Communist Apotheosis

Communist Apotheosis?

Here's the piece BillT was referring to below:

Of course, there's no 'enforcement' regime for this that could have any potential to make us comply, whether or not the government signs it. It's only our own government that could enforce it on us; otherwise, we'll do what we like. If the international community can't enforce nonproliferation on Iran and North Korea (!), they're certainly not going to be able to do anything to the land where -- misattributed or not, the sentiment is quite correct -- 'there is a rifle behind every blade of grass.'

Of course, we'll be told we don't live up to our treaties if we don't comply. If the Constitution is not a suicide pact, however, I don't see how any treaty could be held to be one.

Separate Worlds

Separate Worlds:

Democracy Corps has been down Georgia way.

The self-identifying conservative Republicans who make up the base of the Republican Party stand a world apart from the rest of America, according to focus groups conducted by Democracy Corps. These base Republican voters dislike Barack Obama to be sure – which is not very surprising as base Democrats had few positive things to say about George Bush – but these voters identify themselves as part of a ‘mocked’ minority with a set of shared beliefs and knowledge, and commitment to oppose Obama that sets them apart from the majority in the country. They believe Obama is ruthlessly advancing a ‘secret agenda’ to bankrupt the United States and dramatically expand government control to an extent nothing short of socialism. They overwhelmingly view a successful Obama presidency as the destruction of this country’s founding principles and are committed to seeing the president fail.

Instead of focusing on these intense ideological divisions, the press and elites continue to look for a racial element that drives these voters’ beliefs – but they need to get over it. Conducted on the heels of Joe Wilson’s incendiary comments at the president’s joint session address, we gave these groups of older, white Republican base voters in Georgia full opportunity to bring race into their discussion – but it did not ever become a central element, and indeed, was almost beside the point.

First and foremost, these conservative Republican voters believe Obama is deliberately and ruthlessly advancing a ‘secret agenda’ to bankrupt our country and dramatically expand government control over all aspects of our daily lives.
Their ears work. I've heard that sentiment expressed several times lately.

The argument is difficult to counter, more difficult than you might imagine. The reason it's hard is that all of the facts are in their favor, and the only thing against them are unprovable: questions of intention, of character, of the meaning behind observed acts.

The facts are these:

1) America is the most powerful nation in the world, and has set the terms of international debates for more than a decade.

2) This power results from three basic things: military strength, the superiority of the market instead of central planning to make basic decisions, and the strength of our economy (this last to include the dollar's position as a reserve currency).

3) Therefore, to undermine that strength, you'd need to undercut all three things.

4) The Obama administration has asked for deep cuts in military spending, while continuing to maintain a heavy deployment schedule in two wars. The Obama administration has also called for unilateral cuts in our strategic nuclear forces. These actions undermine both our conventional and nuclear military strength.

5) The Obama administration has nationalized major industries and banks, not completely, but enough to give the government a controlling interest in the corporation. The argument that taxpayer money is going to these corporations, and therefore that the corporations must submit to government designs whenever the government feels it is important. These actions have vastly reduced the role of markets, and increased the role of central planners, at the center of major decisions in our economic life.

6) The destruction of the dollar is well documented. Obama's major remaning initiatives are health care reform and cap and trade. If successful, the first intends to result in a further government takeover of a massive part of the economy, again working against markets; furthermore, the expense of the thing will compel much higher taxes at some point. The addition of a major new entitlement adds to the fiscal crisis already expected from Medicare, Social Security, and pension funds. Cap and trade will likewise suppress US industry and call for higher taxes, perhaps passed on as "higher prices" on goods, across the economy. These actions undermine our fiscal strength, and make it more likely that the nation will be bankrupted.

7) Therefore, the Obama administration has acted to weaken all three pillars of American strength. Its stated agenda will further weaken all three pillars, perhaps to the breaking point in the case of fiscal policy.

Now, all of that comes from nothing more than reading the headlines. Usually, conspiracy theories are fairly easy to counter because they have some lie at their center: the famous Truther bit about how steel can't be melted by fire(!), or the idea that a missle hit the Pentagon, or whatever. None of this is undocumented. Obama has called on the military to cut its budget while fighting two wars; he has purchased interests in major banks and corporations, and then used those interests to issue orders to the corporations; the dollar has suffered a serious undermining in world markets, to the degree that there is talk of replacing it as the world's reserve currency; and the debates on health care and cap-and-trade both involve the eventual admission that higher taxes or prices will be necessary.

