Today in the 21mar16 Union columnist and RR reader Mr George Boardman reminds us of the tautology that members of our 99% also avoid accountability. He corroborates this with an anecdote or two, as if any were needed. Very little thought already reveals that the population which overwhelmingly avoids accountability resides in the 99%. I think this point could have been made a bit more explicitly to underline Mr Boardman’s ‘No need to be among the 1% to avoid accountability’.
But what I took exception to was his description of “DeVry University, a publicly traded company that specializes in signing up students to loans they may or may not be able to pay back.” The FTC’s jaundiced ruling notwithstanding, this private educational enterprise does not specialize in Mr Boardman’s claimed practice any more than do the hundreds of public colleges and universities across the land. Unpaid student loans now exceed $1,200,000,000,000 (that’s T like in trillion) and are overwhelmingly owed to government run lenders making it easy for government run colleges that lure students into costly degree programs that teach students skill sets they cannot sell in the labor market (more here and here). [H/T to Mr Gregory’s 736pm below for the correction.] The only ones hiring those so victimized are the various agencies and bureaus of our governments where competency in something useful is not a requirement. Mr Boardman’s singling out a for-profit university for such umbrage is misleading at best, and patronizes our softheaded socialists at worst.
Joel Kotkin, R.C. Hobbs Presidential Fellow and columnist, writes a major piece prognosticating the dismal future of the GOP and Hillary’s potential launch of our own Third Reich. He sees the formation of a third party as a political palliative, but does not seem to understand that political stability requires at least four political parties to span the ideological spectrum. Nevertheless, the worthwhile read concludes with a view of Hillary’s administration and the Democrat Party dominance –
In this way, the rest of the country will increasingly resemble what we already have in California – a central governing bureaucracy that feels little constrained about expanding its power over every local planning and zoning decision. The federal republic will become increasingly nationalized, dispensing largely with the constitutional division of power.
Centralism, as known well in California, comes naturally to a one-party state. Businesses, particularly large ones, faced with uncontested political power, will fall in line. How many times have I heard California business people, even supposedly powerful ones, tell me they are frustrated with Gov. Jerry Brown’s increasingly draconian rule but sheepishly add that they are too afraid to say anything.
Looking ahead, the only hope lies in a mounting reaction, perhaps manifesting in a new party, to over-reach. As Clinton works to serve her “families,” like public employees, crony capitalists and the academia/media PC police, she could ignite a rebellion not only among the Trump constituency but also many more moderate, suburban voters who find Trump too crude, divisive and unpredictable.
This new movement should be built around the idea that, in the information age, power can, and should, devolve to localities as much as possible. Even Californians prefer local, as opposed to centralized, control. This could spark a widespread populist rebellion which, in 2020, could finally tame the federal Leviathan and allow American politics to return to something the founders may have envisioned.
[update] George Soros has given Gov Kasich $700K for his campaign. 'What are we to make of that?', he asks with tongue-in-cheek. Talk about strategic investments that Trump and Cruz should highlight.
[22mar16 update] George Boardman has restarted his NC Roadkill blog. I went there to welcome him with - Welcome back to the blogosphere Mr Boardman. Ruminations is proud to post a permanent link to NC Roadkill. gjr - but my comment is still "in moderation" so I thought I'd repeat it here. Perhaps Mr Boardman is having second thoughts as to what time eaters these blogs are; I hope not.
Government is an intrinsically evil collective, cynically organized, incompetently operated, and staffed by people not all of whom are evil. For this reason alone, citizens must keep their governments small and always on a short leash.
World history is powered by the strong urge of like-minded people seeking and protecting land on which to band together and live lives that celebrate their unique traditions and gods. Simply put, that reasonable urge underpins reliable mechanisms that assure you and people like you a greater chance of survival to raise families full of kids that grow up to vindicate your own life’s travails and perpetuate all that you and yours value.
All of this starts with families that band with similar families to form communities (tribes), and join with similar communities to form provinces/principalities, and then provinces to join and form kingdoms and, today, sovereign nation-states. At each higher level of the hierarchy the requirements for similitude get relaxed a bit as diversity creeps in. But the increasing diversity at each level is acknowledged and even welcomed with a ‘Look, they believe and do things like we do, except that they do this differently. Let’s see how that works out for them?’
This type of bottom-up societies has been a significant burr under the collectivists' blanket at least since the French Revolution. And it was acknowledged as the prime bane of society and human progress when collectivists first began to formulate plans for reorganizing what man should believe and how he should live with fellow men. Individualism in all its forms had to be ferreted out of society, along with its lower structures (i.e. traditional families) supporting independent enterprise that gave rise to and perpetuated different abilities to generate and husband wealth.
