Free Markets, Free People

Billy Hollis

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For the software devs among our readers, a report from //build/

Microsoft’s //build/ conference is on, where they are rolling out plans for a pretty dramatic shift in Windows for the next generation.

I’m in sunny Anaheim at the conference, with no time to pen a long post. If you’ve got ten minutes to waste listening to me ramble, and you care about the Microsoft side of the tech industry, you can watch this video which was posted a couple of hours ago. Actually, it might be better to watch some other videos in the series that feature Microsoft executives with a lot more interesting and detailed things to say, but, hey, if you make fun of them in the comments here, they’ll never see it. Whereas you can point out that the camera angle makes me look like I have some kind of weird arthritis, and I just have to take it.

If you don’t care about software development, or do care but are apathetic or hostile to Microsoft, my apologies. Please return to our usual program of economic and political doom.


Top five public speaking tics that are annoying as Hell

I spend a lot of time in front of an audience. It’s a major source of my income, and if I suck at it, my bank account will feel it.

Since I’m rather fond of my bank account, I try to listen to others who do public speaking, and pick up do’s and don’ts from them. It’s mostly don’ts, I’m afraid, especially from politicians. Our generation has very few good public speakers, and no genuine orators of consequence as far as I know. 

The worst things I see are tics that speakers fall into. They annoy the heck out of me, and probably you too. I try to observe and remember those annoyances, so that I can avoid them in my own delivery.

Here, then are the top five things I notice in public speakers that grate on my nerves. Any of you that need to get in front of a group should try hard to avoid having a single one of these tics even one time in your presentation.

 

1. "…you know…" This is the one I see the most right now. Politicians seem to particularly susceptible to this one, including Obama. Here are a couple of examples from Senator Mark Warner in an interview published just a couple of days ago.

You know, there’s ideas, for example, that I’ve found a tremendous response on that says, you know, we’ve got thousands of schools in our country that are energy inefficient. Why not take folks, particularly young people, 18 to 30 year olds, who’ve been on unemployment for more than 10 or 15 weeks and say, you know, we’re going to continue…

Well, you know, the – I wish I’d say that, you know, I’m extraordinarily optimistic, but, you know, the alternative becomes, you know, if we’re going to look at gridlock, candidly, the whole Congress ought to get fired, because the American people ought to expect us to do our job.

…there are a whole series of things that we could do that, frankly, you know, we do need folks – particularly in the House – to simply stop saying “no” and kind of roll up their sleeves and, you know, try to work together in a bipartisan way.

I doubt Warner even knows he does this, but I find it incredibly annoying when someone speaks like this. You probably do too, so make sure, you know, you’re not doing it.

2. "…like…" Another well known tic is the gratuitous use of "like". Example: "This problem is like really hard to solve. You should like give us some extra time to like figure it out."

Conversational tics go in cycles, and this one is (hopefully) on the decline. At its height five or so years ago, I used to sit in audiences and calculate the "like index", which was the number of times the speaker gratuitously stuck in "like" per minute.

Younger female speakers were and are by far the worst offenders, and for some reason this tic seems to be worse in California. I heard a young lady speak in front of a group a couple of years ago with a "like index" of about fifteen.

Because this one has been around a while, people notice it, and therefore it’s especially important to avoid it. It also has a connotation of youthful cluelessness, which is another very good reason to, like, keep your presentations "like"-free.

3. "…, right?" This one’s fairly recent. I first noticed it about two years ago. Presenters began the tic of inserting the question-tone "right" at the end of about every other sentence. Even some quite good presenters I know picked this up, and I suspect it’s because it became a conversation tic inside Microsoft – the culture there has a tendency towards such tics.

A presentation with the "right?" tic sounds something like this:

"The turboencabulator uses a CPU to encarphalize the singlial signal, right? And that minimizes energy drain by the gristocentrum, right? Compare that to an agilomodelizer. It connects garphal entities to anthrocentic viewlicanters, right?"

Unlike "like" or "you know", I think perhaps one or two "right?" insertions per hour for emphasis might not be too bad. But as a tic inserted in every paragraph, not only is it irritating, after a while the audience begins to wonder if you’re not trying to convince yourself. Right?

4. "…frankly, …" and its relatives. This one has been a favored tic from politicians for years. They like to insert "frankly" every so often in whatever they are trying to get across. You can get as many examples as you like with simple searches. Here’s one for “senator frankly”.

I think they are striving for the implication that they’re being honest with us, which of course for a politician is always an open question. I find it insulting, though. Are they not being honest if they don’t keep inserting "frankly" in every other sentence?