What remains is to argue that all of this is resulting from the Obama administration's adherence to bad economic philosophy, rather than from a secret plan to ruin America. You're left to argue that yes, these things are happening, but it's because the President has no executive experience. He's never run anything in the real world before. His people genuinely believe in their claims that the government can plan better than the market, and will make better decisions. They're trying to help, in other worlds; they just don't realize the effects their decisions will have, because they are too young, too inexperienced, or have lived lives too removed from the private sector and too insulated by government or academia from personal economic consequence.

Then they remind you of Obama's several apology tours in which he's essentially stated that America has been wicked up until now, but he's going to fix us. Everyone reading blogs is well aware of the Rev. Mr. Wright, Bill Ayers, Ms. Dunn and her Maoist credentials, etc., etc. So are people here. There is, in other words, plenty of empirical evidence on his feelings and associations that reasonably reinforces the worldview.

Democracy Corps says that this means that conservative Republicans are going to have a hard time appealing to others in future elections, because the chasm in worldviews is so wide.

I don't know if that's true or not. It seems just as likely to me that, if things don't get better between now and 2012, other people may decide that these folks may be right. The famous "confirmation bias" suggests that people first decide if you are "good" or "bad," and then interpret everything to fit the profile. Right now, most Americans have their mental switch on Obama flipped to "good," and so they are interpreting all this as unconnected difficulties associated with a challenging situation and inexperience. If that switch flips to "bad," it all becomes convincing evidence of a desire to undermine the nation's strength.

That's where we are now. Obama's favorability ratings line up with this worldview nicely, with both personal negatives and this worldview being higher in the South, and among Republicans. People outside the South, and independents, are more likely to view Obama as personally favorable -- which means they are unlikely to consider him a wicked tool of evil interests.

If unemployment continues at a heavy rate for a long time, some people may find their switch flipping. As they begin to view him unfavorably, they become open to the argument that he might be actively wicked instead of accidentally wicked. There's plenty of room for conversion as the economy grinds down, because his plans will either fail or succeed: if they fail, they won't help; yet if they succeed, the extra taxes and costs will make things worse.

Some may argue that it doesn't matter whether the President is actually trying to destroy the country, or is merely destroying it by accident. It does matter, though. It's very important how we perceive him, because it defines our duty as opponents of the agenda. If you believe as I do, your duty is the duty of the loyal opposition: to try to swing policy through debate and argument, but to support at least foreign policy wholeheartedly once the debate is over. Afghanistan is a good example of this: I hope to inform the debate we are having, but once a decision is made I will, as our military will, try to help bring about whatever we decide to do.

If the President is a "domestic enemy," actively trying to destroy America, your duty may be very different. The performance of that duty creates a world that I hope we'll not have to live in. If you do believe, let me suggest this: it would almost certainly be better for the nation to be led for four years by a wicked man who wanted to destroy it, chafing within the confines of the separation of powers, than to suffer what would come from traveling those roads.

Inspired Commies 2

Those Inspiring Communists II:

One good thing the Communists did inspire was jokes at their expense. West German spies used to collect them:

Did East Germans originate from apes? Impossible. Apes could never survive on just two bananas a year.

What would happen if the desert became Communist? Nothing for a while, and then there would be a sand shortage.

A new [East German car] has been launched with two exhaust pipes -- so you can use it as a wheelbarrow.
The Chinese had jokes too.
It was like that in those days. As soon as you went into the shop it went like this: “Serve the People!” Comrade, I’d like to ask a question.

A: “Struggle Against Selfishness and Criticize Revisionism!” Go ahead.

B: [to the audience] Well, at least he didn’t ignore me. [Back in character] “Destroy Capitalism and Elevate the Proletariat!” I’d like to have my picture taken.

A: “Do Away with the Private and Establish the Public!” What size?

B: “The Revolution is Without Fault!” A three-inch photo.

A: “Rebellion is Justified!” Okay, please give me the money.

