If one is going to go after sacred cows, one should really go after sacred cows. Most of the people in our society who get credit for "going after sacred cows" are just going after unfashionable ones. At least ones that are unfashionable in the circles they want to appeal to. We live in a world of iconodules posing as iconoclasts.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Good Government Can't Happen

A Commission created to study tax options for California, whose tax structure has weakened the State's economy and revenues even before the recession hit, recommends bold changes that might actually improve things.

Of course, it will never happen, because bad policy is preferred.

Critics also argue that the plan has not been well studied.
Wasn't that what the commission did? Has the proposal been studied better than, oh, I don't know, Federal Health Care bills that won't even have been completely written till the day they are voted into law, and never read by 90% of the "legislators" voting on them? You be the judge.
"The reception will be somewhere between cool and arctic," said Jack Pitney, a political science professor at Claremont McKenna College in Southern California. "At a time of economic distress, the legislators are going to be very reluctant to embrace big changes in the tax code."
Notice how this is the time to make other radical changes to everything in the country, but not fix the tax code. Tax increases, sure: There's never a better opportunity than now.

Note that this argument would also be used in prosperous times "if it ain't broke" (which it is) "why meddle with it?" and that is also seen as the time to raise taxes ("the rich can afford to pay more, they're doing well in this prosperous economy" is the argument used then).

A generation and a half ago a poor Austrian moved to a prosperous State, and one day he rose to be the prosperous Governor of a poor State, and they're sti, apparently, clueless as to why that happened.


Unlimited Government

What to make of the health care workers in New York protesting mandatory vaccinations, on condition of employment?

I think fears of the vaccine are almost certainly groundless, though a very small percentage of people do have negative reactions to a vaccine. The protest seems hysteric, especially since the same people may not object to administering it to their patients.

However, as is typical today, the issue here is one of liberty as opposed to the unlimited state. If the health care workers are employed by the State of New York, the State has the right to make the vaccination mandatory. If they aren't, there must be some provision in the State Constitution permitting this in case of a health emergency (which I'm not sure the Swine Flu rises to. Note: I'm not going to let them control the language, therefore I shall not call it "H1N1").

More significant, however, is the individual health insurance mandate being considered in Congress, which apparently has bipartisan support. As usual since the 1930s, this will be justified under the Commerce Clause, the redefinition of which created an unlimited government.

The rejoinder might be a practical one, that health insurance is so important, people should be required to have it, as they are with automobile insurance. Auto insurance is handled at the State level, however, and more importantly these are two different things.

Under the New Deal Redefinition of the Constitution, there were ostensibly to be two different sets of rights. Economic rights, where they ruled you had none, and personal rights, which you might still have if the Court so ruled, especially if you belonged to the right sort of group.

However as the proposed individual mandate to buy health insurance shows, the distinction between economic and personal rights was always false. If they can force you to buy health insurance, they can force you to buy anything. There is no Constitutional, principled barrier. They may refrain from compelling you to buy this or that out of practical or political/popularity considerations, as holds in any omnipotent government, but their power is demonstrated to be unconstrained.

The fact is we live under an unlimited government, and have since the New Deal. The fiction of limited government has been maintained as a guise, because there would be popular outcry and resistance if this were to be stated openly and honestly. This fiction is most maintained by Progressives, who become champions of constitutional government when out of office, but then view their power as unlimited when they are in office. Ironically these are often the same people who mutter about the unprincipled nature of Straussians.


Monday, September 28, 2009

Politicians "In the Pockets of Wall St"

Turns out it's Democrats, if anyone, in particular one Charles Schumer (D - Wall St.).

Remember that next time they hector their opponents as being bought by Wall St.

Not that it matters: We live in a world where Progressives constantly project their methods onto their opponents.

Update, 29 SEPT 09: Rush Limbaugh used the same term to describe the latter, calling it projection! I must be part of the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy! It's the only explanation, after all. It couldn't be because, for example, the phenomenon exists. No possibility of that whatsoever...


The Left and Laffer

When it suits them, Progressives recognize that taxation changes people's behavior, by raising the cost of activities, causing people to engage in them less.

When it doesn't suit them, they scoff at the concept, the idea of "dynamic scoring", and dismiss Laffer as an ideologue.

Pointless Aside since it is referenced: McArdle is correct on the subject of Health Care, because if, for example, a whole bunch of savings could be made in Medicare costs, as Obama claims, then it should be done now (if not already), rather than being held hostage to his (non-existent) health care plan.

True, the Laffer Curve can be exaggerated, but the TNR article is objectively false on the facts. Revenues increased throughout the Reagan Administration (it was additional spending that grew the deficit), and after the 2001 tax cuts, tax revenues grew "unexpectedly".

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Saturday, September 26, 2009

Vibrant Dissent

I suppose this was the kind of thing Pelosi was talking about. No? I'm shocked, shocked! She possibly has these more in mind.

Unfair shot? Well, until proven wrong, there is enough evidence that the shoe fits, so I don't acquit.


Thursday, September 24, 2009

Public Opinion Always Matters

Tonight I pick on someone I find very interesting, and many of whose conclusions about "The System" I share (and spouted off on in my original blogs, in similar vein but not exact concord, and, at the time, almost the opposite of his views on the subject of achieving a government accountable to the people/based upon consent of the governed), Mencius Moldbug, in this post actually demonstrates, perhaps without noticing, that one of the things he desires, separation of information and state is an unachievable goal.

"As Hume first observed, all governments are in a sense democratic. They require consent from at least their armed security forces. Public opinion always matters."

This is why I've never for once believed that Moldbug's ideal of separation of information and state will come to pass, or, if it does, remain stable.

No government, no matter how authoritarian, can be indifferent to public opinion. Perhaps less sensitive to it than democracy (though ours does an excellent job of that. See Steven Den Beste's proposed Constitutional Amendments. Probably 70% of the public would support them as policy, but there is no chance whatsoever of what they envision appearing on the political agenda in any form, much less Constitutional Amendments submitted for ratification).

Particularly, the governments he envisions, wanting to maximize revenues, have an incentive to "advertise" at minimum, to convince the subjects that currently live there to stay, and convince prosperous ones to come (one can see advert sections along these lines in The Economist frequently).

Under his vision, possibly correct, there is no way to enforce a separation of state and information, and no incentive for the state to be completely indifferent to public opinion and not work to shape it. It may very well not resemble what we get now in its particulars, but there will be state propaganda.

My personal opinion is that, while Moldbug, as he has said of writers he admiers, can be very insightful in his diagnoses, but his solutions are quackery. Not that I think I have better. I still carry a lantern through the streets looking for one, and trying to think of one myself.