There are variations on "frankly", and some are far worse. Sometimes politicians realize they have used "frankly" too much, and switch to "candidly", which is just as bad. An even worse variant is "To be honest with you…". A really bad variation is the insertion of "trust me", which almost any audience member will interpret as "don’t trust me".

If you believe in what you’re saying, it should come through in your tone and body language. You don’t need to keep reassuring your audience that you’re telling the truth. Unless you’re lying, of course.

5. Overuse or misuse of "literally". I’ve been guilty of this in my writing on occasion, probably because I’m trying to emphasize that I’m really not kidding about something that sounds outrageous. However, I recommend that you never use it in public speaking.

First, it has some of the same problem as "frankly", in that your tone and demeanor should make it unnecessary. Second, there is a bad tendency in present day communication for it to be used naively. Some people apparently don’t understand what the word really means, and they just use it for general emphasis. If you use it, you risk being dumped into the bucket with those folks.

There are others: "a going-forward basis", "incentivize" and other verbicized nouns, switching out perfectly clear terms such as "spending" to something that isn’t really accurate but has a better connotation ("investment"), and other forms of drone-speak. However, it’s the tics that really bother me. I can’t really seen any excuse for them whatsoever in someone who speaks as part of their profession.

If you have to get in front of a group more than once or twice a month, these tics will bother your audiences too. So do your best to banish them from anything you say in front of a crowd or on camera.


Scene from a modern American newsroom

{Reporters and editors staff meeting, Metropolis Times-Post-Globe-Tribune, Monday, August 8, 2011}

“OK, people, this looks like a big week. There’s a lot coming down this week, so we all need to do some serious, in-depth work to stay ahead of the curve. First, we’ve got the downgrade and the associated fallout. I need someone who can look at the aftereffects, and make a guess about what it means.”

“Chief, I’ve been doing some analysis on this, and…”

“Stop right there, Beth. This is another one of those ‘Obama made a mistake’ pieces you want to do, isn’t it? When I hired you last spring, I thought I made it clear that we take a balanced approach here. We need to look for fault on all sides, and respect the office of the presidency. Walt, how about you?”

“Chief, do we have to use the word fallout? On this weekend’s talk shows, everyone was using the term ‘Tea Party downgrade’. I think that’s the right analysis. Why, with that approach, the piece practically writes itself.”

“Perfect. Since that’s the new factor in DC, it’s clear that the Tea Party is the biggest factor in this. Get to work. Beth, what is it?”

“Uh, sir, how does a faction that only controls 1/3 of the majority party in one house of Congress cause this problem in only seven months? Don’t we need to go back further in time for a better analysis?”

“No, this is a newspaper, not some right-wing think tank.”

“But, sir, the articles I read about the Tea Party that we put out last year claimed they were just a bunch of whackjobs who would never have any significant effect on Washington because of their extremism. Don’t we at least need to examine how that changed over the last year?”

“No. Our readers understand how the Tea Party has morphed into a national threat. So the Tea Party downgrade is one direction we’ll go. But we need something with some math in it to explain the whole thirty year future thing. I know we don’t normally do math stuff, but with the stock market dropping like a rock, people need some reassurance on this so they don’t panic. Did anybody in here take calculus? Destiny, I seem to recall that it’s on your transcript.”

“Well, um, yeah, but I don’t remember much of it.”

“Your transcript says you made an A. And it was only two years ago. What gives?”

“Well, see, the teacher and me, we had a sort of arrangement. He was real cute, and I really needed to pass calculus, so…. I really didn’t expect the A, but we hit it off better than I thought we would.”

“OK, anybody else want to tackle that? Not you, Beth.”

“Chief, I know a guy over at MoveOn who is good with charts. I can probably get something good from him.”

“OK, Hunter, that will do. Of course, you’ll want to attribute the original source instead of MoveOn. You understand.”

“Certainly, sir.”

“Moving on, this whole gun running thing just won’t go away. Personally, I don’t see why our readers would be interested in it, but we’ve been taking some flack on the right-wing extremist talk shows at Fox. So we need to do some real investigation here, and find out the real story. It’s pretty clear that those extremists at Fox are trying to gin up a controversy that makes the Obama administration look bad, so we need to counter that with some objective analysis. Who’s up for it? Jeremy, you wrote a couple of articles on it early on. You want to go deep on it?”

“Not really, sir. I can’t get anybody in the Justice Department to talk about it, so I can’t get any balance. They’re scared by the way the whole Scooter Libby thing turned out.”

“Yeah, yet again, the Republicans ruined it for everybody. Can’t you get anyone to talk?”

“The only people I can get are field people, who seem to have an agenda here to push this as a controversy. I think they’ve been influenced by the Fox people. I don’t want to give them a soapbox. All they want to talk about is some dead agent from last year and memos from Obama’s people.”