B: “Politics First and Foremost!” How much?

A: “Strive for Immediate Results!” One yuan three mao.

B: “Criticize Reactionary Authorities!” Here’s the money.

A: “Oppose Rule by Money!” Here’s your receipt.

B: “Sweep Away Class Enemies of All Kinds!” Thank you.
Most Chinese humor doesn't translate well, because it is word play depending on the tremendous number of like-sounding words. That's pretty decent satire, though.



I ran across this old bit featuring Waylon Jennings the other day.

His musical advice on the way forward sounds very much like our Eric Blair.

Those Inspiring Communists:

First Thomas Friedman, but he's just a journalist from the New York Times. To someone of that particular distinction, covering up the horrors of Communism must seem like an honorable tradition of the firm.

Now it's someone from the White House.

Chairman Mao is an important figure in military science, and anyone who intends to fight a guerrilla war -- or resist one -- needs to read his writings on the subject.

Ms. Dunn is sketching that position by claiming that she's talking about his thoughts on how to fight war, but that isn't really what she's doing. What she's doing is claiming him to be an inspirational philosopher, because 'he did it his way,' and didn't let others tell him it couldn't be done.

Having listened to her speech, you don't know anything about what his insights into that particular war might have been, or how he differed from Saddam. Yet Saddam, too, 'did it his way' and refused to listen to those who told him it couldn't be done. He had a plan too: a plan to resist conventionally, and a backup guerrilla plan that included massive pre-lain caches and support zones seeded with allied families and tribes. Nevertheless, he ended up being plucked out of a spider hole, and hanged a few years later, having led his movement into disaster.

People who learn only the lesson to 'do it your way, and don't listen to those who raise concerns' are at least as likely to end up badly. To the degree that Mao is worth studying, it's to learn how he defied the odds -- how he developed his plans and used his forces, brought pressures to bear, and sustained his movement to victory.

As for the rest of Mao's "philosophy," it's chiefly worth studying to learn how completely it failed. The "Hundred Flowers" movement, wherein intellectuals were encouraged to speak truth to power? Great idea, very inspirational; led to the slaughter or re-education of China's entire educated class. The "Great Leap Forward," wherein China was going to swap out from an agricultural to an industrial economic base? Wonderful thought, very progressive and bold; led to the starvation of tens of millions.

That's the thing to study, if you're going to look at Mao. The chief, key lesson of his life is the horror and misery he brought to everyone he touched.

Punt NFL

Punt the NFL:

College football is better anyway. Go, mighty Bulldogs!

Who wants to watch a bunch of mercenaries who'd leave your team for the first better offer? The college students are, at least, your own true sons and neighbors.



People used to ask, "Can you define what victory in Iraq might look like?" How about this?

I think this makes it official: the liberal Brookings Institution is apparently no longer bothering to update their Iraq Index, with the last update having been done on September 1st. Final score: 8500-11000 MW of power (vs. 4000 prewar), vastly improved access to potable water/sanitation/trash removal, something like five hundred times as many cellphones, a million people with Internet access in a country that previously had essentially none, a tripling of GDP, billions in foreign investment, national debt halved, and thousands of trained judges. Even the endemic fuel shortages appear much ameliorated, with the number of Iraqis saying they had good access to fuel rising from 19% in 2008 to 68% this year. Oh yeah, and a fairly liberal Arab constitutional democracy with basic rights for minorities, including the rights of voting, free press, free assembly, and free speech.

Meanwhile, the security situation in Iraq is better than ever (and far, far better than the average ~7,000 a month killed under Saddam), with icasualties reporting an incredibly low 158 deaths total in September -- the lowest ever recorded....

Iraq is still literally the unthinkable victory. If [opponents currently in office] want to lay any claim to credible analysis of ongoing events in the GWOT, they will need to start acknowedging this basic, painful fact: we won.
They don't, however. They declared the GWOT over, some time ago now.



Once again, MSNBC is host to a vicious, nasty attack directed at a lady because she doesn't hold 'progressive' political opinions. Jenn Q. Public has a list of prior offenses for the character involved here, one Keith Olbermann. He's one of the few TV hosts I'm familiar with, because AFN played his show in the DFAC about the time I'd take lunch chow every day.

