncertainty about whether any particular location actually represents an unsafe gun situation, and again, the general guideline is that you should mark any location about which you have a gun related concern, while trying to provide enough extra information for others to make their own determination about safety. Try to keep the following warning signs and guidelines in mind when determining if a local gun owner may present a threat to your children or your community. (emphasis NOT mine).

So what exactly are app users supposed to be looking for? Glad you asked:

  • Unlocked, loaded, or carelessly stored weapons
  • Dangerous gun owners
  • Places with an unsafe gun culture
  • Uncertain situations
  • On the other side of uncertainty

Say what? Oh, here we go…apparently any of the following will suffice:

  • “Possible unlocked/loaded/unsafe storage”
  • “Possible insufficient training” (emphasis mine)
  • “Guns and unsupervised children”
  • “Guns and substance abuse”
  • “Possible medical related concern”
  • “Neighborhood talk, unsafe” (emphasis mine)
  • “Possible high conflict, armed neighbor”
  • “Possible out of place, large arsenal” (emphasis mine)
  • “Documented/frequent unlawful discharge”
  • “Possible illegal weapons on premises”
  • “Possible prohibited persons”
  • “Possible anti-government/terror threat” (emphasis mine)

To its credit, the guidelines do remind us, “First and foremost it is important to understand that in the United States, citizens have a constitutional right to own firearms.”


“In general, you should not worry about firearms owned by either hunters or gun enthusiasts who safely store and properly enjoy their weapons in the field, or at local firing ranges for recreational purposes. These are normally the people who have the highest level of commitment to gun safety, and abide by the laws regulating their hobby. The same holds true for most concealed carry permit holders, or other owners permitted and properly regulated.”

While I appreciate the patronizing psychobabble that just being a hunter, gun enthusiast, or CCW holder doesn’t make me a “dangerous gun owner,” the potential problems are still numerous.

If you continue reading past this point on the guidelines page, it goes on to single out the National Rifle Association for “their consistent opposition to gun safety laws that would, for example, require parents to properly secure their guns, allow prosecutors to bring charges against people who allow kids to play with loaded guns, or when they help pass laws prohibiting doctors from asking children about guns in the home in an epidemiological attempt to help prevent children from shooting other children.”

I will not delve here into debunking (again!) the tired notion that more gun laws would correct our nation’s problems with gun violence.

The guidelines then turn right around and admit, “In spite of all of this, you should recall that the NRA also provides high quality safety training as a public service to its members, and that this increases general gun safety.

So which is it? Is the NRA a hero or a villain? Doesn’t their position as trainers and safety advocates put them squarely on the side of those who want to keep firearms away from criminals, children, and the untrained? You know, the dangerous gun owners?

Never mind. This part is the most chilling of all:

People who stockpile large arsenals or numerous assault weapons for reasons other than collecting are likely a concern. Bumper stickers or other public displays supporting gun ownership are not a problem, but when combined with radical anti-government propaganda and/or representations of paranoid political beliefs or support for terrorist organizations, these owners and their locations may well be worth marking.”

Personally, I’m less worried about people “stockpiling” guns and ammo…and more worried about people who are worried about other people stockpiling guns and ammo. And how the heck is the app user supposed to determine whether the guns are being acquired and stored for “reasons other than collecting?” And don’t we already have mechanisms in place to report people suspected of terrorist activity?

And this business about “anti government propaganda” is concerning, too. We all think we know what that phrase means, but one man’s propaganda is another man’s inconvenient truth…and vice-versa. Is anyone else suddenly reminded of the president’s admonition to report anti-government speech?

Remember, boys and girls, this app is entirely devoted to reporting arbitrary designations of safety threats, not outright illegal activity by gun owners and gun use. In fact, the app specifically advises against its use to report that:

If you have direct, personal knowledge or even a suspicion that guns are being used in context of organized criminal activity, then it may be extremely risky for you to mark related locations. You should forget about the Walkingtools Gun Geo Marker in all such cases, and instead consider getting appropriate law enforcement agencies involved in the situation.