“Sir?”

“Yes, Beth, what is it?”

“Sir, I think we have to take into consideration that there’s a real conspiracy here, something that would take us to very high levels. This could even be Pulitzer material.”

“Beth, I think you’re absolutely right. Why, given the phone hacking scandals in Britain, who knows what these Fox people are capable of. This might go all the way to Rupert Murdoch.”

“That wasn’t exactly…”

“OK, Jeremy, there’s your angle. Go back to your sources and see if any of them are interested in talking about the Fox conspiracy side of things.

“What do you want me to do about the rumors that the FBI and DEA were involved?”

“They’re just rumors.”

“Yeah, but they have some emails that look a bit incriminating.”

“Probably faked. You know how those right wingers are. First they’ll claim that Rather’s memos were faked to cover up for Bush, then they’ll turn around and fake stuff up themselves. You can’t trust anything you get from them. So stick to reliable sources. Eric Holder says the feds didn’t do anything wrong, correct?”

“That’s what he says.”

“Then you can take it to the bank. We all know there are people out there who would attack Holder just because of his race. He’s an embattled public servant. So let’s make sure the truth gets out, shall we? Now, let’s see what’s next. There was apparently a riot in Wisconsin. A flash-mob thing. I think there was also one in Philadelphia a while back. This looks like a great opportunity for some serious cultural analysis on problems in the inner city. Estelle, didn’t you minor in black studies? You want to work on this?”

“I only glanced at it this weekend sir. Were any of the victims black?”

“I don’t know, I didn’t look at it much either. I’m so tired of Wisconsin. Yes, Beth?”

“Sir, the blogs say all the victims were white, and the mob was black.”

“How many times do I have to tell you to ignore those right wing extremist blogs? We need some primary sources. Estelle, can you get facts on this?”

“What if it turns out the blogs are right and there are no black victims? I don’t know how to handle such a case. Anything I write could be used to attack underprivileged minorities. I thought that was against our mission statement.”

“Well, if that turns out to be the case, just leave race out of it completely. You can at least get some numbers of people arrested and people hurt and so forth. Remember to leave all the names out so people don’t draw any erroneous conclusions and inappropriately make this a racial thing. You can fall back on the underage confidentiality thing for that if you need to. OK, the final big subject is the crash of that helicopter that killed a bunch of SEALs. Clearly, this is a great opening to talk about what Bush did wrong in Afghanistan that has made it a quagmire. Who wants to work on that?”

“I do!” “Me, me!” “Please, can I do that one?” “No, I want to do it!” ….


Eat my peas? Screw you, Obama – I’m not a child for you to raise

Obama says it’s time for us to “eat our peas“. Well, here’s the problem, jacka$$ – I don’t like peas.

I’m an adult. Been one for almost thirty years, in fact, so I have a lot of practice at it. I’m older than you, jerk.

So take your sage advice about how we adult citizens just have to suck it up and bend over for your political friends one more time, and shove it in Joe Biden’s cheek pouches.

___________________

If I were a political consultant for a Republican, tea-party-oriented candidate for president (or indeed for any federal office), I would suggest that a central campaign theme be “It’s time to start treating Americans like adults.”

I believe Obama’s condescending smarminess is grating and offensive to a lot of voters. The Republicans are fools if they don’t offer a counterpoint to it.

This “treat us as adults” theme encompasses many things. It means allowing us to make our choices about our lives and our jobs, and be responsible for the outcomes. That includes a whole host of areas that the federal government has completely screwed up in their attempts to treat us like irresponsible children.

    – We need to be responsible for our own retirement. We don’t need to be treated like children who don’t understand the value of money, can’t see the future, and don’t have the self-discipline to save.

    – We need to be responsible for our own healthcare. We don’t need to be treated like children who must be told what to eat, when to exercise, and what treatment they are to get when they are sick, without any thought to how to pay for it.

    – We need to be responsible for our own businesses. The vast majority of business owners are adult enough to know what safety precautions to take, and what accounting standards to use. The small minority that doesn’t understand safety should have their butts sued off and lose their businesses when they are negligent. The tiny minority that commits accounting fraud should be put in prison.

    – We need to be responsible for our property. That starts with allowing us to keep our own money, and spend it as we like. It also implies some stability that is not currently in evidence, so that we don’t lose huge sums in real estate and stock investments because of governmental incompetence and cronyism with the executives of large companies.

    – We need to be more responsible for our own safety. Sure, there’s always a need for law enforcement, but it can’t be the first resort for personal safety. Any law enforcement that could do that would be indistinguishable from a police state. Therefore, we need the right to buy, possess, and use the weapons that provide that safety.

