- The Secret Knowledge—Saturday, February 22nd, 2014
Nothing is free. Everything is a trade—everything is a compromise. The error of the left is a deliberate ignorance that short term actions have long term consequences. And, more generally, a deliberate refusal to accept the concept of cause and effect. Leftists go out of their way to show the corruptibility of politicians—and then argue in favor of giving government more power.
You can ask, after all, that politicians render competing claims for state benevolence with “fairness” but,
The politicians and bureaucrats discriminating between claims will necessarily favor those redounding to their individual or party benefit—so the eternal problem of “Fairness,” supposedly solved by Government distribution of funds, becomes, yet again and inevitably, a question of graft.
More specifically, fairness to the left is not fairness of law, but fairness of outcome regardless of law; the former can be set and applied equally, but the second requires a “politician or bureaucrat” to discriminate between claims based on the sentiment of the case at hand. He analogizes to sports, where,
The job of the referee, like that of the courts, is to ensure that the rules have been obeyed. If he rules, in a close case, sentimentally, he defrauds not only one of the two teams, but, more importantly, the spectators. The spectators are funding the match. As much as they enthuse over their favorite team, their enthusiasm is limited to that team’s victory as per the mutually understood rules. (Who in Chicago exulted over the triumph of the 1919 Black Sox?)
The product for which the spectators are paying is a fair contest, played out according to mutually understood and agreed-to rules. For though it seems they are paying to see success, they are actually paying for the ability to exercise permitted desire, and so are cheated, even should their team win, if the game is fixed. To fix the game for money is called corruption, to fix the game from sentiment is called Liberalism.
What greater act of colonialism than to bind a segment of our own population to shame and poverty through government subsidy and by insistence that they be judged by lower standards than the populace-at-large?
- Trevor Fry’s Natchez Trace photo—Tuesday, January 28th, 2014
This comes from Trevor Fry.
My son, Adam, is doing research with the hopes of installing a historical marker regarding the Nightriders and the old wagon road they haunted, the El Camino Real/Harrisonburg Road.
Last summer we traveled with Dr. Frank Mobley from the ferry crossing at Little River all the way to the ferry crossing at Red River, and soaked up all of the Nightrider sights we could along the way. Last week we took a photo of the old wagon road after a snow fall which really shows the contours of the sunken trace.
Part of the above is from his email, and part from his comment in the original Nightriders book review.
I think a historical marker along the trace is a great idea.
- Front Row at the White House—Saturday, January 18th, 2014
Helen Thomas worked at United Press International for most of this book, contrary to Walter Cronkite’s early advice in A Reporter’s Life that UPI expected its reporters to move on once they became successful.
She left her job with UPI on May 17 2000 when it was purchased by News World Communications, then also the owner of the Washington Times. That was about a year after finishing this book. She then denounced the last fifty years of her life, presumably including this book, as having been self-censored. In 2002, she said in a speech at MIT, that “I censored myself for 50 years when I was a reporter. Now I wake up and ask myself, ‘Who do I hate today?’”
Hate was her final undoing. Her solution to war in the Middle East was the destruction of Israel and sending Israelis back to whence they came—Poland and Germany were her examples.
The only clue to that worldview in evidence here, in her self-censored 1999, is her inability to draw conclusions from multiple events in sequence. What really stands out to me in this autobiography is that she doesn’t seem to make any big connections; things happen because they are events worth reporting on, not because actions lead to consequences, nor because principle leads to action.
After reading Front Row At The White House, I can believe that she really didn’t make any connection between the concentration camps in Poland and the Jewish exodus to Israel. To her, they could have been simply isolated events. This was how she was able to maintain her leftist worldview over decades covering the White House—by never connecting events, such as LBJ’s Great Society, with results—the vast expansion in poverty among blacks in inner cities.
- Stride by Stride—Thursday, December 12th, 2013
“People bite, put your faith in horses.”—Kaylee Powers
- A Reporter’s Life—Tuesday, November 12th, 2013
Cronkite starts his life story in Moscow, in 1948. He worked for UPI. He tells us that his wife took a job with the US embassy while they were there, but,
Although my United Press salary wasn’t exactly munificent, it wasn’t the extra income that attracted her to this job. It was more a matter of necessity to keep us fed.
He then explains how they had to buy food just as other Muscovites did, which is to say, through Soviet food rations and what little they could acquire through the Soviet markets. Only on the next page does he explain that “not for the money but to keep us fed” meant that the embassy provided their employees with food from the states. They did not provide this food to private citizens in Moscow, something he still holds against them:
The only other Americans living in Moscow were the eight news correspondents, but the State Department, in its bureaucratic wisdom, determined it would somehow violate its sacred rules to take care of us as well.
I can understand the desire to be taken care of by one’s government, but it’s a little ironic that, seeing how poorly the Soviet system worked, he wanted the US to emulate it for him. He doesn’t claim to have asked UPI to provide some of his pay in the form of care packages; the government should have provided.
Cronkite then returns to his formative years in Kansas City, Missouri. About his high school mentor, Houston journalist Fred Birney, Cronkite writes:
Birney, as far as I know, was never taught to teach. His strength was in his deep practical knowledge of his subject, his love of it, and his intense desire to communicate that knowledge and that love to others. That must be the secret of all great teachers, and the shame is that there are probably thousands of them out there who are denied a chance to practice that talent because of crowded facilities, disciplinary overload and stultifying work rules imposed by bureaucratic administrations and selfish unions.
