Free Markets, Free People

Billy Hollis


Quick hits for Saturday morning

National Journal asks Do Women Make Better Senators Than Men? Given those doing the asking, I’m pretty sure that the question really means “better at responding to emotion-driven appeals from the left”. And the answer is yes.

***

The DOJ urges city officials in Sanford, Florida to “seek justice for Trayvon Martin”. Which means, as I said earlier in the week, assuming that he’s innocent and Zimmerman is guilty, regardless of facts, evidence, or law. As expected, the DOJ is doing their part to accomplish the goals of white segregationists.

***

The National Transportation Safety Board apologizes that an intern caused a local TV station to use joke Asian names such as “Captain Sum Ting Wong” in an official news broadcast. You would think that with youth unemployment so high, they could get less ignorant interns. But I’m sure that, for the NTSB, political correctness trumps competency, so I’m not surprised.

***

Microsoft’s Surface tablet is not exactly exceeding expectations. As in a 1.8% tablet market share for first quarter of 2013. The price of the low-end RT version was recently cut in response. The article says “Why did Microsoft’s Surface fail so spectacularly? One reason might have been the unusual Windows 8 operating system.” I’d agree, because the hardware isn’t bad. I’ve used Windows 8 on and off for over a year now, and I still dislike its blocky, garish, appearance. That, and the generally untuitive interaction, could be fixed, but it would take design talent that Microsoft doesn’t have.

This is probably one of the triggers for Microsoft’s announced reorganization. By the way, if you pay attention to the Microsoft ecosystem and you don’t know who Kevin Turner is, you should. The ex-Walmart exec is COO and would love to be Steve Ballmer’s successor as CEO.

I joked to someone this week that, with the emphasis now on devices and away from software, Microsoft should change their name to Macrostuff.

*** 

Yessir, that Obama sure does know how to make the rest of the world like us again: “…the US is again being seen as an over-weaning superpower that brushes aside smaller nations.”

Speaking of Obama’s superhuman capabilities, you know Obamacare is in real trouble when the White House is holding special briefings for the likes of Matt Yglesias and Ezra Klein. No doubt we will see the resulting talking points in our comment section by sometime next week.

***

Countdown T-minus 2 days until you can have Twinkies again. And until one of my favorite naughty jokes becomes viable again.


Today’s GOP: Proud of going to the left of Obama with the Farm Bill

I told you a while back how I get email from politicians that I never asked for and from which I can’t opt out because they don’t give any mechanism for that. I got a real doozy yesterday.

It’s from Marlin Stutzman, Congressman from Indiana, bragging about separating the Farm Bill out from a bunch of other Ag Department stuff: 

Transparent government won an important victory today. Conservatives seized an opportunity to split the Farm Bill, a landmark reform that breaks the unholy alliance between food stamps and agriculture policy. For the first time since the 1970’s taxpayers will have an honest look at how Washington spends their money on agriculture and food stamp policy.

At first I thought that sounded pretty good. Then I read what Heritage had to say about this “landmark reform” (found via Instapundit and Megan McArdle):

Supporters of this farm-only farm bill wasted the golden opportunity that separation could have provided: the ability to promote policies that benefit taxpayers, farmers, and consumers in a fiscally responsible way. With the passage of this bill, the House has gone even further to the left than the Senate bill. It would spend more money than Obama on the largest farm program, crop insurance [emphasis mine].

On top of all this, the process House Republicans used to get this 600-plus-page bill to the floor in a mere 10 hours essentially violates their own promise to conduct business in an open and transparent manner [emphasis mine]. They prohibited legislators from introducing amendments. And, they played a game of bait and switch by claiming this bill was the same text from the failed House farm bill of a few weeks ago.

In fact, they made this new bill even worse—by making sneaky changes to the bill text so that some of the costliest and most indefensible programs no longer expire after five years, but live on indefinitely. This means the sugar program that drives up food prices will be harder to change, because it doesn’t automatically expire. It also means the new and radical shallow loss program that covers even minor losses for farmers will indefinitely be a part of the law.

