My enlightening dinner with Blue State liberals

Dinner party

I had the opportunity the other day to dine with a collection of Blue State liberals.  It was enlightening, not because I actually learned anything from them, but because I learned about them.  It was also a reminder of how far I’ve traveled ideologically, because I used to be one of them.  Looking at them, I don’t regret my journey.

Most of the evening, of course, was idle chitchat, without any political ramifications.  Inevitably, though, politics and ideological issues cropped up.  I’ll just run down a few topics.

Antisemitism in higher education:

I was told in no uncertain terms that Columbia University cannot be antisemitic because it’s in New York.  My offer to produce evidence to support my thesis was rebuffed.  For those of you who, unlike Blue State liberals, feel that facts are valuable, these links support my contention that, New York address notwithstanding, Columbia is in thrall to Palestinian activists and BDS derangement:

100 Columbia professors demand divestment from Israel

Professors preach antisemitism from the Columbia pulpit

Columbia professor Joseph Massad, a one man antisemitism machine

Columbia students delighted at the opportunity to dine with Ahmadinejad

And of course, there’s simply the fact that Columbia is one of the more ideologically Left schools, although that wouldn’t have bothered my dinner companions.

The effect of taxes on investment:

One of my dinner companions is a successful investment analyst.  I asked him if he’d been hearing about any effects flowing from the Obamacare medical device tax.  “No, of course not.  It’s — what?  — a two percent tax.  That’s not going to make a difference to anybody.”  Again, my offer of contrary data was rejected, because it was obviously Fox News propaganda, never mind that it’s not from Fox News.  Stephen Hay, at Power Line, neatly summarizes a Wall Street Journal article predicated on actual investment data:

Today in my Constitutional Law class I’ll be taking up the famous case of McCulloch v. Maryland, the bank case from 1819 in which Chief Justice John Marshall observed that “the power to tax involves the power to destroy,” which immediately set my mind to thinking about . . . Obamacare.  Obamacare’s medical device tax—a tax not on profits remember, but on revenues—is doing its destructive work already.

The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that “Funding Dries Up for Medical Startups,” noting that “Investment in the medical-device and equipment industry is on pace to fall to $2.14 billion this year, down more than 40% from 2007 and the sharpest drop among the top five industry recipients of venture funding.”  It seems we have to relearn every few years (such as the luxury boat tax of 1990, swiftly repealed when it killed the boat-building industry) the basic lesson that Jack Kemp and Ronald Reagan taught us: tax something and you get less of it.  Especially when you tax it like Obamacare, where the tax significantly reduces the after-tax return to investors.

When a 2% tax is on after-tax returns, and it targets a specific industry, surprisingly it does make a big difference to people.  Right now, the difference is at the investment level, but soon it will be at the consumer level, as consumers are less likely than ever before to see life-changing inventions such as the insulin pump or the cochlear implant.

American healthcare compared to other Western countries:  Everybody agreed that America has the worst health care compared to those countries with socialized medicine.  Britain doesn’t count, my fellow dinners told me, because it’s “chosen” to offer bad health care.  My attempts to talk about freedom of choice, market competition, declining government revenue, cost-based decisions to deny treatment to whole classes of patients, etc., were rudely brushed aside.  “That’s just Fox News propaganda.”  Likewise, the liberals also dismissed as “Fox News propaganda” my statement that the studies they’re relying on have as their metric availability of coverage, rather than quality of outcome. I therefore wasn’t surprised when they equally rudely dismissed me when I said that a recent study showed that America has some of the best cancer survival rates in the world.

Since I know that you’d never be that rude, let me just quote Avik Roy, who actually studies the numbers:

It’s one of the most oft-repeated justifications for socialized medicine: Americans spend more money than other developed countries on health care, but don’t live as long. If we would just hop on the European health-care bandwagon, we’d live longer and healthier lives. The only problem is it’s not true.

[snip]

The problem, of course, is that there are many factors that affect life expectancy. One is wealth. It’s gross domestic product per capita, and not health-care policy, that correlates most strongly to life expectancy. Gapminder has produced many colorful charts that show the strong correlation between wealth and health.

[snip]

If you really want to measure health outcomes, the best way to do it is at the point of medical intervention. If you have a heart attack, how long do you live in the U.S. vs. another country? If you’re diagnosed with breast cancer? In 2008, a group of investigators conducted a worldwide study of cancer survival rates, called CONCORD. They looked at 5-year survival rates for breast cancer, colon and rectal cancer, and prostate cancer. I compiled their data for the U.S., Canada, Australia, Japan, and western Europe. Guess who came out number one?

[chart omitted]

U-S-A! U-S-A! What’s just as interesting is that Japan, the country that tops the overall life expectancy tables, finished in the middle of the pack on cancer survival.

I’m not doing justice Roy’s article with these snippets, so I urge you to read the whole thing.  Suffice to say that my companions were uninterested in data that ran counter to their narrative.

The racist inside every liberal:  My dinner companions did concede that culture is a factor in health care, although they stopped short of admitting (as they should have) that a country as diverse as America will never be able to counter cultural differences with socialized medicine.  (Or, rather, they couldn’t admit that it would take overwhelming government coercion to do so.)

One of the guests described a patient with a treatable disorder — i.e., one that could be controlled with a carefully regimented plan of medicine and treatment — who was too disorganized to follow the treatment.  As a result, this person ended up in the emergency room one to two times a month, at great cost to the system.  The healthcare provider finally hired a minimum wage worker to remind the patient to take the medicines and to drive the patient to the hospital.  Another guests said, “Black, right?”  The person who told the story said, “I can’t tell you that, but probably.”  They snickered companionably over the fact that blacks are just too dumb to care for themselves.

Another way of looking at it, though, was that this patient did fine:  The patient didn’t have to fuss with drugs (and their side-effects), got emergency treatment on an as-needed basis, and ended up having a dedicated employee to detail with the finicky little details of disease maintenance.  Who’s snickering now?

The power that maintains slavery:  One of the people at the dinner was a student studying American history.  The curriculum had reached the Civil War.  The student asked a good question:  “I don’t get how the slaves let themselves stay that way.  After all, they outnumbered the whites.“  Good point.  The liberal dinner guests started mumbling about systems, and complexity, and psychology.  And I do mean mumbling.  They didn’t offer data.  They just mouthed buzzwords such as “it’s complex,” or “you have to understand the system,” or “well, there’s a psychology there.”  I interrupted:  “The slave owners were armed.  The slaves were denied arms.  The side with weapons, even if it’s smaller in number, wins.”  To my surprise, none of the liberals in the room had anything to add.

The food was good and my dinner companions were periodically interesting and charming, so the dinner wasn’t a total loss.  Nevertheless, I found dismaying the arrogant ignorance that powers their engines.  All I could think of was my own blog’s motto:  “Conservatives deal with facts and reach conclusions; liberals have conclusions and sell them as facts.”  That was my dinner in a nutshell.

People are starting to figure out that Obamacare isn’t free health care; it’s wealth transfer health care *UPDATED*

The San Jose Mercury News did an article about the sticker shock many Obamacare supporters are experiencing.  What was great about this article was this quotation, from an ardent supporter:

Cindy Vinson and Tom Waschura are big believers in the Affordable Care Act. They vote independent and are proud to say they helped elect and re-elect President Barack Obama.

[snip]

Vinson, of San Jose, will pay $1,800 more a year for an individual policy, while Waschura, of Portola Valley, will cough up almost $10,000 more for insurance for his family of four.

[snip]

But people with no pre-existing conditions like Vinson, a 60-year-old retired teacher, and Waschura, a 52-year-old self-employed engineer, are making up the difference.

“I was laughing at Boehner — until the mail came today,”
Brochures and handouts on the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, are shown at the education outreach booth sponsor by Daughters of Charity O’Connor Hospital at Santa Clara County Library Alum Rock branch in San Jose on Oct. 1, 2013. (Josie Lepe/Staff)
Waschura said, referring to House Speaker John Boehner, who is leading the Republican charge to defund Obamacare.

“I really don’t like the Republican tactics, but at least now I can understand why they are so pissed about this. When you take $10,000 out of my family’s pocket each year, that’s otherwise disposable income or retirement savings that will not be going into our local economy.”

It’s always great to see a few liberals mugged by reality. May there be many more in the coming days and years. Frankly, these people deserve to suffer. I’m sorry to say that, but it’s true. They worked hard to get this monstrosity passed into law, and I hope they suffer horribly because of it.  I’m sorry that you, my dear friends, will also have to suffer, because you tried to stop this train wreck.  But to the extent we knew it was a train wreck, let me reiterate my fondest desire that every elite liberal I knew is royally screwed.  And perhaps because you’re smarter about economic cause and effect, you will come out of this disaster stronger and better than they will.