(Last season's "Kings" comes to mind, btw. Control over the press, and who got to promulgate the message in the various struggles for power, was one of the significant plot threads).


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Lieber on Insurgents

here, a primary source, as an addendum to my earlier post on Asymmetric Warfare.

See especially pp.17-22, and in particular p.22.


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Argument By Analogy

From here we have an apt quote:

I believed some of them would never accept the idea that a black person might rule over them, indeed that a black person might rule just as effectively as any white.
Have any of the 3 or 5 people reading this seen the BBC Documentary referenced in that article? I have not, but I'm curious what it's like.


On Asymmetric Warfare: The Sources of Insurgent Power

First, I apologize to Clauswitz in advance, because not only am I not him, but I can't hope to emulate him. Also, little of what follows is original thinking, though it is entirely at odds with conventional wisdom on the subject.

If war is diplomacy by other means, asymmetric warfare is politics by other means. We're told that the Western Alliance is in danger of losing in Afghanistan, an alliance that represents the most advanced states of the world, consisting of three quarters of a billion people and over half of global GDP, fighting in a country of 25 million people. While reliable data is hard to come by, I believe that at least a plurality of that country's population would prefer to see the Alliance's foe, the Taliban/insurgents defeated, rather than see them return to power.

Why is this absurdity, the possibility of the alliance's defeat, not only considered possible, but actually likely? If we assume that the leaders of the Taliban are rational actors, why have they always held the belief in their ultimate victory?

Let me first assert that, as it is commonly understood, "Asymmetric Warfare" is a fallacy. If you have two forces, and the one whose power appears insignificant compared to that of its opponent, and yet is considered the likely victor, then you are only seeing a fraction of its real power. Like an iceberg, you see only the tip, but the rest is invisible under the veil of the sea.

Only when this Camouflage is drained away, and the whole is visible, can you see why the apparently weaker party not only has a chance of defeating the materially stronger, but is considered the likely winner among those who shape conventional wisdom even in the homelands of its opponents (in this case, the Western Alliance). The ostensible power of the Western Alliance's military forces is obvious, because it is primarily materiel and direct. The power of the insurgents are primarily political/propagandistic and indirect, consisting largely of the ability to manipulate mindsets, rather than battlefield outcomes.

To examine how this works I'll make another unoriginal observation, but one at odds with conventional wisdom. The drafters of Geneva Conventions a century ago and those who described international law during that same time were decent men (they were all men) who wanted to make an inherently inhumane activity, warfare, more humane, less brutal and bloody. The fact that the century of warfare that followed was the bloodiest in human history is not their fault. They were indeed intelligent men, no less intelligent than the men and women responsible for interpreting the Geneva Conventions and "international law" today. The gentlemen of a century ago knew that mercy to the guilty is cruelty to the innocent.

Therefore, in order to de-incentivize certain forms of warfare, they did not extend the protections of international law given to lawful combatants to insurgents, terrorists, and the like. The Geneva Conventions did not cover those who did not themselves follow them. In that era, it was accepted as a given that it was necessary to give such persons less protection, to deter people from engaging in activities that would make conflict less clear, and thus more destructive and more prolonged. Thus the Geneva Conventions, for example, declared that such combatants could be shot when captured.

It's not controversial, but simply factual, to observe that today insurgents are extended more rights than lawful, uniformed enemy soldiers would be, and that the argument is whether or not to extend them even more. Most of the Alliance's members send small forces to Afghanistan and compel them to operate under such restrictive rules of engagement that they are militarily useless, and indeed would be hostile to fortune if deployed in a combat zone, so they are kept out of harms way. Even those members whose forces are used in combat (primarily Anglosphere nations and the Netherland) operate under rules so increasingly constrained as to nearly, but not quite, tie their hands with an ever-tightening cobra. The enemy's propaganda complaints of collateral damage are listened to, and thus they are encouraged to use that as one of their main weapons in the conflict to thwart the Alliance.

We are told we need to accept these constraints, less we lose the "hearts and minds" of the local population. But the enemy quite clearly does not have to operate this way. The intimidation tactics and outright brutality which insurgents use to cow the population is also one of their weapons. Why? Because the "hearts and minds" strategy concentrates mainly on the hearts of those sympathetic to the enemy, their collaborators, and not on the minds of those who oppose them or are otherwise innocent, simply wanting a better life than the Taliban offers, but afraid they'll be left to die or otherwise suffer when we pack up and abandon the area, after concluding that our efforts are futile or even counter-productivly "alienating people". This mindset involves listening primarily to the complaints of those sympathetic to the insurgents, rather than those who would be our natural allies. Again, mercy to the guilty becoming cruelty to the innocent.

Highly constrained rules of engagement that limit the effectiveness of the Alliances armed forces also serve to to prove the point of those who shape conventional wisdom, who always assert that military force is not effective. This is not to say we should be bloody-minded and be indiscriminate. Indeed, the Armed Forces of the West are the most discriminate forces in human history. But warfare is warfare. A deranged mind might conclude therefore that these rules exist to prove the point of those shaping conventional wisdom, who are also the ones prodding for ever more restraint, making it a self-fulfilling prophecy.

The conventional wisdom suggests that an insurgency cannot be militarily defeated, and yet the historical facts belie this. Insurgencies have been defeated militarily: The Philippines, the Malay Insurgency, among others. Even Vietnam: It's no longer even controversial, outside of direct discussions of insurgent warfare in the arena of conventional wisdom, to acknowledge that, after Tet, the Viet Cong ceased to be a viable force, and that the North conquered the south in a classic armored offensive of tank columns and regular troops, rather than any sort of indigenous insurgency in the South. But the converse view is still prevalent in the conventional wisdom on the subject of guerrilla warfare, not because of its historical accuracy, but because of its political utility in present-day policy controversies in the West.

Defeating insurgents requires a combination of strictness, firm rules on the enemy and their sympatizers, not just our own forces, and employment of local troops under western officers, something done in a coy way during the Anbar Awakening (when we paid local militias, thus gaining some influence) as a means of discipline. "Advisor" programs, where Western soldiers mentor local counterparts, are another way of reproducing this in a coy way.

Why it is in the interest of the Western Alliance to enact policies that have the practice not only of tying the hands of their own armed forces, making them less effective, but in practice making warfare less humane on the whole by incentivizing a pattern of warfare by its opponents based on practices that the original drafters of the Geneva Conventions and international law did their best to deincentivize, because of its bloody results, becomes a key question. But a controversial one indeed.

