Monthly Archives: August 2013

Vapid

“President Barack Obama promised Wednesday that any U.S. military strike at Syria would be a “shot across the bow” that avoids seeing America pulled into “any kind of open-ended conflict.”

But “if, in fact, we can take limited, tailored approaches, not getting drawn into a long conflict — not a repetition of, you know, Iraq, which I know a lot of people are worried about — but if we are saying in a clear and decisive but very limited way, we send a shot across the bow saying, stop doing this, that can have a positive impact on our national security over the long term,” the president said.

So in other words, if we make a big show out of it but promise not to do anything of consequence, we can save face. And don’t worry. By promising not to do anything of consequence ahead of time, that won’t have any effect on anyone’s decision making, like just how much they can ignore it. It’ll scare the pants off of them, promise. We’re just firing a shot in the air, after yelling “Hey, I’m gonna just fire this shot in the air to let you know how truly unhappy I am, but it really doesn’t mean anything more than that.”

Stephen Green was right. Our foreign policy is no longer feckless. It’s just vapid.

Now go away or we shall taunt you a second time!

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Enjoying the Culture of Poverty

Via Gerard. Christopher Orlet writes in the American Spectator:

If you move to a new rental every six months, yanking your kids out of school after school, and if you do drugs in front of your children, and sell your food stamps for cash, then chances are you are part of that culture. If you are 20 years old, living with your grandmother, with no interest in ever getting a job, or getting married, or doing much of anything, chances are you are part of that culture. If you do not have a kitchen table, but you do have a big flat screen TV, and when the social worker comes to visit someone yells, “The social worker is here, go get the light bulb,” then chances are you are part of that culture.

When I moved into the inner-city, I hoped to gain some insight and understanding of the poor and their situation. Two years later I left feeling the situation is intractable. Everything the professional uplifters do for the poor is but pruning the branches, instead of hacking at the roots of the problem. For the underclass to escape the culture of poverty they would have to cease doing most if not all of the above, and I don’t see that happening.

Besides, as I have written before, too many of the underclass enjoy the culture of poverty. They would feel horribly out of place in a tony subdivision where they would have to work to make a house and car payment, instead of drinking beer all day on the stoop ― they don’t even have stoops in the suburbs. They would have to cut their lawns and keep the trash and noise to a minimum. What fun is that? In the inner-city you can do whatever the hell you want. You can even shoot somebody, and chances are no one will rat you out, because that is the code of the inner-city streets, and people there hate the cops more than they hate the drug dealers.

My broken-record recurring chorus about Architects and Medicators grew out of an understanding that when the miscreant appears in front of the magistrate to determine guilt vs. innocence, and to receive his sentence, what we are seeing is not an instance of the errant appearing before the validating mechanism and then getting properly straightened out. What we are seeing is a collision between two different and contrary value systems — neither of which runs into any real trouble prior to impact. Just like planets, you might say. And this is why the meeting will likely be repeated not too far off into the future. The meeting is the real cause of the trouble. And the value systems have to do with feeling versus thinking — therefore, with instant gratification versus delayed.

In the land from which the convict comes, it is “right” not to pay your child support. Not, I hasten to add, a right — that is not the point. The point is, it is the desire that makes behavior proper. Wants before needs. You get a job if you want to. Make your car payment if you want to. Or act drunken and disorderly in public if you want to. Such a community ultimately becomes blighted, because mankind’s achievements are mostly connected to delayed gratification. But people adapt. They become entrenched further and further into the Architect-thinker-delayed-gratification way of living life, once they’ve made that initial choice, or they become entrenched further and further to the Medicator-feeler do-what-everyone-else-is-doing want-it-now-now-now way of living life if they’ve made the other.

Each community works according to an economic system. One of those economic systems has to do with helping other people do, or get, things before you can do, or get, what you want. The other economic system has to do with just demanding stuff; therefore, not very often building or fixing anything. Can you guess which is which.