Okay, I’m done being vindictive.  The same article also struck me because I suspect it contains a certain amount of dishonesty and misdirection.  I don’t have proof for my theory, just a strong suspicion.

First, read this:

Even those who don’t qualify for the tax subsidies could see their rates drop because Obamacare doesn’t allow insurers to charge people more if they have pre-existing conditions such as diabetes and cancer, he said.

People like Marilynn Gray-Raine.

The 64-year-old Danville artist, who survived breast cancer, has purchased health insurance for herself for decades. She watched her Anthem Blue Cross monthly premiums rise from $317 in 2005 to $1,298 in 2013. But she found out last week from the Covered California site that her payments will drop to about $795 a month.

Can you spot the problem? Before Obamacare passed, Gray-Raine was paying $317. Incidentally, I know that the article is careful to say that her premiums were $317 in 2005, but I’m willing to bet that the dramatic rate hikes started in 2009 when Obamacare passed. As the article concedes, without Obamacare’s market manipulation, rates tended to go up by about 4% annually.  I’m lousy at math, but it seems to me that a 4% annual increase on a $317 monthly premium would see her paying $434 per month by 2013.

Something happened in 2009, of course, to change that typical trajectory.  2009 is when insurance companies responded to the fact that Obamacare, instead of allowing them to sell true insurance based upon risk analysis, forced them to prepare for cost-shifting mode.  They knew that, come 2013, insurers will have to pay for everybody’s care (including maternity care for old men), regardless of risk factors. The moment the law was passed, and with increasing aggression as the law’s implementation loomed, insurers responded in the only logical way — by raising premiums. That’s almost certainly the explanation for Gray-Raine’s huge premium increase, one that saw her paying $981 more in 2013 than before Obamacare. Gray-Raine professes herself thankful that she’s going to be paying $795 less than she was paying last month, but she seems to have lost sight of the fact that she’s still paying almost $200 more per month than before the government meddled with the marketplace.

An ignorant populace is a dangerous populace.  That’s all I can say.

UPDATE:  Ace spotted an out and out lie in the article from an Obama shill:

A shill from Covered California pops in to claim that it’s always been said that there would be both winners and losers under ObamaCare.

Um, no. Nancy Pelosi guaranteed that everyone’s rate would go down. Obama promised a $2500 per year reduction in premiums. He campaigned on it.

What will the people of Boston do now? Get mugged by reality or rationalize Muslim violence?

The day the bombing took place, I looked at the MO and thought it more likely than not to be a Muslim attack.  I stated:

There are two ways Boston can go.  It can be a liberal mugged by reality and get over its delusional belief that, if America will just do whatever the Islamists want, they will leave us alone, or it can go the way it went with gun control — enacting liberty-limiting laws that do nothing to prevent future tragedies, and allowing its native son, John Kerry, to grovel apologetically before the authors of this bloodshed.

That question remains.

The Chechen angle, however, throws in a twist that ought to have Bostonians thinking even harder than before.  Liberals could explain away a Middle Eastern Islamic attack by focusing on Palestinians, Iraq, or Afghanistan.  But how do you explain away two boys raised, mostly, in America, attending good schools, and having no connection whatsoever to the Middle East?  Is this the moment when some liberals begin to realize that Islam has issues?  Or will they once again rationalize this away as two crazy, murderous people who just coincidentally happen to have been Muslims, and who just coincidentally filled their Facebook pages with violent Muslim propaganda?

Good questions, and ones that only Bostonians and their liberal ilk around America can answer.

I’ll say only that, between (a) Kermit Gosnell’s mass murder spree, which the MSM ignored because of its anti-abortion connotations, and (b) the MSM’s repeated missteps regarding the Boston bombing (including their instant “Tea Party murderer” narrative), this has not been a good week for the mainstream media.  They, of course, will forgive themselves.  I’m just wondering if the American people will be stupid enough to forgive them too.

There’s an old saying:  Fool me once, shame on you.  Fool me twice, shame on me.  But what in the world is left to say after you’ve been fooled a thousand times and keep going back for more? That goes beyond shame into realms of Darwinian stupidity.  If Americans forgive again, we deserve what we get.

Random thoughts of an idle mind — and an Open Thread

Progressives and narcissists share an unpleasant trait:  If you make a mistake, it proves that you and your ideas are inferior; if they make a mistake, it’s just a mistake.  Your mistake is irremediable, because it’s intrinsic to who you are; their mistake is just one of those things, and can be either forcibly forgotten or lied about.

***

I seem to be aging backwards.  I was an extremely self-disciplined young person.  If a task needed doing, I buckled down and did it.  Now, I feel like a teenager.  I’m in perpetual, albeit silent, rebellion against the responsibilities in my life.  Because I’m an adult, I don’t openly rebel, but I do take the route of procrastination and passive-aggressive behavior.

***

When a teenage girl says “I’ll be done in a sec,” resign yourself to a very long wait.

***

My liberal Facebook friends are not just less informed about current events than my conservative Facebook friends, they’re less interested.  All year long, my conservative friends post “content rich” material — newspaper articles, magazine articles, long blog posts — that provide facts and opinion about events in the political and economic scene.  And all year long, my liberal friends put up posts about and pictures of themselves.  Then, when an election rolls around, the liberals suddenly become very active, putting up clever, albeit vapid and still content-free, political posters lauding Democrats and maligning Republicans.  The liberals, however, do not link to longer articles, which indicates either that they don’t read anything beyond posters or bumper stickers, or that they assume that no one else is capable of reading anything longer than a poster or bumper sticker.

***

My mild dyslexia pops up whenever I type the word “bumper.”  I always want to type it “pumber,” because the word “bumper,” more than any other, messes with my ability to distinguish “p” from “b”.  If you ever see me write about a “pumber” sticker, you now know why.

***

Thankfully, here in Marin, we don’t get hurricanes.  Sometimes, though, we get some nice winter storms, complete with wind, torrential rain, and thunder & lightning.  We’re having one now.  I always feel a bit guilty that I enjoy this weather so much.  I’m only able to enjoy it because (a) I have a sturdy home that shelters me from the storm and (b) I don’t have to drive long distances through the rain.  Those facts give me the luxury to enjoy wild winter weather in Marin.

***

The most torrential rains I ever experienced were in Texas and England.  In both cases, the rain fell so hard that drivers had to pull off the road, because their windshields had become impenetrable.  There were no individual drops of rain, just walls of water.

***

Any idle thoughts you would like to add to this list?

 

In the jargon of good and evil

I have recently had some interesting discussions with Liberal friends that got me to mulling a fundamental question of good versus evil. My thoughts on this did not crystallize until a recent [insert superlative, here] “French conversation” dinner with Book and Charles Martel that kept lapping up to the fringes of my swirling thoughts on this question. Here is what happened:

At my church recently (one wherein my parish spans the full political spectrum), I was voicing my opinion to some friends that, of all the people in the world deserving of my sympathies, “the Palestinians are probably last in line”. A woman burst out furiously from the church pantry and scolded me for not knowing anything about what I was talking about, that the Palestinians were oppressed victims of Israeli perfidy. A short conversation with her was enough to demonstrate that she really didn’t know anything about the Palestinian-Israeli situation other than typical Leftwing propaganda. She and others in the conversation, for example, did not know that Israel’s war of independence occurred in 1948, that there was no “Palestine” before 1948, that virtually all Jews were ethnically cleansed from Arab countries upon Israel’s creation, that more Palestinians have been killed by other Arab states than by Israel, that 20% of Israel’s citizens are Muslim, enjoying full political, economic and religious rights and serve in the military and government (the only Middle Eastern country that recognizes such minority rights, btw), etc. However, what shocked me was how incapable these good women were of seeing the evils represented and committed by the Palestinians. In their view, each act of violence and mayhem committed by the Palestinians and Arabs …against each other as much as against Israelis, was excusable as expressions of victimhood. Since then, I have noticed much of this same dynamic at work in many issues embraced by the Left.

Have Liberals (including religious Liberals) lost their capacity to distinguish between Good and Evil? If so, then we truly are living in a time of Biblical prophesy. What say you?

Quite possibly one of the creepiest videos you’ll ever see

The only thing that’s good about this creepy video is the reminder that the religious revival seems to be over.  Many in the audience have packed up and gone home.  Some realize that they got sold snake oil, while others look back on the day with longing, but without the fiery energy that propelled them four years ago.

