Free Markets, Free People

Billy Hollis

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“This isn’t about legalizing Latin American immigrants, it’s about legalizing Latin American-style government.”

That’s Dave Burge’s take (IowaHawk) on last night’s venture into banana-republic style government by Obama.

Hard to beat that. So I just visualized it:

ObamaGeneralissimo

You just know he really, really wants to wear that suit, but Valerie Jarrett won’t let him

Billy

Some of the week’s big stories in photos [with update]

First up: climate protestors in Australia demonstrate their philosophy towards actual data about climate science:

 

bondi-lead[1]

 

headsinsand[1]

Please savor the irony of them sticking their heads in the sand to demonstrate their own ignorance, while thinking they are supporting the leftist climate agenda.

Next, Hillary Clinton apparently has worn out her welcome in Iowa, and there continue to be questions about her health.

Salt-monster-46246874203[1]

Oh, sorry, wrong picture. Let me try again.

Hillary-Clinton-jobs-620x435[1]

Yeah, this whole “Hillary is inevitable” thing probably has a sell-by date of about February 1, 2016. Or sooner.

Finally, a feminist sets a world record for demonstrating her own insecurities, all because of this shirt.

newgunnergirlstshirt[1]

Included in this spectacular effort: envy of other women’s bodies, intelligence envy, sexual self-doubt, actual accomplishment envy, imaginary bad motives in her critics, pleasure at causing pain in others, and neediness for attention.

Most notable results of this harpy’s bloviating: 1. The guy in question cried during an apology, making this bint look like a bully and 2. the shirt is sold out. So trying to shame one guy into not wearing it causes a whole bunch of other guys to wear it just to piss off feminists. In other words, about the same results that leftist collectivism usually obtains.

Hope you’ve all had a great weekend.

Billy

*** Update 17 Nov 2014 10:30 AM ***

And here is what happens when the gap between government and kindergarten gets too small:

Billy’s predictions for the mid-term election and its aftermath

When it comes to the mid-terms, I’m about in the same place psychologically as McQ. But we might as well have some fun with this election. So I sat down and thought about what I expected from it, and came up with the following list:

  1. The Republicans will do well. They will likely retake the Senate and add at least a dozen seats to their House majority.

  2. Lots fewer people will care about that outcome than in previous cycles such as 1994 and 2010. More people are now cynical that the GOP doesn’t really intend to do anything of consequence.

    The default strategy of the establishment GOP right now seems to be to give the Democrats a turn, knowing they’ll screw things up even worse. Then the voters will give the establishment GOP another chance, because they screw things up more slowly. Thus, the establishment GOP believes they are assured of another round of favoring their particular crony capitalists rather then the crony capitalists favored by the Democrats. Plus, they get the nice corner offices for a while. 

  3. At least one Senate race will be close, and will go into protracted recounts. The Democrats will eventually win that race with questionable votes. (Bonus points on entertainment value if it’s Al Franken again.)
  4. The media will not report the questionable votes and tactics used to secure the Democratic victory in #3.
  5. The media will be surprised at the depth of loathing for Obama shown by the election. After all, everyone *they* know likes him.
  6. The media will only show a flicker of that surprise before they get back to covering for and pimping for Obama.
  7. At least one major media figure will use the phrase “temper tantrum” or a close synonym to describe what the voters did to cause the GOP gains.
  8. At least one incident at a polling place will involve blacks supposedly being denied the right to vote because of new voter ID laws. The media might have to manufacture, or at least exaggerate, that incident, but they’ll find one no matter how hard they have to search.
  9. There will be incidents of the opposite kind, like this one in 2008. Those will not be reported by the media, no matter how many there are or how egregious the violation of laws happens to be.
  10. November and December will see dozens of media stories on how the “ground game” failed for the Democrats. Some of those stories will infer that the Democrats’ ground game was sabotaged. There will be no stories in major media of how the Democrats and their ground game failed because Obama has become a laughing-stock.
  11. Opinion columnists in the major media will begin to excuse Obama’s almost total disengagement by blaming it on the new GOP dual majority in Congress. They’ll say things such as “Why should he even try, when they won’t cooperate with him?” (i.e. “bend over and do what he wants”) Some will push for Obama to use even more executive power to bypass the democratically elected majorities in Congress. Some of those will be the same ones who screamed about Bush’s “illegal war”, even though he sought and received authorization from Congress.
  12. Someone will attempt to spread rumors about an Ebola outbreak in key places to depress voter turnout by making people unwilling to go out in public. Either side is capable of this – both sides might do it.
  13. Ted Cruz will give a rousing speech shortly after the election on what the Republicans should do. It will be ignored by the major media, though they might run an out-of-context soundbite of it to try and make him look bad.
  14. Very stupid social science academics will shake their heads and wonder how the voters could dislike Obama since he’s such a great president. Then they’ll talk about how things go “back and forth” or “move in cycles” or some such meaningless blather, as if the GOP victories simply resulted from an inevitable force of nature and have nothing to do with Obama’s screwups.
  15. Allies of the establishment GOP, such as the bloggers at Hot Air, will immediately begin justifying why the new majorities can’t possibly do anything of consequence. I’m guessing their catchphrase will become “Don’t expect too much.”
  16. Allies of the establishment GOP will claim that the election results show definitively that the GOP needs to nominate a moderate for president in 2016. I can’t predict what tortured logic they will use for that conclusion.