This has to do with conflicts internal to the West itself, as one faction uses its own ability to manipulate procedural outcomes and guide conventional wisdom in order to defeat their domestic political opponents. This has the side-effect of providing the primary power of the insurgents themselves, which is, as mentioned above, primarily political and indirect.

It shouldn't surprise anyone, therefore, when the spokesmen of al Qaeda include in their list of grievances complaints that have a certain sort of resonance and appeal, creating a sort of symbiosis where the insurgent's power is parasitical.

How this works in practice would be inflammatory if put baldly, and require quite a bit of supporting argument, which I will go into in subsequent posts.


Monday, September 21, 2009

You Say You'll Change the Constitution

This is great, in a way. I could think of some, too (repeal the XVII Amendment, for example, and modify the birthright citizenship clause in such a way that people vacationing here or otherwise temporarily here couldn't automatically qualify their children as citizens, perhaps).

But really now: If written Constitutions were followed, Steven Den Beste's amendments wouldn't be necessary in the first place, and wouldn't keep things from falling off the rails again.

Perhaps that's one of the points he's illustrating. Probably 70% of the voting public would agree with 70% (or more) of SDB's proposed Amendments, and yet there is no chance whatsoever that any of them would come close to being put on the agenda for ratification, much less actually become part of the Constitution. What does this tell you? We've drifted rather far from following the Constitution, and those who were up in arms over (supposed/arguable) particular violations of it during the previous Administration are, in general, happy and supportive of our drift away from Constitutional government, and indeed are busy evolving the "living" (which means in practice: dead/undead) Constitution away from the written one.

In practice the U.S. operates under an unwritten Constitution in many respects, and only superficially cleaves to the written one. It's "boob bait for the bubbas", and will remain so as long as Progressives maintain institutional pre-eminence, which they have, regardless of the Party in the White House, since 1933. An illustration of this was when our "legislators" this summer had to sit in folding chairs in the basement of the Capital and learn about "their Bill" from staffers, since legislation is written by the permanent bureaucracy and their allies in the extended civil service (ECS for short, which consists not only of government agencies but also NGOs outside of government, University policy institutes, &tc), and not generally even read by the elected representatives whose only job is to, well, draft, consider, debate, and vote on legislation.

Legislation passed through Congress and signed into law is typically (deliberately) vague, the vagaries given definition by mechanisms of "Administrative Law", and regulations drafted by career civil servants. These are sometimes (when noticed) struggled against by appointees under non-Progressive Administrations, resulting in a firestorm in the Responsible Press® (which is itself part of the ECS). These vagueness of legislation is deliberate because the legislators know what will happen, how the blanks will be filled in, but don't want to be accountable for the result. They can then tell their voters it was impersonal bureaucrats and they'll "look into it" (constituent service), and the beat goes on: The ECS wins coming and going, largely responsible for drafting bills and then filling in the details after passage.

Note: I'm against the death penalty generally, but I would agree with SDB's "Amendment" on it, because, simply reading the plain text of the Constitution, it is Constitutionally permissible. Not every policy one disagrees with is necessarily unconstitutional, nor should they be, and I oppose redefinitions-of-terms-reinterpretation of the Constitution.

It means what it means, and has a mechanism for alteration, which is the one SDB proposes be used to return it to it's original meaning. However, I simply don't think that enacting new Amendments in accordance with the written Constitution to return it to it's original meaning would be an obstacle to those who operate our Unwritten Constitution, since its plain meaning hasn't proven to be an obstacle to them before.


Saturday, September 19, 2009

Indefensible: The Broad Picture

Regarding this swerve in policy, critics may miss the mark. The alternative being swapped in may or may not be better.

The real troubling aspect of this is one that seems to prevail on a lot of the current Administration's policy changes. For all their talk before the election, there seems to be less consultation with allies before anything is done, rather than more. But this should surprise no one.

The U.S. seems to be returning to the position Bernard Lewis once observed as being “harmless as an enemy and treacherous as a friend.”

Given that, the people of Iran will have to free themselves, for no one else will help them.

Before anyone says "well, it was always the case that they would have to free themselves", let us remember that in the long history of such things, no one has done so without significant outside support and encouragement.

Not even the fall of the Eastern Bloc is a counter-example, nor that of Lebanon. Lebanon indeed is illustrative: Their brief dawn of Democracy occurred when there was significant outside pressure on the Syrians (and their proxies). When the support faded, so to did Lebanon's false dawn.

Outside support does not have to be bombs. But it does have to be something more than a handful of half-hearted statements wrung out largely to avoid criticism at home of indifference.

The best bet to end any menace posed by Iran has always been replacement of the current Iranian regime by one more typical of the Persian people. The heavy lifting was always going to have to be done by them, but they need buttresses supporting them from the outside for their efforts to succeed.


Friday, September 18, 2009

In Office, But Not in Power

A good article about conservative government:

The Tory story rarely varies. Whenever the centre-right wins an election, the centre-left allows that its opponents have the office, but denies they have the mandate. They can govern for a term, yes, but only by consensus, not according to their own lights. They may steer the bus to a mutually agreed destination. Driving it along a route of their choice is out of the question.

Majority isn't the issue. The centre-left reminds the centre-right of its inherent lack of mandate as soon as the votes are counted, whether the centre-right's win is a squeak or a landslide. This is especially true in Canada. The amazing thing isn't that the centre-left

makes this declaration -- why shouldn't it? -- but that the centre-right often believes it, or acts as if it did. Majority or minority, Tories tend to govern apologetically, as if they were caretaker governments, probationary constables, relief politicians holding the fort until the real politicians catch their breath and return for the next spell of legitimate centre-left governance.

Some centre-right leaders in the United Kingdom and the United States haven't been as vulnerable to the syndrome of pussyfoot-conservatism as Canada's centre-right leaders. But even the least wobbly, Margaret Thatcher, say, and Ronald Reagan, weren't entirely impervious to it. With all their self-confidence and charisma, Thatcher and Reagan never radiated that cocksure, hubristic aura of self-righteous intellectual and moral conceit that's the hallmark of centre-left leaders from Pierre Elliott Trudeau to Barack Obama.