The obvious solution from the gitgo, as Lenin advised, was to marshal and redirect the education of the young. And to do that most efficiently required institutionalizing how and what children learn. Uniformity of beliefs, thoughts, and deeds was the paramount objective of the state. Once a uniform ‘product’ began to issue from the institutionalized education system, it was an easy political matter, as we have seen, to redirect it toward the ultimate teachings of the –ism that the collective elites have chosen to put on their banner.
Thanks to our institutionalized (and unionized) public education system, our rank and file progressives are now so blind to this redirection that they understand none of what has happened, nor what is happening every day at the hyper-liberalized colleges across the land whose militant students resemble Mao’s Red Guards of China’s Cultural Revolution that killed over 100 million of its own citizens. The reaction to such leftiwing radicalization has already begun in what I would characterize as the first stages of the coming Great Divide.
Again the progressives, most certainly our local cadres of the collectivist chorus, are ignorant of this and accuse people like me of going off the deep end with our radical hatred of the fomenting ‘kumbayah’ state that is directing us to all to join ranks in order to achieve the goals and implement the objectives of Agenda21 – the global socialist union. But the reality in America, and now perhaps also in Europe, is quite different. People are moving, as they have been planning to do, joined in their various, yes, culturally cohesive cohorts for some time now. Kyle Peterson of the WSJ describes some of the recent migrations and their subsequent political happenings in his 18mar16 ‘The Great American Disconnect’ from which the nearby graphic is filched.
[The attentive reader will note the Alinsky Answer, if any, that progressives will provide to the above in which they totally ignore the national dimension and focus their ire on the messenger (moi) who will be accused of being a disloyal solitary loon.]
Power in every nation-state is a zero sum game between its citizens and their government.
These two videos on the history of the NRA and the black experience with the Second Amendment pretty much summarize the Rebane Doctrine on the role of ownership and use of firearms by a free people seeking to remain free. For the record, I am a lifelong member of the National Rifle Association, the American Legion, a member of the Nevada County Sportsmen, and a combat arms veteran. Expect nothing fair and balanced about this topic from me.
As did Hitler’s Brown Shirts, so have other socialist/communist thugs and roughnecks throughout recent history been the ones to physically disrupt the gatherings of their political opponents. This is what happened yesterday in Chicago at the planned Trump rally (here), and appears to be the start of this election season’s violent phase – expect more of such thuggery and violation of First Amendment rights from the Left.
Apparently this junction is the result of the Democrats finally realizing that Trump could beat anyone they nominate whether it be Hillary the Unindicted, Bernie the Communist (forget that ‘socialist’ crap), or even Foot-in-the-Mouth Joe. Were it not so, no one would care. The Dems’ big money is beginning to fund anti-Trump activities and front their far-left ideologues which tactics bare their true assessment of what’s likely for this fall unless they can physically intervene, and, of course, have the lamestream blame it on the Right.
The astute reader will note and mark the Left/Right asymmetry in the coming travails. The only ones who will remain clueless about what’s going on are the gruberized local lefties here and elsewhere. They’ll continue singing loudly some version of The Internationale for as long as it takes. Trump should now cool his rhetoric, to which he has every right, and continue morphing into maximum presidential mode from here on. Thoughts?
The so-called Valemax bulk carrier ships at 400,000 tons deadweight are among the largest vessels on the world’s oceans, each being almost 1,200 feet long with 200+ foot beam and drawing about 75 feet fully loaded. The ship class was chartered by Vale SA, a Brazilian mining company, to carry iron from Brazil to the world’s markets. China, after some foot dragging prohibited Valemaxes calling in their ports, has now changed its mind and ordered its shipyards to start building 30 Valemaxes to the tune of $2.5B. The ship’s size lowers its ton-mile transport costs by 25-30% over existing very large vessels. Today there are about 35 of these behemoths in service. (more here)
What interests me is what drove Vale to introduce such ships that are larger than a modern nuclear carrier (over four times the displacement) in every dimension. Brazil export markets have a location problem – the sources of their bulk ores, ag products, etc are situated farther than their competition from where they are being consumed or further manufactured. In short, they are off the beaten path where there is an added cost to get their stuff onto the beaten path, and that makes their exports cost more. One obvious way to become more competitive is to reduce transportation costs to their markets, hence enter the Valemaxes.
(That China is now planning to eat the lunch of the world’s bulk carriers is another story for another time. Stay tuned.)
So how does Nevada County fit in? Readers know that for years RR has been dunning those who promoted manufacturing in these foothills as a solution to our economy’s growth. An obvious reason (there are others) why manufacturers have left the county is that we too are located off the beaten path. It costs extra to bring raw materials up from the I-80 corridor distribution and transportation hubs, and it costs more again to get our products down the hill to places where they then begin competing with similar stuff made a few minutes away.
The obvious question then is what can we learn from the Valemaxes. All other problems to manufacturing here being equal (adequate worker pool, cooperative local government, econut sanity, NIMBYs neutralized, …), would NC manufacturers be able to compete on cost were we to have a regularly scheduled service of very large trucks – our Valemaxes – plying up and down Highways 49 and 20 to move raw materials and goods between a west NC freight depot and distribution centers in the greater Sacramento area?