“Drinking beer all day long on the stoop,” by the way, is literally medicating. Such people are, ironically, fastidious and perfectionist custodians of their own emotional state, if of nothing else in life. In the moment.

I would add many more bullet points to Mr. Orlet’s list. Softer ones, since I think those are the important ones; people who haven’t given it much thought, just starting to be seduced into the Medicator lifestyle. I would invade suburbia with my own list. If you voted Obama/Biden in 2012, or if you have a bumper sticker on your car saying so. If you had your school-age son “diagnosed” and strung him out on medication so he can “succeed in school.” If your kids send text messages at the dinner table, or if you don’t have any kind of dinner table, and don’t see anything wrong with not having one. If your spouse, and your kids, are essentially just bored and boring roommates.

Or if you are one of the kids — if you can score straight A’s on the latest test by “studying,” but know you possess little to nothing of the actual conceptual command, and wouldn’t be able to earn a passing grade 48 hours afterward…and don’t care. You’re part of it. If your first impulse, finding out something exists that you want, is to go clamoring to momma or someone else to get it for you. Pondering, not what you can do to earn it, but the who & where & when & how to do your begging, how sweetly to bat your eyelashes. Those are the signs. That’s enjoying the culture of poverty.

Not building things, not fixing things. Harassing your fellow citizens about their “carbon emissions” or what not, as opposed to helping them, servicing them, soothing them, becoming a part of their efforts.

Neither “planet” runs into real trouble before the collision. But there is a difference: Only one, in perfect isolation from the other, exists in a self-sustaining cycle. Ultimately, it’s a choice between the symbiotic and the parasitic.

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

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Liberals and Conservatives, Left and Right

There are two understandings of this; The Zachriels’, and everybody else’s. Such terms are used to convey ideas among people who come together from different backgrounds and with different values and biases, so before anybody can communicate about such things, there’s going to have to be an effort brought to a successful completion getting the entire world to use these terms the way The Zachriel do.

Thought I’d help them out.

My understanding of it is, there is this cartilaginous binding between conservative/liberal, and left/right; the two disagreements correlate somewhat, but are not synonymous. Their words:

“Conservatives” tend to believe that traditional values and institutions are the bulwark of society, that too fast of change can result in unintended consequences or even anarchy. Rational conservatives believe in change and reform, of course, but believe the change must be gradual and moderated. Conservatives tend to look to the past for inspiration, cultural stratifications being a consequence of natural order.

“Liberals” tend to believe that traditional values and institutions can impede progress, that too slow of change can result in cultural stagnation or even disintegration. Rational liberals believe in the preservation of traditional values and institutions, of course, but believe they must be pushed to adapt to modern times. Liberals tend to look to the future for inspiration, the progress of history being seen as a march towards a more egalitarian society.

Right-wing “reactionaries”, such as fascists, believe in absolute inequality, and want to overthrow corrupt modern institutions and return to a mythological and heroic past.

Left-wing “radicals”, such as communists, believe in absolute equality, and want to overthrow corrupt ancient institutions and bring forth a mythological and glorious future.

Among the reasons this doesn’t work:

Newt Gingrich’s “revolution” of 1994, according to this, would be “left wing radical,” and so would the American Revolution.

The definitions seem to have been internationalized, which really doesn’t work well in America. I would even venture to say this “cartilaginous” binding between those two disagreements is entirely unnecessary, and it’s safe to go ahead and fuse the bones together: Conservatives are right and liberals are left. I realize this creates problems when we look at other cultures in other countries. That is alright.

I have raised the point about the feminist movement, and the women who support it only insofar as the push for equal pay. Like my Mother, they jump off the bandwagon when it veers into man-bashing “men are the problem” territory. These definitions would make such women moderate lefties. I’ve never met one who self-identifies that way; they consider themselves to be, and seem to be, staunchly right-wing. So here, as well, the definitions don’t work.

The left-wing in America, for a very long time now, has actually championed disparate levels of privilege for different classes. The preservation of President Obama’s entrenched perks retains deep symbolic value for passionate and pie-eyed lefties. The definitions above would define that preservation to be “conservative.”