After newspaper work in Houston, he went to work as the news staff of a Kansas City radio station. Here, he was also shanghaied by the police to take part in vote fraud for Kansas City’s Boss Pendergast, voting at least twice when they drove him to the polling place and gave him the name of the people he was voting as each time.
And then he goes to World War II, where his anecdotes read even more like urban legends; having read the entire book, I’m still not sure I trust them.
- The Prince of Darkness—Saturday, September 7th, 2013
Of all of the memoirs I’ve read for the tDoPB project, The Prince of Darkness made me most want to meet the author. He gets his name from his supposedly pessimistic personality, though it doesn’t show through in the book, at least toward the end. And, while Novak doesn’t say it, it appears that it partially comes from his “swarthy” appearance. Back in the 1968 Humphrey campaign, Rolling Stone reporter Tim Crouse wrote that Novak was
…short and squat, with swarthy skin, dark gray hair, a slightly rumpled suit, and an apparently permanent scowl. He kept his hands in his pockets and looked at the floor. Some of the other reporters pointed him out and whispered about him almost as if he were a cop come to shush up a good party.
“Novak looks evil,” said a gentle, middle-aged Timesman.
Novak talks about the early years on the campaign beat as a blast, “a poker game most nights, and drinking around the clock.” But you certainly can come out this book thinking that life sucks in DC. Friendships do not easily survive this town in Novak’s telling. Sometimes it has to happen: when there’s a special prosecutor looking into who you talked to and what you said to them, the person you actually did talk to is probably going to be under orders from their lawyers not to add to the list (Karl Rove).
Others are less necessary, such as co-workers who either disagree with your politics or who choose to use your misfortune to further their standing (James Carville).
I have also learned that there are two kinds of restaurants in DC: restaurants where you want to be seen, and restaurants where you do not want to be seen. The former are divided into those frequented by lobbyists and politicians, and those frequented by journalists and politicians. When Rowly Evans wanted to talk to Novak about doing a column together,
He picked Blackie’s House of Beef, an inexpensive steak house frequented by government workers. For one of Washington’s upscale journalists to pick such a downscale place suggested he did not want us to be seen by anybody he knew.
- The Vision of the Anointed—Friday, August 9th, 2013
Thomas Sowell’s Vision of the Anointed is Sowell’s attempt to explain what, to rational outside observers, appears to be the irrational behavior of politicians and social leaders. They implement programs to fix problems, the problems grow worse under the solutions even in defiance of predictions of doing nothing—and they expand the programs. As if they believe doing the same thing harder won’t have the effect of even further exacerbating the problem.
Sowell’s thesis is that this is just what they believe. That rather than believing in a world of systemic processes—logic and science—the political elite believe in a world of intentions and anointed heroes—a world, in other words (not Sowell’s), of magic and sorcery. In this world where intentions have physical effects upon the world, their intentions are good, while the intentions of their enemies—the benighted—are bad. This is by definition: their intentions are, by definition, good, and so anyone who disagrees with them is, by that same definition, bad.
Thus, when a well-intentioned program fails to achieve its stated goals, this is not, to the anointed, a refutation of a testable theory, but proof of the interference of evil intentions.
One of my favorite quotes is George Bernard Shaw’s about the “unreasonable man”:
The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.—George Bernard Shaw (Man and Superman)
This is a thrilling view of the world. It succinctly encapsulates the vision of the anointed: that there is a small band of special people whose intentions change the world.
Let’s apply Shaw’s statement to some specific part of the world, however:
The reasonable man adapts to gravity; the unreasonable one persists in trying to change the laws of gravity.
- San Diego Saudade Con—Wednesday, July 17th, 2013
I was feeling a little bit of it today as I biked into work on the opening day of the San Diego Comic-Con. The shuttle signs are up, the traffic’s building, and I’m going to work. I even had tickets, but decided a few months ago to sell them back, both to get a little extra money and because it’s become progressively less enjoyable.
In other words, it’s not as fun as it used to be.
I think one of the catalysts was going to ComicFest last year. My first comic-con was 1989; I was living in Hollywood going to guitar school, and had friends in San Diego. I’d visit them occasionally because it was easier to get to the beach by going to San Diego than it was to navigate traffic west to Los Angeles’s beaches. One summer weekend visit, I mentioned to one of my friends that there was this really big comic book convention in San Diego—he should find out when it is, and we should go.
This was before the Internet was big enough that you could just go online and find everything. You had to search it out. So I didn’t find out until I was back in Los Angeles on Monday, when I got a phone call from him that the convention was the very next weekend, do you want to go? This was one of the summers of Ninja Turtle Mania, and the Turtles themselves were showing up; one of my apartment-mates in Los Angeles was a huge fan, so we had to go. Walked up to the doors at the San Diego Concourse Convention and Performing Arts Center, bought our tickets, and went in. There were, according to Wikipedia, 11,000 people that year.
Within a couple of years I was meeting three groups of people: Usenet junkies, academics, and indie folks (due partly to having been to the much tinier Small Press Expo in Bethesda, Maryland, in 1995 or so). I heard about the Comic Arts Conference in its second year, 1993, when it was still off-site at the Horton Grand.
I’m definitely going to miss the Comic Arts Conference. Even as Comic-Con became a sea of insanity, CAC remained an island of calm.