Mimsy Were the Borogoves

Editorials: Where I rant to the wall about politics. And sometimes the wall rants back.

Barbarism and the Global Village—Wednesday, December 5th, 2018

Bill Moyers once joked that:

It strikes me that Marshall McLuhan was right when he said that television has made a global village of the world… but he didn’t know the global village would be Beirut. — Bill Moyers (The Power of Myth)

The same could be said of the European Union in general and open borders globalization in particular: that rather than advancing civilization or even merely leveling civilization to a global average, their policy of destroying national identity and national sovereignty undercuts the foundations of civilization and collapses it to the lowest common denominator.

The lowest common denominator is mobs, violence and murder as a response to disagreements. That this resembles the barbarism that refugees want sanctuary from is no coincidence. By making no attempt to sort refugees from thugs, we’re providing no refuge to refugees. We’re abandoning them to the thugs they’re fleeing.

The cynic who wrote that progressives hate civilization might argue that this is the purpose of open borders. Thomas Sowell might argue that its proponents simply can’t perceive—it cannot penetrate their worldview—that a policy with such good intentions could have such evil results.

Whether they are willfully or congenitally ignorant, the fact remains that the more we dismantle the nation-state in favor of non-existent borders, the more civilization suffers and the more it must suffer. Without national pride, there is no reason to maintain the foundations of the nation, even the good foundations such as democracy, freedom of speech, and the rule of law. These are the values of civilization, and they are not shared by all cultures. Most of them are unnatural values. They must be taught.

Democracy asserts the value of freedom; identity gives a reason for freedom… At stake is not only what your life is like but what your life is for… Without identity, a democracy becomes incapable of defending even the values it holds most dear. — Natan Sharansky (Defending Identity)

Has Trump forced the media into a Kobayashi Maru?—Wednesday, November 14th, 2018
Kobayashi Journalism

The news media would like to tell you that they’re sorry they have to lie so often, but Trump is forcing their hand. The latest iteration of this devil-made-me-do-it excuse comes from Ezra Klein at Vox.com; I saw it reposted on Facebook with the comment:

This makes way too much sense. In addition to the headline, it also covers the implications of both doing so and the methods being used to do so.

Klein himself writes, in the article, about “The media’s lose-lose situation”. He says the media can’t win because whenever they report on the horrible things Trump does, Trump gets to point at them and call them fake news. How can they extricate themselves from this Kobayashi Maru?1 By not reporting on Trump? He’s the president, they have to report on him!

What Klein is ignoring is why people believe Trump when he calls them fake news. If CBS hadn’t run with obviously faked documents about George Bush; if NBC hadn’t doctored the Zimmerman 911 call to the opposite of reality; if CNN and MSNBC newscasters didn’t get angry when obvious mobs were called mobs, then Trump’s claims that the major outlets create fake news would not stick.

If they weren’t even now arguing that tweeting about baseball and bad hair days is a secret code to white nationalists, or saying incredibly stupid and/or hypocritical things like “We have to stop demonizing people and realize the biggest terror threat in this country is white men, most of them radicalized to the right, and we have to start doing something about them.” then Trump wouldn’t be able to convince voters that the media is in opposition not just to the truth but are in fact an opposition party. They are actively manipulating their coverage as if they were Democrat operatives rather than news reporters.

This article itself is a case in point. Trump is “proto-fascist”, and only Fox News is called out for being a “propagandistic outlet”, not CNN (“the biggest terror threat in this country is white men”) or MSNBC (“baseball tweets are secret codes to white nationalists”).

Abraham Lincoln’s conservative principles—Monday, November 5th, 2018

This election is exactly 158 years from Abraham Lincoln’s election as United States President—on November 6, 1860. Sometimes it seems as though our United States are as disunited now as they were then.

I’ve been slowly reading through Abraham Lincoln’s letters and speeches, and one of the really striking things about them is how durable the basic tenets of conservative political thought have been. The right of people to be just left alone whether you agree with them or not; the necessity of equality under the law; the right each individual has to the fruits of their own labor. This would not have been called conservative at the time, as the labels we apply to political movements have changed since then. But they are clearly the conservative philosophy as we now understand it, and were the bedrock of Lincoln’s political philosophy.

Just as striking is how alien these principles were to the enemies of conservative thought, to the beltway class. If you thought slavery was wrong, you believed in setting the slave over the non-slave. If you disagreed that slavery should spread, your disagreement was the same as—or worse than—violence. And if you believed that everyone had the right to the fruits of their own labor, you were a hypocrite who believed that the national government should regulate everything from cranberries in Maine to oysters in Virginia.

