In the final analysis, there are only two political “philosophies” in the world, comprised, as Robert Heinlein suggested, of “those who think that people should be controlled, and those who do not”. The latter sort are called “individualists” and the former are called “collectivists”.
Naturally, the reason for controlling people is so that whatever they create or earn can be taken from them easily, using a variety of excuses, by those who are capable of creating or earning nothing themselves.
To the individualist, individual rights are the supreme value. Only individuals have rights, and they are not additive in character. Two people, or two thousand people, or two million people have no more rights than a single individual, and to the extent that a society is permitted to exist at all, it is to protect and advance the interests of its basic, indispensable building block, the individual. Every single relationship within such a society must be explicit and totally voluntary.
To collectivists, however, there are no individual rights, and the individual’s interests and opinions count for nothing in the broader, grander, collective scheme of things. Individuals are born with what amounts to an unpayable obligation to society. They are nothing more than worker-ants, whose talents and labor are there to be exploited by the collective. Anybody who objects is anti-social, as both Josef Stalin and Barack Obama would tell us, and most likely insane and in need of confinement.
L. Neil Smith, “Right Wing Socialism”, Libertarian Enterprise, 2013-05-19
May 23, 2013
May 16, 2013
Here we sit on the precipice of a grand realignment of history, society and culture in the image of the new order of common sense government that seeks to cast aside the trappings of backwards for-profit mindsets and yet again we are forced to endure the incoherent ramblings of the simple-minded who seek to derail this overdue progression.
Instead of thoughtful policy discussions, we will now be treated to an endless parade of government boogeymen and convoluted conspiracies brought on only in an effort to discredit an honorable and trustworthy administration, run by a renowned Constitutional law professor and respected Nobel Prize winner.
Let us dispense with trivial formalities. The slack-jawed logic of the perpetually offended will never seek to understand the internal flaws inherent to the human soul. The alleged failure of the I.R.S. to consistently apply their fair standards was nothing more than the failure of a system designed by men. The government is made up of men, and therefore is subject to the same defects. This is not an indictment of government itself; this is an indictment of those who fail to recognize the collective good of advancing a streamlined and progressive government.
So, who is ultimately to blame? Perhaps if you’re honest with yourself, you’ll look deeper into the depths of your heart and you will recognize the brutal truth.
This is your fault. For shame.
John Ekdahl, Jr. “The New Yorker‘s @JeffreyToobin: Did the I.R.S. Do Anything Wrong?”, Ace of Spades H.Q., 2013-05-16
May 14, 2013
Dear friends in the media.
I mean, come on.
You and I know what’s going with the Benghazi thing. Let me share something that I first put into play during the “was Anthony Weiner’s Twitter account hacked” debate, but that comes from watching the Lewinsky scandal, the where-did–Mark-Sanford-go scandal, the why-is-David-Wu-dressed-in-a-tiger-suit scandal, and a wide variety of wrongdoing committed by politicians:
When there is evidence of scandalous or bizarre behavior on the part of a political figure, and no reasonable explanation is revealed within 24 to 48 hours, then the truth is probably as bad as everyone suspects.
Nobody withholds exculpatory information. Nobody who’s been accused of something wrong waits for “just the right moment” to unveil information that proves the charge baseless. Political figures never choose to deliberately let themselves twist in the wind. It’s not the instinctive psychological reaction to being falsely accused, it’s not what any public communications professional would recommend, and to use one of our president’s favorite justifications, it’s just common sense.
Jim Geraghty, “The Mask Is Ripped Off of ‘Hope and Change’”, National Review, 2013-05-14
May 6, 2013
A Florida county sheriff is being given a million dollars to violate the rights of the people who were stupid enough to put him in office.
According to an article by Palm Beach Post staff writers Dara Kam and Stacey Singer, posted Monday, April 29, Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw has been awarded $1 million by Florida House and Senate budget leaders for a new “violence prevention unit aimed at preventing tragedies like those in Newtown, Connecticut and Aurora, Colorado.