Simply put, the centre-left feels entitled to govern; the centre-right doesn't. It was instructive, and scary, to watch America's President open a new chapter of regulatory statism in his Wall Street ululation this week. Obama was cooking, laying down the law with entitlement oozing from every pore, in a dazzling, born-to-govern performance.
That one part on center-right leaders in the UK and U.S. may have been true in the 80s, but if one looks at Eisenhower, Nixon, and both Bush the Elder and Bush the Younger, when it comes to domestic policy, how much did they really change? The only real difference was velocity, not direction. Enough for Progressives to hate them, but not enough that Progressives have to re-institute programs "undone" when they get back in office themselves. Even on the regulation front, SarbOx was during the Bush Presidency, and for all the talk of "Deregulation" being the problem, everything they propose is new additional regulations, not re-introduction of regulations repealed under Bush.

It's amazing that, while they flog Bush in public through one tongue, with their other they will say that this or that policy they are pursuing was drawn up & initiated during the Bush Administration (some change, eh?), so what's the problem? This is because the real government, the one that drafts the bills (such as the Stimulus or Congressional version of Health Reform) are the permanent bureaucracy in combination with Pro-Government Activist allies in the Extended Civil Service, ones that call themselves "NGOs" but have more influence over public policy than elected representatives (search phrase "Improper political influence over government decision-making" in the story; note that what makes that story newsworthy is it's considered abnormal and...improper).
Sometimes I worry that everyone else is perfectly normal, and it's actually me who's insane. But then I read the paper and I can relax again.
Note that this situation, of conservative governments being "in office, but not in power", is exactly what Progressives want conservatives to be - see the latest screed by Sam Tanenhaus, discussed here; a kept opposition, impotent and existing only as a foil on the one hand and on the other to cement and ratify whatever the prior Progressive government enacted as "our tradition to conserve":
conservatives, if they wished to maintain that designation (at least in the eyes of liberals), were obliged to endorse all manner of liberal reforms once they were established as part of the new status quo. Thus, self-styled conservatives who attacked the New Deal were not acting like conservatives because they were in effect attacking the established order—and, of course, “real” conservatives would never do that. So it was that conservatives who wished to reverse liberal victories became radicals or extremists. Conservatives, moreover, could have no program of their own or, at any rate, any program that had any reasonable chance of succeeding, because any successful appeal to the wider public would turn them into populists and, through that process, into extremists and radicals. Not surprisingly, they viewed a popular conservatism as a contradiction in terms. Conservatives, in short, could only win power and influence by betraying their principles, and could only maintain those principles by accepting their subordinate status. Thus, in the eyes of the liberal historians, conservatism could never prosper in America because, if it did, it could no longer be called conservatism.
Margaret Thatcher called this the Ratchet Effect.

This problem of conservatism has been observed for a long time:
It may be inferred again that the present movement. . .will certainly prevail from the history of its only opponent, Northern conservatism. This is a party which never conserves anything. Its history has been that it demurs to each aggression of the progressive party, and aims to save its credit by a respectable amount of growling, but always acquiesces at last in the innovation. What was the resisted novelty of yesterday is today one of the accepted principles of conservatism; it is now conservative only in affecting to resist the next innovation, which will tomorrow be forced upon its timidity and will be succeeded by some third revolution; to be denounced and then adopted in its turn. American conservatism is merely the shadow that follows Radicalism as it moves forward towards perdition. It remains behind it, but never retards it, and always advances near its leader. This pretended salt bath utterly lost its savor: wherewith shall it be salted? Its impotency is not hard, indeed, to explain. It is worthless because it is the conservatism of expediency only, and not of sturdy principle. It intends to risk nothing serious for the sake of the truth, and has no idea of being guilty of the folly of martyrdom. It always, when about to enter a protest, very blandly informs the wild beast whose path it essays to stop, that its “bark is worse than its bite,” and that it only means to save its manners by enacting its decent role of resistance. The only practical purpose which it now subserves in American politics is to give enough exercise to Radicalism to keep it “in wind,” and to prevent its becoming pursy and lazy from having nothing to whip. No doubt, after a few years, when [this] shall have become an accomplished fact, conservatism will tacitly admit it into its creed, and thenceforward plume itself upon its wise firmness in opposing with similar weapons the extreme of baby suffrage; and when that too shall have been won, it will be heard declaring that the integrity of the American Constitution requires at least the refusal of suffrage to asses. There it will assume, with great dignity, its final position.
So Cass Sunstein can hope that one day animals will be able to bring suit in civil court.

Now, of course I don't agree with Dabney on the particular subject he was addressing in that passage. Indeed, I have elided over it, and replaced his words with generic terms. This, I suppose, insures that I am not a conservative. Which may be the case (I am a Hayekian, and have in the past called myself a "Hayekian conservative", which is strictly speaking an oxymoron in Hayek's own view).

But the malady Dabney was talking about in meta-terms is certainly a real phenomenon.

The next non-Progressive government ought to be both in office and in power, not simply a caretaker government that gets screamed down for the most trifling tinkering at the edges of the Progressive edifice. It should not simply be a superficial front/foil for the Permanent Party of Government, with policies continuing to be made by the bureaucracy and the opposition-in-office simply ratifying as the new status quo whatever this Administration enacts.



The non-existant. Yet they say the Republicans are the ones with no plan.

More Fact-Checking here.

Then there is here vs AP.

"Fact-Check.org's" effort on the subject was at best a half-hearted "effort", which is one reason it and similar sites are worthless, except for the partisans of the side Annenberg prefers.


The Vision of the Enlightened and the Bureaucratic State

from here

As such critics pointed out, the self-incurred guardians of the Enlightenment took themselves to be the sole judges of enlightenment, the determiners of the true and of the good.
We see incontrovertibly that men who are not themselves in the position to know what is good for them and to strive for it are even less able to owe their well-being to the virtue of a guardian who is without a judge and who will never allow them to achieve maturity. [20]
Herr Jacobi’s words are an epitaph to private freedom that should be inscribed over every door to every parliament in the world; for this self-incurred guardianship has not gone away, but, on the contrary, has grown stronger by the year, as a matter of political freedom; and if you are looking for the roots of that freedom and that seemingly indefatigable confidence of bureaucrats and social reformers by which they presume to meddle in every aspect of your life, you will find it here in self-incurred yet immature guardianship — which has as its ostensible aim your welfare and that of all your fellows.
In all governments there may be odious tyranny, monopolies, exactions, and abominable abuses of nearly all kinds; but the idea of a bureaucracy is not fulfilled till we add the pedantic element of a pretense to direct life, to know what is best for us, to measure out our labor, to superintend our studies, to prescribe our opinions, to make itself answerable for us, to put us to bed, tuck us up, put on our nightcap, and administer our gruel. This element does not seem possible without a persuasion on the part of the governing power that it is in possession of the secret of life, that it has a true knowledge of the all-embracing political science, which should direct the conduct of all men, or at least of all citizens. Hence any government that avowedly sets before its eyes the summum bonum of humanity, defines it, and directs all its efforts to this end, tends to become a bureaucracy. [21]

Returned to Blogging

I got out of the Army in February and have been working part-time at the Post Library since, while readying myself to go back to Uni (btw, anyone want to buy a house in Killeen, TX?) I had effectively stopped blogging in the meantime, but overcome by the urge to comment on current events, and in an effort to cut down on the amount of lengthy mails I was subjecting my friends to, I decided to start posting again, and see if it took.