Ms. Public has covered some of his historic offenses, but it's worth remembering the treatment Chris Matthews gave the same lady. Zell Miller remembered it, in the famous interview he did with Chris Matthews after his 2004 speech at the Republican National Convention.

Zell was right: it is a shame that we can't challenge people to a duel. As a distant second-best option, however, Ms. Public suggests you might write the network. Since these networks are in show business, and controversy means viewers, I doubt that will do more than encourage the thuggery; but if you like, she has the addresses on her site.

UPDATE: In the comments section of a post about Google searches as they apply to the failed relationships between modern men and women, Cassandra writes:

I rarely hear anyone acknowledge that a man who behaved the way many men behave today would have been shunned by society when I was growing up. Men, too, are demanding that behaviors society has never approved of be not just legitimized but mainstreamed and approved of.

I would not want to have to raise a daughter in today's climate.
This is exactly the kind of thing she's talking about. The reason we've got this kind of behavior going on is that we've created a society in which the rude are completely protected from any sort of reprisal.

It's exactly like the way that virtual communication leads to flaming: because you have removed the physical elements of the communication, there's nothing except personal character to stop people from flaring up emotionally at each other. This is a well-known phenomenon among bloggers, though it predates blogs, and has been observed since the beginning of internet communication.

The removal of the duel -- and the practice of filing criminal charges for assault every time a jerk gets a punch in the face -- has performed a similar transformation on non-virtual society. Neither Chris Matthews nor Keith Olbermann is the sort who would dare to speak that way in the presence of a man like Zell Miller if he were permitted the duel he wanted, even though Zell is spotting them both about fifty years.

Instead, modern society has made the good men powerless to do anything about the bad ones. You can point out that they are mannerless, cowardly puppies; but the more they get called names, the more attention they get, and the more money they make. They are actually rewarded for their bad behavior. Of course you're seeing more bad behavior as a result, and of course their model is being emulated by young people who witness it and see it being rewarded.

Like the internet flamer, they find that all restraints on their worst impulses have been removed. There is nothing to stop them from being abusive except their personal character. If they have any, it is clearly overwhelmed by the actual monetary rewards paid to them for generating controversy.

Of course things are getting worse: there is a powerful, practical mechanism to encourage them to get worse. There is no similar mechanism to ratchet things back the other way. It's been removed from society, and we are seeing the natural consequences of that.

UPDATE: Cassandra's use of Google inspired me to do a little self-check to see how well we've lived up to these standards here. I Googled for three common insults used against women. (You can click the links to see the terms, if you wonder which ones I searched for, but your imaginations will probably work fine.)

In the history of the site, there are three uses of the first, plus one use of the "-y" version: all in block quotes from other pieces, one of them a reference to a man ("son of a..."); two of the others quotes from other women (including Peggy Noonan!); and the third a quote from a Navy SEAL, who was not directing it at women particularly, but just employing a profanity to suggest emphasis in the way that sailors will.

There are no instances of the second.

The third has one citation, another block quote, from an author who agrees that Britney Spears "dresses like a...," but not that she is one.

All of the posts featuring quotes including these words were mine. None of my co-bloggers have ever employed any of them, even in block quotes from other places. I'm proud of them for that, and want to say so.

I invite readers to apply a similar test to any male-run progressive site they like.

Profanity isn't everything, though. Equally important is your treatment of individual women to whom you are opposed politically or culturally. You might wish to contrast our treatment of, say, Cindy Sheehan with how Mrs. Palin was treated at those progressive sites.

For those of you who choose to test your own sites, and are ashamed with what you find? I call on you to do better in the future.

A Public Service

A Public Service:

Obviously, the critics of the rhetoric on the right are better-founded than I knew. This is the kind of reckless, irresponsible... er, wait, no.

Actually, this is from season one. They're now on season three, which would make this a couple years old. We had a totally different President then.

Nothing bad here! This was just edgy, push-the-envelope comics who represent the clever, creative parts of our great nation. It's a mark of the rich intellectual nature of our society that we can accept satire that punches back against the powerful and their interests.

Bthun's Collection:

As promised in the comments below, here are some photos of a portion of bthun's collection.