It would be bad enough if this particular jackbooted thug planned only to use this ill-gotten tax money for the usual militarized toys — machineguns or armored personnel carriers — the cops are so crazy about today, but Bradshaw reportedly wants to create “prevention intervention units” consisting of “specially trained deputies, mental health professionals, and caseworkers”. which “will respond to citizen calls to a 24-hour hotline with a knock on the door and a referral to services”.
“We want people to call us if the guy down the street says he hates the government…” the Big-Brotherly Bradshaw bloviated. “What does it hurt to have somebody knock on a door and ask, ‘Hey, is everything OK?’” Since the cops these days do their knocking with a three-foot concrete-filled section of four-inch diameter steel pipe, with welded rebar handles, Bradshaw’s stupid question tends to answer itelf.
L. Neil Smith, “Cutting the Root of Tyranny”, Libertarian Enterprise, 2013-05-06
April 29, 2013
My favorite example of handling the loyal audience/new audience divide badly is when NBC decided they wanted to get more women to watch the Olympics, and thus large swaths of their prime-time Olympics coverage were devoted to documentary-style features about the hardships that the athletes had overcome — a seemingly endless cavalcade of relatives with cancer, or car accidents, or brutal injuries, or their dogs getting sick, or the Starbucks barista getting their drink order wrong — suddenly, every athlete’s life was like a country-western song. And the usual audience for the Olympics asked, with greater levels of irritation, “Hey, weren’t we supposed to be watching some actual athletic competitions? Wasn’t some skier supposed to be falling down a mountain by now?”
Jim Geraghty, “Spreading Our Ideas in the Era of Drug-Dealer Journalism”, National Review, 2013-04-29
April 24, 2013
The much-awaited arrival of DSM-5 (the fifth edition of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) should ensure that every human being is classed as insane. At this point we might be able to start again and consider what psychiatry is for. Genomics is keen to help in the effort by finding the loci that are associated with all sorts of mental disorders. Enter a huge population based study funded by the National Institute of Mental Health: “Our findings show that specific SNPs are associated with a range of psychiatric disorders of childhood onset or adult onset. In particular, variation in calcium-channel activity genes seems to have pleiotropic effects on psychopathology. These results provide evidence relevant to the goal of moving beyond descriptive syndromes in psychiatry, and towards a nosology informed by disease cause.” Hmm. I think that when authors have to use words like “pleiotropic” and “nosology” there is a high chance that they do not know what they are talking about. So before welcoming the marriage of genomics and psychiatry, let us remember that there is a strong history of madness on both sides.
Richard Lehman, “Richard Lehman’s journal review—22 April 2013″, BMJ Group blogs, 2013-04-22
April 22, 2013
One of the most pernicious aspects of the chronic unemployment rampant during the Great Depression was that it took many people (mostly men) out of the workforce permanently. Many men simply became unsuited for making a living, and this in turn prevented them from forming families or even becoming a part of normal society. The same pattern is appearing now, and it is a cause for grave concern. Chronic unemployment isn’t just a hit to the economy; it attacks the very fabric of society.
The simplistic approach to this problem is to demand that the government create jobs ex nihilo, but this almost never works in practice. Besides being wasteful of tax dollars and of limited use in actually reducing unemployment, these types of programs also tend to cultivate a sense of cynicism in the workers themselves. FDR’s various make-work schemes were a perfect example of this. (The old joke about the WPA was that it stood for “We Piddle Around”.)
April 18, 2013
Suddenly another voice spoke, low and melodious, its very sound an enchantment. Those who listened unwarily to that voice could seldom report the words that they heard; and if they did, they wondered, for little power remained in them. Mostly they remembered only that it was a delight to hear the voice speaking, all that it said seemed wise and reasonable, and desire awoke in them by swift agreement to seem wise themselves. When others spoke they seemed harsh and uncouth by contrast; and if they gainsaid the voice, anger was kindled in the hearts of those under the spell. For some the spell lasted only while the voice spoke to them, and when it spoke to another they smiled, as men do who see through a juggler’s trick while others gape at it. For many the sound of the voice alone was enough to hold them enthralled; but for those whom it conquered the spell endured when they were far away, and ever they heard that soft voice whispering and urging them. But none were unmoved; none rejected its pleas and its commands without an effort of mind and will, so long as its master had control of it.