OK, that’s enough for me. How about our astute and intelligent commenters add their own?

Wondering why there are few women in tech? Here’s the perspective of someone in tech.

Via Instapundit and Bill Quick, I’ve noticed discussion about this Forbes article on why females are under-represented in technology companies.

As someone who has spent an adult lifetime in the tech industry, let me suggest an angle that I didn’t see in this article, and which I have not seen in other similar articles.

Most jobs of any consequence in tech companies require people to successfully write code at some point in their careers. Writing code is a very unusual human activity. In addition to logic skills and some other cognitive capabilities that the articles usually do touch on, there is one aspect of it most people outside the industry have never thought about: you must be comfortable being wrong and prepared to constantly acknowledge and fix your own mistakes.  

You are wrong a few dozen times a day. The computer tells you (via a compiler error or problem in the running program) that you are unambiguously wrong, and you *must* figure out how to fix the mistake before you proceed. The mistake can’t be overlooked or ignored. It must be fixed, and to the exacting standards of a machine with no emotions.

And here’s where I think the problem results in disparate impact between males and females: the computer is invulnerable to pleading, sweet-talking, eye blinking, hair tossing, lip licking, or any of the other things a substantial fraction of young women have learned to use to get their way in the world, via persuading a male to take care of it or overlook it.

Think, for example, about all those famous stratagems for getting out of traffic tickets, and the jokes about wanting to use one and finding out the cop is female. Whether feminists like it or not, that behavior is common among young women, and it’s common because it works in many social situations.

Whether you think it’s cultural or genetic, woman are less comfortable in the harsh reality, hard edged world of writing code. I think it’s at least partially because it goes against how they have learned to deal with the world around them. Because the computer isn’t a person, and certainly not a male, their best social skills avail them nothing. Plus, they have to be completely comfortable being told flat out “you are wrong about this – deal with it” many times a day, every day.

This is hard. No one likes being told that they are wrong. I know plenty of men who can’t deal with it either. But I think women, on average, have less experience with it than men.

There is evidence to back that up. For example, there is research confirming that teachers pamper girls in school. So, from a young age, and given our current educational system, I think a male is less likely to have someone overlook their mistakes.

There are certainly amazing and talented women developers. I know some and I’ve hired some. In fact, I’ve hired a larger percentage of the women candidates who interviewed with me than men. I just don’t see that many of them.

I strongly challenge the idea that the disparate numbers are due to sexism at the level of the technology companies. In the ruthlessly competitive world of tech, we’ll take talent where we find it. I don’t care about a candidate’s gender, race, religion, sexual preference, or anything else irrelevant to the prime consideration: can they effectively write software? 

In fact, given the current lop-sided proportion of men in the industry, in many cases a qualified woman actually has an advantage! Men are hardwired by eons of evolution to prefer to look at a woman across a conference table than another scruffy, bearded, overweight male nerd. Male decision makers, in my experience, simply never turn down a qualified woman due to sexism. (I supposed there are Neanderthal male decision makers out there who do, but in a long tech career, I’ve never met one.)

So, to the extent that gender matters at all, women typically have the better of it. But decision makers can’t afford to let that factor override the need to perform. Anyone running a software development team knows the dangers of having someone who can’t deal with the harsh realities of being told they are wrong and figuring out how to fix it many times a day. One of the prime characteristics I look for in interviews is defensiveness, which usually indicates an inability to deal with being wrong a lot. Such a person (male or female) not only fails to contribute much, they degrade the overall ability of the team to get things done.

I don’t know how to fix this comparative lack of women in the industry, and I would certainly like to see it fixed. But expecting university computer science departments or tech companies to do it is silly. Any solution is going to have to go a lot further back in a female’s life than young adulthood, and involve a much bigger effort than just encouraging more girls to enter science fairs.