He writes:

Howdy Grim,

I managed to dig up a few of my favorite all purpose blade. At least the ones I use most often.

I also found the Japanese bayonet. A type 30, straight quillon, with the Mukden Arsenal ( Manchuria ) marking.

The ceremonial sword is not that nice, nor has it ever taken an edge. I have no idea from whence in came. Only that it was in mom and dads, house and I found it while sorting out their estate. Unfortunately the two Arisaka Rifles, a type 38 and a type 99 that dad brought home and gave to me were sold by one of my brothers while I was in the Navy. Whatcha gonna do?

I’m still looking for my oldest knife, the barlow. I packed it away to keep it intact and now I can’t seem to remember where I put it. As they say, of all the things I miss, the thing I miss the most is my mind…

Anyway, in spite of the coughing and an old camera, I managed to capture a few of my blades. And in the spirit of iddy biddy caliber stuff, I pulled out my little Buckmark Pro Target plinker.
Thank you for sharing it with us. I'll be happy to post other reader's favorite blades if they'd like to email me photos and commentary.

Hee Haw


In honor of the ongoing debate at Cassandra's house, a medley:

Hang out to the end for some Johnny Cash.

UPDATE: Here's Johnny Cash and June Carter doing the same number.

It's funny to see these two singers, both of them highly talented, hamming it up like this. Hee Haw was fun because it was about mocking the biased image of what Southerners were like. Everyone knew that Johnny Cash was a poet and a masterful performer. Part of the fun was seeing him act like a stereotype, showing how ridiculous the stereotype really was.

UPDATE: OK, two more:

That one reminds me of a non-Hee Haw piece, by the "Mouth of the South" himself.

No John Donovan

Shooting Off Your Back Porch:

Well, I'm no John Donovan: the man has a much finer collection than I've imagined, and much more experience employing it. Still, it looks like he was having fun, and I admire a man who knows how to have a good time.

I did do a bit of such shooting today, albeit with a much less impressive weapon. Shooting off the back deck is a good way to enjoy the autumn air even when you have the kind of downpour we had all day today. Here's my target:

Be Ready

Be Ready:

Mickey Kaus has a good thought.

If there are well over a million students in charter schools now, and the federal government is pushing them to grow like Topsy, at what point does a vicious circle set in, with public schools losing their even moderately motivated students, causing them to decline even further, causing even more students to leave, etc.? Not that this public school death spiral would be such a bad thing. We should just be prepared for it. The way we should have been prepared for GM.
We should be preparing for the collapse of our public institutions, not just the schools, because they are indeed on an unsustainable course quite parallel to GM's. We already can't afford the Federal Pensions, Medicare, and Social Security promises made; and yet we've got this wonderful idea to add some sort of universal health-care, funded by yet-more taxes and regulations.

The truth is that 'if a man shall not work, neither shall he eat' -- not because he should not eat, or because we don't want him to eat, but because somebody has to pay his freight. If it's not him, it might be his children; or it might be his wife; or it might be someone he helped out when he was younger. It won't be "society," though, because they won't love him enough to make serious sacrifices for him, forever.

Population booms can allow a society to mask that for a while, as the Baby Boomer period allowed us to mask it here, by dividing the extra freight among enough people that the sacrifices aren't so heavy. Yet they were serious, even when they were so divided.
The Social Security system remained essentially unchanged from its enactment until 1956. However, beginning in 1956 Social Security began an almost steady evolution as more and more benefits were added, beginning with the addition of Disability Insurance benefits. In 1958, benefits were extended to dependents of disabled workers. In 1967, disability benefits were extended to widows and widowers. The 1972 amendments provided for automatic cost-of-living benefits.

In 1965, Congress enacted the Medicare program, providing for the medical needs of persons aged 65 or older, regardless of income. The 1965 Social Security Amendments also created the Medicaid programs, which provides medical assistance for persons with low incomes and resources.

Of course, the expansions of Social Security and the creation of Medicare and Medicaid required additional tax revenues, and thus the basic payroll tax was repeatedly increased over the years. Between 1949 and 1962 the payroll tax rate climbed steadily from its initial rate of 2 percent to 6 percent. The expansions in 1965 led to further rate increases, with the combined payroll tax rate climbing to 12.3 percent in 1980. Thus, in 31 years the maximum Social Security tax burden rose from a mere $60 in 1949 to $3,175 in 1980.