    – We need to be responsible for raising our own children. We need to have more influence over their education, and we particularly need to stop wasting our time reversing the indoctrination they suffer at the hands of the educational bureaucracy.

    – We need to be responsible for treating other people appropriately. If we are stupid or obnoxious in our treatment of others, we need to suffer social consequences, not legal ones.

I know transitioning to treating Americans as adults would be hard. We’ve now had a couple of generations of government dependents, and they have been actively discouraged from learning the skills and responsibilities of adulthood.

The problem is that we’ve reached the end of our rope on supporting this class, which has a natural tendency to grow.

The fundamental problem we face (and that all societies face) is that there are plenty of people who don’t want to be adults. They want to go on being children. It’s easier, at least superficially. Being an adult is hard; you have to make agonizing decisions sometimes. You sacrifice your own pleasures for your children. You deal with random outcomes, such as acts of nature. You have setbacks, and you only have yourself and those who will voluntarily help you to deal with those setbacks.

So these folks have made a pact with the devil. They get to go on essentially being children, with their housing, food, and healthcare guaranteed at a certain level. They can have children without the trouble of getting married and taking on a long term commitment. They can slough off their education. When things go bad, they can do the equivalent of a toddler’s temper tantrum by blaming any convenient third party for their own lack of capability to deal with life.

They never gain the satisfactions of being an adult, but they do get to avoid the responsibilities – at least, until the whole thing comes crashing down around them, leaving them completely unequipped to deal with the wreaked society into which they will eventually be thrust.

Some of them go one step up the ladder. They take jobs in the public sector. OK, at least they are willing to work, and a lot of public sector employees do work pretty hard. But they still exhibit many of the same childlike expectations. They expect that their job will always be secure, with no thought or concern for where the money comes from. They expect constantly rising compensation. They expect to be insulated from any real criticism by those outside the bureaucracy, i.e., the common citizens.

It’s no wonder that we’re having trouble as a society facing reality. We have created a large class of people whose entire daily existence is based on avoiding the real, adult world.

However, I believe that group is still a minority. At least, I hope it is. With its natural tendency to grow, however, it won’t be a minority for much longer.

So, while we still have a majority of people who prefer to be treated as adults, we need to appeal to that desire. We need to leverage it to shame some people into dropping their something-for-nothing expectations. For example, we need those archetypical self-sufficient farmers to give up every single subsidy they get, and run their farms like the self-sufficient adults they pretend to be. We need to shame businessmen to stop sucking at the government teat and provide goods and services that people will voluntarily purchase, without subsidies, special favors, or restrictions on their competition.

No society constituted with a majority of childlike adults is stable. Greece is the most obvious recent example.

Obama is never, ever going to treat American citizens as adults. He is psychologically incapable of it. Where Bill Clinton could give in and sign welfare reform, Obama can’t. It’s simply inconceivable to his leftist soul that society could move further from his leftist principles instead of closer to them.

The short term, then, is for Republicans to stand firm against his desire to turn more Americans into childlike adults. No more taxes. Insist on spending cuts, using whatever leverage comes to hand. Endure stalemate, if necessary, because it’s worse than the alternative. Giving in to Obama just means more ground to retake later.

The medium term is to realize that a complete turnaround is absolutely necessary in the relationship between American citizens and their federal government. Citizens must be allowed and required to be adults.

I believe if the GOP embraces this as a guiding principle, we would see a bigger electoral triumph than 2010, bigger than 1994, bigger than 1980. I believe there is latent demand in our citizens for being treated as equals instead of wards. I think they’re sick of condescending lectures on eating their peas from incompetent, smug Democrats who have failed at everything they have tried. I think many are disheartened that they want to take on the mantle of adult responsibility, but they can’t because they can’t find jobs.

However, if we get another Republican candidate who is from the same vein as authoritarian Democrats – say one that believes government control of healthcare is just fine and showed his true colors by implementing it in his state – then the GOP will forfeit a lot of that latent demand.

The GOP might still win with such an authoritarian-minded, political class approved, “to the manor born” candidate. Bill Quick thinks his Pomeranian could beat Obama, and it’s hard to argue with his reasoning.

But without sweeping majorities, clarity of mandate, and courageous, principled leadership at the top, the Republicans won’t be able to get anything of consequence done. They’ll fritter, attempt to look “bi-partisan” to please the mandarins at the Washington Post and New York Times, get gamed by the Democrats, and lose what is probably our last chance to make a real reversal before the debt resulting from our social welfare failures sends the economy into complete meltdown.


Netanyahu is not impressed

In his response to Obama’s fantasy-based speech about Israel returning to the 1967 borders, Netanyahu basically says that’s a non-starter.