Hat tip: Ace

Newt’s not as smart as all that — say liberals

Since at least Reagan, the standard liberal trope is that Republicans, both voters and politicians, are stupid.  That trope has, of course, emerged again this year.  The joker in the deck is Newt Gingrich, a PhD and author who spokes with incredible fluency and has a masterful grasp of facts.

With Newt as the frontrunner, the Left is rallying with a line of attack I’ll call “Newt’s not as smart as all that.”  Exhibit One is a Frank Bruni NYT’s Op-Ed sarcastically entitled “Professor Gingrich.”  To set up his premise that Newt’s not as smart as all that, Bruni carefully insults the other Republican candidates:

The candidates who surged before him are to varying degrees yahoos. They proved it anew last week. Michele Bachmann [a successful lawyer] seemed to be under the impression that we had an embassy in Iran, and Rick Perry [Air Force pilot and successful long-time Texas politician] was definitely under the delusion that the voting age in this country is 21 instead of 18.

Herman Cain [multiple degrees, Navy background, hugely successful businessman), on his Web site, unveiled the foreign-policy analogue to his 9-9-9 tax jingle, a world map that merely labeled countries “ally,” “adversary” and the like. Had it instead presented little thumbs-up and thumbs-down symbols, along with palm trees for hot countries and snowflakes for cold ones, it wouldn’t have been any more simplistic.

Funnily enough, Bruni’s paragraph didn’t include a rant about a politician who’s spoken about America’s 57 states, appeared impressed with the Austrian language, bemoaned attacks on English embassies, applauded the military’s “corpsemen,” waffled on about mysterious “price versus earnings ratios,” held only one non-academic, non-political job (the Annenberg Foundation) that was a major disaster, and kept all of his grades carefully under wraps.  I guess Bruni just forgot about him.  But I digress…

Having established that Republicans are “yahoos,” Bruni goes in for the kill against the one Republican who doesn’t have “yahoo” written on his resume.  Newt’s problem isn’t that he’s smart, it’s that he’s proud of being smart, damn him!

But then there’s Gingrich, the former college professor, who regularly brandishes his Ph.D. in history from Tulane. He does it directly, as in a 1995 interview when he bragged, “I am the most seriously professorial politician since Woodrow Wilson.”

He does it obliquely, by constantly invoking centuries past. Ask him about the price of milk, and he’ll likely work in the Northwest Ordinance of 1787.

Couple that showy scholarship with his grandiose streak and you get pomposity on a scale that would make a French monarch blanch. Last week, in an electronic book published by Politico and Random House, it was revealed that he had compared the attempts to retool his initially beleaguered campaign with the founding of Wal-Mart by Sam Walton and of McDonald’s by Ray Kroc.

In a Fox News interview he one-upped any of Al Gore’s long-ago claims about “Love Story,” Love Canal or the invention of the Internet.

“I helped Ronald Reagan and Jack Kemp develop supply-side economics,” he boasted.

“I helped lead the effort to defeat Communism in the Congress,” he added. Put aside the tortured locution — were there reds among the House’s Blue Dogs, along with Bolshevik backbenchers? — and you’re left with an audacious credit grab.

And in Bluffton, S.C., he told voters that he didn’t need to lobby because after he left Congress, “I was charging $60,000 a speech, and the number of speeches was going up, not down. Normally, celebrities leave and they gradually sell fewer speeches every year. We were selling more.”

Faced with the reality of Newt’s intellectual and knowledge, Bruni reluctantly concludes that the Republicans feel that they need someone who can speak at Obama’s rarefied level:

If you consider how ardently Republicans courted Mitch Daniels, Paul Ryan and Chris Christie, you’re forced to conclude that they do value, and crave, an intellectually muscular candidate who can square off against President Obama. The 2012 election has a fundamentally different temperature from the 2010 one. There’s arguably worse economic uncertainty this time around, greater stakes and a seemingly waning thirst for Tea.

And Republicans appreciate that a presidential race, and the presidency itself, have a higher altitude than a Congressional showdown. Some palpable gray matter really does come in handy.

Isn’t that a nice phrase?  “Palpable grey matter.”

Yes, it is true that Republicans have normally favored do-ers over talkers.  This year, they recognize, though, that Obama has so decimated the country’s psyche that they need someone who can talk us out of the hole Obama dug (or do I mean off the ledge Obama has yakked us onto).  And Republicans, being smart, are looking carefully at the one candidate who can blow to Hell and back any pretense that Obama is as smart as he thinks he is.

After all, as Bruni’s column perfectly shows, liberals tend to reduce “intellectualism” to who’s faster with the personal attack.  (Think “palpable grey matter.” )  During an argument with a liberal yesterday, an argument that wasn’t originally focused just on me, my opposing party managed to reduce the argument down to three statements:  “You’re an idiot.  You’re an effing moron.  You’re a jackass.”  I was not impressed either by the liberal’s grasp of facts or advocacy tactics.  What really depressed me, though, wasn’t the string of meaningless insults.  It was that this is what passes for reasoned debate on the liberal side of the political spectrum.

On the subject of insults I’ll say one more thing:  given the virulence with which the MSM attacks conservatives — not their ideas, but their person — perhaps it’s not surprising that so few are willing to stand up to be beaten down.

Newt Gingrich, poor children, and work habits

One of the reasons a lot of people, myself included, like Newt is because he says politically incorrect things that ordinary people think.  In other words, his politically correct utterances aren’t out of the KKK playbook, they’re out of “the reasonable common-sense before 1960s Leftist education took over” playbook.

A week ago, he said that child labor laws are stupid insofar as they prevent children from getting paying jobs (including janitorial jobs) that would help them to maintain their own schools — at less cost, incidentally, than using unionized janitors.  His most recent utterance, expanding on this point, was that poor children have no work ethic:

“Really poor children, in really poor neighborhoods have no habits of working and have nobody around them who works so they have no habit of showing up on Monday,” Gingrich claimed.

“They have no habit of staying all day, they have no habit of I do this and you give me cash unless it is illegal,” he added.

All the usual suspects are up in arms.  I haven’t bothered to hunt down quotations from the unions that keep schools supplied with janitors, but I’m sure they’re not happy.  More than that, though, Newt’s statements have been interpreted to mean that he advocates a return to 19th Century child labor, complete with seven-day work weeks, 12 of which are spent laboring in a coal mine.  Take a gander, for example, at this screen shot from YouTube after I searched up “Newt Gingrich poor children”:

Charles Blowhard, New York Times opinion columnist, is horrified that Newt might look at the way in which the poor behave and conclude that their learned behavior contributes to their poverty.  He also comes back with reams of statistics about the fact that the poor do work:

This statement isn’t only cruel and, broadly speaking, incorrect, it’s mind-numbingly tone-deaf at a time when poverty is rising in this country. He comes across as a callous Dickensian character in his attitude toward America’s most vulnerable — our poor children. This is the kind of statement that shines light on the soul of a man and shows how dark it is.

Gingrich wants to start with the facts? O.K.

First, as I’ve pointed out before, three out of four poor working-aged adults — ages 18 to 64 — work. Half of them have full-time jobs and a quarter work part time.

Furthermore, according to an analysis of census data by Andrew A. Beveridge, a sociologist at Queens College, most poor children live in a household where at least one parent is employed. And even among children who live in extreme poverty — defined here as a household with income less than 50 percent of the poverty level — a third have at least one working parent. And even among extremely poor children who live in extremely poor areas — those in which 30 percent or more of the population is poor — nearly a third live with at least one working parent.

I’ll accept as true the fact that the poor work, but that’s too facile.  We also need to look at their attitude towards work.  As Shakespeare would say, there’s the rub.  Let me quote from a post I wrote a couple of weeks ago, describing the way in which a white liberal tried desperately to explain away the fact that large corporations find it extremely difficult to keep minority employees:

Mr. Bookworm works for a very large corporation.  While we were in the car with the kids, the conversation turned to the exquisite sensitivity the corporation has to show when it’s faced with firing a minority employee. The process is arduous, requiring huge HR involvement, dozens of staff interviews and a lengthy paper trail.

The reason for this labor intensive firing is the unfortunate fact that minorities tend to be less satisfactory employees. As Mr. Bookworm was at great pains to point out to the children (and correctly so), this is a group trend and has nothing to do with the merits of any individual minority employee. It’s just that, if you look at a bell curve of minority employees versus a bell curve of white employees, you’ll find more white employees than minority employees in the segment denoting “good worker.” No modern corporation, however, wants a reputation as a “firer of minorities.”