Note the sleazy irony. Congressman Stutzman starts by bragging about transparency in a bill that was passed in a process that was about as transparent as toxic sludge.

This is today’s GOP – paying off their corporate cronies and bragging about how transparently they did it. 


Leftist collectivism fulfills the dreams of the segregationists

Over at Just One Minute, Tom takes a look at a couple of articles on the Zimmerman trial, and finds an astonishing admission from a black pastor.

If you’ve been paying attention to the trial, you know that it’s almost over, and every observer with a shred of objectivity thinks Zimmerman will get a “not guilty” verdict.

Problem is, the local black community was convinced from the beginning that Zimmerman was guilty. The media led them right to that conclusion with misleading reporting. For at least one outlet, NBC, it went beyond misleading into outright fraud.

Naturally, those craven journalists will never take responsibility and set the record straight. They even continue to fan the flames with race-baiting articles like the one Tom cites from the New York Times, which included this quote:

Mr. Oliver, the Sanford pastor, said he remained optimistic. “You can feel a little sense that anger is re-emerging,” he said.

You don’t have to be a trained sociologist* to know what that means – possible civil violence, maybe on the scale of the Rodney King riots.

Why anger? Isn’t an innocent man walking free a good thing? Ah, but we’re back to the world of post-modern narrative. Truth doesn’t matter, only narrative matters, and narrative doesn’t have to have any relationship to truth. In the black community, the dominant narrative is that Zimmerman is guilty. As that race-baiting article put it:

Still, black pastors, sociologists and community leaders said in interviews that they feared that Mr. Martin’s death would be a story of justice denied, an all-too common insult that to them places Trayvon Martin’s name next to those of Rodney King, Amadou Diallo and other black men who were abused, beaten or killed by police officers.

That paragraph only makes any sort of logical sense if you assume from the outset that Trayvon is innocent and Zimmerman is guilty.

Out in the real world, where people are watching the trial, there is a dawning realization that the media got it wrong in the first place, and Zimmerman deserves acquittal. Some of us actually went beyond the fraudulent reporting of the major media and realized that months ago.

But the local black community, and others like it across the nation, sounds like it is not prepared to accept that message. They’ve been told for too long how they are victims and Trayvon is just another one.

Despicable race baiters such as the author of that New York Times article, and the sociologist quoted in it, carefully nurture that attitude. Local leaders pick up the tune, amplifying it. The local educational system, mostly dominated by left-leaning teachers unions, reinforces it while simultaneously ensuring that the locals are handicapped in trying to ever break out of that cultural matrix.

The end result is a community culturally isolated from its larger society. It’s members reinforce each others prejudices, and nurture old grievances. They find themselves unsuited for life outside their local community, because they lack the education to fit in anywhere else. This becomes yet more evidence that the outside world has it in for them.

Thus is fulfilled the dreams of the southern white segregationists. Blacks are encouraged to stay in their own culturally isolated communities.** They are encouraged to believe they are somehow different and cannot mix with outside communities. Their poor education marks them as second class citizens.

Who would have thought that government dependence programs, corrupt Democratic city politicians, and a biased leftist media would accomplish what the white segregationists could not?

For me, it’s one more reason to despise the American left. I hate what they have done to my fellow citizens. I despair when I realize that a typical inner-city resident has no reasonable hope of social mobility, and is stuck in a cycle of government dependence, generation after generation. I shake my head at the nonsense peddled to them by the left and by the likes of Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, and Barack Obama.

I hate that one of the more likely outcomes of the Zimmerman trial is that, like the Rodney King affair, black neighborhoods will end up getting torched and looted – by blacks.***

Hey, New York Times and all your “compassionate” leftist race-baiters – does this make you happy?

 

* Like the race-baiting one in the article, who complained that the non-credible, borderline illiterate star witness for the state was “mammyfied”.