In an unusually sharp rebuke to Israel’s closest ally, Netanyahu told Obama his endorsement of a long-standing Palestinian demand to go back to Israel’s 1967 boundaries — meaning big concessions of occupied land — would leave Israel “indefensible.”

“Peace based on illusions will crash eventually on the rocks of Middle East reality,” an unsmiling Netanyahu said as Obama listened intently beside him in the Oval Office.

As usual, it’s the clever Reuter’s wordsmithing that amuses me:

Netanyahu’s firm resistance now raises the question of how hard Obama will push for concessions he is unlikely to get, and whether the peace vision he laid out on Thursday will ever get off the ground. [Emphasis mine]

I don’t really think “vision” is the word that reflects reality here. “Hallucination” would be a lot closer.


Today’s dose of comedy: Twitter will save Democrats in 2012, says speaker at DNC

I can’t do much better than to quote the first paragraph of this article in its entirety:

Democrats are hoping they’ve found a secret weapon for winning back the House in 2012: Twitter.

To quote a famous faux-professor, stop laughing. It get’s better:

“We know that we’re up against a team of about 43 think tanks on the other side. … But when you engage them in a good debate, they’re shallow."

As opposed to the 140 character sound bites in Twitter? You’re going to make a sophisticated argumentative reponse tht snds lik its a txt msg bcuz u haf 2 cmprss n2 140 chars? ROFL!

Why, the event was so successful, one delegate created a Twitter account! Right there at the event! Really!

A Democratic leadership aide described the event as a “nice hands-on training” for Members less familiar with social media, and it even led to one Member signing up for Twitter on the spot:
@DelegateDonna (Democratic Del. Donna Christensen of the Virgin Islands).

Just think – a DNC delegate managed to do something so complicated that thousands of teenagers do it unassisted every day! What a triumph! 2012 is in the bag, man!

Yep, social media is going to save the Democrats. It will finally, finally get their elegant, persuasive message out.

They’ve had such tremendous obstacles, after all. Why, they’ve had to rely on such limited resources up to now. They’ve only had a bunch of their own think tanks, three broadcast news networks, one cable news channel that openly supports them and another that keeps a fig leaf of pretense that they don’t, every remaining non-bankrupt major city paper except the Wall Street Journal, a slew of pretentious magazines, and a government-funded national radio network that has come right out and admitted where they stand. On the Internet, they’ve had to rely on such a thin guard of sites: Huffington Post, Daily Kos, Media Matters, DogLakeOnFire (or whatever it is, I forget), TPM, etc. etc. I mean, just how far can Soros’ billions go? Those stupid rubes must need some serious educating to realize the wonder and magnificence that is collectivism. The work just never ends!

Hey, at least they’ve stopped explaining that Obama just needs to make more speeches. He seems to have taken that to heart. In the midst of some of the biggest foreign policy happenings of the decade, Obama has decided the best place he can spend time is the golf course. I’d like to disagree with him, but given what he would probably do if he actually did anything, I really can’t.

They’ve got a president who would rather be a dictator, but the problem is their message.

They were given control of all branches of the federal government, and the result was an economy in the dumper, unprecedented and unsupportable debt, one foreign policy blunder after another, a healthcare bill so hated that it help them suffer an historic election loss in 2010… but their real problem is getting their message out.

As in 2010, I hope this delusion continues. Please, please let them keep getting their message out. The union protesters in Madison, for example, are doing great work in this area.

They have clearly communicated the Democratic Party  message. It’s this: You intend to keep on sucking every possible bit of money while telling the rest of us exactly what sort of lives we’re allowed to lead.

That’s your message in a nutshell. Good news: it will fit in a post on Twitter.


Palin is the Right’s Tank

In the online multiplayer game Final Fantasy, players must collaborate to get very far in the game. Individuals train up at the beginning by fighting weak mythical creatures, but taking on the powerful monsters they meet later requires teams with assigned roles.*

It’s all self-organizing; no one at the game maker assigns a player to a task. Players find roles they are good at, and team up with others who possess other skills.

Teams normally have an interesting role called a “tank”. This player has the capability to attract and hold a monster’s attention, absorb a tremendous amount of damage from the monster, and regenerate quickly from the damage. Other players use the distraction of the tank to attack the monster in various ways, and if the team does their job, eventually the monster succumbs to their combined efforts.

If you’re on a team with a tank, you don’t have to like the tank much. You just have to appreciate the tank’s capabilities. Your main objective is to subdue the monster.

In my mind, this maps very naturally to the role of Sarah Palin in bringing down the monster of collectivism.