The above are facts. What fascinated me was the different spin Mr. Bookworm and I put on those facts. Mr. Bookworm sent twenty minutes explaining to the children that, to the extent blacks were poorer employees, it was because their culture made them incapable of working. (This was not meant as an insult. He was talking, of course, about the culture of poverty.).

Mr. Bookworm painted a picture of a black child living in a ghetto, with a single mother who gave birth to him when she was 14, with several siblings from different fathers, with a terrible school, surrounded by illiterates, hungry all the time, etc.  No wonder, he said, that this child doesn’t bring to a corporation the same work ethic as a middle class white kid.

This creates big problems for corporations.  A modern corporation truly wants to hire minorities.  Once it’s hired them, though, according to my liberal husband, it ends up with workers who are incapable of functioning in a white collar, corporate environment. The corporation therefore finds itself forced to fire it’s minority hires more frequently than white or Asian employees, with the result that it’s accused of racism. Its response to that accusation is to proceed with excessive caution and extreme due diligence whenever a black employee fails at the job.

My suggestion to the children was that minority employees, aware that it’s almost impossible to fire them, might be disinclined to put out their best efforts on the job.  Why should they?  Logic and energy conservation both dictate that a smart person should do the bare minimum to get a job done.  In this case, for the black employees, the job their doing isn’t what’s in the job description.  Instead, their job is simply to keep their job.

Amusingly Newt thinks exactly the same as my liberal husband does.  They both blame black culture for poor black employment habits.  The difference is that, while Newt thinks it’s a fixable situation, starting with the children and their attitude toward labor, my husband, like Mr. Blowhard, thinks that all one can do is accept that minorities are going to be lousy employees.

America’s black poverty culture (as opposed to the Asian or East Indian) poverty culture is handicapped by a terrible, false syllogism:

  • Slavery was work
  • Slavery is evil
  • All work is evil

Even when they’re getting paid, too many African-Americans seem to feel they’ve sold out — that any work involving the white establishment is tantamount to slavery and that they can participate in this system by participating least.   It’s a principled stand, but it’s a principle that’s in thrall to terribly flawed logic and that ensures generational poverty and despair.  As far as I’m concerned, Newt gets serious kudos for his willingness to state what is, to the working class, quite obvious:  learn how to work well when you’re young, and you’ll be able to support yourself when you’re old.

Some insults are too funny to keep to oneself

I got the funniest email today, and I just had to share it with you.  The “re” line was as follows: “Gibbering baboons more sensible than you, wingnut degenerate.” I was intrigued. The rest of the email consisted of a link to a post, along with the full text of the post in which the author explained precisely why I don’t even rank up there with gibbering baboons and, worse, I’m a “wingnut degenerate.”

I debated whether to share the link with you guys, ’cause I think the author is just trying to generate traffic.  However, because both the email title and the blog post had me laughing hysterically, I think the post author deserves some recognition.  Go here and check it out.  Then, come back to me and tell me if you can understand the author’s thesis.

I’ve read the darn post three times now and I still can’t figure out what the point is.  I know I’m a lower mammalian life form and a degenerate but, for the life of me, I don’t understand what I did to earn those interesting sobriquets.  I mean, it’s clear that I shouldn’t have said what I said, but the post author never seems to bring himself to explaining why I shouldn’t have said those things.  He sneers, but he never manages to rise to the level of thesis, fact and argument.  His post is the written equivalent of this — it definitely makes a statement, but one that reflects solely on the person making the statement, not the person at the receiving end.

Life imitates . . . my blog?! *UPDATED*

I regularly read James Taranto’s Best of the Web and always enjoy his “Life imitates the Onion” or “Life imitates South Park” shticks.  Imagine my surprise today, when I realized that, this time around, life is imitating a very silly satire I did at my blog almost exactly one year ago.

In September 2010, Marin conservatives gathered at a “Groupapalooza” to learn about conservative organizations in and near Marin County.  (I know it’s hard to believe that there are conservatives and conservative organizations  in and around Marin County, but we conservatives are a hardy, if somewhat outnumbered, breed.)

I attended the Groupapalooza and had a great and giddy time mingling with like-minded spirits.  This induced such a spirit of frivolity in me that, when I got back to my computer, I wrote my follow-up post from the point of view of a young Progressive journalist.  As part of this write-up, I threw in a paragraph in which my imaginary progressive journalist discusses her “friendships” with oppressed people:

Although no one manning these various tables [with information about conservative causes and candidates] was overtly hostile, I could feel them look me over, just as if they actually knew that I have a black friend.  Or I had a black friend.  Well, to be perfectly honest (because I am nothing if not honest), my mail carrier is black and I always say “hello” to him.  I’m also very close to my Hispanic housekeeper, Rosa.  (Or is it Flora?  I always forget because, to tell the truth — and I always tell the truth — I try to stay away when she cleans ’cause it’s kind of uncomfortable to have to stop and talk to someone who scrubs your toilet, you know?)

Imagine my surprise to learn today that my silly social satire has been on-upped by reality and, funnily enough, it was James Taranto who brought it to my attention.  He writes about a spat between two liberals, with the chromatic liberal taking the achromatic liberal to task for having the temerity to call the former a friend in a way that was clearly racially condescending.  (Yes, I’m confused too.)  Here’s how Taranto sums it up:

Yesterday we noted that The Nation’s Melissa Harris-Perry was accusing white liberals of abandoning President Obama for racially invidious reasons. This prompted a defensive and very long response from one white liberal, Joan Walsh, who began by stipulating that she and Harris-Perry are friends:

When I say Melissa Harris-Perry is my friend, I don’t say that rhetorically, or ironically; we are professional friends, we have socialized together; she has included me on political round tables; I like and respect her enormously. That’s why I think it’s important to engage her argument, and I’ve invited her to reply.

And reply she did:

I was taken aback that Walsh emphasized the extent of our friendship. Walsh and I have been professionally friendly. We’ve eaten a few meals. I invited her to speak at Princeton and I introduced her to my literary agent. We are not friends. Friendship is a deep and lasting relationship based on shared sacrifice and joys. We are not intimates in that way.

Take that, Joan! Note that Walsh and Harris-Perry are in agreement about the facts of their association, they disagree only over what to call it.

It seems to us that Walsh merely meant to suggest that she meant her criticisms of Harris-Perry in a spirit of goodwill. But Harris-Perry doesn’t stop at renouncing friendship with Walsh. She accuses Walsh of employing a “common strategy of argument about one’s racial innocence: the ‘I have black friends’ claim.” Harris-Perry has twisted Walsh’s olive branch into a racially invidious provocation. With friends like these . . .

If life is going to imitate art, I wish it would do so in a way that is aesthetically pleasing, rather than merely ridiculous.

UPDATE:  And while we’re on the subject of racism, Zombie (or, dare I say it, my friend Zombie, whom I’ve never actually met or spoken with, but still really like and respect) looks at the cupcake kerfuffle in at UC Berkeley, a place that is always agitated about everything but actual learning.

Liberals: not evil, not stupid…just 100% wrong!

For conservatives and libertarians, the movie icons might be High Noon or True Grit.  For Liberals, the defining anthem is John Lennon’s “Imagine“.

Why is there such a fundamental gulf between ourselves and Liberals, to the point where we find ourselves simply talking past each other? Can this gulf ever be bridged?

I came across this delightful essay at “1389 Counter-Jihad” that builds upon the thoughts of one of my favorite political and social commentators, Evan Sayet, to help define this gulf. It doesn’t necessarily say anything new, but it packages it so well.

http://1389blog.com/2010/11/17/why-modern-liberals-are-100-wrong-about-everything/

The central tenet of this posting is that, after years and years of indoctrination, Liberals see the world so fundamentally different than the rest of us that they can no longer recognize human fallibility and evil. If the core premise is correct, then I say there is no way to overcome this gulf and, perhaps, it would be best if we lived apart from one another. Why? Because I fear that the endgame of this Liberal world view can only be an epic global disaster. This Liberal view not only cannot survive (Darwin), but is the enabler of its/our own destruction.

Here’s a sterling outtake: “So the mindless foot soldier, which is what I call the non-elite, will support the elite’s blueprint for utopia, will side with evil over good, wrong over right, and the behaviors that lead to failure over those that lead to success, out of a sense of justice”

I know that we at Bookworm Room have explored this issue over and over. Does this help explain the divide? Can this gulf be overcome?