It seems it has, as I had originally intended to post something maybe once a week, but find myself posting more regularly. So I'm back to blogging.

My ancient, nearly unreadable archives are here. My "Classic Archives" were at www.porphyrogenitus.net, on a professionally-designed (by Sekimori) page, but I let that go a year ago, and for better or worse they are gone. There was some stuff I wish I had salvaged there, amid a bunch of dross, which is one reason why I'm back to a "free" site, at blogspot. Barring the geocitiesization of blogger, these archives won't go away.

Hopefully I'll have some insights, however small, that may be of interest to the occasional reader, should there be any.


Thursday, September 17, 2009

Beware of Political Violence!

Pelosi is concerned:

"I have concerns about some of the language that is being used because i saw this myself in the late '70s in San Francisco, this king of rhetoric. ... It created a climate in which violence took place. ... I wish we would all curb our enthusiasm in some of the statements and understand that some of the ears that it is falling on are not a balanced as the person making the statements may assume."

"You have to take responsibility for any incitement that may cause."
Maybe she's talking about Progressive revolutionary rhetoric in the Bay area during the '70s and the Black Panther's murder of Betty van Patter, among others?

Or perhaps she's talking about people referring to those who disagree with them as engaging in Un-American Activities and implying they are NAZIs, leading to black men being beaten and people getting their fingers bitten off. No doubt Pelosi feels deep responsibility for this.

Or is it another example of the Law of Progressive Consistency in action?


Too Bad Those Racists Are Destroying Civil Discourse, Those Hateful Haters

One rather remarkable part of the late controversy is that, during segments on news programs or stories in the newspapers of the Responsible Press® on the Joe Wilson or 9/12 protests or other opposition to Administration policies, they will switch in one breath from lamenting the decline in civil discourse to hurling around the "racist" epithet.

Not only do they themselves not notice the cognitive disconnect between, on the one hand, calling for better behavior in public debate on the one hand and calling people racists on the other hand, but the rest of us don't overtly make the connection, and call them out on it.

I surmise that this is because Progressive Consistency has been mostly internalized. It is accepted as a given that they will consistently have one standard for themselves and their mascots, and another for their targets and opponents (and anyone else).

The Law of Progressive Consistency, which I first outlined in a mail to Glenn Reynolds states that in any matter of public debate, Progressives (and the Responsible Press®) will consistency apply two standards, one for themselves and their mascots, and another for their targets, opponents, and innocent bystanders. It is improper to see this as hypocrisy, because these standards are rigidly maintained over time and across the board on all issues.

This Law is key to maintaining The Narrative.

See also treatment of the ACORN story, &tc &tc ad infinitum ad nauseum. It is also why Official Journalism does not have a "Liberal Bias" in the way people think. As part of The Movement, it cannot, by definition, be to the left of itself.


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Real ACORN Scandal: The Responsible Press

As another video is released showing ACORN to be what it is, a question of how deep the corruption goes might arise.

As bad as it is for any institution claiming to work on behalf of the needy to be revealed as corrupt, and as bad as it is that this institution was long, under both Democratic and Republican administrations, given public funds with apparently little accountability or even desire for it, there is something worse that has been revealed.

As with the nature of ACORN, this exposure does not come as a surprise to many. But that in itself is appalling. What do I speak of?

It used to be that journalists would run with a good story without fear or favor. Even if they were "scooped" on it. It wasn't long ago that every aspiring member of the Responsible Press® wanted to be the next Woodward & Bernstein, or air a grainy video expose' on 60 Minutes. It is not cuts at newspapers or network news desks that caused this to die. For here is a story given to them on a platter, a juicy story of sex, corruption, and politics. All they had to do was follow it further.

But they show no interest in it whatsoever. There is no member of the Responsible Press® who is interested in the story. Not one. After five days, apparently many know little about it, when their job relies upon them being informed.

The era of Upton Sinclair & "Yellow Journalism" would be better than this. This is what professional journalism has produced, a Responsible Press® that is not "biased", but completely blind in one eye, and that therefore fails catastrophically in its function as a reliable source of information.

ACORN at least is fulfilling it's intended purpose. The same cannot be said of the press corps.

They thus become enablers of corruption, in government and out, rather than watchdogs serving the public, the mantle they claim for themselves.


Racial Unity in Obama's America

The Post-Racial Era is truly underway as this shows.

The Police Captain is backtracking as to whether the attack in the last story was racially motivated. But as Newsweek reports, even your (white) baby is racist.

Probably the White student was thinking 'Boy' as an unspoken word in the air, inciting the attack. Thus the attackers were incited, and thought speech that incites violence is criminal.

Perhaps the White student who was punched back twice as hard by the victims of his insensitivity can still be prosecuted for his Thought Hate Crime. Then the healing can commence, and Americans might one day stop being a nation of cowards on race.

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Glee (Review)

So I watched last week's episode of this show. But before I get to that, are any of you familiar with shows on the Disney Channel? Shows like "That's So Raven" or "Hannah Montana"? I think the Jonas Brothers or some such also have a show there.

There is one commonality to all those shows, at least the parts that I've seen. Even granted that they are children's shows, these shows are bad (and not in the good way). It's hard to tell if the actors are really so horrible as their acting might imply, or if it is just because they are saddled with wretched script writing and even worse directing. These shows usually have an up-beat, positive message, but are embarrassing bad.

What does this have to do with "Glee"? The actors on Glee are handsome (except for furniture-characters) and the girls are pretty. Even the "uncool" protagonist is "Hollywood Homely" - a dark-haired girl to contrast with the blond Heaters, who possibly think she needs to lose 5 pounds and she weighs maybe 115. "Glee" also seems to have a positive moral in each episode, but is the anti-Disney. Here is what I guess happened: Writers and a director, embittered by being rejected by Disney Channel, got together and said to Ryan Murphy "lets put on a show". The result is Glee, the UnDisney.