OK, OK, this sounds like the kind of high-falutin’, silly comparison that people like Maureen Dowd use for a cheap column in the New York Times. But attend me: this kind of metaphor is going to work a lot better with someone in their twenties than something we old guys would naturally use from a 1960s TV show.

I came around to this comparison as a way of explaining my own opinions of Palin to the younger set that hangs around with my sons. It’s sometime hard for me to explain what I like about her, because I’m not overly impressed with Palin’s leadership potential or her deep thinking about the issues. I haven’t seen much evidence that she possesses leadership or deep thinking in any great quantity.**

I am impressed, though, with her intuition, her courage, and her resilience. She absolutely refuses to be intimidated by the usual post-modern, politically-correct leftist BS. She absorbs anything the self-righteous Olbermann types can throw at her, laughs it off, and “punches back twice as hard”, to follow the advice of a well-known leftist.

The constant, withering attacks from legacy media do cause some damage to her image, according to various surveys and polls. However, she has a core group that regards every such attack as proof that she’s right. These folks have been looking for someone of consequence to tell the left-leaning media to pi$$ up a rope for a long time. The fact that it’s a woman doing it just adds to the frission.

Of course, there’s a core group on the left that regards her as beneath contempt and laps up everything the legacy media hands out. They are joined by the pusillanimous establishment Republican types who still quiver in fear that the Washington Post might say something negative about them, and go into a fan-waving fainting spell when they see someone with enough self-confidence and guts to not give a whit what the lefties at the Post think.

Both groups attack her regularly. Amazingly, though, after the attacks die down and Palin gets back to her tweets and Facebook postings, the damage seems to dissipate. Her unfavorable numbers oscillate around, but the key is that they do oscillate; they don’t go negative and stay there. Plus, the more illogical and mean-spirited attacks sometimes have the opposite effect of damaging the attackers and helping Palin.

So my message to those on the right who are not especially enamored of Palin is this: you need her. She’s the tank on the team. The leftist monster must be slain.***

I’m not the only one thinking along these lines, of course. I first mentioned the tank comparison in a comment at Legal Insurrection last week, and William Jacobson seems to be on the same general page in his post yesterday. This is just my way of explaining why we need her, even if we don’t think she’s perfect.

I have no idea what her chances to become president are, and at this point it’s too early to care. She’s certainly not my top choice, but she comes in well ahead of Mitt “Plastic Fantastic” Romney. (Mike “Worst of Both Worlds” Huckabee isn’t even on the list; if the GOP is stupid enough to nominate him, they might as well prepare for a third party).

As long as she’s highlighting the dishonesty and mendacity of the left, the overall bias of the media, and the cowardice and privilege-protecting mewling of the establishment GOP, she has my support. It will take a team to do what has to be done, and we need a tank. She’s the best one we have right now.

(*) I’ve never playing Final Fantasy, but as the father of two teen boys, it’s a frequent topic of conversation around the house. Actual FF players, please forgive my no-doubt incomplete understanding of the game’s concepts.

(**) Not that these are necessary attributes to be elected president, based on some recent examples.

(***) For civility-obsessed idiots, that’s a metaphor.


The Sheer Hilarity of “No Labels”

McQ hit these pompous fools when they first popped their heads up. I was too busy to chime in then, but the more I’ve watched this whole “No Labels” thing, the funnier it gets.

George Will does a pretty good job today of shredding some of their sillier assertions:

Although the people promising to make No Labels into a national scold are dissatisfied with the tone of politics, they are pleased as punch with themselves. If self-approval were butter, they could spread it across America, if it were bread. They might cover the country with sanctimony as they "overthrow the tyranny of hyper-partisanship."

But Bloomberg, addressing the No Labels confabulation, spoke truth to powerlessness: "It’s not clear that the average person feels themselves disenfranchised or wants a lot of the things we are advocating." Just so. Whatever their defects, America’s political parties are marvelously sensitive market mechanisms, measuring every tremor of the electorate’s moods.

But the truly funny thing to me about the entire premise of the group is that a very close approximation of what they are advocating was already tried – by George W. Bush.

W was the guy who “reached across the aisle” to Ted Kennedy to federalize education. He was the one who “accomplished things” by expanding the welfare state via Medicare Rx. He even signed campaign reform legislation that was intended to limit those who “who recklessly demonize their opponents”, though it was later ruled so out of bounds that it was declared unconstitutional.

His tone towards Democrats was mostly moderate, much more so than Obama’s tone when berating Republicans and other opponents. W didn’t pander to his base very often. He was the model of political civility.