The pathetic bias of the New York Times, summarized in two pics

(This screen cap done at 9:00 AM CST 15 June, 2014)

We’ve known that the New York Times has been part of the palace guard for Democrats for quite a while.* But this is a new low.

If 18 minutes of lost taped conversations in Nixon’s White House is good for weeks of coverage, surely close to two years of lost emails from someone accused targeting the president’s political opponents is even more important.

The story has been on the networks’ web sites since Friday (NBC, CBS, Fox) plus outlets like Forbes, the Fiscal Times, and lots of others. Given that, no serious, objective media outlet would ever ignore the lost IRS email story for two days, and leave it out of their biggest edition of the week. Not the “paper of record”. Not the publication that brags it contains “all the news that’s fit to print”.

But that’s exactly what the Times has done.

The Washington Post is marginally better. No front page story, as the story manifestly deserves. No original reporting, even though the story is in their own backyard. But they do have a couple of Associated Press reports in two sections Politics and Business (yeah, Business – I don’t get it either).

If you still think the Times and Post have not chosen sides politically, then you are a willfully blind, naive fool.

 

*Occasionally a decent article slips through, or perhaps is done as camouflage to bolster the idea that they are serious objective journalists. They stopped fooling anyone connected to reality quite a while back.

Trying desperately to make sense of the Bergdahl mess

When something happens in the public sphere, we never know all the details. But usually we know enough to build a plausible mental model for how it all went down. Based on the actors’ previous actions, the context, and what we know about the ideological battles at any time, we think and hope we have some level of understanding.

But then something happens that makes no sense at all. It could only happen with a level of incompetence or malice that we intuitively don’t believe is possible, even in those public figures we despise.

The Bergdahl situation fits that description for me. Here are the links directly from Drudge on the whole thing, in case you’re not up on the latest:

 

Reintegration: Military hides Bergdahl from public view...
FLASHBACK: 'Converted to Islam And Taught Captors Bomb Making Skills'...
NYTIMES: Left note explaining desertion before going AWOL...
Pentagon knew whereabouts but didn't risk rescue for 'deserter'...
Never Officially Listed as POW...
CHARGE: Soldiers died searching for him...
Former fed prosecutor: Release of Gitmo terrorists impeachable offense...
CHENEY: U.S. will 'pay a price'...
Freed Taliban leaders given hero's welcome...
Toobin: Obama 'Clearly Broke Law'...
Three years since consulting Congress...
FATHER: 'I am still working to free all Guantanamo prisoners'...
Anger explodes...
WAS HILLARY IN ON IT?

BOWE 'SHOULD FACE COURT-MARTIAL'

 

You can get the gist from the headlines. This guy has been gone five years – notice that I don’t say “missing” because the NYT says he left a note that he was deserting before he left, and apparently his location was known. He was exchanged for five Taliban leaders in Gitmo who were welcomed as heroes back home – and it looks like that was done in clear violation of the law concerning Congressional notice about such releases.

On top of all this, the Taliban said back in 2010 that Bergdahl apparently converted to Islam and collaborated with the very people his unit was fighting.

If that’s all true – and there’s no indication otherwise at this point – then the Obama administration gave five enemy leaders their freedom to retrieve a traitor who went over the enemy voluntarily and didn’t seem in any hurry to leave. There is no conceivable upside for the United States that I can see.

Now, maybe all kinds of things will come out to challenge this interpretation. We’ll wait and see.

I rather hope so. Because as it stands, this simply doesn’t make any sense.

I can think of several ways this could get through the White House, but note of them seem any more likely than any of the others. Here are the possibilities I can think of off the top of my head:

  • Nobody at White House knew the details on Bergdahl because they are all incompetent boobs who don’t know how to do due diligence on anything
  • Somebody at White House knew, but was afraid to say anything because Obama (or Jarrett) had declared that they wanted this to go forward
  • Somebody at White House knew, and put the information in a report, but Obama and Jarrett are both too lazy to read reports closely and realize what’s important
  • Everybody knew, including Obama, but he simply didn’t care because he thought it could be spun as a triumph
  • Everybody knew, including Obama, and he knew the real nature of Bergdahl would get out, but Obama simply didn’t care because it was an opportunity to poke congressional Republicans in the eye

 

All of these assume extreme incompetence or malice or both. But I can’t think of any way a competent White House that has the best interests of the country in mind and is operating in good faith takes a decision that gives these results. I’m leaning towards extreme incompetence; in fact, I’m waiting for today’s press conference where Obama tells us he found out all this stuff about Bergdahl the same time we did through press reports, since that shtick seems to work every time he tries it.