Adolf Hitler, according to the definitions above, would be a “left-wing” (on the “glorious future” part) “conservative.”

Liberals, in this day & age in America, hate. That is what they do. There’s always some bad guy, either a bad individual or a bad class, that has to be pruned down to size. The desire to make everyone equal, is incompatible with this mandatory hate.

Concerns about solvency, which would be necessary for a “glorious future,” are entirely ignored by the “left.” They only pretend to pay attention to it when a tax cut comes along that they don’t happen to like, and then they pretend it’s going to “cost” the treasury something. That’s the only time they show any concern. If any one of them shows some concern about something that really does cost something, that person ceases on the spot to be a proper leftist. Unless he’s talking about a military budget item.

In order for an egalitarian society to thrive, rights and responsibilities would have to be fastened together. Lefties in America are opposed to this; they want one set of people to have rights, and a different set of people to have responsibilities. In order to do that, you have to create classes that are different from one another. In this sense, and in others, I get the impression that I disagree with The Zachriel because they’re evaluating “the left” according to the left’s promises, and I’m evaluating that same thing according to deliveries made. I like my way better.

What might work better:
• In liberalism, nature has made something unfair and it is the job of people to make it fair
• In liberalism, there is always an oppressor and there is always a victim
• In liberalism, there is a “Dear Leader” who never makes mistakes because if he does, it stops being a mistake
• In liberalism, the people furthest away from the work make rules followed by people closest to the work
• In conservatism, a new rule has to be tried out in a “sandbox” and possibly revised
• In conservatism, it is desirable to provide for the possibility that a rule might turn out to be stupid
• Conservatives fear the eventuality that a dumb rule might lead to dumb decisions; liberals seem to count on this
• In conservatism, the elected should truly be servants, who serve for a limited time
• Liberalism is strongly associated, throughout history, with over-privileged dictators-for-life
• Conservatives tend to be motivated by profits, which they envision as the result of fulfilling someone’s demand
• Liberals tend to be motivated by the next revolution; therefore, by some kind of resentment or offense
• Conservatives favor a “legacy economy” in which people acquire by providing products or services to other people
• Liberals favor an “Occupy economy” in which people acquire by frustrating, annoying, or impeding the work of, others
• Liberalism favors change when it is not yet in power; once it is in power, it favors stasis
• Conservatism tries to preserve a linkage between rights and responsibilities
• Liberalism tries to push a new order in which some have rights, and others have responsibilities
• Conservatism advocates rewards, usually natural, for delayed gratification
• Liberalism advocates rewards, usually artifiical, for immediate gratification
• Liberalism pushes for more freedom in things that have something to do with sex, less freedom in everything else
• Conservatism pushes for more freedom in everything else
• Liberals are fatalists about net worth, standard of living, debt, and many other things within human control
• Conservatives are fatalists where fatalism makes the most sense, like salvation vs. damnation, and global climate
• Conservatism favors a strong national defense and limited government
• Liberalism favors internationalism, anemic defense, and a sprawling, out-of-control government
• Conservatism sees terrorism as an act of war
• Liberalism sees terrorism as a legal issue and, in John Kerry’s words, a “nuisance”
• Conservatism thinks charity should be a voluntary act
• Liberalism thinks charity should be a requirement, therefore stop being charity
• Conservatism favors thinking as an individual; an idea doesn’t make sense if it wouldn’t make sense to an individual
• Liberalism favors group-think; if a group can’t see a flaw that an individual could see, the flaw isn’t really there
• To a conservative, individual effort counts; the group merely coordinates, which can be useful for funding
• To a liberal, the group effort is everything and the individual effort is nothing (unless it’s Dear Leader’s effort)
• Conservatism sees a “right” as something that belongs to the individual
• Liberalism confers “rights” on classes of people
• Conservatism recognizes a “right” as something people have by virtue of their existence
• Conservatives, therefore, see the list of rights as something that changes very slowly or not at all
• Liberalism sees a “right” as something granted by the government
• Liberals, therefore, see the list of rights as something that changes all the time, shrinking and growing
• Conservatives believe in the right to private property
• Liberals believe everybody’s rights end wherever their feelings begin, and they feel someone has too much
• Conservatives learn from history
• Liberals are often caught trying out failed policies, behaving as if history only began this morning
• Conservatives understand people get tired of seeing the same things, and absence makes the heart grow fonder
• Liberals think people learn to like things they see often, and to loathe things that are restricted in supply
• Conservatives see commerce as a succession of transactions that tend to benefit both sides, so everyone wins
• Liberals see commerce as nothing more than a flurry of activity
• Conservatives predict the effect of new policies around realistic expectations of human incentive
• Liberals are consistently surprised when human incentive doesn’t go the way they wanted it to go
• Conservatives are concerned with outcome
• Liberals are concerned with process
• Conservatives value opportunity over security
• Liberals value security over opportunity
• Conservatives have more respect for occupations that create assets, and defend the realm
• Liberals somehow reserve their respect for occupations that do not do this
• To a conservative, a true contradiction is impossible; so an apparent contradiction is an opportunity for learning
• To a liberal, an apparent contradiction is just a problem, solved by discarding the least-desirable evidence that’s part of it
• If a conservative hears something on the radio he doesn’t like, he changes the station
• If a liberal hears something on the radio he doesn’t like, he wants it banned
• If a conservative’s most cherished theory is challenged by reality, he discards or reforms the theory
• If a liberal’s most cherished theory is challenged by reality, reality must yield and the theory must prevail
• Conservatives tend to be Architects, concerned primarily about matters of cause-and-effect
• Liberals tend to be Medicators, concerned primarily about their own momentary emotional state