Such a service could be operated by established transport companies like UPS and Fedex. Local manufacturers would be responsible for getting their stuff to and from the depot in a timely manner given the scheduled departures and arrivals of the ‘Valemax trucks’. The parcel delivery companies could, of course, also service the local transport needs with their existing smaller vehicles as part of the ongoing operations. Additional features might be incorporated from seaborne freight like smaller standardized secure containers that could be efficiently loaded and unloaded (e.g. palletizing) at Valemax depots and transferred onto smaller vehicles for local transport.
The bottom line is that unless we have some means to level the playing field in the cost of moving materials, manufacturing will continue to languish, if not altogether disappear, in the GV-NC region of Nevada County. I have no idea whether this concept will pencil out given what remains of our manufacturing industry, or whether we could solve the chicken/egg problem of attracting new manufacturers with the promise of starting such a Valemax truck service. But given how hard economic development has been in the county, it might be worth taking a closer look at the numbers and what’s involved in pulling this off.
Lord Keynes famously asked a critical journalist, 'When I get new information, I change my mind. What do you do?' Rebane Rule - A politician 'flipping' his views is welcome only when accompanied by what new information was received when which then caused the change.
The Union has invited Ms Hilary Hodge to be their new liberal columnist. Ms Hodge will lend her voice to the growing progressive cohort that is now escaping to the hinterlands from the metro areas they have fashioned in their own image, and which are no longer suitable places to live. (Her website here) In her inaugural column she gives a fine account of herself emphasizing her liberal education, professional career, and that she is gay. She has a “passion for small business” and is a fellow Rotarian with me in the Nevada City Rotary Club. RR welcomes her and looks forward to her commentaries on “local and national economic issues, policies, and trends.”
The Left’s propaganda about Congress being in “gridlock” continues on all fronts – most recently in county clerk-recorder/registrar Greg Diaz’s column in the 8mar16 Union. The informed reader knows that is not true. The federal government is in a polarized gridlock because the administration has a demonstrated socialist agenda that prevents the passage of legislation from a majority Republican Congress. Congress is doing just fine, but the leftwing lamestream continues the steady drumbeat that only the GOP are the obstructionists – the sound of the one hand clapping.
The cover-up of intelligence from the Central Command (Pentagon’s Mideast military) is another Obama scandal in waiting that our exciting election histrionics have put on the back burner. It turns out that on-the-ground intel analysts in Afghanistan report that their dire findings have been ‘sanitized’ by the Pentagon to provide the administration with appropriate political cover during this election year. This is one of the many reprehensible after effects of Obama’s purge of uncooperative flag officers during his tenure in office. Autocrats (cum tyrants) – e.g. Stalin and Hitler – have always had their toadies tailor news from the front to be more palatable in order to avoid early ‘retirement’ in its various forms.
Universal gun registration – to track the movement of firearms – has always been gun control’s preamble to gun confiscation by government central planners. Such programs are successful to the extent that populations are ignorant. In America (see also RR comment streams) well-rehearsed progressive peans of denial are heard every time Second Amendment proponents point out another incidence of such confiscation accomplished or in the offing – see Canada’s recent experience (here).
In ‘Transformation of Economics’ University of Ohio economics professor Richard Vedder argues that in America economics has morphed into “political economics” along these major lines –
• Diminishing returns to research.
• Economics as ideology in camouflage.
• A disconnect between economic reality and public policy
• The rise of the nonuniversity research centers
• A major cause of America’s economic malaise: the government’s war on work
This insightful read concludes with - One reason living standards in the U.S. have stagnated: There were 12.7 million fewer Americans working in January than there would have been with the 2000 employment-population ratio. Disability insurance claims have roughly tripled in the past generation (despite greater inherent workplace safety because of the declining relative importance of manufacturing and mining); government-subsidized student loans and grants have lured younger Americans away from work; extended unemployment benefits prolonged unemployment; and food stamps now go to nearly 30 million more Americans than 15 years ago. The government has provided much more income that is only available if people do not work. So fewer do. As Charles Murray has noted, this phenomenon has contributed to declining social cohesion and arguably even largely explains Donald Trump’s electoral success.
Today The Union published the following letter as the latest chapter in what appears to be an ongoing dialogue between Dr Paul D. Hauck and me. The exchange started with his reading of my Other Voices column ‘Swansong from an Alternate Universe’ (and here), to which he responded with his own OV piece – ‘An Alternative Alternate Universe’. My response (here) to that was immediate. Then letters to the editor ensued.
If Dr. Rebane felt criticized via innuendo by my article, I apologize. Quite honestly, my article was not even about him or his Other Voices piece.
It was my attempt to share an insight I had regarding my small role in our nation’s dividedness.