Wisconsin Liberal Disconnects

Today, several schools in Wisconsin announced that they would be closed so that their teachers could attend protests in the state capital, Madison, against GOP Gov. Walker’s proposals to take away collective bargaining rights from public sector unions. Wisconsin, like neighboring Illinois, is going broke. The behavior of the Wisconsin public school teachers pretty much underscores why Gov. Walker is right.

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/chibrknews-protests-mount-as-wis-lawmakers-consider-antiunion-bill-20110217,0,5403222.story

We have several friends and relatives in Wisconsin who come from solid blue-color union backgrounds. Some have already retired on handsome benefit packages (one was able to retire with full retirement benefits at age-49), albeit from the private sector. Following their Facebook comments, we learn that they are in full uproar, encouraging each other to go to Madison to lend their support to the protests.

The funny thing is, these are the same individuals who have been complaining to us that they are thinking of moving out of Wisconsin because the cost of living and taxes are too high.

I suspect that this type of cluelessness is pretty common among Liberals in general.

So, in trying to patiently explain our (national) debt crisis to Liberals (I know, I know…for too many of them, math is hard, so KISS), I propose trying to lead them to the following exchange, based on conversations that I have had:

Liberal: “Our country should not have any trouble affording [insert Liberal pet project du jour]. We are the richest country in the world” (a line repeated to me ad nauseum)

Conservative: “Is someone with an annual income of $150,000 rich?”

(national GDP of roughly $15 trillion)

Liberal: “yes”

Conservative: “Is someone with an annual income of $150,000 that already owes $1,300,000 and $15,000 in new credit card debt rich”?

(Government debt obligations of $130 trillion plus $1.5 trillion in annual debt)

Liberal: ??

Conservative: “This is where we are as a country today!” (national + state debt plus entitlements, in trillions).

Does anyone have any better ideas on how to get this simple idea across to Liberals….that we are flat broke?

Salary envy

I attended a family gathering not long ago, liberally populated with Liberal in-laws,  in which the mood was decidedly sour. Discussions revolved around the poor job market, employment uncertainty and health insurance.

In conversations, a lot of resentment was directed at corporations, CEOs and their “disgusting and greedy” profits, salaries, benefits and bonuses. I understand (but don’t excuse) much of this as pure envy, a failing that I see expressed far more in Liberal/Left circles than conservative circles. I should also point out that some of this is the bitterness expressed by people that were pretty casual about their own work ethics and careers and now, in middle age, confront an uncertain future, not to mention retirement prospects. We all make critical decisions at key junctures in life with which we have to live.

I have also known and worked with enough CEOs and senior execs with large corporations to know that they work under highly stressful conditions and in between short, sleepless nights. The ones that I have known were extremely hard workers 24/7 and I, personally, value my quality of life far too much to envy them their salaries and perks (we don’t need to explore how seriously pathetic many of their personal and family lives are). Anyway, I consider envy a particularly ugly member of the deadly sins.

One irony is that my Liberal/Left relatives (some of whom purport to be very well educated) apparently cannot draw the connection between corporate profitability, personal incentives and a healthy jobs market. I can understand this to be the case with college students (sophomoric minds full of mush), but working adults have no excuse.

However, what floors me, is that these same Liberal/Lefty in-laws seem to have no trouble accepting the extraordinary high incomes of a) sports figures and b) entertainment figures (newscasters, movie actors, television personalities, etc.).

Sports figures that play games to entertain, singers that…sing songs…, actresses that pretend to be people they aren’t (when they do work) and newscasters that read copy from teleprompters are idolized.

Corporate executives that manufacture services and products that improve our lives (drugs, fuel, cars, food, shelter, insurance, bank loans, etc.) are vilified.

Why is this the case? Any ideas? Please help to understand.

Liberal thinking in a cup of tea

We are a family of tea drinkers.  As dedicated tea drinkers, we like good tea, which usually means loose leaf tea.  Loose leaf tea, in turn, means special tea makers.  Our favorite is the Adagio Ingenuitea Teapot, which makes one perfect cup of tea at a time.  The only downside of the Ingenuitea maker is that, as you carry it from workspace to sink, a drop or two of tea will escape floorwards.  Since I take my tea black, this is not a problem.  Mr. Bookworm, however, likes a small — a very small — amount of sugar in his tea.  When his roving tea drops dry, the floor is marked by a slight tackiness, which is very obvious underfoot.

What does all this have to do with liberal thinking?  A lot, actually.

You see, Mr. Bookworm holds, as a matter of “scientific” theory, that the amount of sugar he uses in his tea is too small to leave any sticky spots should the tea drip on the floor.  The fact that I can show him the sticky spots on the kitchen floor is entirely irrelevant to him.  Since the sticky fact on the ground doesn’t mesh with the pure theory in his head, the sticky spot cannot exist.  At various times he asserts that I’m imagining it, that it comes from another source, or that I’m trying to gaslight him (that last is his little joke, by the way).

Mr. Bookworm’s thinking, of course, precisely reflects the Ivy League thinking that prevails in Washington.  Obama, and those who surround him, haven’t held real jobs, they haven’t started businesses, they haven’t deal with payrolls.  Likewise, they’ve never lived in a village that has 10,000 rockets aimed at it.  They’ve never spent time in the company of “boot on the ground” Islamists.  Instead, they consort only with the erudite, British-accented academic fifth column that drips constant antisemitic, anti-Israel poison in their ears.  They’ve never spent significant amounts of time in a socialist/communist country (or, worse, that country’s health care system).  Their sole contact with socialism comes from academic elites who are dedicated to the theory of Marxism, facts be damned.

And that’s always it, isn’t it?  Theory will invariably trump facts for the liberal.  Theory is a nice neat package, an NPR story with a beginning, middle, and predetermined end.  It has no icky facts, no unknown variables, no human equation, and no room for the possibility that the liberal’s theory might be wrong.  So just as I’m condemned to tip toe across a tacky kitchen floor, we Americans, in the age of Obamic Progressivism, are condemned to a flailing economy, weak national security, and creeping socialism, all because the Ivy Tower academics in government refuse to acknowledge that their exquisitely crafted theories might not function in the real world.

Cross-posted at Right Wing News

“Simplistic” and “primitive” *UPDATED*

As I’ve mentioned just a few times, I just read, and was very moved by, Marcus Luttrell’s Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of SEAL Team 10.  A liberal I know flipped through the book’s first few pages and had a very different reaction.  The following passages bugged the liberal:

My name is Marcus.  Marcus Luttrell.  I’m a United States Navy SEAL, Team Leader, SDV Team 1, Alfa Platoon.  Like every other SEAL, I’m trained in weapons, demolition, and unarmed combat.  I’m a sniper, and I’m the platoon medic.  But most of all, I’m an American.  And when the bell sounds, I will come out fighting for my country and for my teammates.  If necessary, to the death.

And that’s not just because the SEALs trained me to do so; it’s because I’m willing to do so.  I’m a patriot, and I fight with the Lone Star of Texas on my right arm and another Texas flag over my heart.  For me, defeat is unthinkable.  (pp. 6-7)

[snip]

[As they're taking off from Bahrain to Afghanistan:] There were no other passengers on board, just the flight crew and, in the rear, us, headed out to do God’s work on behalf of the U.S. government and our commander in chief, President George W. Bush.  (p. 12.)

[snip]

[Of the Taliban/Al Qaeda enemy in Afghanistan:]  This was where bin Laden’s fighters found a home training base.  Let’s face it, al Qaeda means “the base,” and in return for the Saudi fanatic bin Laden’s money, the Taliban made it all possible.  right now these very same guys, the remnants of the Taliban and the last few tribal warriors of al Qaeda, were preparing to start over, trying to fight their way through the mountain passes, intent on setting up new training camps and military headquarters and, eventually, their own government in place of the democratically elected one.

They may not have been the precise same guys who planned 9/11.  But they were most certainly their descendants, their heirs, their followers.  They were part of the same crowd who knocked down the North and South Towers in the Big Apple on the infamous Tuesday morning in 2001.  And our coming task was to stop them, right there in those mountains, by whatever means necessary.  (pp. 13-14)

The liberal felt that the above passages showed that the writer was simplistic and primitive in his thinking.  The whole notion of simple patriotism offended the liberal, who also thought it was just plain stupid to seek revenge against guys who weren’t actually the ones who plotted 9/11.  My less than clever riposte was, “so I guess you would only kill Nazis who actually worked in the gas chambers?”  Frankly, given the differences in our world views, I’m not sure there is a clever comeback or, which would be more helpful, a comeback that actually causes the liberal to reexamine those liberal principles.