** As one of the effects, just look at how many wealthy suburbs of major American cities are lily-white.

*** I hope it doesn’t happen, and my incurable optimism says maybe the evidence is so clear in this trial that it won’t. But lately, my pessimistic side has a better track record than my optimistic side. 


Obama probably didn’t overtly order the IRS Tea Party targeting–and that makes it worse

Obama’s shills have settled in on a long-term talking point concerning the IRS scandal. They say something along the lines of “Obama didn’t tell the IRS to target anyone for political reasons. That’s just crazy. And, since you can’t pin anything on Obama, there’s no scandal here.”

There are two clear logical fallacies in this position.

First, it’s a strawman argument. I don’t know anyone anywhere on the political spectrum who is saying that Obama actually issued any directives to anyone to start the targeting. In one of my previous posts about it, I explicitly said

Even if Obama isn’t directly involved (and he would have to be sand-poundingly stupid to have issued actual directives that resulted in this) his rhetoric towards these groups was a contributing factor, so he bears some responsibility.

Along the same lines, one of our commenters (jpm100) wrote this morning:

…these orders didn’t necessarily have to come from the Whitehouse.  The organization is corrupted by years democratic nepotism and recent leadership influenced by Team Obama and the tone of non-accountability set by the Whitehouse.  Team Obama knew the kind of people they were appointing.  These people knew what Team Obama wants.  And they knew the worst consequence for them would be a job change to some Democrat Party position or some job with a Democrat benefactor.  So they just did it.

The Whitehouse could be involved, but other than ensuring no serious consequences after the fact, it doesn’t have to be.

These comments also point up the second logical fallacy. Big-government fanciers really don’t want to face up to the possibility that the federal government is just as out of control as those on the right have been saying for years (or decades). They would very much like to pretend that there’s no scandal here.

So they use a complete non sequitur. “Obama didn’t give the directive” –> “There’s no scandal.”

This is stupid even by standards of leftist argument. Political targeting by the IRS is a serious and scandalous problem no matter how it started.

We know the political targeting is there. The attempted leftist misdirection that it wasn’t politically motivated and that “progressive groups were targeted too” failed just as badly as the “doctored emails” Benghazi talking point.

Two senior IRS bureaucrats have now taken the 5th. The FBI is stonewalling an investigation that Congress ordered. It’s possible, or even likely, that the targeting affected the outcome of the 2012 elections.

So we have a serious, serious scandal. I said in the earlier post that

The IRS scandal is bigger than Watergate, bigger than Benghazi, bigger than Fast and Furious, bigger than Iran-Contra, bigger than Monicagate – bigger than any other scandal for the federal government in my lifetime.

The reason I believe that is what the scandal says about the federal bureaucracy. The one agency that is supposed to be scrupulously non-partisan is revealed as having chosen sides in the partisan debate.

It doesn’t matter if Obama ordered it.* All he had to to was put forth enough “wink, wink, nudge, nudge” rhetoric for the IRS bureaucracy to know they likely would not be punished by him for doing it.**

It would only take one other essential ingredient – an IRS bureaucracy sympathetic to the Obama administration and hostile to his political opponents. That’s what the scandal shows us – that the supposedly non-partisan bureaucracy, the one we all have to deal with whether we like it or not, is now a de facto arm of political leftism.

We have additional evidence for this. We know that the IRS favors Obama in political contributions:

While IRS employees generally donated to Obama by a 4-to-1 ratio, the lawyers for that particular federal agency donated to Obama by an astounding 20-to-1 ratio, according to Robert Anderson, associate professor of law at Pepperdine University School of Law.

Lawyers are relevant because they are the ones taking the lead in writing regulations, litigating cases, and making delicate legal judgment calls in borderline cases.

The result is a solvent that is eating away at our civil society. Once half the country no longer trusts the government bureaucracy to even carry out it’s most basic functions in a non-partisan way, the seeds are sown for a terrible reckoning.

That’s what makes it even worse that the targeting probably was not ordered by Obama. Assuming he didn’t overtly order it, and the IRS bureaucrats came up with it on their own, means we are getting much closer to that reckoning that we thought.