If any authoritative reference material contradicts my bullet points above, I hold that such reference material is creating more confusion than it is curing; since, when people use the words, whether they be aware of it or not, the bullets above capture what they’re really trying to say. If The Zachriel want to reform or reverse that in some way, I wish them well.

What probably kicks the whole thing off:
• Conservatives seek to create and preserve things that create or preserve, and destroy things that destroy
• Liberals seek to create or preserve things that destroy, and destroy things that create or preserve

Another thing that might kick the whole thing off, as I believe I mentioned before, is the Conflict of Visions defined by Prof. Thomas Sowell in his book.

Cross-posted at House of Eratosthenes.

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The Lurking Variable

Me, writing about a private matter:

As a general rule, at least within my experience, when conflict persists across a great stretch of time among the same people, and about a very limited number of things, it will often emerge that the epicenter of disagreement is some distance away from what’s actually being discussed; it’s off somewhere else, concerning other things that aren’t finding expression. There are ways to assess this. When individuals build up coalitions, and those coalitions align and remain inseparable as new topics make their way to the forefront — that is one tip-off. Example: Find me a hundred people who think human activity is causing climate change, and that drastic action must be taken and soon if an ecological crisis is to be averted; I can probably find, within them, at least eighty people who are not very religious. Probably a good deal more than eighty, in fact. Find me another hundred who disagree, who think the whole thing is a huge scam, I can show you a sizable majority among them who subscribe to some religious system of belief. The significance of this observation is that it is contrary to rational expectations: To the extent that the climate change issue is connected to matters of faith, one would logically expect an opposite correlation to emerge. Those who say all things existing in the universe are just consequences of accidents, should take a fatalistic view of our planet’s climate as well, and those who say we should try to exert control over that climate for sake of a good outcome, should be the ones believing a deity put us here for that purpose. Our experience with people is reversed from what we should logically expect; so on one side of this disagreement or the other, perhaps both, someone is putting group membership considerations above reason and common sense. That, or these positions on the issues are linked by some spurious relationship. And so the neutral observer who desires to find out how others think, then has to look harder for the lurking variable.