His reward? He was demonized by the left as stupid, mean, and equivalent to Hitler.*

That’s why the No Labels’ threats to form citizens’ groups to “carefully monitor the conduct of their elected representatives” are laughable. Republicans have been treated to a detailed object lesson in exactly what works and what doesn’t when trying to work with today’s left. Attempting to compromise with them gives ground while getting nothing of consequence in return, and results in spittle-flecked leftist rage in the bargain.

To simple minded politicians wrapped up in the Beltway bubble, compromising to “get things done” gives an illusion of progress. But it’s just an illusion. It’s akin to having shared control of the rudder so that they get to help choose which side of the waterfall to plunge off of. It does nothing to reverse the course away from the waterfall, and wastes whatever time and resources we still have to do that.

Many such simple minded fools, in both parties, were removed in the last election. That happened despite the fact that the Tea Party movement is new, inexperienced, and doesn’t have deep pockets to draw on. The Tea Partiers went up against the professional and veteran political organizers and rabble rousers of the left, funded by folks like Soros, and in many cases kicked their butts.

So now the Democrats are left with Barney Franks types, from districts so mired in partisan Democratic politics that they would elect a shrill, nasty, Democrat whose demonstrated incompetence helped facilitate the subprime crisis. If you believe in limited government, or even if you just think we better do something quick before the debt bomb explodes, good luck “finding common ground” with such people.

The Republicans have been put on notice that back-scratching with those leftist Democrats is probably going to get them a well-funded, passionate primary challenge. If Mike Castle can get beat by Christine O’Donnell, they know they are not safe with politics as usual. So we’re likely to see more polarized politics rather than less – and as George Will points out, that’s a good thing.

I look forward to hearing about all those “citizens’ groups in every state and congressional district”. Or rather, I look forward to not hearing about them, because just like the aborted Coffee Party movement, well-intentioned fools will volunteer to be organizers, and then find only two or three left-leaning pros at their organizational meeting. They will then grouse to their spouse about how “nobody cares about bringing moderation and civility to politics” and go back to watching MS-NBC.

(*) No Labels co-founder Frum ought to know this. He worked in the Bush White House. But he’s either too simple-minded to draw the obvious conclusions, or such a publicity whore that he couldn’t resist the opportunity to trumpet his reasonableness in the pages of the Washington Post. Or both.


Yep, communism kills – but fools still defend the other fools who believe in it

Following on McQ’s post about deaths due to communism</a>, the same article was noted by Glenn Reynolds. He made the following straight-forward observation:

Communists are as bad as Nazis, and their defenders and apologists are as bad as Nazis’ defenders, but far more common. When you meet them, show them no respect. They’re evil, stupid, and dishonest. They should not enjoy the consequences of their behavior.

I’m not even sure “as bad as” is sufficient. Deaths due to Communism outnumber deaths due to Nazism by a wide margin.

But he got pushback from someone living in the halls of academia, who wants to assure us that those Marxists aren’t really so bad:

As someone who works in academia, I run into my fair share of Marxists. While I disagree with their politics, many of them are decent non-evil people most certainly deserving of respect. There is, to my mind, a big difference between communism and Nazism: it is possible to be a communist with the “good will,” i.e. to sincerely wish the best most prosperous future for everyone. I think it’s pretty obvious that communism is not the way towards that goal, but intelligent people can disagree. Nazism, on the other hand, is fundamentally impossible to commit one’s self to with a good will. It is inherently racist, hateful, and concerned with elevating particular groups of people on the basis of the subjugation and dehumanization of others.

Put another way: communism, like it or not, is an Enlightenment project and an Enlightenment ideology. The evils of communism my be intrinsic, but they are not built into the ideology itself. I.e. Marx never advocated for any society like the Soviet Union or for gulags, etc. The same cannot be said of Nazism.

This is not to give communism a “pass,” but rather to separate the ideology and intentions of the believer, from, say, crimes like the Great Leap Forward. One does not convince communists to give up their creed by calling them Nazis and refusing to show them a modicum of respect. One convinces them (and I speak from personal experience) but engaging them as people who want the good, but don’t realize that their politics cannot and will never be able to effect the society they seek.

This is so wrong-headed that I don’t know where to start. Let’s go phrase by phrase and point out some of the highest caliber foolishness.

While I disagree with their politics, many of them are decent non-evil people most certainly deserving of respect.

No, they’re most certainly not deserving of respect. They might or might not be “non-evil”, but if they still defend the rotten corpse of Marxism and its legacy of death, they’re idiots, and therefore deserving of no respect, no matter what degrees they hold or how much cocktail-party glibness they possess.