* I’m not completely dismissing the possibility that someone in the White House did start the ball rolling. Probably not Obama, though – at most his role might have been some casual musing about how those Tea Party groups were getting pretty uppity, and someone should check into them. I’d be flabbergasted if any hard evidence turned up that he directly ordered the targeting.

** There is ample evidence that the Obama administration will cover for its allies reflexively. See the Black Panther voter intimidation case for an example. 


IRS investigation still lags–I’m guessing they can’t find anyone who wants the job

Via Instapundit, I see that an attorney representing Tea Party groups says:

"I have no reason to believe there is an investigation. It appears to me the Obama administration is only talking to itself," Mitchell stated in an e-mail.

The FBI announced the supposed investigation over six weeks ago. Three weeks later, FBI Director Robert Mueller said he didn’t know who the lead investigator is or how many agents are assigned.

Unlike most of the misdirection and obfuscation in the IRS scandal, I think he was telling the truth, and I think the reason is simple: at that point, and maybe even up to now, there may not be a lead investigator.

The FBI clearly doesn’t want to do this investigation. If the IRS targeting scandal is as bad as it appears so far, the investigation is going to be long and messy, and possibly end up sending some federal bureaucrats to jail. I doubt this outcome has much appeal to other federal bureaucrats. 

I don’t know much about how the FBI operates. I don’t know how much influence investigators have over the work that is assigned to them. But if they have any influence at all, even informal influence, then it’s quite possible that assignments to the investigative team are being passed around inside the FBI like a hot potato.

Put yourself inside the head of someone at the FBI being assigned to investigate the IRS. Here are some of the thoughts I imagine you could have:

  • “If I find something really bad, the Obama administration isn’t going to like it. Or me, for bringing it out. Will they torpedo me? Will I find myself being smeared?”
  • “What if I find some real wrongdoing, and someone at the IRS decides to retaliate?”
  • “Taking down the IRS could mean the FBI is next. We’ve had our own share of messes over the years.”
  • “No matter how this thing turns out, my career is probably going to take a hit.”

Given the realities of the situation, if you worked at the FBI, would you want to be on the investigative team? And if you get stuck on it, are you more interested in getting to the bottom of the mess or mollifying the political class to minimize the impact on you personally?

The FBI has been cruising on a reputation of professionalism that I think vanished in fact long ago. From their incompetent labs to suppressing information to protect Obama, they are far more political and far less professional than they would like to pretend.

Given that problem, will the FBI be motivated and capable enough to get to the bottom of the scandal? I doubt it. Oh, we’ll have a pro-forma investigation at some point. But I’m betting we’ll find out a lot more through the lawsuits launched by Tea Party groups. We might find even more with a special prosecutor if the Democrats would allow one to be appointed, but in their own craven political interests, they probably won’t.

Somewhere on the federal side, a scapegoat will eventually be found, possibly two or three. They will be fired, and the propaganda arm of the Democratic Party will work overtime selling the “Nothing more to see, time to move along” narrative.

They have to. The left-leaning political class recognizes the possible damage if they can’t contain this scandal. It was bad enough when the media chose sides in the left-vs-right political battle. If those on the right also become convinced that the entire federal bureaucracy has similarly chosen sides, then they will likely conclude that our current political differences can’t possibly be decided through normal political means. They will feel, rightly, that the system is rigged against them.

Which would mean that they come to the same conclusion many of us came to a while back.


Today’s attempted narrative on the IRS scandal: A Republican in the IRS says “Nothing to see here”

Since the Clinton era, we’ve seen the left retreat from reality into a dependence on post-modern narrative. They don’t even bother to hide it; they talk about narrative all the time, and they’ve reached the point where “the fact is” has become a public speaking tic for Democrats that really means “what I prefer you to believe is” or “the accepted leftist narrative is”.*

Narrative isn’t about reality; the post-modern leftists don’t even think there is such a thing as objective reality. Narrative is about what you can get people to believe.