Having approached the brink of inserting some roiling manifesto about left-wing and right-wing politics into what was supposed to be a study into other things, I lurched back from that brink and got on-topic again, without revealing my own opinions about the climate-change scam, or religion. Or, exploring any further what the “lurking variable” might be. That’s something more fitting for here, I think.

What I’m talking about in the above — I think, anyway — is guilt. Guilt has an amazing power to make mortals unwise. Not quite so much “stupid,” I hasten to add; many among the guilty insist they are much more intelligent than the average bear, and there is some truth to what they say. But wisdom eludes them. It isn’t too long before all the decisions they make, are made the same way. Unpredictability is a trait of wisdom, I think deep down everyone already knows that, so we should all be concerned when these hyper-intelligent geniuses all decide everything the same way…

Justice becomes a matter of mob rule. Immigration policy becomes one of “please invade us and make it quick.” Defense, for the nation as well as for the family and the individual, is abhorred. Charity doesn’t count unless it’s the government doing it, government should cover everything from crib to crypt, from lung and brain transplants to hangnails. And who gives a rip if it runs out of money? Just raise taxes on the hated rich. Profits are to be punished. Working is to be discouraged. Oh, they might say a few generally flattering things about people who work…provided those people remain in the middle class, or among the poor, where they belong…but always, more restrictions are to be put in place that make it more of a miracle, less and less frequently occurring, when someone manages to get hold of a job that pays money. Labor unions everywhere. Rules, rules and more rules. The calendar should be busy with holidays and more holidays, retirement has to be guaranteed, and early. And then, should the gravy train still be running, here comes the unaffordable pension.

The birth rate is low. Because, dang right, humans are breaking the climate. The unwise-guilty people insist that sexual preference is an unalterable aspect of one’s birth, but they’re the ones who never act like it. Morning noon and night they campaign, or protest, or push, or advocate in some way more, more, and more gayness. Bend those genders. Every time you see a man acting like a real man, or a woman dressing and behaving with real femininity, you’re seeing something the unwise-guilty people want to destroy, and if they can’t destroy it they want to bury it. You might say wherever their kind is in charge, the only strong gender roles that remain are the ones they haven’t gotten around to getting rid of yet. Men should act more like women, women should act more like men, and the children — well, they should just be expensive. Child support, like gasoline, has to be made more expensive. Oh yeah, and on your way out, your burial should be green. It all has to do with making people into financial liabilities, ensuring they’re never assets again. If some among us think themselves unworthy, then we all have to be. Breeding therefore becomes littering, and is to be prevented, and punished, accordingly.

It’s as if the whole point to life is nothing more than an apology. Sorry we were ever here.

Whenever these unwise-guilty people manage to get something big pushed through…some of their “landmark legislation”…it is a constant that a few mortals become masters of many others, whom they will never meet. Commissioners and czars. Panels. Committees. Boards. Secretaries of Health and Human Services. Another constant: These demigods making such grandiose decisions about the intimate aspects of some stranger’s life, are to be regarded as uniquely qualified to occupy their posts and to hand down these rulings. But nobody, anywhere, can say exactly why that is. A lot of the time, nobody can name any actual accomplishments achieved by the demigods. But the guilty act as if they can indeed name some, in fact, that were they to jot down a list, it would go on for pages and pages…that must be why they’ve never gotten around to getting it done. Why was Janet Napolitano a wonderful mega-awesome superstar Homeland Security Secretary? What qualifies Sheila Jackson Lee to succeed her? Why is John Kerry uniquely qualified to be our Secretary of State? What did Hillary Clinton achieve in that role? Why was Timothy Geithner qualified to be our Secretary of the Treasury? Don’t ask why the demigod is so amazing and wonderful, s/he just is.