He was generous enough to invite me into dialogue on his Rebane’s Ruminations page so I visited it for the first time. On it I found his musings about ... me. From only two data points, gleaned via Google and inaccurate at that, he constructs an entirely fictional and disdain-worthy caricature of me. Readers should visit his site because I think it is highly illustrative of the point of my column.
Dr. Rebane would lay responsibility for our polarized state on the shoulders of the president. I would suggest that politicians merely reflect the populations they serve. When we, individually, continue to mock or demonize those with differing opinions, assume evil intent, and unnecessarily pose enemies, we cannot expect a more civil national dialogue than we have now.
My article was an attempt to take responsibility for my small part in this process. For me, it is a worthwhile self-examination. And, yes, Lent is a season perfectly suited for it.
Paul Hauck, PhD
Off the starting blocks, the letter is more than a bit mind boggling. His opening statement – Quite honestly, my article was not even about him or his Other Voices piece. - is a stunning piece of prevarication since at least three out of every four paragraphs in his ‘An Alternative Alternate Universe’ (note even the title) OV piece are about me and the thesis of my above cited original OV piece. His claim of my having constructed “an entirely fictional and disdain-worthy caricature of me” is false on the face of it, as can be verified by anyone googling the man’s vitae published on the web. If any of that is wrong, he should have set the record straight; an effort that I still hope he will undertake so that we may know with what kind of scientist we are talking.
His claim of being a “clear writer” is called to question when he states that his “article was an attempt to take responsibility for (his) small part in this (polarization) process.” Such a mea culpa could have been accomplished with a brief reference to my original OV piece as an exemplar, and then a lengthier analysis of the perceptual and expressed missteps about our country's divisiveness from which he also claims to suffer. His piece reversed the emphases and thereby garnered interest through an extensive critique of what I had written.
In sum, I’m disappointed that Dr Hauck does not want to debate the issues of national polarization, climate change, and mideast policy about which he tells us he has a deep and objective understanding. I have responded to his letter here, and am not sure that any further response in The Union would be productive. I will wait to see if his 7mar16 letter puts the matter to rest or not. Meanwhile, the reader is invited to inform himself through the above links to the published record.
One of the unambiguous tenets of a conservetarian is that collectivism, in any of its forms, is a gateway to human suffering and eventual tyranny. Collectivists, under whichever banner they assemble – progressive, liberal, national socialist, international socialist (communist), … - will first seek to silence their foes by whatever means they are able to muster, from public proscription, government censorship, and finally by marching them to the wall.
On the path to such draconian ends, much demonstrated during the 20th century, they will attempt to justify their attacks on ideas not suitable to their agenda, they will fashion their arguments and present them in the guise of scientism – the collection of convenient unscientific assertions disguised as science. The birth of progressivism in America used scientism – specifically in what was then called eugenics - as a companion to their social justice apologetics.
America’s union schools have carefully obliterated the history of eugenics from the history of progressivism. Their only mention of it today is to give the lie that it was a politically motivated error of the Right seeking to establish a ruling society of the Űbermenchen. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Amity Schlaes reminds us of the details in her ‘The Progressive History of Eugenics’ wherein she also reviews two recent books on the subject. In it she writes about how the certitude of ideology driven scientism has been used by our central planners and social engineering elites –
And that’s the trouble with reformers. They are so sure, and so wrong. How often comes clear in two new books. The first, Adam Cohen’s compelling “Imbeciles,” focuses on Buck v. Bell, the 1927 case in which the Supreme Court upheld Virginia’s right to sterilize citizens it deemed mentally ill, somehow deficient or, indeed, shiftless. In the second book, “Illiberal Reformers,” Thomas C. Leonard also treats the horrifying rise of compulsory sterilization and, in a deft analysis, goes on to compare the thinking behind eugenics to other forms of supposedly enlightened policy.
Nowadays eugenics is portrayed as an unfortunate detail in the story of an otherwise glowing movement, Progressivism. What these two volumes, especially “Illiberal Reformers,” reveal is that eugenics served as a key tool of the Progressive policy makers of the 1920s. “Darwin’s ambiguity on the question of whether evolution resulted in progress or merely change left enough leeway for progressives to claim society must take charge of its own evolution,” Mr. Leonard notes. The consequences of Progressive Darwinism were policies as imprecise, superstitious and inhumane as any they superseded.
Eugenics was received by our polity as a gift from science the application of which to broad populations would immeasurably improve society. Famous adherents of scientistic eugenics were thought leaders of the day like President Teddy Roosevelt, George Bernard Shaw, H.L. Mencken, Margaret Sanger, Helen Keller. All of them celebrated the consensus of scientists that eugenics was the real deal.
(For completeness we must include Frances Crick, co-discoverer of DNA, in that list with an asterisk. Crick decried the National Socialists’ (Nazis’) use of eugenics to justify the Holocaust and engineering humans. Crick really saw how his discovery would lead to the new science of genomics which could use genetics to battle diseases (in- and ex-utero), benefit agriculture, and, yes, even provide designer babies. We leave the discussion of society and genomics to another time.)