When the left is really having trouble finding a narrative that will stick, they like to use misdirection. For example, they will pull out a single aspect of an issue, even if the aspect was made up or planted just for the purpose, and try to push the meme that “because of this one thing, the rest doesn’t matter”.

We saw the attempt with Benghazi, and the supposedly “doctored” emails. One of our own leftist commenters pushed and pushed on the idea that, because the Republicans doctored emails, the whole Benghazi controversy was obviously ginned up by the Republicans to embarrass Obama, and therefore wasn’t a “real scandal”.

Again, reality doesn’t matter. The Republicans didn’t even get those emails. They got summaries. The summaries came from ABC News, and the Republicans presented what they received. But to a committed leftist and Obama apologist, so what? They’re Republicans! Stop paying attention to stuff like dead ambassadors, bad decisions, and the earlier, failed misdirection about the video. Just dismiss the whole thing because (I claim) Republicans doctored emails.**

The latest attempt of that type in the IRS scandal is to put forth some schmoe in the Cincinnati office who says there’s no evidence Obama is involved, and is (gasp!) a conservative Republican.

This is simple misdirection. First, the guy just describes himself as a conservative Republican. Doesn’t mean he really is. We’ve seen plenty of cases in the past where these supposedly conservative or independent people involved in a situation turned out to be anything but.

Second, the person who put this out, the consistently idiotic Congressman Elijah Cummings, refused to release the full transcript. He released the parts that created the impression he wanted.

So there’s plenty of full story still to come out. That, of course, didn’t stop Joan Walsh at Salon from crowing “Elijah Cummings outplays Darrell Issa”, as if this were some kind of tennis match instead of a deadly serious problem that threatens the very legitimacy of the federal government.

Even if he turns out to have voted straight ticket Republican back to the beginning of time, it doesn’t change some of the basic facts:

- Groups were targeted because of political ideology

- People in Washington signed the letters demanding that were part of the targeting effort

- No one anywhere along the line, no matter what the philosophy, raised a flag about the targeting

This bespeaks a partisan, authoritarian culture in the IRS as an institution. As Dale is fond of pointing out, it’s hard to see how that can possibly be fixed without changing the tax system in such a way that we eliminate the IRS.

That will not stop desperate Obama apologists from seizing on this narrative the way a starving coyote seizes a squirrel. They will state the “established fact” that a conservative Republican says Obama wasn’t involved, and use that as an excuse to hand wave away everything else that anyone says about the IRS scandal. Here is Cummings himself:

“Based upon everything I’ve seen, the case is solved,” he said. “If it were me, I would wrap this case up and move on.”

This is ridiculous. The IRS scandal is bigger than Watergate, bigger than Benghazi, bigger than Fast and Furious, bigger than Iran-Contra, bigger than Monicagate – bigger than any other scandal for the federal government in my lifetime. Teapot Dome isn’t close to this. Even if Obama isn’t directly involved (and he would have to be sand-poundingly stupid to have issued actual directives that resulted in this) his rhetoric towards these groups was a contributing factor, so he bears some responsibility.

None of that is going to change because the leftists have found a new piece of misdirection. Which won’t stop them from bleating about it for while to avoid any real argument, of course.   

 

* Even some Republicans have picked up this tic. Just goes to show that if you lie down with Demos, you get up with tics….

** Have you noticed that the doctored email narrative excuse is mostly gone now? It didn’t stick as a narrative, because it was obviously false-to-fact from the outset. That didn’t stop leftists from pushing it as a narrative, of course, because they don’t have a connection with reality. They just realized it didn’t work after a while, and moved on to something else. I will be shocked the first time one of them says “Yeah, that was wrong. The Republicans didn’t really doctor emails.” The narrative may be out of the limelight, but the leftists still believe it because it feels so good to believe it.


You don’t say: “New IRS head says taxpayers no longer trust agency”

Acting Commissioner Danny Werfel  says the taxpayers don’t trust the IRS, and he intends to conduct “a thorough review of what went wrong and how to fix it.”