Naturally, someone in academia is likely to form some psychological accommodation to these idiots. They’re just down the hall, don’t ya know, and the kids play soccer with them, probably in games where it’s not allowed to keep score. Letting them know that they’re idiots is career-affecting, and seriously curtails opportunities for social activities on campus. So it’s pretty easy for someone in that environment to convince themselves that “on a personal level, those Marxists are not really that bad” from their own need to find a rationalization to avoid friction with them.

There is, to my mind, a big difference between communism and Nazism: it is possible to be a communist with the “good will,” i.e. to sincerely wish the best most prosperous future for everyone.

First, this is the classic leftist fallacy: that good intentions are enough to excuse anything. They’re not.

Second, it’s patently untrue. “Everyone” includes people who have a lot of wealth. Communism explicitly says such people are supposed to give up that wealth for others, and be brought down to supposedly becoming equal with them. How in Hades is that the “best most prosperous future” for those wealthy people?

That’s even leaving out the reality that goes even beyond the iron-clad logic above: Many (most?) of the wealthy were murdered in every case where Communism was tried. Anyone who can hand-wave that aside and still sincerely believe that communism offers the “best most prosperous future for everyone” has a pretty narrow definition of “everyone”.

Instead, I think it’s an indication of the Marxist’s view (shared by many academicians even if they don’t realize it) that the wealthy are nothing but a bunch of  immoral exploiters. It’s easy to leave them out of “everyone” if you hold that view of them.

I think it’s pretty obvious that communism is not the way towards that goal, but intelligent people can disagree.

No. Stupid people and people who crave a reason to control others can disagree. Intelligent people only have to look at a century long string of failure and death to know that communism is not the way towards that goal. If a person can’t see that, I can’t conceive of how they can be labeled “intelligent”. (Of course, my definition of “intelligent” includes a connection to reality, which often seems to be strangely missing from the academician’s definition of “intelligent”.)

Put another way: communism, like it or not, is an Enlightenment project and an Enlightenment ideology.

Wrong again. The ideology that inspired the terms “groupthink”, “double-think”, and all the rest isn’t an Enlightenment ideology. Communism in practice is profoundly anti-Enlightenment. It distorts every meaning that it touches, and disposes of rationalism as soon as it challenges the ideology. Hence the Soviet joke “We pretend to work and they pretend to pay us.”

This is not to give communism a “pass,” but rather to separate the ideology and intentions of the believer, from, say, crimes like the Great Leap Forward.

But separating the supposed intentions from a century of results is giving them a pass! These people defended the Soviet Union my whole life, far past the point where it was clear that it was a murdering, thuggish regime capable of producing only deprivation and violence.

Academic historians were among the worst such defenders.  They’ve never come clean about their support of the Soviet Union. These Marxist fools are still supporting Chavez and Castro today! Sorry, their supposed good intentions shouldn’t give them a pass for that.

One does not convince communists to give up their creed by calling them Nazis and refusing to show them a modicum of respect. One convinces them (and I speak from personal experience) but engaging them as people who want the good, but don’t realize that their politics cannot and will never be able to effect the society they seek.

First, saying that their ideology produces results just as bad or worse as Nazism isn’t calling them a Nazi. It’s stating the clear truth.

But there’s an even better reason to treat their "creed" with complete contempt. Behaving otherwise makes their beliefs acceptable, even respectable, in academia.

Those beliefs should not be respectable. It’s time their ideology joined phlogiston, the luminiferous ether, phrenology, and Lamarkian biology in the historical gallery of failed concepts. They shouldn’t be coddled for believing in nonsense; they should be ridiculed for it.

Giving them any respect whatsoever means that get to continue to indoctrinate new generations in the same idiocy, meaning we still have the problem of academic idiots pushing an evil, failed ideology into the indefinite future.

Far better, I believe, to make it clear and obvious that their belief is not a respectable one.  That in fact, continuing to believe in Marxism at this late date means defending over a hundred million deaths committed in its name, and advocating a philosophy that has caused hundreds of millions to live their lives in misery, deprivation, and de facto slavery. That should be beyond the pale, not treated as some sort of ideological quirk to talk someone out of.

The left wants us to play by different rules from what they impose on themselves. By their lights, believing in principles espoused by the founders of this nation is extreme and racist, but believing in principles that have killed more than a hundred million and enslaved hundreds of millions more is just an ideological quirk.

I believe that not more than one in a thousand can be convinced by the gentle means advocated by this academician. After all, they don’t really seem to learn from history or reality. They took no responsibility for the support of the Soviet Union, Cuba, North Korea, or today’s Venezuela. And I wonder how many of this academic’s friends are *still* siding with the Sandinistas in Nicaragua.

So no more coddling. Just ridicule. If they don’t like it, well, too bad. I think it’s time they suffered the consequences of total ridicule for their idiocy; maybe that would convince some of them to re-examine it. 

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