There was no sane common ground with the Democrat’s leadership then just as there isn’t now. If you’re not for banning effective self-defense, they say, you’re for blood in the streets. If you’re not for government control over health care and doctors, you’re for bodies piling up in inner cities. There is no understanding of the universal benefits of a democratic republic, of letting people buy, sell, and work the way they want, of ensuring that the law is simple, understandable, and evenly applied, of just letting people be.

Equality of opportunity, as we call it today, simply didn’t register with the Democrat leadership then any better than it registers with them today. As soon as Lincoln talked about equality of opportunity, Douglas heard equality of outcome. Equality of opportunity was so alien, then as now, that they simply couldn’t understand what Lincoln was saying.

I’m pretty sure this has not been the case uninterrupted between then and now. I’m pretty sure JFK, for example, was neither a Stephen Douglas nor an Elizabeth Warren.

The cyclic transmogrification of the Republican Party—Wednesday, September 26th, 2018
Lincoln: half slave and half free

“[They will allow us peace only] if we will all stop and allow Judge Douglas and his friends to… plant the institution [of slavery] all over the nation…”

Following the election of a “coarse”, “vulgar clown” of a Republican, “a man of no intelligence”, to the presidency, establishment politicians got together in Washington to save the policies he threatened to destroy. Republicans were begged by a tearful resistance—and establishment—to betray the extremists who elected them. Many Republicans listened more to the establishment than to the voters who elected them. Republicans loyal to the President feared—and Democrats and establishment Republicans hoped—that the electoral college would interfere and block this radical “ignoramus” from the White House. “Wise statesmen” reminded the Republican president-elect that he had been elected without a majority of votes cast and implored him to maintain the policies of his Democrat predecessor.

Mobs ruled the streets protesting the election. The country was as literally divided as it could ever be.

The year was 1860; the candidate was our first Republican president, Abraham Lincoln. And the Democrat’s policy that the DC establishment tried to save was slavery. Republicans who opposed slavery were disparagingly called “ultras” by the DC establishment. That is, extremists, outside the pale of cultured Washington. When real extremists had earlier raided Harper’s Ferry in then-Virginia, the Democrats and their press tried to pin the violence on Republicans.1

The resistance outside of the government did their best to undermine the new administration. Copperheadism flourished in “areas that had been solidly in favor of the Democrats… treasonous activities of all kinds were prevalent in these sections.”2

And the deep state resistance within the government? They did whatever they could to undermine the new president, even going as far as to “strip Northern armories by sending materials of war into the South…”.3

Small towns, big government—Wednesday, September 12th, 2018
Baroque Obama: Let them eat cities

Last week’s post reminded me about something I’ve been wanting to say about dying small towns. Every once in a while the argument comes up that if there are no jobs in your town, you should move to where there are jobs. And if your small town has no jobs, then it should die.

This is grossly hypocritical when it comes from modern pundits and politicians. It is a tacit acceptance of big, intrusive government. It is government regulations that mean fewer and fewer jobs in small towns. It is government mandates that make it deadly for businesses to hire people nearby even though businesses would by far prefer nearer workers to overseas workers. The reason small towns increasingly resemble inner cities is because the same problem affects both: an inability to overcome the barriers that Washington (and cities run by Democrats) put up against starting and running small businesses. Small towns were more resilient because they were further from the nutty regulations of Democrat-run cities, but the way federal regulations force small-town businesses to close is the same as how they forced inner-city businesses to close.

It is critical to realize that this affects all small businesses, not just small businesses in small towns and dangerous neighborhoods. The longer the problem goes on, the closer we get to the kind of science fiction dystopia of big-business arcologies and monolithic multinationals.

The more expensive and difficult we make it to start a business, the more this becomes only feasible in cities—and only for those with the resources to start big. The more expensive and difficult it is to start a business, the more customers you need to make it profitable, and the more bureaucracy navigators you need to literally keep yourself out of jail. Both customers and extraneous expertise are more common in cities than out of them.

People should not have to leave their home towns to start businesses that create jobs. But if they want to keep from breaking the complex laws that surround running a business, they need to hire tax experts, legal experts, human resource experts, and health coverage experts. And probably more experts I'm not even thinking of.

How the left bribes big business—Wednesday, September 5th, 2018
Baroque Obama: Let them eat IBM

The left often seems to assume that big businesses are a natural progression from small businesses, that big businesses naturally and easily outweigh their small rivals. This is mostly bullshit. Big businesses are almost always slow, unwieldy dinosaurs. They tend to be slow to respond to changes in what customers want while smaller businesses are nimble. They tend to be unresponsive to customer problems because management is often nowhere near the front lines of the business while smaller businesses, with management that is literally right with the customer, forge deeper and more meaningful relationships with customers and communities.