Which isn't to say it doesn't have a positive message embedded in each episode, an "I learned something today" moral. The one I saw featured the Uncool Protagonist joining a Club run by the Heathers, the "Just Say No" Club or something. The purpose of the scene was so that the Protagonist could deliver the episode's Aesop: She issued a soliloquy to the effect that studies showed that, due to the emotional instability and poor judgement of students educated at public (government) schools, it was unrealistic to expect them to not become crackheads, and that therefore only reasonable thing to do is to give them clean crackpipes and sterile needles, and then she stormed out. Or something like that. I admit I was a bit confused. Anyhow the Jock-Singer who is to be her soulmate had the look worn by "Smell-the-Fart" Actors showing he was thinking about this Aesop. Possibly in a future episode, after he drops his Heather, he and the uncool chick will share a rock together or something.

Well, I doubt it, because usually the Uncool Protagonists in shows like this don't engage in such activities. But they do convince their Glee Club Advisor (or whatnot) to cut out Disco, on the grounds that Disco Sucks, and instead sing something that would appeal to Kanye West, because, of course, he's a genius role model, resulting in a song-and-dance number so horrible, it would embarass the Disney Channel. So the show's meta-message is it's cool to be uncool as long as you're uncool in the way that unfashionable Heathers find objectionable, but you don't want to be uncool in an unfashionable way, you better follow the herd of independent minds and embrace modern muzak.

"Be uncool in fashionable ways, but not in unfashionable ways" isn't nuh of a message, so it's never put forward explicitly. Only by implication, like on most such shows.

Anyhow, "Message" shows, like Disco, usually suck, both in Disney and Anti-Disney varieties. Unless they're cartoons. In which case the message (don't play with dynamite, don't drop anvils from large heights, don't declare war on Bugs Bunny, respect Cartman's authoritah, and whatnot) are sometimes embedded in a well-written, well-directed format.


Monday, September 14, 2009

Robert Conquest's Three Laws of Politics

Robert Conquest's three laws of politics:

1) Everyone is conservative about what he knows best.

2) Any organization not explicitly right-wing sooner or later becomes left-wing.
3) The simplest way to explain the behavior of any bureaucratic organization is to assume that it is controlled by a cabal of its enemies.
To the third can be added Pournelle's Iron Law of Bureaucracy:
In any bureaucratic organization there will be two kinds of people: those who work to further the actual goals of the organization, and those who work for the organization itself. Examples in education would be teachers who work and sacrifice to teach children, vs. union representative who work to protect any teacher including the most incompetent. The Iron Law states that in all cases, the second type of person will always gain control of the organization, and will always write the rules under which the organization functions.


Friday, September 11, 2009

09/11/09: Moral Clarity and Cultural Fog

This is a day where the appropriate thing to do is make a rousing post, a post reminding us of our spirit, our determination. This day is for fulsome, Whittlesque posts about the indomitable, stalwart nature of the average American, regardless of their race, creed, sex, or ethnicity, be they native-born, like Todd Beamer, or be they immigrants like Rick Rescorla. That the heroes of of that day embodied this - personified it, exemplified it, displayed all of the best of what it means to be an American and how we can and should keep the flame, ever resolute.

What is left to be said?

Some time ago, on my other blog, now vanished in the sands of time, I had a 9-11 retrospective post that, to the best of my own poor ability, encapsuled the above.

In these times a prospective might be in order. It may be optimistic: The era of large-scale Islamic terror is coming to an end. It may be pessimistic: This is not because Bush defeated terror, or because Obama will have shown the world a better face, causing our foes to lay down their bombs.

If anything, it is for the same reason that Billy Ayers, Laura Whitehorn, Mark Rudd, and LeRoi Jones (AKA Amiri Baraka) layed down their pipebombs. Not because they were defeated. Not because they changed their mind, asking for forgiveness and redemption. Only because other avenues for advancing the same goals had opened up to them.

The "Long March Through the Institutions" is a path well-trod. Already extremist voices of this ilk are welcomed on college campii, in media as the legitimate voice of their world, and the fallacy of redressing grievances, "understanding" and "outreach", the same methods that are practiced with all mascots (but never targets), that of empowerment. A word that, yes, means what it means.

It is the true moderate voices in Islam, secularizing, liberal-minded, who have been neglected. Throughout the West "authentic" is presumed to be the bearded Saudi-trained Madrassa head, or the polemical intellectual. The Nedas of the world they would prefer to ignore, and will seek to forget. That is obvious. These are the fruits of multiculturalism. The inevitable fruits of the last "Long March Through the Institutions," come to apotheosis at last.

So what is to be said? I could repost the images that we all thought would be seared into our minds. I could, perhaps, quote Andrew Sullivan saying that things had changed forever, something I did not believe at the time, though I was then an admirer of his writing. To do that would only highlight how...untransformed...things are. "Moral clarity" has been lost in the cultural fog.

But what was an inattentive drift over the last eight years has become a purposeful stride.


Thursday, September 10, 2009

I Feel Utter Contempt

This reminds me of this, from "Ethics in America", which I watched in the '80s. Be sure to at least see the money quote, though you're not doing it justice if you miss the exchange that went before (which is in the longer excerpt).

Fact Check

For thee, but not for we:

It is telling that so many people who claim to be speaking on the side of Truth, Justice, and the American Way of Journalism have consistently focused their outrage-o-meters at individual townhall attendees, political broadcast entertainers, and the lesser lights of a lame (if resurgent-by-default) opposition party, while letting walk nearly fact-check-free the non-irrelevant occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. If calling out lies and misrepresentations about a significant policy proposal is such pressing journalistic business—and it should be!—you'd think the watchdogs might start with the guy doing the proposing.
As with all their other standards, The Movement, which includes the responsible press, is very consistent. They have one for themselves and their mascots, and another for their opponents and targets.

So it is not outside of their norms that they "fact check" one side to niggling detail, and elide over - indeed rationalize and put the best face upon - the other. It's only natural to favor one's own side, giving it the benefit of the doubt, while searching for fault (even where there might be none, putting the worst of all interpretations upon it) in what one's opponents say.


Tom Friedman: "Slavery is Freedom. Freedom is Slavery"

While quotting Joe Romm (scroll) as some sort of impartial observer, Tom Friedman calls for a One-Party State while claiming to desire the opposite:

Our one-party democracy is worse. The fact is, on both the energy/climate legislation and health care legislation, only the Democrats are really playing. With a few notable exceptions, the Republican Party is standing, arms folded and saying “no.”
So an opposition party that dissagrees with and opposes makes for a "one-party democracy". Oddly, hundreds of years of Anglosphere parliamentary tradition might suggest otherwise, but who are they to disagree with the enlightened majesty of Tom Friedman? Burke, Palmerston, Gladstone, morons!