UPDATE:  Here’s an apt quotation, written by John Stuart Mill, in 1862, as a comment upon the American Civil War:

A man who has nothing which he is willing to fight for, nothing which he cares more about than he does about his personal safety, is a miserable creature who has no chance of being free, unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.

The illogical behavior and beliefs of the American Statist

“Logic! Why don’t they teach logic at these schools?” — C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

Neither Data nor Mr. Spock, two relentlessly logical creations, could ever be liberals or Democrats or Progressives, or whatever the Hell else they’re calling themselves nowadays.  (For convenience, I’ll just lump them all together under the “Statist” title).  As I realized over the 20 plus years of my political journey from knee-jerk Statist to thinking Individualist, the single greatest difference between the two ideologies is that the former lives in a logic-free world.

Sure, as Statists will always shrilly point out, more Individualists than Statists subscribe to traditional religion — and the belief in God definitely requires a leap of faith — but that’s just about the only leap of faith in their lives.  Their political positions are almost always driven by a solid understanding, not only of human nature, but also of the realities of cause and effect.  Liberals, on the other hand, even as they pride themselves on the logic of their abandoning God (never mind that they cannot satisfactorily prove God’s nonexistence), apply magical thinking to just about everything else.

Here, in no particular order, is a laundry list of illogical policies espoused by Statists (with the understanding that modern statism is driven by identity politics and self-loathing):

Statists believe that America’s out-of-control illegal immigration has nothing to do with the fact that, when illegal immigrants sneak across the border, we provide them with education, health care, welfare, food stamps, and the promise that they will be allowed to remain in the country regardless of their unlawful status.  These same Statists, blind to the laws of cause and effect, are always shocked when temporary crackdowns result in a corollary (and, equally temporary) diminution in the number of illegal aliens.

Statists are wedded to the idea that government creates wealth.  To this end, they are bound and determined to use taxes to consolidate as much money as possible in government hands so that the government can go about its magical wealth creation business.  The fact that those countries that have all or most of their wealth concentrated in government hands have collapsed economically (Eastern Europe, Cuba) or are in the process of collapsing (Western Europe) doesn’t impinge on this belief.  As even my 10 year old and 12 year old understand, the government’s ability to print money is not the same as an ability to create wealth.  The best way for a government to create wealth is to ensure a level playing field with honestly enforced rules — and then to get out of the way.

Statists believe that no-strings-attached welfare has nothing to do with the creation of a welfare culture.  My father, the ex-Communist, figured this one out:  “If you’re going to pay women to have babies (meaning constantly increasing welfare benefits), they’re going to have babies.”  In 1994, a Republican Congress forced Clinton to change “welfare as we know it.”  To the Statists’ chagrin, all their dire predictions about weening Americans off the government teat proved false.  Poor people are not stupid people.  If they’re getting paid to do nothing, they’ll do nothing.  If that money vanishes, they’ll work.  By the way, I’m not arguing here against charity for those who cannot care for themselves.  I’m only railing against a political system that encourages whole classes of people to abandon employment.  This subject is relevant now, in 2010, because there is no doubt but that, Rahm-like, Democrats are using the current economic situation as a backdoor to increase welfare benefits to pre-1994 standards.

During the run-up to the ObamaCare vote, Statists adamantly contended that, even if employers would find it far cheaper to pay fines than to provide insurance coverage for their employees, they would still provide coverage.  Likewise, they refused to acknowledge that, if insurers could no longer refuse coverage for preexisting conditions, and if individual fines were cheaper than insurance, savvy consumers would jettison insurance and wait until they were actively ill before knocking on the insurer’s door.  In both cases, the Statists’ illogical beliefs about human nature and economics were proven absolutely and conclusively wrong.  (Info and examples are here, here and here.)

For decades, Statists have contended that if we can just get guns out of citizens’ hands crime will go away.  To the Statists, the problem isn’t one of culture and policing, it’s that the guns themselves cause crime.  What’s fascinating is that they continue in this belief despite manifest evidence that it is untrue.  The NRA was right all along:  If guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns.

Statists firmly believe that Individualists (a group that includes Republicans, conservatives, libertarians, and other “bitter” Americans), are an angry mob, primed and ready to explode against all non-white, non-straight, non-Christians.  They do so despite hard evidence that angry mobs, as opposed to scattered angry individuals, reside solely on the Left, anti-American side of the political spectrum.

Statist gays, who feel obligated to be Leftists because of identity politics, throw their wholehearted support behind Palestinians, whom they see as the beleaguered victims of evil Israeli imperialism.  They hold to this view despite the fact that Palestinians kills gays, and Palestinian gays regularly try to immigrate to the safe haven of Israel.  In the same way, Statist gays, hewing to their solid Leftist credentials, side with Iran against America, despite the fact that Iran is able to boast about the absence of homosexuals only because it routinely kills them.

Statist blacks, who feel obligated to be Leftists  because of identity politics, are deeply hostile to the police.  While there is absolutely no doubt that, in the past, police routinely harassed, arrested, and killed black people just for being black, we’re not living in the past anymore.  In modern America, the person most likely to kill a black person is another black person.  Blacks need police more than I do, sitting in my comfortable safe, suburbia — yet it’s here, in white suburbia, that our police force, which is largely decorative, is appreciated and admired.

American Statists believe that, if you placate a bully, he will see the error of his ways and become nice.  It didn’t work for Chamberlain in 1938, and I’m pretty damned sure it won’t work for us, whether the bully is Iran, Venezuela, China, Russia or any other totalitarian government intent upon expanding its power beyond its own borders.  I’m not advocating unbridled aggression our part.  That would mean we’re no better than the bullies arrayed against us.  I’m more of a Teddy Roosevelt, in that I’ll allow us to speak softly, as long as we carry a big stick.  Self-defense is not aggression — and sometimes you have to fight to defend a principle, a person, or a nation.

Statist women are silent, absolutely silent, about the condition of women across most of the Muslim world.  I think I’ll rename them “sadist” women, not “statist” women.

Statists tout as a quality Supreme Court justice Elena Kagan, who violated American law to bar the military from her campus because of Clinton’s don’t ask/don’t tell policy, but who cheerfully accepted millions of dollars and a chair from the same Saudis who murder homosexuals and treat women like 32nd class citizens.  There’s logic for you.

I opened this post with a quotation from C.S. Lewis regarding the absence of logic in education.  We can see the profoundly dangerous effect that lack of logic has on real world policies.  I’ll end with Tweedledee and Tweedledum opining on logic in a way that only a Statist could appreciate and understand:

“I know what you’re thinking about,” said Tweedledum: “but it isn’t so, nohow.”

“Contrariwise,” continued Tweedledee, “if it was so, it might be; and if it were so, it would be; but as it isn’t, it ain’t. That’s logic.”

Ordinary people view Rush as a dangerous Svengali *UPDATED*

If you’d been around in 1894, you would instantly have recognized the name “Svengali.”  He was the chief villain in George du Maurier’s blockbuster novel Trilby. The Svengali plot-line was a simple one:  Trilby was an innocent (and tone deaf) laundress and model living in fin de siecle Paris.  Svengali hypnotized her into bec0ming a great singer and the toast of the music world.  When he suffered a heart attack during one of her performances, his spell over her broke, and she was left standing on stage, bewildered and humiliated.  Since then, we use the word “svengali” to describe a person who steals the will of another with evil intent.

It’s become increasingly clear to me that liberals view Rush Limbaugh in precisely that light.  And no, I’m not making the obvious point that the Obami and the Democratic party fear Rush’s bully pulpit and consistently demonize him.  I’m talking about the rank-and-file’s fear that even listening to Rush for a moment or two causes a person to lose the will to be a liberal.  Those liberals to whom I speak shy away from him, not because they disagree with what he has to say, but because they fear he will convince them that he’s right.

The following is a talk I had just the other day while driving in the car with a liberal friend who, having voted for Obama, is now deeply regretting that decision:

Me:  How would you like to do something completely different?  Let me put Rush on the radio.

Her:  No, no.  I don’t want to do that.

Me:  Come on, you’ll like him.  He’s not at all the way you’ve heard him described in the other media.  He’s very well-informed, quite funny, and amazingly prescient.

Her:  No, no.  He’s too arrogant.

Me:  Nah.  That’s just an act.  Give it a try, for just a few minutes.

Her:  No.  I can’t listen to him.  [Then, as a sop:]  I watch Fox sometimes.

So here we have a woman who realizes that she made a mistake voting Democrat this election, who is open to conservative news (I believe her when she says she watches Fox), yet who assiduously avoids any contact with Rush.  Incidentally, this was not a one time-0nly conversation.  I had virtually the same conversation with two other regret-filled liberals.