J.R.R. Tolkien, “The Voice of Saruman”, The Two Towers, 1954.
April 17, 2013
As American kids grow up, authority figures all around them — public school teachers, local and national political leaders, the broadcast and print media, ministers and priests, and other useless busybodies — are always very enthusiastic about the idea of compromise.
Compromise, these Judas goats and stable ponies always proclaim in the most glowing terms, is the one absolutely indispensable, magical key to living and working within that best of all possible political worlds, a democracy. If everybody takes a stance and won’t budge, if nobody is willing to give at least an inch (if not a mile), why, then nothing will ever get done! This, of course, overlooks the obvious fact that there are a great many circumstances — almost all of which involve government in some way — in which nothing ever should get done.
Somewhere around the fourth grade, if we have anything like half a brain left after all the indoctrination, we begin to notice certain things about this compromise bonnet-bee that make it clear that it is something less than the wonderful notion its proponents always say it is.
The first is that, since neither side can reasonably expect to get what it really wants. The best that anyone can ever hope for, from a properly engineered compromise, is that both sides will wind up equally dissatisfied. This is not, I submit, an acceptable way to run a civilization. It is a recipe to guarantee the perpetuation of bitter conflict, creating the ideal breeding ground for politicians (like puddles for mosquitoes), for whom solved problems are a threat to their livelihood.
[. . .]
The third thing that even a nine-year-old kid notices is that, having finally been badgered and brow-beaten into accepting a glorious compromise of some kind, whoever has been sucker enough to do it will be expected to do it all over again, the next time the subject comes up.
“What’s mine is mine,” goes the saying, “and what’s yours is negotiable.”
Which is exactly how we ended up in the mess we’re in now.
L. Neil Smith, “Compromise: Political Poison”, Libertarian Enterprise, 2013-04-16
April 16, 2013
Right now, I could write segments on the idiot comments made by the usual suspects … but do you really need another piece of evidence to support the argument that, say, Cynthia McKinney is a lunatic? [...] I can’t get all that revved up about it. She is what she is. If you really put much stock in her judgment of what’s “the real story” behind a horrific news event, theories that hear this awful news and immediately jump to elaborate theories of “false flag” operations and the notion that our local and federal law-enforcement ranks are full of men and women willing to set bombs and blow up children in order to score some sort of propaganda victory … well, then I doubt there’s anything anyone can say to dissuade you of that vast worldview you’ve constructed within your mind.
The conspiracy theorist is only a couple of steps away from the person who — often on Twitter — begins discussing who was behind it with way too much certainty. As I said on Twitter yesterday, I suspect that speculation, unhelpful as it is, is a coping mechanism: People attempt to make a sudden unexpected horror fit into pattern of known facts. If we can figure out who did it, we can find someone to feel anger and rage towards and, for some people, that’s a much easier emotion to deal with than shock, horror, fear, and sorrow.
The all-too-confident speculator is only a few steps away from the ordinarily knowledgeable terrorism expert or pundit yanked into a television studio at a moment’s notice and asked to speak, extemporaneously, about what could be behind these awful events based on nothing more than initial reports and the most horrific of images playing on a monitor just beyond the camera.
Jim Geraghty, “The Morning Jolt”, 2013-04-16
April 11, 2013
I hear quite a bit of that these days — almost like a local version of East German “ostalgie“. Old British friends say to me, well, say what you like about the 1970s — nothing worked; if you wanted to buy a new car, it was as if post-war rationing was still in effect — but all the same life in the village seemed a lot more pleasant back then. There’s something to this: the benign side of oppressive statism is often a kind of public restraint. And more than a few folks seem to feel, with the benefit of hindsight, that it’s better to have unionised thugs nutting scabs on the picket line than freelance yobs in hideous leisurewear infesting ersatz-American high streets catering to their every frightful whim from one end to the other. For the modern liberal, this is a new dilemma: an underclass that’s too rich.