Just a suggestion, Danny, but why don’t you start by telling these folks to either tell us the full story or hit the road? Treasury IG: No IRS employee interviewed by us would acknowledge who ordered the targeting of conservatives


The problems of a post-modern legal system

A columnist at the Washington Post (via Insty) looks at the Rosen case, and finds some problems with the logic at the Justice Department.

The essential question is the definition of criminal conduct. It’s against federal law for authorities to “search a newsroom for the purpose of obtaining work product or documentary materials relating to a criminal investigation.” This presumably applies to reporters’ emails as well.

The law makes an exception if a reporter is suspected of criminal behavior. That’s why Rosen was named a co-conspirator – that’s the only way the Justice Department could get a judge to go along with their fishing expedition. In the Post column, the columnist Erik Wemple says:

It [the Justice Department] told a judge that Rosen may well have committed a violation of the Espionage Act as it pursued its e-mail search warrant.

But it turns out that the Justice Department apparently has no tangible evidence of any criminal behavior by Rosen. They’ve already said they have no intention of prosecuting him.

David Schultz, a lawyer for the AP it it’s own Justice Department scandal, spots the contradiction in that:

”They’ve done the expedient thing that allows them to get what they want without giving the press an opportunity to object,” says Schulz. “If they did not believe Rosen was committing a crime, they shouldn’t have been invoking that part of the PPA. Either they were really accusing him of a crime or they weren’t. I mean, you can’t have it both ways.”

Clearly, Mr. Schultz does not understand post-modern reasoning. For today’s leftists, there are no contradictions when someone is defending the left. That’s because they merely change definitions as necessary to eliminate the contradiction.

Look at their recent attempted re-definition of the word “scandal”. If you ask a typical English speaker what a scandal is, they’ll describe a situation where a person or organization got caught doing something they were not supposed to do – often illegal, usually unethical, and typically embarrassing. The IRS targeting of conservative groups, the Benghazi debacle and subsequent cover-up, and the Justice Department abuses of the AP and Fox News obviously fit that definition.

To the left, though, the word “scandal” means whatever they need it to mean to further the leftist cause. So they have taken up the mantra that these things are not “real scandals”, with the implication that they are not scandals at all. They want to own the terminology in every discussion, and bend it to whatever suits their present argument. That’s why I’ve stopped arguing with them. By the fundamentals of their own philosophy, it’s impossible for them to lose an argument because the objective standards of logic, reason, and reality don’t apply to them. To them, the only thing left is “narrative”, and they reserve the right to hold onto their own narrative no matter how obviously nonsensical it might be.

The narrative rules all for a post-modernist because it’s fundamental to post-modernism that words have no objective meaning. Just as there is no objective reality to them, there is no objective meaning either. A word means whatever a leftist can convince the present listener that it means, and the leftist reserves the right to redefine the word for another listener tomorrow if that helps promote tomorrow’s narrative.

The problem is that a legal system depends upon reliable meaning of words. If words can be redefined to suit the whims of someone in power, then no one can ever know whether they are obeying a law or not.

The Obama administration is so steeped in post-modern leftism that they don’t get this, or don’t care. So we see Holder’s Justice Department adapting the word “co-conspirator” and claiming criminal behavior to justify it, all out of pure expedience. They needed to accuse Rosen of being a co-conspirator to get what they wanted, so they simply told a judge that he was one. Hey, it’s just a word! It has no objective meaning, so we can redefine it to mean whatever we want!

As always, when they do that, they don’t think they’ve done anything wrong. They feel no shame or remorse over it. They get legitimately confused when a contradiction is pointed out, because in their world-view, there is no contradiction.