OK, sharp and excellent QandO commenters – what am I missing here?

A response to Amazon’s editors: my own suggestions for a well-read life

A few months ago, the “Amazon Book Editors” put up a list with the description “100 Books to Read in a Lifetime: A bucket list of books to create a well-read life”.

It contains some good (1984, Pride and Prejudice, The Right Stuff), some decent-but-thought-provoking (Man’s Search for Meaning), some leftist cant (Silent Spring), and a disproportionate amount of lightweight fiction, books for children, and books for young adults. I’m guessing this is a consequence of Amazon editors skewing rather young.

I think the list lacks broad perspective. It is weak on science, with only the often-purchased-but-seldom-read Brief History of Time plus an obscure book on nutrition. There’s nothing on technology, nothing on business unless you count Moneyball, nothing military (though it does have two books about the victims of WWII), and weak on history. 

Fittingly for a Seattle-based company, the list leans left. I mentioned that Silent Spring is there, which is disturbing given the damage and death caused by its inaccuracies and environmental hysteria. It also contains Fahrenheit 451, which is the soft lefty’s go-to entry when they think they just have to cite a science fiction book. I could name a hundred better science fiction books off the top of my head, but most are from authors who have a nasty habit of not leaning left.

While the list is worth browsing through, I thought the largest bookseller in the world should have done better. That started me thinking about the list I would recommend. My list would contain books that gave me some of the greatest return on investment in reading them. That might be by changing or refining my worldview. It might be simply great entertainment. Some of the very best combine both.

It would be the best books I could name from a wide variety of fields. Being easily bored, I’m more of a generalist than a specialist, and I like to read lots of different kinds of books. So I began composing a list, and extended and refined it several times over a few months.

Creating such a list involves some tough choices between certain books that cover the same territory. I have dodged that by having some of my entries be categories, in which I think a well-read person should be exposed to the category, but not necessary any single work in the category.

For some works and authors, I also included some follow-on suggestions.

I ended up with about 50 books and categories. Here, then, are the books I think ought to be a bucket list for a well-read person, in alphabetic order except that I separated out the science fiction and placed it at the bottom.

The ones that are also on Amazon’s list have an asterisk. No doubt I’ve left off some obvious works, and no doubt our sharp and excellent commenters will remind me.

Continue reading

It is not possible to get leftists to feel embarrassment or shame

Various members of the White House staff, mostly fresh-faced twenty or thirty-something leftists, have been out there lately demonstrating that they have no capability to admit error or feel the slightest bit of shame in mistakes made by this administration.

They quite literally act as if they just don’t see the problem. “Dude, this was like two years ago.” Four people were killed, and around here, we all believed at the time that incompetence was covered up for political purposes. Every piece of information that comes out confirms it.

But leftists are now in permanent “deny, deny, deny” mode. Bill Clinton taught them well. If you never admit mistakes or problems, you effectively reduce your opponents to sputtering frustration. If you never show shame or embarrassment no matter how silly you look, it’s never necessary to admit that your opponents have any valid points whatsoever. 

The only thing you need is the willing cooperation of the legacy media so that you get first shot at persuading the legions of rationally ignorant people who don’t much like politics. If the New York Times, the Washington Post, CBS/NBC/ABC/CNN all refuse to call you on it, or do so way after the fact so that editors can just say “old news, move on”, then you’ll get away with it.

I’ve long thought that people such as this ass Veitor literally don’t see the mistakes. Their post-modern training allows them to believe that whatever they convince the media and the people to believe is the truth. It doesn’t matter what facts contradict it. It doesn’t matter what the negative long-term effects are. It doesn’t even matter if it dissolves the bonds that hold civil society together. By post-modern axioms, the consensus narrative is the truth. It must be advanced.

Post-modernists don’t feel shame because they don’t think they’re lying. You could probably hook up Veitor to a lie detector and get no indication whatever that he thinks he’s lying. He believes it’s impossible to lie in support of leftist policies and practitioners. Leftism is right by axiomatic certainty, so anything that supports it must be true and right.

No doubt such people would, if pressed hard enough, admit that there are other viewpoints and details that support them. But they would simply say that the human mind can be irrational, blah, blah, blah, and none of it matters. The idea that they might be irrational in support of collectivism never, ever enters their mind.

They are very much like fundamentalists who see the will of God in everything that happens. No religious fundamentalist is capable of feeling shame about believing in God, or shame in the outcomes of what they claim are God’s works. It’s just all part of a grand plan that we can’t see.