The belligerently liberal ones are equally averse to exposing themselves to Rush.

Me:  I challenge you to listen to Rush for a half hour.

Him:  No.  He’s an idiot.

Me:  Have you ever listened to him?

Him:  No.

Me:  Then how do you know he’s an idiot?

Him:  He is.  He’s a wacko.  He doesn’t know anything.

Me:  How do you know that?

Him:  Are you trying to make me mad?

Me:  No.  But I do think that you should listen to him.  At least then you’d have first hand knowledge of what he says and whether you agree or disagree with it.

Him:  I’m not going to waste my time.

And so on, ad infinitum and definitely ad nauseum.

During the 1990s, when I was an unthinking liberal, I knew Rush was out there, but he existed on the periphery of my existence.  I read Al Franken’s Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot, and laughed at how “stupid” Rush was, but I actually didn’t care about any of the core issues at stake.  I had no interest whatsoever in finding out what Rush was like, because nothing he said really mattered.  I was working hard at my career, getting married, starting a family, and was therefore disinterested in things political.  The world seemed to be rolling along just right, with a Democratic president and a booming economy.

To give myself some retroactive credit, though, if a conservative had challenged me back then to listen to Rush, I would have done so — because I would have been certain that Rush was a big joke, and that I could have laughed at him just as Franken did.  I might have expected to be bored or offended, but I wouldn’t have been worried about being mesmerized and brainwashed.

And then came September 11, 2001 and I started paying attention.  I began to be concerned about what was going on around me.  This concern led me to start reading anything I could get my hands on about all sorts of subjects.  I read blogs, both liberal and conservative.  I opened my mind to the possibility that my attachment to the Democratic party was wrong — a possibility helped by the fact that I found myself agreeing with the major political decisions George Bush was making, both regarding national security and the economy.  In other words, once I realized that my old political staples were failing, I started looking for new information.  I wasn’t scared of the new information but, rather, was curious.

Both my old attitude (“Sure, bring silly Rush on, ’cause he’ll be good for a laugh”) and my new attitude (“There’s something out there I need to learn about”) make it impossible for me to understand the resistance, shading into fear, that my friends and family show when confronted with the possibility that they might hear a minute or two of Rush’s mellifluous tones over the airways.  They don’t seem to recognize either the possibility that they might laugh at a fool or learn from a wise man.  Instead, they seem genuinely afraid that any exposure to Rush will corrupt them irreparably.  Like poor Trilby, they’ll be seduced into an unsustainable way of being, only to find themselves suddenly abandoned and exposed.  To them, Rush is no mere conservative; he is Satan incarnate, a tempter who will destroy their liberal souls and leave them in an endless conservative Hell.

It’s quite a high compliment to Rush that ordinary liberals believe he has extraordinary powers.  It isn’t every conservative radio or talk show host who is perceived as so compelling and seductive that he can destroy people’s world view in an instant.

It’s also very frustrating to me because, in a funny way, I agree with my liberal friends that Rush can rejigger their world view very quickly.  The only thing is that I don’t believe Rush works his magic through hypnotism and trickery.  Instead, I think Rush’s real magic lies in his ability to view the political world as a vast chess board, one on which he can see multiple future moves; his prodigious memory; his well-informed mind; his logical analyses; and his funny persona.  He convinces by appealing to our rational mind, our sense of humor, and our knowledge of the world as it is, and not as some Ivory Tower liberal tells us it should be.

So, whether by cajolery or challenge, I’m still trying to get my liberals to listen to Rush.  For all the wrong reasons, they’re right about one thing:  he will change their minds.

UPDATE:  Welcome, Instapundit readers!  As you may know, for a conservative blogger, being Instalanched is pretty much the blogging equivalent of going straight to Heaven, without any stops in between.

UPDATE II:  Is it too late to say welcome to Rush Limbaugh listeners?  Ironically, I was away from my computer while this whole excitement was going on, and never got the chance to say hello.  I’m back now, and I’m still pretty darn excited.  I hope those of you who stopped by come and visit again.

Maybe liberals need a linguist’s help to hide what they’re saying, not to promote it

I found the following paragraph, culled from the San Francisco Chronicle, fascinating (emphasis mine):

From top congressional leaders to online activists, liberals have sought the wisdom of UC Berkeley linguistics Professor George Lakoff for years. They ask him to teach them to do something that conservatives traditionally have done better — frame complex policy into simple, digestible morsels that voters will swallow.

(The rest of the article is about Lakoff’s own contribution to the California ballot, which is interesting, but does not interest me right now.)

There are two thoughts underlying that emphasized language.  The first is that voters can only understand the most simple ideas; and the second is that Machiavellian conservatives (probably because they are themselves simple-minded morons) have figured out how to tap into that vast, stupid national psyche.  The one thing that doesn’t seem to occur to the Chron writer, or to the Democrats themselves, is that conservative ideas might succeed because there is an elegant purity to them, that all can easily grasp without sophisticated salesmanship and translation.

Not all good things need to be complex, at least in their ultimate expression.  The Ten Commandments (although there are actually more than the core ten) are a lovely example of moral clarity in few words.  The ideas are remarkably sophisticated, and were groundbreaking when Moses first announced them in a pagan world, but they are simply written and require little in the way of clarification to appreciate them:

I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery;

Do not have any other gods before me.

You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.

You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and the fourth generation of those who reject me,

but showing steadfast love to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments.

You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not acquit anyone who misuses his name.

Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy.

For six days you shall labour and do all your work.

But the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God; you shall not do any work—you, your son or your daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the alien resident in your towns.

For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but rested the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and consecrated it.

Honor your father and your mother, so that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.

You shall not murder.

You shall not commit adultery.

You shall not steal.

You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.

It’s certainly true that one can refine on those core principles.  Murder can be situational.  Is it murder when one is engaged in war?  Is it murder when one is acting in self-defense?  Is it murder when one is in the grip of a delusion?  Stealing also might yield to situations:  Is it stealing if you’ve been imprisoned by the Nazis and are able to “obtain” food from one of those same Nazis?  While the nuances are pretty much endless, the core principles remain easy to follow.

The same is true for a lot of conservative core principles.  “The more power that vests in government, the less power there is for individuals.”  Again, you can debate situations in which it is appropriate to cede power to the government, but the underlying truism is easily expressed and helps guide conservative thinking without any fancy linguistic tricks.  “Government is a poor manager.”  Well, our own life experience shows us that.  We acknowledge that there are some things that government must manage (the military, national transportation, etc.), so the application of that principle is open to debate, but the principle itself is straightforward, and easy for the man on the street to understand.

One thing life in law has taught me is that the best arguments are invariably the ones that can be expressed in the simplest terms.  If I have to mass hundreds of little factual points and conclusions, and delicately weave them into some airy, gossamer fabric, I’m going to lose.  I’m adept at doing that, since I have a flexible mind and good writing skills, but even the best lawyer is going to have a hard time forcing a judge to bet on that tangled intellectual fabric.  If my argument, however, is a short, sweet, easy-to-understand amalgam of fact and law, I’ve won.

And here’s something for you to think about:  it’s no coincidence that the best writers on the Supreme Court are conservatives (Roberts and Scalia), while the worst writers are, and have been, liberals (Ginsburg, Stevens, Souter).  Liberals spend an inordinate amount of time trying to pretend that disparate ideas, false logic, unworkable syllogisms, bad law, and twisted facts can come together in a smooth, constitutionally whole fabric.

The conservative justices, however, since they begin each decision with the Constitution (itself a simply written document) as their guide, are easily able to bring facts and law together under that already logical umbrella.  They therefore repeatedly publish decisions that are well-written, comprehensible, and easy to sell to ordinary Americans, without translation through the Berkeley linguistic filter.

In other words, the problem doesn’t lie with liberal language, it lies with liberal ideas.  And if you don’t believe me look at Obama.  Liberals consider him to be the oratorical Second Coming of John F. Kennedy.  He has promoted his health care plan in 35 speeches, but has only succeeded in hardening voters’ dislike of government run health care.  It’s not how he says it, it’s what he says.