That’s interesting, isn’t it? It says that if you know about specific illegal activity, then just contact law enforcement through conventional channels and advise them. On the other hand, if there are gun people or gun places that just give you a funny feeling, go ahead and rat on them to the entire world with our stupid app. Point them out so the rest of the app users can hassle & terrorize them….er…I mean…avoid them.

You might be asking, “Cylar, what’s your problem? If you don’t like the app, then freaking don’t use it. Don’t put it on your smartphone. Simple enough for you?” Eh….no. You see, there’s absolutely nothing stopping someone from putting my address on this thing and not only alerting the entire neighborhood that I’m a gun owner, but unjustly and unfairly exposing me to possible risks, including but not limited to:

  • Harrassment by anti-gun neighbors and other busybodies
  • Harassment by anti-gun members of local law enforcement via “routine” traffic stops, “probable cause” searches of the residence, and other unwarranted contact
  • Being unfairly placed on a federal law enforcement agency’s terror “watch list”
  • Provocation: “You’re complaining about my dog barking? You going to shoot me over it, tough guy?”
  • Burglary and home invasion by actual criminals

That last one is the most concerning of all. While I’m a strong advocate of locking up your guns, the fact is that not everyone does and I don’t favor laws forcing gun owners to do so. (I’ll admit that I’ve got considerable frustration with fellow gun owners who don’t lock up their weaponry…mostly because I don’t want to get shot by a burglar or other criminal who just stole a gun from one of these irresponsible clod’s homes.)

The fact of the matter is that most burglaries in the US occur when no one is home:

“Most burglars will sit outside of a residence and wait until the occupants leave for work or school.  They [burglars] wait until they are absolutely sure that no one is in the home,” says Laviage.

It’s easy to see why. If you were breaking into a house, would you do it when the occupant is home, and run the higher risk of being arrested or shot….or would you wait until he’s left for the day and is unlikely to return in the next several hours? The point is that the gun doesn’t protect your home unless you’re actually in the house to use it. Now the burglars have some extra intel on which houses they should be staking out. Thanks, Gun Geo Marker!

Of course, there’s the even more sinister possibility that the burglar is so desperate for drug money (or so high) that he’ll glance at this app, then break into a gun owner’s house anyway (perhaps while the owner is asleep) and murder the occupant & his family while searching the house for weapons he can sell or use to commit other crimes.

As a gun owner I can tell you that my worst nightmare is not just being burgled, but specifically, being burgled in the “home invasion” style – a group of intruders breaks in and holds my family hostage while forcing me at gunpoint to tell them what the combination to my gun safe is. And having to pray that arming a band of thugs, being scared out of my wits, and losing thousands of dollars in personal property are the least of my worries.

I’m wondering if the makers of Gun Geo Marker sleep well at night, knowing they could be indirectly responsible for that…or if they know they may be sued by a burglary victim on the grounds that their smartphone app provided valuable intel to gang-bangers.

Who exactly is spreading propaganda, again? Are they sure it’s gun owners?

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Can’t Happen Here Part III

The Obamacare implementation has been moved back past the 2014 midterms.

Ace notes that this is blatantly illegal.  Sigh.  Of course it is.  But notice this:

Obama is simply voting himself, Putin-like, unprecedented powers, and the sheep of the media just baa and call it America.

This is the standard reaction of the online right – blame the media.  That’s incorrect.

Yeah, sure, the media are all a bunch of liberals who would excuse Obama if he ate an orphan on live tv.  This is about as proven as the orbit of the earth.  But, since it is so obvious, it’s irrelevant.

Here’s the relevant part:  You don’t think “Republican” politicians have noticed this?  Yeah, sure, the media might pretend to be indignant if, say, President Palin did this, or President Christie, or President Rubio, or President Walker, but the end result of this indignation would be… nothing.  After eight years of this stuff coming from the Obama administration, do you really think any Democrat would have the balls to hold hearings on this?  To do what, threaten impeachment?  Force a government shutdown?

For the results of these and other fun experiments, see The Republican Party in Congress, 2008-Present.