Big businesses are notoriously bad at staying in business once they build a bureaucratic wall between management and customer. The “first mover advantage” is mostly a myth, made possible because no one remembers the many failures that preceded the first long-term success. For the computer industry, read Fire in the Valley for a long litany of first-mover failures.

Big businesses have one advantage, money. This lets them make more mistakes and still survive (why IBM is still around). It also allows them to take advantage of economies of scale: better prices per part by buying more, applying fixed manufacturing costs over more product, and applying fixed selling costs (such as advertising) over more product. But that tends to be swamped by their many disadvantages which cause them to spend that advantage on the wrong thing. For example, the Atari graveyard, and the big three auto manufacturers selling big cars long after consumers had said loud and clear that they want smaller cars.

Getting great prices on all the parts doesn’t matter if the whole is something nobody wants and the administration is too isolated from the customer base to respond effectively.

There are three fields where bigger businesses do have an advantage over smaller businesses:

The Tyranny of the New York Times—Thursday, August 9th, 2018

As a case in point about just who is the tyrant here, take a look at this headline and subhead from Kara Swisher at the New York Times:

Rules Won’t Save Twitter. Values Will.

The platform won’t ban the dangerous liar Alex Jones because he “hasn’t violated our rules.” Then what’s the point of these rules?

If we can’t ban someone we disagree with based on the rules, then what’s the point of having rules? is a very familiar logic. It’s the logic of tyranny. In a free society, rules should exist to outline what is against the rules. You start with generalities: what actions are so wrong that they cannot be tolerated? You make rules—or laws—to codify this and serve as a general warning to everyone, politician and non-politician, journalist and non-journalist. Then you enforce the rules against everyone.

The New York Times, like all tyrants, has a completely different viewpoint. First, you decide who disagrees with you. Then, you make rules to sideline them: put them in jail, silence them, punish them. The rules aren’t going to be used against anyone but who you’ve already decided they should be used against. They certainly won’t be used against the people who made the rules.

If those rules don’t let you sideline people you disagree with, what’s the point of the rules? To the Times, there is none.

Those are “the words of a tyrant”. Not vehemently disagreeing with someone, as Jefferson did and Trump does. Jefferson’s and Trump’s are the words of freedom. It’s CNN, and the New York Times, who explicitly and knowingly use the words of tyranny.

Explicitly. Take a look at this section from the article:

Let me say that I have nothing but admiration for the long-suffering trust and safety team at Twitter, which has been tasked with the Sisyphean job of controlling humanity and scaling civility, armed only with some easily gamed and capriciously enforced rules. How are these people supposed to do that when the company has provided them with no firm set of values?

Values would require that Twitter make tough calls on high-profile and obviously malevolent figures, including tossing them off as a signal of its intent to keep it civil.

First, CNN came for InfoWars—Wednesday, August 8th, 2018
Jefferson on CNN

What Thomas Jefferson might say about CNN.

There is a special irony in defending fake news with a fake quote from Thomas Jefferson. Lately I’ve been seeing a supposedly Jeffersonian response to a Trump tweet:

The Fake News hates me for saying that they are the Enemy of the People only because they know it’s TRUE. I am providing a great service by explaining this to the American People. they purposely cause great division & distrust. They can also cause War! They are very dangerous & sick!

“When the speech condemns a free press, you are hearing the words of a tyrant.”—Thomas Jefferson

Jefferson, of course, never wrote that1, as anyone familiar with Jefferson’s writings would recognize. I cannot even imagine the howls we’d hear from the press if President Trump had tweeted:

Don’t believe CNN. Americans who never watch CNN are better informed than those who do. Their minds aren’t filled with lies and fake news. CNN is junk, obscene. You can’t trust anything on that piece of shit station.

While I don’t recall Trump writing that blatantly, Jefferson did:

Nothing can now be believed which is seen in a newspaper. Truth itself becomes suspicious by being put into that polluted vehicle. — Thomas Jefferson (Letter to John Norvell, June 14, 1807)

… the man who never looks into a newspaper is better informed than he who reads them, inasmuch as he who knows nothing is nearer to truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods and errors. — Thomas Jefferson (Letter to John Norvell, June 14, 1807)

I deplore with you the putrid state into which our newspapers have passed, and the malignity, the vulgarity, & mendacious spirit of those who write for them… these ordures are rapidly depraving the public taste, and lessening it’s relish for sound food. As vehicles of information, and a curb on our functionaries they have rendered themselves useless by forfieting all title to belief. — Thomas Jefferson (Thomas Jefferson to Walter Jones, 2 January 1814)

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