To a leftist, “co-conspirator” can mean one thing when leftists are in power, and something quite different when they are not. If Bush/Ashcroft had done exactly what they did, the very same people in the Justice Department who named Rosen a co-conspirator would be howling about it 24/7. They would be hectoring anyone who would listen that a journalist with no evidence of criminal behavior can’t possibly be named a ‘”co-conspirator”, and probably beating the drum for impeachment for anyone involved. But since they’re the ones doing it, the reaction among the left has been muted and mostly apathetic.

It is obvious to we Enlightenment types that it’s not possible to have a functioning legal system for a free society based on expedient re-definition of the terms used in laws. That’s why the Right has been opposing this folderol all the way back to FDR’s flouting of clear Constitutional language. It’s clear to anyone who understands plain English that a person growing wheat in their backyard for their own use has no relationship to “interstate commerce” as anyone before 1930 understood it. But it was expedient to simply pretend the term meant something else, to rationalize giving the government more power.

So this problem isn’t new. The difference today is that it used to be rare. Now it’s business as usual. Clinton’s defense against everything questionable that he ever did depended on re-defining words such as “sex” and “is”. Holder’s Justice Department clearly thinks they can simply dictate what words like “co-conspirator” mean.

A legal system allowing such re-definition to suit those in power is built on sand, awaiting the first strong shake to liquefy and bring it down.


I get email…

I get a lot of email from that link over on the left side of this site. Interesting conversations, offers to review books, and the like are welcome and worthwhile. 

But spammers are everywhere, so 98%+ of it is an amazing variety of worthless trash. Perhaps even more amazing (and frustrating) is that much of it slips right through even the best spam filters, probably because it’s about politics instead of bobbydangler enlargement.

A warning if you’re ever considering doing political blogging and exposing your email address: the CAN-SPAM act has an exemption for certain political purposes. In particular, if Senator Bigslush ever gets your email address, he is free to send you whatever he likes until the end of time, or until he gets pushed out of office, whichever comes first. He probably won’t include an opt-out link. He has about as much consideration for your time as you would expect a DC politician to have. He probably thinks you get a charge from getting an email headed with "From the Office of Senator Ben Dover Bigslush".

Many political lobbying groups construe themselves to be exempted from CAN-SPAN as well. On top of that they pass email lists around like addicts sharing needles. Like true spammers everywhere, they don’t really give a damn whether you have any interest in their message. So when the crack whore next to them passes on your email address, you’ll start getting "press releases" about "sustainable wind farms" or other science fiction, whether you like it or not.

Media sites also engage in the spamming game. Politico is one of the worst; I’ve blocked them more times than I can count, and noticed a new round from them just this week. It starts “Good Morning! Here are today’s top POLITICO stories. Thanks, Stacy”, with no unsubscribe link of course.

Fortunately, gmail allows various ways to block such messages. For the politicians, I use easily constructed filters. I have 85 of those filters at last count. The science fiction “press releases” get marked as spam.

Then there are the PR flacks. A few are borderline acceptable. I’m not interested in an interview with the Director of Mining Affairs for Outer Framistan, but I could see where others might be.

Moving further into bottom-feeding territory, there are the search engine optimization (SEO) sharks. The people running these companies are some of the most contemptible in the Internet industry.

One of their annoying techniques is to pretend they’re doing me a favor. Their usual form is offering a "guest post", which strikes me as a strange way to say "unpaid advertisement".

Many of their messages are bot-generated, which does open up some humor possibilities. The blog Popehat often takes on these parasites, and recounts some of the nonsensical results. Here’s a small sample:

I would like to inquire re: your interest in blog post submissions. My associates and I have wide range of experience in many areas. I believe we can offer you web traffic driving articles of interest to your readers, on topics such as PONY , _INSURANCE , and FIRST AMENDMENT OPPONENT. Also of interest may be PONY VICTIM COUNSELING , MENTAL HEALTH , CRAZY FUCK!NG LAWYER, and BRONY PSYCHOLOGY .

These clumsy online marketing efforts typically offer slavish, insincere praise on what a great blog we have. Well, yeah, ours really is. But they don’t know us from a blog about knitting mittens for cats, because the only reason anyone connected with them ever visited the site was to harvest our email addresses.