Now here is a paradox: These generalities are a constant — you’ll see that they hold true for Europe, as well. Defense is thought to be a sin, taxes are high, government sucks the life out of business, the birth rate is low, all social ills are funded, mediocre embarrassments are thought to be demigods, and the whole mess is unsustainable over the longer term of time. Those who resist this are a bit harder to predict. Wisdom, as I said, brings unpredictability; it is exactly the unpredictability one must expect to see, any time one looks at another person directly struggling with something. But down in the details, where the simpler decisions are made that drive the more complex ones, it is the unwise-guilty people who are unpredictable, and those who resist who will be making the same calls every time. What is the sum of two and two? The guilty have a fear of “horse sense”; they can’t say “four.” There must be some titillating and weird alternate answer, visible only to the few, the empowered, the anointed elites within the unwise-guilty. Four is something an ordinary person would say. Four is what the rubes say. The unwise-guilty people have the vision to see something “better.” There is a most elaborate treatise providing undeniable support for the fact that three is the real-right answer, or maybe it’s five…I’d explain it if I had the time, but you wouldn’t be able to understand it.

How do you achieve success in your more complicated decisions, when as you make the simpler ones, you painstakingly avoid any recognition that two and two make four? Answer: You don’t. When your plans turn to crap, you just blame the other guys. Here is another paradox: Guilty people are good at blaming others. It all seems, to me, so inefficient. If you want to wallow in guilt and you’re on the lookout for reasons to feel guilty about things, and you’re wrong about something, why not just admit it? Kill two birds with one stone. Why go through all that effort to blame others? It’s like a masochist spending his last few nickels for ammunition, then after the shooting spree complaining that he himself is not among the wounded. Dude. You were pointing it the wrong way.

They have so much hatred and anger for those who don’t follow suit. Unwise-guilty people want everybody else to be guilty and unwise. When they run into someone who doesn’t dance the same steps, they call us things like “arrogant.” Conflict arises when questions of two and two emerge, and we have the audacity to say: Four. How dare we! How arrogant! And of course, the conflict is…our fault…why of course it is, how could it be otherwise?

And why are there people who resist, anyway? Most of us are religious. Christianity does wonders to keep one from becoming guilty-and-unwise. It must be said that Christianity has little to nothing to do with not-feeling-guilty; quite to the contrary, it insists that all sons and daughters of Adam and Eve are stained, flawed, and unworthy. That’s the whole point, or a big part of it at least. Old Testament: Adam makes a problem. New Testament: Christ provides a solution. Man breaketh, God fixeth. So, arrogant? No, the opposite. And Christianity is only one possible answer. Among those who resist the whole low-birth-rate, justice-by-mob-rule, high-tax, bankrupt-government thing, our numbers are rounded out by some other secular types who just make it a point to…well, how do I put this…not do stupid dumb things. You might say, asked what is the sum of two and two, they come up with an answer of four because, duh. They figure it out. Perhaps they, too, actually do have guilt over things they’ve done — but they do something to keep it from clouding their decisions.

For me, it’s Christianity. No, it doesn’t make you arrogant. It doesn’t “erase” sin, at least not in the way I reflect upon it. It doesn’t anesthetize you against your own guilt, or make-believe that the guilt is not there. You might say Christianity is a great way to acknowledge you’ve been a pain-in-the-ass, without said acknowledgment making you into an even bigger pain-in-the-ass.

I’ve had a lot of names for America’s guilty-unwise demigod at the tippy top. Emperor Barack The First, He Who Argues With The Dictionaries, Mister Wonderful, President Soetoro…some are my own creation, some are stolen. One of my favorites has been “Replacement Jesus” for that is exactly what He is. Many among His followers have turned their backs on Christ. No Christ for them, but the need for a savior remains. There’s a big hole there. And so, they go out and “buy” this prosthetic Messiah. But it is not a functional prosthesis. It doesn’t actually conquer guilt like the Real Thing does. Therefore, in the same way a false eye doesn’t see, it fails to achieve this “admit you’ve been a P.I.T.A. without becoming a bigger P.I.T.A.” thing.

In Anno Domini Twenty Thirteen, there is no bigger ass-pain than the Obama movement. But here, I have looped back around to belaboring the obvious, and so now I shall stop.

Cross-posted at House of Eratosthenes.

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