Similarly, leftists see the validation of leftism is everything. They are cognitively incapable of seeing the facts and realities that dispute leftism. They are incapable of believing that anyone who denies leftism is interacting in good faith.

They can only see the narrative that upholds leftism. Only that can be true. It doesn’t matter how preposterous it is to someone connected to reality. For them, leftism is reality.

But, as kennycan said in a comment over at Daily Pundit concerning the Ukraine spokesbint, some realities are more real than others. Ezra Klein’s “reality” that the federal government cannot run out of dollars is just a comfortable fantasy in support of leftism. It doesn’t even pass basic logical analysis. For example if that were true, there would never be any reason to collect taxes! If the government can’t run out of dollars, those taxes are not needed.

That’s obviously preposterous. Even more preposterous is the idea that an exponential curve can continue its natural shape indefinitely. As Herb Stein said, what can’t go on forever will stop.

But, if leftists can use their post-modern approach to deny that Obamacare is a disaster and that Benghazi was a horrible, botched mistake that was covered up, or that the IRS is engaging in politically targeted harassment, then why should we believe they will be any different when the debt mountain collapses? They will come up with some narrative that blames Republicans for talking bad about the debt and spooking the financial markets, or whatever.

Using the “never let a crisis go to waste” mentality, they’ll demand that the rich have to just give up everything they own for the sake of society – why do you think they’re pounding so hard right now on the income inequality thing? They’re setting the stage to have options to advance leftism, no matter what happens.

This explains why arguing with them is fruitless. Remember the conversational dictum that you don’t discuss religion in polite company? That is what you are doing when you discuss collectivism with a leftist. (Though their concept of politeness is pretty far degraded from mine.)

Make your case to the muddled middle if you must, but trying to convince a leftist that he has to give up his post-modern, collectivist religion is no more likely to succeed than trying to convince a fundamentalist that his wife’s death in a car accident is evidence of either a cruel God or that God had nothing to do with it. They both have constructed elaborate mental models of how the world satisfies their religion, and there is no talking them out of it.

Pretending there’s a way out of our mess

Drew over at Ace of Spades encapsulates what many of us are feeling:

…there’s no need to leave for Red State or anywhere else to join the “Let-it-burn crowd” because it’s everywhere.

Note the actual phrase begins with “let”. It’s a passive word. No one is saying “Start a fire and burn it down”. It is burning already.

Out of control entitlement spending, zero political will to control discretionary spending and an unchecked debt is the fuel that is feeding this fire.

You want to know who is actively fanning the flames of this fire? Mainstream Republican candidates and office holders, not tea party fanatics or people who simply have lost interest in trying to stop the conflagration.

I have sometimes thought about responding to people such as Charles Cooke and Jay Nordlinger at National Review when they tell us that the establishment GOP isn’t that bad, and they really deserve our support, and other rationalizations. They’re just fooling themselves. Responding does no good, however, because if someone can’t see reality at this point, it means they are willfully blind to it and can’t be argued with.

It’s just too painful for them to think about the essential reality: the establishment GOP is never going to change. They are never going to fight for limited government. They are never going to shrink government at all.

They are never going to willingly turn over the power they have amassed to people who do intend to do those things (i.e. Tea Party types and other limited government advocates). They are going to fight those people with every weapon at their disposal – including the dirty ones.

They are the first obstacle that must be removed before any reclamation of freedom from the federal government can be attained.

Many of us on the right figured that out a long time ago. The civility junkies, the excuse makers, the cocktail party attendees, and the “why can’t we all get along” wafflers can’t seem to see what’s right in front of their face. This fight is on. Choose your side.

If you choose based on your principles, you will choose those who are dedicated to reducing government, knowing that their first actions will be to fight hard against the establishment GOP in order to eventually fight the Democrats on an equal footing. If you choose based on who you’ve met as soirées, who posed with you for pictures, and who radiates power because the control the GOP today, then you are effectively casting your lot with those who want to grow government indefinitely, until the debt mountain finally collapses. Because that’s what the establishment GOP is going to do, whether you like it or not.

You will never change their minds, so you better start lining up with the people who already believe in the principles you espouse.When the burning starts accelerating in earnest, they are the ones who might be able to build some firewalls to contain the damage, and repair things afterwards. Squishes such as Boehner and McConnell will look at the flames in horror, and then let the Democrats amass as much power as they ask for. The sooner they lose control of the GOP, the better the implications for freedom and limited government.  

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