Today the Rosemary’s Baby of eugenics - the new scientism that has been introduced to compel the compliance of those lovable “poorly educated” in the sciences - is preventable global warming or climate change or some other fashionable label that histrionically calls for a controlled and massive global response that will be overseen by the progressive elites.
Look to him who comes in with another’s concern in order to go out with his own. … Gracian #193
No debate about replacing Justice Scalia should proceed before the Democratic precedents denying a sitting Republican president the same privilege receive full airing. At that time the debate should commence with the Dems demonstrating why the case is different today when one of their own occupies the White House. Here is what one of the Dynamic Democrat Duufuses, Sen Schumer, has to say about it - pay attention all you liberals who gleefully cite past Repub ripostes.
“The Use of Cash is really a Civil Rights issue.” (more here) The latest Agenda21 objective involves the central planners’ desire to monitor and control ALL financial transactions. But first we must eliminate cash, and the first step in that direction is making cash more cumbersome to use as a medium of exchange and store of value. (Electronic money serves equally as a unit of account.)
[This is an invited post by my longtime friend and colleague Dr Wayne Hullett that expands on his comment under the 16feb16 Sandbox. gjr]
"Civilization is hideously fragile... there’s not much between us and the Horrors underneath, just about a coat of varnish." - C.P. Snow
"Civilization: a thin veneer over barbarianism." - John M. Shanahan, The Most Brilliant Thoughts of All Time (In Two Lines or Less)
Modern humans have been on the earth for around 200,000 years, yet it is only within the last 0.1% of that time (200 years or so) that western civilization, at least, has mostly eliminated torture, thus demonstrating that a civilized society can exist without this barbaric practice. With us as an example, and with the rest of the world gradually becoming modernized, there is reasonable hope that it will eventually follow suit.
Donald Trump's statement advocating torture puts him in favor of erasing this hard won gain on the long climb to civilization by legitimizing torture as a matter of national policy. He would admit (and in fact he has already publicly admitted) to the world that he believes that the most powerful nation on earth cannot exist without the use of torture.
I do not expect western civilization's forbearance of this practice to significantly influence the immediate actions of our enemies whose barbarism is the very reason that they are enemies, except that if we use torture, our enemies will use that fact to justify their use of that terrible practice and will likely redouble their efforts. If the US legitimizes torture, I think that a "torture arms race" will ensue - with countries researching ways to inflict the maximum pain possible on their hapless victims, and with accompanying medical research on how to keep them alive in order to feel the pain for as long as possible. Captured Americans will be subject to hideous tortures. Squads will be sent out to try to capture servicemen and women for the express purpose of torturing them, possibly even shown on TV. Would you want your son or grandson to be in that situation? Or your daughter or granddaughter, as more females go into combat roles?
I can even envision civilian citizens (working on highly classified projects, for example) being kidnapped off the streets and out of their homes and spirited out of the country for torture to extract classified information. What if one of these targets had a name similar to yours, and a van pulls up in front of your house at 3:00 AM and you and your loved ones are taken by mistake? How far down the slippery slope is torturing children in front of their parents in order to extract information from the parents. And what if you did not have the information sought?
While I do not deny that torture still happens, it is deplorable, it is illegal, and it is wrong. Trump's approach is a giant step backward for a species that is still striving to become civilized. Even if he changes his mind, the damage is already done. The world already sees him as a torturer. The only way for us as citizens to override that perception, redeem ourselves in the eyes of the world and avoid backsliding into barbarism is to soundly defeat his bid for the presidency. For my part, I would rather have another four years of gridlock than see our country go down his terrible path.
[This is the addended and linked transcript of my regular KVMR commentary broadcast on 17 February 2016.]
In this election year the millennials are going to make their mark, and both parties are doing their best to woo them. Why? The simple reason is their numbers; but that’s not the whole story. The US Census Bureau tells us there are 83.1M young adults in the country born between 1982 and 2000 – the so-called millennials. They now overshadow the previous big cohort of generational voters – the Baby Boomers – who today number only 75.4M (more here).
The millennials are not only the largest voting group, they are also the least knowledgeable to put it politely. Studies show that they have an embarrassingly deficient knowledge base, especially when it comes to economics and finance. Their deficits come from having been educated by the now perfected system of unionized public education, honed since Great Society days to produce cadres of voters ready to fundamentally transform America.
Scientism - the misuse of science-like arguments to prop up unfounded propositions, policies, and propaganda.
The 8feb16 Union published, as its lead op-ed piece, an Other Voices commentary – ‘An alternative alternate universe’ – by Mr Paul Douglas Hauck of Penn Valley. In it Mr Hauck responds to my 16jan16 Other Voices commentary (Download OtherVoices_160113), and was preceded here in these pages.