Spengler (David Goldman) gets to the core problems with Obama’s economic analyses

There were so many things wrong with Obama’s speech last night, whether because of dumb ideas, lies, vicious attacks against Constitutional guardians, etc., that criticism actually becomes difficult.  It’s kind of like punching Jello, because you just get sucked in.  Nevertheless, it is important to criticize, not just Obama’s untruths, but the fundamental flaws in his reasoning.  David Goldman (aka Spengler) does precisely that when he goes after Obama’s facile prescription for America’s economic malaise.  Aside from learning more about Obama’s profound wrongness when it comes to economics, you’ll get to read this gem of a paragraph:

In his attempt to emulate Clinton’s success, President Obama resembles nothing so much a the New Guinea aboriginals who built model airfields complete with straw control towers and airplanes after the Second World War and the departure of the American army. The Americans had summoned cargo from the sky through such magical devices, so thought the aboriginals, and by building what looked like airfields, so might they. But Obama can no more conjure up an economic recovery by doing things that look like what Clinton did, than the natives of New Guinea could draw cargo from the sky with straw totems. Marx’s crack about history repeating itself—the first time as tragedy and the second as farce—comes to mind.

Incidentally, Obama is the lightening rod for this critique, because he is the President who uttered the words showing his profound inability to understand economic forces. Democrats, however, are supporters and enablers, so please don’t give any Dems in Congress a pass on this. Statistics show that America’s Congressional Democrats are as loony-toons liberal as they come. Even the Blue Dogs are simply “blue,” without any mitigating “dog” attached.

Liberal fear; conservative resurgence

Vanderleun, who blogs at the wonderful American Digest, put me on to a liberal Massachusetts blog that tells its readers to suck it up and vote for Coakley:

Let’s get this out of the way.  You might not want to vote for Martha Coakley.  You might think she deserves what’s she’s getting after an absentee, self-satisfied campaign (why should I bail her out?).  You likely want to send a message to everyone from the attorney general all the way to every Democratic official in Washington, DC.  Odds are you didn’t vote for her in the primary.  And, you might be wondering if it’ll make a difference who wins this Tuesday.

You got every reason to be pissed, but it needs to be clear: not voting for Coakley is the same as voting for Brown.  And voting for Brown is a very, very bad thing.

Does this argument sound familiar to you?  It should.  This is precisely the same argument conservatives making in 2008 when they thought about voting for McCain.  They really didn’t like him, but they were going to hold their collective noses and vote for McCain, because voting for Obama would be “a very, very bad thing.”  Sadly, for many the McCain stench was too great, and Obama won (a pattern that may repeat itself in Massachusetts, with Coakley and Brown as the stinky players).

As you know, I’ve been trying to convince myself for a while that, in a peculiar way, Obama is a good thing.  Until Obama, people could convince themselves that liberals should be viewed by what they said, not by what they did, primarily because semi-functioning Republicans were there to put the brakes on the worst liberal excess.  With Obama and the Democrats having power fettered only by voter dismay, not by effective Republican opposition, the country is having to face — for the first time — the reality and not the rhetoric.  I think they’re finding the chasm between the two unnerving.  And I think Massachusetts is the first place in which we’re seeing voters figure out, finally, that this is not John F. Kennedy’s Democratic party any more.

The line of the night

Christmas dinner (which was lovely), included in a brief foray into discussing the Senate’s health care bill.  A liberal friend let loose with this terrific line after I said that the Senate had raided Medicare and Medicare Advantage to make the bill ostensibly revenue neutral:  “I don’t know anything about the bill, but I know that you’re wrong.”

When violence is the answer

I love my dojo.  The teachers are, without exception, top quality and, also without exception, they are just about the nicest people you’ll ever meet.  Oh, one other thing:  without exception, they’re pro-Obama and anti-War.

What this means is that you have people who dedicate their lives to teaching fighting, and who believe passionately in personal self-defense, but who are ideologically completely opposed to the notion of national self-defense.  They believe that, at the personal level, if one can’t defuse a hostile opponent quickly, one should subdue that opponent with swift and overwhelming (although not necessarily deadly) force.  However, they believe that, at the national level, there is never any justification for a nation to go to war.  War is evil.  Bush was an evil war-monger.  Obama is good because he is the bringer of peace.

(And no, I haven’t talked to them about Obama’s decision to conduct a temporary, mini-Surge in Iran Afghanistan.  [Editor's note:  Was that a Freudian slip, or what?]  Indeed, I never talk politics with them at all.  I just listen to their conversations and read their bumperstickers.  I’ve learned that, when it comes to politics in Marin, direct confrontation is never as effective as small asides that cause people to think.)

I always wonder when the cognitive dissonance between my teachers’ personal passions and their politics will finally become overwhelming.  They’d probably be helped if they ever saw this Steve Crowder video:

A liberal view of the shooting at Fort Hood

We live in different universes:

Liberal:  They still don’t know why he shot all those soldiers.

Me:  Of course they do.

Liberal:  What are you talking  about?

Me:  Come on.  They know it has to do with his . . . .

Liberal (interrupting):  Are you saying that he’s a sleeper cell?

Me:  No.  I’m saying that he’s a one man jihadist.  He shouted out “Allahu Akbar” as he was killing people.  He posted on web sites praising jihad and saying Americans are the enemy for killing Muslims.  The military and the FBI knew about him.  They’ve been watching him for six months.  They just didn’t do anything.

Liberal:  I don’t believe that.  You got that from your right wing wacko sites.

Me:  No.  I got it from the AP . . . .

Liberal (interrupting):  That’s not true.  I haven’t read anything about it.  That’s just bulls**t.

Here are some MSM, as opposed to “right wing wacko,” sources testifying to Hasan’s religious obsession and the FBI’s knowledge about that obsession (although I will say that, as to the latter, they hadn’t quite locked down the internet poster’s identity):

LA Times: “there were indications that Hasan was active on the Internet and that he had posted numerous inflammatory comments.”  [snip] “Hasan was devout. He worshiped at the mosque each day at 6 a.m., and often prayed there five times a day, especially during the holy month of Ramadan. Hasan’s devotion sometimes put him in conflict with the military.”  [snip] “He told students, ‘I’m a Muslim first and an American second’ . . .”

NPR:  Writes about the fact that Hasan was on probation for proselytizing about his religion.

CBS News/AP:  “His name appears on radical Internet postings. A fellow officer says he fought his deployment to Iraq and argued with soldiers who supported U.S. wars. He required counseling as a medical student because of problems with patients.”  [snip]  “At least six months ago, Hasan came to the attention of law enforcement officials because of Internet postings about suicide bombings and other threats, including posts that equated suicide bombers to soldiers who throw themselves on a grenade to save the lives of their comrades.”  [snip]  “On a form filled out by those seeking spouses through a program at the mosque, Hasan listed his birthplace as Arlington, Virginia, but his nationality as Palestinian, Khan said.   ‘I don’t know why he listed Palestinian,’ Khan said, ‘He was not born in Palestine.’”

Washington Post:  “Law enforcement officials also faced questions about whether they had missed possible warning signs. Six months ago, investigators came across Internet postings, allegedly by Hasan, that indicated sympathy for suicide bombers and empathized with the plight of Muslim civilians killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to a federal official briefed on the situation. The official, and another source, said investigators never confirmed whether Hasan was the author of the postings and did not pursue the matter.”

What the above means is that, even though the MSM is reporting about Hasan’s “issues,” all that my liberal friend absorbed is the media facile and ridiculous conclusion — a conclusion totally at odds with the facts the reporters themselves were uncovering — that nobody had the slightest idea why Hasan did what he did.

Let me go back to Mark Steyn:

Since 9/11, we have, as the Twitterers recommend, judged people by their actions — flying planes into skyscrapers, blowing themselves up in Bali nightclubs or London Tube trains, planting IEDs by the roadside in Baghdad or Tikrit. And on the whole we’re effective at responding with action of our own — taking out training camps in Afghanistan, rolling up insurgency networks in Fallujah and Ramadi, intercepting terror plots in London and Toronto and Dearborn.

But we’re scrupulously non-judgmental about the ideology that drives a man to fly into a building or self-detonate on the subway, and thus we have a hole at the heart of our strategy. We use rhetorical conveniences like “radical Islam” or, if that seems a wee bit Islamophobic, just plain old “radical extremism.” But we never make any effort to delineate the line which separates “radical Islam” from non-radical Islam. Indeed, we go to great lengths to make it even fuzzier. And somewhere in that woozy blur the pathologies of a Nidal Malik Hasan incubate. An army psychiatrist, Major Hasan was an American, born and raised, who graduated from Viriginia Tech and then received his doctorate from the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, which works out to the best part of half a million dollars’ worth of elite education. But he opposed America’s actions in the Middle East and Afghanistan, and made approving remarks about jihadists on American soil. “You need to lock it up, Major,” cautioned his superior officer, Col. Terry Lee.