Mark Steyn, “The Unfinished Revolution”, Daily Telegraph, 2004-05-04 (link goes to Steyn’s own site)
April 5, 2013
J.D. Tuccille explains why he’s teaching his son to break the law:
In 1858, hundreds of residents of Oberlin and Wellington, Ohio — many of them students and faculty at Oberlin College — surrounded Wadsworth’s Hotel, in Wellington, in which law enforcement officers and slavehunters held a fugitive slave named John Price, under the authority of the Fugitive Slave Act. After a brief standoff, the armed crowd stormed the hotel and overpowered the captors. Price was freed and transported to safety in Canada [. . .] I know these details because my son recently borrowed from the library The Price of Freedom, a book about the Oberlin-Wellington Rescue, as the incident is called (PDF). My wife and I used it as a starting point for telling our seven-year-old why we don’t expect him to obey the law — that laws and the governments that pass them are often evil. We expect him, instead, to stand up for his rights and those of others, and to do good, even if that means breaking the law.
Our insistence on putting right before the law isn’t a new position. I’ve always liked Ralph Waldo Emerson’s sentiment that “Good men must not obey the laws too well.” That’s a well-known quote, but it comes from a longer essay in which he wrote:
Republics abound in young civilians, who believe that the laws make the city, that grave modifications of the policy and modes of living, and employments of the population, that commerce, education, and religion, may be voted in or out; and that any measure, though it were absurd, may be imposed on a people, if only you can get sufficient voices to make it a law. But the wise know that foolish legislation is a rope of sand, which perishes in the twisting …
Rope of sand the law may be, but it can strangle unlucky people on the receiving end long before it perishes. John Price could well have ended up with not just the law, but a real rope, around his neck, just because he wanted to exercise the natural freedom to which he was entitled by birth as a sapient being.
John Price ended his life as a free man because he was willing to defy laws that said he was nothing but the property of other people, to be disposed of as they wished. He got a nice helping hand in maintaining his freedom from other people who were willing to not only defy laws that would compel them to collaborate in Price’s bondage, but to beat the hell out of government agents charged with enforcing those laws.
FAQ: I don’t get to decide what gets made into a tv series or film. I cannot, I’m afraid, cause people to give me money for things by magic or force of will. Because, let’s face it, if I could, you’d be part of the slave army building my hundred-mile-high golden revolving statue right now.
I’m glad we got that straightened out.
Warren Ellis, “FAQ: I Don’t Get To Decide What Gets Made Into A Movie Or TV Show”, WarrenEllis.com, 2013-04-04
April 4, 2013
In case you’re curious: The Paul-is-dead theory is reportedly embraced by 5 percent of the population — far less, no doubt, than believed it in 1968, though you might expect all those mediocre solo albums to make the theory more popular rather than less. The Icke/Slitheen thesis about reptilian overlords was endorsed by 4 percent of the country. I figure a bunch of those “yes” answers were only trolling, but some of the “no” answers surely came from people who just DIDN’T WANT THE LIZARD MEN TO KNOW THEY WERE ONTO THEM, so let’s call it a wash.
Jesse Walker, footnote to “Paul-Is-Dead Cover-Up Fools 95 Percent of America”, Hit and Run, 2013-04-03
April 3, 2013
The whole modern world has divided itself into Conservatives and Progressives. The business of Progressives is to go on making mistakes. The business of Conservatives is to prevent mistakes from being corrected. Even when the revolutionist might himself repent of his revolution, the traditionalist is already defending it as part of his tradition. Thus we have two great types — the advanced person who rushes us into ruin, and the retrospective person who admires the ruins. He admires them especially by moonlight, not to say moonshine. Each new blunder of the progressive or prig becomes instantly a legend of immemorial antiquity for the snob. This is called the balance, or mutual check, in our Constitution.
G.K. Chesterton, Illustrated London News, 1924-04-19