Mr Hauck presented a very curious but polite and measured criticism of my ‘Swansong …’ piece. Unfortunately, in it he gave no “alternative” to the alternate universe from which I characterized Obama’s SOU speech in some detail. Neither Mr Hauck nor I know each other, so I did a little googling on the man who promptly stated that he was a “numbers junky” and a “victim of (his) training as a scientist” that caused him to “overvalue objectivity at times.” From there his criticism of what he understood of my piece proceeded in a march of thinly veiled innuendos.
But before addressing his critiques, we should first consider his carefully couched credentials revealed online. The man attended an institution called the Chicago School of Professional Psychology from which he presumably obtained some certification or degree, since he is shown to have worked as the Director of Children’s Services in the Department of Mental Health of the David Grant Medical Center located at Travis AFB. From this and the offerings of his alma mater, I deduce that he is a child psychologist.
There is no evidence online that he has any training in the hard sciences or the mathematics related thereto. This means that his acumen with the sciences and numbers required to read and understand the literature of “original climatological studies … in reputable scientific journals” is the derived result of a prodigious home study effort. Among the many other talents he highlights in his piece, his claim to being a “fairly competent writer” who successfully fights back the urge to “build a pretty solid case in support of (his) position” that claims my “accusations” were “disconnected from the facts”, is strained by his gratuitous use of full quotes of words and phrases I never wrote nor even implied.
Mr Hauck also has some problems with the logical development of argument as when he obliquely accuses me of “starting with a preconceived model of how things “should”(sic) work.” of which I offered none, preconceived or otherwise. This may be forgiven because his alma mater proudly proclaims training its graduates to join the ranks of elite government central planners which could explain why he sees such prescriptive behavior in everyone he reads or encounters.
In another part of his analysis of my piece he refutes my assertion, supported by commentators nationwide, that Obama has “driven mainstreet Americans further apart than they were in the sixties”. He does this by citing Gov Nikki Haley’s observation that Republicans also have responded in a polarizing manner. Not sure how that refutes my point about our most divisive of presidents.
In his grand summary Mr Hauck finally allows his progressivism to peep through as an unabashed acolyte of the ‘balanced argument’ as opposed to my “somewhat absolutist style” – readers know that I neither worship balance nor lay claim to that deficit. Given his science credentials, I’m not sure that our psychologist’s studies taught him that human progress is seldom gained through anything considered so bland as balanced. Quite the opposite, and especially in science, expanding knowledge has always been achieved a fortiori by the most unbalanced of propositions that at the time were deemed outrageous by their target audiences. What clearly escapes almost all lay people, climate true believers like Mr Hauck among them, is that at the margins of knowledge science is a very messy business and scientists almost never agree – claiming scientific consensus there is blatant propaganda forged from myth.
But I digress. Let me conclude with the letter I sent to The Union today.
In his ‘An alternative alternate universe’ Mr Paul Hauck’s critique of my ‘Swansong from an Alternate Universe’ was almost painfully civil in his quest for balance. The gentleman’s disagreements with my citations of Obama’s iniquities consisted of a collection of innuendos variously veiled in gossamer to sack cloth. He let us know immediately that he is trained in science and an accomplished student in other more eclectic fields, one who develops understanding of things from “raw data”, a practice that we glean would let him refute the points I made about our president’s tenure. Nevertheless, he did eschew specifics in order to remain balanced as a penance of his “Lenten discipline this year.”
Being an unabashed patron and purveyor of the unbalanced argument, I gave Mr Hauck the benefit of an expanded response on Rebane’s Ruminations. In turn, as a fellow scientist, I invite him to join me there to do what best may be called ‘dharma battle’ over the points of our obviously disparate ideologies. His accepting my invitation would guarantee an enjoyable and even entertaining exchange for the anticipated launch of which I must again thank The Union.
[17feb16 update] Let the record show that The Union published my letter in its 17feb16 edition (here). I am grateful.
In the months leading up to this election year these pages have recorded a lot of predictions, some more vehement than others. Predicting, estimating, forecasting, …, all of them are hard and involve some level of risk depending how well these efforts are carried out. We spend almost every waking moment taking some kind of peek into the future, and depending on how certain we are of what we see there, we take an action which may involve some kind of hedging if we’re not too confident about what we see.
I’ve always been interested in how well we can prognosticate. Recently nobelist Daniel Kahneman of Kahneman/Tversky fame wrote what instantly became a very famous essay - Thinking Fast and Slow (2011) - on the findings of research into things such as prediction, estimation, risk aversion, reasoning and so on. Bottom line – research to date has shown that humans are mostly not very good predictors, and they don’t always do the reasonable things. Yet we do have a brain bone that has allowed us to survive over the millennia and evolve our thinking capacity to some pretty commendable levels. After all, we did discover relativity, sequence the human genome, put a man on the Moon, and are about to devise an AI that may make us second class citizens on our own planet.