Hillary once said "we have a right to debate and disagree with any administration", but since the election the entire Progressive movement has been modifying that to mean "as long as it's a Republican Administration". Disagreeing with, debating, a Progressive one is being "divisisive". As Obama himself keeps reminding us, the time for talk - for debate - is over. So who is really advocating a one-party state here?

No one should be surprised that Friedman is in favor of the Permanent Party of Government. What he wants is a two-party one-party state, where politics will be separated from public policy, and no one will get in the way of implementing the vision.

Note the disingenuity Friedman must display in the column, sending reams of information down the memory hole, in order to construct his straw man thesis. One that will be lapped up and repeated by progressives everywhere.

Friedman of course thinks he is clever here. He relies upon cleverness masquerading as insight. One day he woke up and decided it would make a clever column to claim America is a one-party state because the opposition party opposes, and only by going along with the Permanent Party of Government, and ceasing to resist it in any way, can it escape this opprobrium. Then he designed a column around the clever double-phrase (Friedman loves such), introducing only what supported the turn-of-phrase and eliding over anything that might contradict it. With public intellectuals like these, who needs simpletons?

We live in an Orwellian kultursmog. Perhaps Friedman thinks that if we adopt Chinese methods of dealing with political opposition, then we will escape the trap of being a "one party democracy".

See also here:
Rarely, however, has he been quite so clear about the directness of the connections he sees between his preferred set of substantive outcomes; his contempt for American democratic processes that have, despite all, managed to hang in there for, I don't know, a few times the length of time between the Cultural Revolution and today; and his schoolgirl crush on autocratic elites because they are able to impose from above.

Let me just say for the record that this is a monstrous column. When faced with American public defection from elite-preferred outcomes on certain policy issues that involve many difficult tradeoffs of the kind that democracies, with much jostling and argument, are supposed to work out among many different groups, Friedman extols the example of ... China's political system, because it's both enlightened and autocratic? Who among us knew?
and here:
Thomas Friedman, golden boy of the NYT op-ed page, is writing love-letters to dictatorships because they have the foresight to invest in electric batteries and waterless toilets or something.

This is the argument for an "economic dictatorship" pushed by Stuart Chase and the New Dealers. It's the dream of Herbert Croly and a great many of the Progressives.
and one more:
The next time anyone tries to tell you that Thomas L. Friedman is a serious thinker, or a tribune for global democracy, or even a good columnist, or basically someone who isn't worth sending on the next slow boat to Shanghai, please refer him to this despicable column
Just to be even more dumfounding, Friedman wonders in the column why Republicans aren't gung ho for unrestricted immigration, because they're supposed to be in the pockets of big business and all.

Friedman seems to want desperately to confirm that Moldbug is right about Progressivism:
The whole point of electing Democrats is to allow the permanent government to do its thing. When you vote for a Democrat, you are saying: I am tired of politics. I am loyal to the permanent government and trust in its prudent guidance

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Wednesday, September 09, 2009

My Simple Plan to Fix Everything Forever

Obama will weigh in with his tonight, so, despite the fact that I don't plan for this to be an activist blog, it's only fair that I put forward my own plan, if only for comparative purposes. What is being compared? General outlook and political philosophy. Note that, in this, Obama and the Progressive movement he is part of isn't so different from their Republican opponents. Because most of the latter would not follow a plan like this either.

But first: Some in the press, when they are made to talk about "liberal media bias", say that doesn't exist, that if there is a bias, it is a bias to "do something". No guesses needed as to who they think the doer should be (it isn't the independent platoons of civil society). It's the government, and, more specifically, the Federal Government.

A vision shared by Progressives everywhere. One rebuttal to this is Frederick Douglass' (not my plan, mind):

I have had but one answer from the beginning. Do nothing with us! Your doing with us has already played the mischief with us. Do nothing with us!
When it comes to health care, or banking, or education, aspects of this certainly apply: Quite frequently it was the previous round of "reforms" that led to the "need" for yet another (health insurance/coverage being just one prime example; see also "Campaign Finance Reform"), in the usual pattern wherein our wise rulers create a problem, and then appoint themselves to fix it, a pattern which has gone on for a century and more now, leading by gradual stages to a situation where "accountability" now means a people accountable to its government, rather than the other way around.

But I am, by nature, a moderate person, ever open to compromise and consensus. So here is my Simple Plan to Fix Everything Forever.

Congress, and the Federal Government more generally, has one region in the country that it constitutionally administers, that it is constitutionally responsible. That is the District of Columbia.

If these Solons really can fix anything, they should be able to demonstrate that they can do it in the District of Columbia.

If they can fix Health Care, and provide it to all with a full range of options, that insures everyone, providing quality private and public insurance to all citizens while also controlling cost but not limiting quality of care, as they claim they will, then let them demonstrate they can do it in DC first. Given that the "reforms" they plan to enact are not intended to be fully implemented till after the next Presidential election (my, what a coincidence. I'm sure it has nothing to do with electoral considerations. Obama said he wouldn't do anything based on mere politics, after all), there is certainly time for a demonstration project.

If they can fix Primary and Secondary Education, let them prove it in DC first. Noting that DC's public schools are not underfunded. They have among the highest per student spending in the nation. But if they can fix it with money alone, let them fix it with money alone in DC first. If they can fix it by some other method or combination of methods, let them prove it in DC first.

And so on down the list of "public policy" proposals. Let them demonstrate that they succeed in DC, before imposing upon everyone.

If your reaction is "well, the residents of the District of Columbia don't deserve to be experimented on in such a fashion", that applies to all of us, not just the decent people of DC.

And, if they cannot do for the District of Columbia, then we shall follow Frederick Douglass' proposal.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

History in Amber

Many people often wonder how so many of the great and the good could have been so blind as to swoon for dictators during the 20s and 30s.

Well, related to this post in Italy today, one can watch the fashionable, enlightened, intelligent, Progressive people fete a national socialist (Chavez is a socialist. Chavez is a nationalist. Therefore, Chavez is a national socialist, like so many other strongmen who were celebrated by Progressives in their time for going on a century now). History repeating itself as farce, like deja vu all over again, because they neither forget nor learn from the past.

Of course, all these people are in favor of freedom of expression, but so long as it's those they don't identify with who are being cracked down upon, they are happy to cheer and rationalize a repression.