Again, though, we might be tempted to blame the media.  And again, this would be wrong.  Consider the last two administrations as a whole.  Looking at it as a historian, not a partisan, we see a long litany of complaints about the President by the media when the President was a Republican.  But then a Democrat gets into power, and continues — expands! — the policies of the Republican, and…. crickets.  What was the most grievous un-American abuse of power ever in 2003, was, in 2009, not even a blip on the radar.

Yes, the media could’ve covered all this.  They could have attacked Obama as loudly, lengthily, and ludicrously on Guantanamo, wiretaps, drone strikes, &c as they attacked George W. Bush.  Do you think for a second the end result would be any different?  That Obama would close Guantanamo just because Newsweek published a few dishonest, hacky hit pieces on him?

Four straight presidential terms have revealed that the new reality in America is: The President does whatever the hell he wants, no matter which party is in power.  Yeah, the media plays the dirge when it’s a Republican in the White House and the “Happy Days” theme when it’s a Democrat, but they’re all just different movements of the same tune.  You think people haven’t noticed?  You think demagogues haven’t?

Power is all that matters.  Get 51% of the knuckleheads to vote for you, and you can do whatever the fuck you want — people, party, the media, and the Constitution be damned.

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Agree to Disagree!!!!

An “un-battle” cry. A true sign of the “open” progressive mind. I mean, how reasonable! How tolerant!

I know I keep going to the well of anectotes (one might even say “Sea of Knowledge”) that is The Phantom Tollbooth. Milo wanted to go bring back the princesses Rhyme and Reason from The Castle in the Air – but he had a problem. He needed the permission of the two kings of The Lands Beyond, brothers King Azaz and the Mathemagician – always fighting over whether words or numbers were more important, and since long ago one refused to agree with anything the other said.

Milo found a way around it.

“Has Azaz agreed to it?” the Mathemagician inquired.

“Yes, sir,” the dog assured him.

“THEN I DON’T,” he thundered again, “for since they’ve been banished, we’ve never agreed on anything —and we never will.” He emphasized his last remark with a dark and ominous look.

“Never?” asked Milo, with the slightest touch of disbelief in his voice.

“NEVER!” he repeated. “And if you can prove otherwise, you have my permission to go.”

“Well,” said Milo, who had thought about this problem very carefully ever since leaving Dictionopolis.

“Then with whatever Azaz agrees, you disagree.”

“Correct,” said the Mathemagician with a tolerant smile.

“And with whatever Azaz disagrees, you agree.”

“Also correct,” yawned the Mathemagician, nonchalantly cleaning his fingernails with the point of his staff.

“Then each of you agrees that he will disagree with whatever each of you agrees with,” said Milo triumphantly; “and if you both disagree with the same thing, then aren’t you really in agreement?”

“I’VE BEEN TRICKED!” cried the Mathemagician helplessly, for no matter how he figured, it still came out just that way.

Now, as Bill Cosby once said, I told you that story to tell you this one.

There’s a young man in our extended family who if fairly apolitical, which means he is easily swayed by progressive “arguments” … er … sleight of word.

He would get in arguments with my #2 son, who is definitely on the Constitutional Conservative side of the fence, and as soon as Mr. Apolitical ran out of logic to back up the position he’d been fed by the proggies that abound (which usually took exactly one pointed question) … he’d shut down the entire discussion by tersely chanting “Agree to disagree! Agree to disagree!”

And I found myself in a similar situation last week when a couple of times a guest started pushing the progressive point of view, and I … stopped an echo … by asking a pointed question or pointing out some facts that ran contrary to the narrative … and I got the same thing.

“Well, we’re just going to have to agree to disagree.”

Sounds all noble tolerant and stuff … but intellectually it makes zero sense. It’s almost like saying, “what difference does it make”?

Well, of course, the truth makes a great deal of difference – and we weren’t talking about what flavor ice cream is better or how we like our steaks.

We were talking about war, terrorism, racism, domestic spying on random citizens, and trust in government officials. Agree to disagree? How ’bout we get to the bottom of it, because it does make a difference. “Agree to disagree” means you think it doesn’t.

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