So how well can we predict? Here I propose a fun experiment on the topic that invites RR readers to go on record and compete with each other predicting anything they want and, hopefully, get someone else interested enough to also render their prediction. I offer an easy, intuitive, and enjoyable way to do this using the MAB distribution which asks you to specify four numbers that characterize your prediction. The method is spelled out in a previous post ‘Predicting with Expressed Beliefs – a formal approach’.
Since this is election season, say you want to predict what percent of the Democrat vote Bernie Sanders will get in this Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary. Today that percentage is a random variable, but next Wednesday it will be known and no longer random. All such future values are random variables, and the best we can do to express them is to characterize our belief in the value of the variable is to describe what is called its probability distribution. And as the above referenced post details, this can be done by simply writing down your subjective belief in terms of the Low (L) and High (H) values which bound the range of Bernie’s percentage, the most likely percentage (M) Bernie will get, and your confidence (C) - zero to one - that Bernie’s actual percentage will be in the neighborhood of your best guess or most likely value. In short, your prediction will be a 4-tuple that might look something like – [L, H, M, C] = [51%, 60%, 54%, 0.7].
We’ll start by skipping the famous Yogism about predicting. But living life successfully requires us to constantly predict the future – events that may or not happen in a time yet to come. It’s necessary to do that because we have to prepare for various futures by deciding what actions to take right now, or at least before the predicted event occurs. Most of our predictions are about whether a certain thing will happen or not, whether it will happen before a given time or not, or which one of, say, five possible things will come true. In short, very discrete things, things or events that can be characterized by a ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Then there are predictions that aren’t discrete and cover a range of values that are the anticipated outcome. Things like how many marbles are in a big jar, when will Billy get home from work, how much rain will the coming storm bring, what will our house sell for, a candidate’s poll number after the debate, the closing value of the Dow Industrials at week’s end, this year’s GDP, and so forth.
A little thought shows that all the CURRENT answers to such questions or unknown values are really what the techies call random variables. But for each such random variable or r.v., all of us have a hunch or belief about how well we can characterize our ignorance about the actual outcome or value realized in the future.
For discrete (random) events we often characterize the chance that something will come to pass as, say, ‘one out of three’ or state your odds such as ‘three to one it’ll rain tomorrow’. If we really don’t have a clue as to the outcome, we’ll use the old coin flip 50-50 analogy. For continuous r.v.s most people will state the smallest range of values that for them encompass all or almost all the possibilities. They’ll use phrases like ‘Tomorrow’s high temperature will be somewhere in the 45 to 55F range’ or ‘The fourth quarter GDP growth will be in the 1.5 to 2.0% range.’
However, when pressed or thought about some more, almost everyone is able to pick a value somewhere in their stated range which they believe will be at or near the most likely value that comes to pass. And they can also tell you how confident they are about choosing that most likely or best guess value by using words like ‘pretty sure’, ’50-50 it’ll be somewhere near there’, ‘it’s just a wild hunch’, ‘I’d be surprised if it’s not close to that’, and so on.
Well, it turns out that you can usefully summarize your belief in such a future value by just stating your intuition in four numbers – the low/high of the range (L and H), the best guess or most likely value within that range (M), and you confidence (C) in the best guess. C values will range between zero and one – low C values for little confidence and higher values expressing more confidence. These four values or the 4-tuple – [L, H, M, C] - expressing your belief defines a very useful and powerful measure of probability that can be combined with other such measures to judge, say, who’s prediction is best or what level of risk is represented by such a ‘state of knowledge’.
A nation ignorant and free, that never was and never shall be. Thomas Jefferson
For those new to Nevada County our Ms Reinette Senum (pictured) needs a bit of an introduction. She is the former mayor of Nevada City and a local liberal activist who has promoted many collectivist causes hereabouts. I have worked with her and have always found her to be very energetic and good-hearted. Her enthusiasm may at times be short-lived, but while she has the bit in her teeth about some project she will then be at it 24/7 until it either gets done or a better project comes along. It is not always easy (at least for me) to follow the threads of her thinking, but her good nature and polished public persona more than make up for such trifles with local audiences.
As a member of our newspaper’s editorial board, Reinette wrote a column – ‘Youth should not let Grandma and Grandpa determine their future’ – in a recent (3feb16) Union that made two strong points in her heartfelt plea to encourage young people to vote in this election. The first was explicit and advised the young not to listen to their older relatives about matters that impact the upcoming elections. The second was implicit in the message that you should vote whether or not you know anything about the candidates or issues. Nowhere did the good lady advise her young audience – which today has plumbed new depths of dumbth – to study up on the things on which they will cast their ballots. The message was ‘Get your butt into that voting booth and you can do no wrong – never mind your head, just follow your heart!’ More specifically -
Do you realize it’s your grandparents who are still driving the car? Do you realize that if you don’t speak up and do something (aka vote) then the car will never go in the direction you desire and deserve?