Of course, not to be outdone, Michael Moore has a new propaganda flick, too, which, with past experience as our guide, we can say with confidence will bear as much resemblance to reality as Stone's. But these poor cottage filmmakers are up against a mighty machine of right-wing dominance.


Resistance is Futile

So, Van Jones resigned and concerned citizens are rightly taking credit, while others plot their revenge.

Two questions:

1) Will the person the Administration appoints be substantively different from Mr. Jones?

2) What do you think the narrative of this will be in 30 days, if not less?
I think the answers are obvious, given that the well-informed segment of the population, which depends upon the Responsible Press for information, is and will remain clueless about what was really going on here. This is because the problem is much larger than what you imagine it to be.

Two things will happen. First, a narrative will be constructed - is already be constructed - by the Responsible Press that Mr. Jones was a victim of a vicious, unprincipled right-wing hit. The well-informed will accept it uncritically and tame in-house Conservatives, like David Brooks, will "concede" there is "something to that." They will consider this an "ugly episode" that distracted from serious public policy conversations.

Second, when the Administration, either through it's next "Green Jobs Czar" or not, advances the identical policies that they would have if Jones were still in the seat, if anyone resists, the cry will be "See? You won't compromise! You're hard-liners. We got rid of Jones for you, and still you reject any bipartisan effort in enacting these vital policies!"

Van Jones was at least a known quantity. It might have been easier to thwart the substance of the policies they want if he had stayed on. Getting rid of him is surely an accomplishment, of sorts. But really in the great scheme of things, it is small beer. If this is the height of triumph for opponents of Progressivism, they're in a sorry state indeed.

Update, 09/09/09: NYT writing the narrative

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Wednesday, September 02, 2009

The Right to Not Participate

Peter Hitchens writes:

But who should we vote for? Oh, honestly, why do people bleat so? Why do people insist on having someone to vote 'for'? If there is nobody standing who is 'for' you, why on earth should you vote 'for' them? Voting isn't a sacrament or a magical moment. It's a choice. And if there is no choice, why accept this insult by cooperating in the pretence. The right not to vote is just as valuable as the right to vote, as anyone who has lived in a dictatorship can tell you.
(Emphasis added).


The Smart Side

Progressive Congresswoman Diane Watson puts Castro back in the news (not really - this unhappened in the eyes of the responsible press. Only irresponsible ideologues find things like this noteworthy):

And you know, the Cuban revolution that kicked out the wealthy, Che Guevara did that, and then, after they took over, they went out among the population to find someone who could lead this new nation, and found…well, just leave it there (laughs), an attorney by the name of Fidel Castro…
I wonder if this display of ignorance will be ripped on by Bill Maher, John Stewart, and Stephen Colbert, FactChecked by the organs of FactCheckery, or otherwise analyzed, or if it's just "boys will be boys", "aw, don't take it so seriously", or, even better, the reaction will be "you are a McCarthyite for highlighting it". After all, they're starting to look into Un-American Activities as we speak, so one can never be too careful about resurgent McCarthyism, can we?

Shall we set aside the bogus history and ask why it is that most people have less of an emotionally hostile reaction to dictators of the left than they do of those on the right? Why it's acceptable within fashionable, enlightened society to admire Castro, but not Pinochet?

Abnormal is the person who sees them in the same light. I'm abnormal, because my reaction to murderous dictators is the same, regardless of whether they are of the right or the left. But most fashionable people have a far more hostile reaction to, say, Warren Harding and Calvin Coolidge than they do to the Castro brothers, though one pair is a present problem and the others...not.

Most of what educated people "know" about Cuban health care, for example, is a Potemkin deciet, which they fall for just as useful idiots of the 30s did for the original (more here and here and here). Progressives are like the Bourbons of old: They forget nothing, and learn nothing from history, but flatter themselves endlessly about how much more intelligent and better informed they are than those who disagree with them. (Correction: I was overly generous, as Rep. Watson herself demonstrates, many of them know nothing of history, they believe a tissue of falsehoods).
Why is it that the great and the good want to believe the misinformation of certain dictators, but will readily be hostile to others?

This is a very important question. So important, I'll address it in a future post, or posts.


Tuesday, September 01, 2009

De Administrando

In correspondence to someone last week I wrote to the effect that, in taking prescriptive action, you can't just enact a policy and say "well, I applied the Rawlsian Standard", and then just walking away (or administer it) and be satisfied.

Usually we think that if someone does something and then just walks away it is irresponsible. But when it comes to policies, ones that are administrated are more often worse, and are much are harder to get rid of. This is because they have a built-in constituency: Those within government who administer it, and those (technically) outside government, in NGOs &tc, that swarm like pilot fish around any government activity, advocating more, and getting both private donations and budget line-items based on their "advocacy" of it.

Programs whose only constituencies are their intended beneficiaries are very easy to get rid of, even if they are successful. Perhaps especially if they are a success, if only because they threaten to upset the apple cart and cause it to crash down upon people's rice bowls.

Perhaps this is why most of the policies enacted over the last 80 years have been "administered", rather than just involving cutting people a check, and the vast majority of the ones enacted over the last 40 are, even though they usually degenerate into boondoggles even if they do not start out that way. Thus most proposals will remain subtextually titled "The Social Worker Full Employment Act of 2008" or "Educrat Job Security Bill of 2011".

Government is not a charity, but tends to crowd out and/or corrupt ones that are (beguiling them away from directly assisting those in need to increasingly "advocating", that is, petitioning for government programs). They transform over time from being intermediary institutions of true civil society to "NGOs" - "Non" added to remind us, lest we forget, that they are not government agencies themselves, they're simply pro-government activists, "advocacy" groups seeking expanded government. Often their members think of themselves as outsiders struggling against The Man, but they're really advocating an increase in his sway.

See also "Community Organizing" and similar activities, along with anything that seeks "funding" or involves grant proposals.


Iconodules for Iconoclasm

The world is full of Iconodules posing as Iconoclasts.
This phrasing it is uncharitable because they sincerely perceive themselves to be iconoclastic, making it more of a mass intellectual tragedy than any kind of wicked subterfuge.

If one is going to go after sacred cows, one should really go after sacred cows. Most of the people in today who get credit for "going after sacred cows" are just going after unfashionable ones. At least ones that are unfashionable in the circles they want to appeal to. Many of them practice the respected art of speaking power to truth.

Likewise, most people who get credit for "thinking for themselves" in today's world are simply being praised for parroting fashionable tropes or for "questioning" the same norms the fashionable have been flogging for the last fourty or fifty years.

I can't claim to be an original thinker, but I do strive to think, and synthesize what I find to be valuable.