These link whores also have another annoying characteristic. They usually send a helpful follow up spam message a few days later to make sure I saw their first spam message.

In some respects, that makes them worse than spammers for fake embiggening pills. Those guys rarely send messages that read "I wanted to make sure you got my last message about how much you must need a bigger bobbydangler."

Another SEO ploy is offering to purchase ad space – at rates so low that the time spent on paperwork won’t be recovered until sometime in 2025. The real bottom feeding vermin offer link exchanges: "I’m sure you are eager to link your site, which attracts thousands of page views a day, to my site, which gets five views a week, all from deceptive search results on Google." I completely understand and even appreciate such a request from another political blog, but not from people with the morals of a snapping turtle.

I love political blogging and wish I had more time for it. Dealing with various sorts of spammer is a small price to pay, and good email tools handle a lot of the load.

It does bother me, though, to realize that there is an entire range of people out there, from pompous politicians to media sites like Politico to SEO con artists, who have no compunction whatsoever about wasting the time of anyone they can find to annoy.


Suggested title for a book on the current scandals: “We told you so, you f@(%!ng fools!”

In the book In Denial: Historians, Communism, and Espionage, a great story is told about historian Robert Conquest. He wrote a book in the 1980s about the abuses of Stalinism, and got the usual roasting from Soviet apologists in academia. They accused him of cherry-picking data, failing to see Stalin’s supposed good points – the usual blather of Marxist-friendly social science academics.

After the fall of the Soviet Union, opened archives showed that Conquest not only had it right, but was actually a bit conservative is his assertions. His publisher suggested an updated edition of the book incorporating that information, and asked Conquest if he wanted to change the title.

Conquest responded “How about ‘I told you so, you f*cking fools’”? *

I’m feeling that same impulse after reviewing the cascade of scandals over the last few weeks.** Anyone who wasn’t mesmerized by Obama and actually paying attention already knew that:

1. Benghazi was not just a tragedy. It was one of the most massive screw-ups ever perpetrated by the State Department, and there was clearly a cover-up to keep the rest of us from finding out the what, where, when, how, and why.

2. The IRS was targeting and harassing limited government groups.

3. Fast and Furious was a botched effort to engineer evidence in favor of gun control.

4. Fox News was being targeted by the administration from its earliest days.

Various folks on the right could see all this, yet our supposed smart media pundits at major organizations are still expressing surprise at every new revelation. In other words, we told you so, you f*cking fools. And we were ignored, or even ridiculed as paranoid and obsessive.

I learned a valuable lesson in my first job out of graduate school. The software company I worked for was acquired by a giant corporation. The executives from that giant corporation came down for meetings after the acquisition. After listening to them for a day, I concluded that they were incompetent fools.

But I had some doubt. How could they have reached such a position of authority and still be such fools?

Yet, in the ensuing years, under their leadership, the giant corporation lost tens of millions of dollars running that small software company into the ground. They ended up selling it after five years for about five percent of what they paid for it. So yeah, those guys really were the incompetent fools I thought they were.

I now assume that if I have good reasons to believe something, the assertions of powerful or influential people don’t change my mind. I assume they are simply ignorant, willfully blind, or actively deceptive. This round of scandalous outrages by the Obama administration is just another confirmation of that assumption. If media types and establishment politicians didn’t realize these problems existed before last month, then they are f*cking fools, no matter how high they have risen in the political class.

On the other hand, if they knew the problems existed and did nothing, they are despicable villains and not fit to be in the job they hold. Not in their own eyes, of course. As Robert Conquest found out, to those on the left, even Josef Stalin isn’t really a villain.

* I first saw the anecdote about Conquest in a review of the book in Reason Magazine, Fools for Communism. I got the book, which is a concise, good read. If you want examples of willful blindness by lefties, In Denial is a great source.

** Many writers predicted Obama scandals early in his term. I’m pretty sure they feel the same lack of surprise, even if they don’t express it in such a vulgar way.

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