Despite the increased payroll tax burden, the benefit expansions Congress enacted in previous years led the Social Security program to an acute funding crises in the early 1980s. Eventually, Congress legislated some minor programmatic changes in Social Security benefits, along with an increase in the payroll tax rate to 15.3 percent by 1990. Between 1980 and 1990, the maximum Social Security payroll tax burden more than doubled to $7,849.
Due to the economic crisis of the moment, we've almost reached the point at which the illusion cannot be maintained. It will not be long before there is no way to pretend anymore. Your family may take care of you, but your government will not: though they may perhaps beggar your family so much that they can't take care of you either.


Poker and the President:

Apparently President Obama and I have one thing in common: he plays poker. I have to admit that I find the fact surprising, as he doesn't seem the type to enjoy it. What are the high-stakes gambles of his presidency so far? The places where he went 'all in' on a hand that he knew was likely to win, but couldn't be 100% certain of winning?

Then again, the reason he played poker was apparently not for the fun of it, but for the social benefits:

As a writer, professor, and community organizer, Obama was greeted coolly by some of his fellow legislators when he arrived in Springfield in 1998 to take a seat in the Illinois Senate. How was this ink-stained, poshly educated greenhorn supposed to get along with Chicago ward heelers and conservative downstate farmers? By playing poker with them, of course.
In that case, the gambling was only an illusion of risk. What he was really after, he couldn't lose.

The rest of the article is more interesting than that idle speculation. It's about poker as a kind of national game for America.
Geneticists have shown that there is literally such a thing as American DNA, not surprising when nearly all of us are descended from immigrants. We therefore carry an immigrant-specific genotype, a genetic marker expressing itself—in some environments, at least—as energetic risk-taking and competitive self-promotion. Even when famine, warfare, or another calamity strikes, most people stay in their homeland. The self-selecting group that migrates, seldom more than 2 percent, is disproportionally inclined to take chances. They also have above-average intelligence and are quicker decision makers. Something about their dopamine-receptor systems, the neural pathway associated with a taste for novelty and risk, sets them apart from those who stay put.

While the factors involved are numerous and complex, the migratory syndrome has been deftly summarized by the journalist Emily Bazelon: "It's not about where you come from, it's that you came at all." The migratory gene must have been even more dominant among those Americans who first moved west across the Appalachians, up and down the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers, then out to California during the gold rush. Their urge to strike it rich, often at the risk of their lives, made poker more appealing than point-based trick-taking games like whist, bridge, or cribbage.

The national card game still combines Puritan values—self-control, diligence, the slow accumulation of savings—with what might be called the open-market cowboy's desire to get very rich very quickly.
I'm not sure how much 'cowboys' are about getting rich quickly; there are fewer better roads to a long life of hard work than trying to raise beef in America. Further, the settling of the majority of the West was not quite the same kind of 'chosen migration' as the settling of America in general. Most of the settlers of the mountain West were displaced Southerners following the Civil War. The point still holds, since they were themselves the descendants of those who chose to come to America, and push into and past the Appalachians; however, the reason so many of them went West was that the South's economy was destroyed by the war and its ruinous aftermath. Home couldn't support them anymore.

Indeed, necessity drove most of them in the first place: the big waves of immigration from Scotland were enforced by the clearances, which we were discussing the other day. The big waves from Ireland, mid-century, were enforced by the famine. A lot of these 'natural gamblers' started the game with little to lose.

Yet they did well, and very well, before the Puritans caught up with them and set up all these rules and regulations. Try starting a business now, and see how much chance you've got. ("Yes, you can start a business. There are 4,000 pages of regulations you'll have to obey, most of them with attendant fines and/or prison time; and you'll need to provide health insurance for your workers, including for at least six months after they leave your company under COBRA; and you'll need to pay them not less than minimum wage, which we'll negotiate for you in advance; and, of course, there will be stiff taxes on any earnings you manage, in order to ensure that we provide for those you're not employing; and...")

A little more poker in the national spirit would be good.