A couple of days ago Google’s parent Alphabet (actually its DeepMind division) announced that their AlphaGo deep-learned software system has mastered the ancient Chinese board game Go. This is a very big deal during these pre-Singularity years and marks a milestone toward intellectual peerage with humans. AlphaGo is not just a souped-up version of Deep Blue that defeated chess champion Kasparov.
The number of possible moves in Go is trans-astronomically bigger than those in chess for which the next good move can be discovered by generating an expanding search tree of possible future move sequences. In Go such search trees are literally not possible to either construct or ‘grow’ in any useful manner. The alternative approach is to mimic the human brain in its ability to assess the current situation through abstracting board patterns, and then derive the best move by evolving more possible future patterns from alternate courses of action. That in essence is what we do when we play Go, and more importantly, attack myriads of other problems in our daily round. (more here and here)
Alphabet intends to productize and promote various versions of AlphaGo into a number of markets which require high levels of performance within large data and complex image environments. For example, most experts foresee that skilled and experienced physicians and medical practitioners who interpret diagnostic imagery (MRI, CAT, X-ray, sonograms, …) will quickly be surpassed by the new machines. Similar results are expected in fields such as finance, genomics, athletics, complex design, decision making and planning, and so on. The portents here are that large cadres of very highly educated and experienced workers will become increasingly redundant as customers demand state-of-art performance at lowest cost, and companies compete to satisfy such demands.
Given the recent turn of our socio-political expectations, it will not be long until some politicians will argue that it is a human right for everyone to obtain such ‘best practices’ goods and services. But before we go sailing off into that future fraught with unknowns, there are other voices rising to be heard. The 28jan16 WSJ reports that an emerging cadre of ‘experts’ is now considering how to put the brakes on AI developments.
The advance, published in the journal Nature, impressed artificial-intelligence experts and revived a debate about whether limits should be placed on computer programs that gain humanlike abilities to learn by themselves.
In any event, DeepMind CEO Demis Hannabis is “thinking very carefully about how to ethically use and responsibly deploy” the technology. When DeepMind was acquired in 2014, its founders required Google to agree not to use the technology for military purposes. Google has created an ethics committee to ensure such benefits “accrue to the many, not the few,” he added.
I urge you to evaluate these sentiments in light of the countless enterprises worldwide which are developing, advancing, and racing to market the latest concepts in AI. Putting on the brakes?! - talk about pissing into the wind.
[30jan16 update] Robots will devastate third world jobs; robots will replace most white collar jobs; robots will do all future manufacturing; robotic vehicles will replace all transport jobs; … . The Financial Times reports that “The Rise of the Robots Threatens the Poor”; and studies from prestigious universities are now coming in telling us that the robotic “revolution could leave up to 35% of all workers in the UK, and 47% of those in the US, at risk of being displaced by technology over the next 20 years, according to Oxford University research”. (also google ‘robots, job loss’)
RR has been a little alarm bell for the last decade relating news and prognostications in these pre-Singularity years about the growth of systemic unemployment due to accelerating technology. Now finally there emerge some louder voices repeating this message, but still not getting it quite right. Meanwhile, the socialists among us are proposing policies which will guarantee a future world of tyranny much as foreseen by Orwell in the 1940s – recall that tyranny is the most stable form of governance against which ‘democracy by the dumb’ doesn’t stand a chance. And technology-augmented tyranny is a rock stable slam dunk.
I believe the probability is close to one (certainty) that today we are irredeemably beyond the tipping point. There remain few approaches – e.g. the Non-Profit Service Corporation schema - to implement the required redistribution of wealth which may preserve the Bastiat Triangle of Rights. However, all of them require an overwhelmingly educated and enlightened citizenry to pull off. Instead, we are overrun with collectivists and central planners whose interests lie in fomenting class warfare between various manufactured cohorts of ignorant yet compliant voters with scant intellectual assets to figure out where they are being led. (Today we remain in a government induced Depression2 with a hokey unemployment numbers and GDP growth rates last seen during Depression1. See also PriceWaterhouse study on millennials.)
A delayed advent of Singularity that could give rise to a transhuman world is looking less like the saving grace that it once did.
[Our friends Nancy and Eddie Garcia have been founders and leaders of several organizations favored by Nevada County conservatives, among them the NC Tea Party and the State of Jefferson movement. This week the local SoJ supporters assembled to celebrate having gathered well over 5,000 signatures to petition the Board of Supervisors to put on the June ballot a resolution that will let the county’s voters express their opinions about the formation of SoJ (or ‘North California’) which has been much discussed in these pages (see also). These signatures are being filed with county clerk as I type.
But true to form, the Union’s coverage of this week’s SoJ activities has drawn the predictably ignorant ire of our fulminating far-left FUE. His off-the-mark comments prompted Nancy Garcia to submit the following response. To RR readers I recommend the following simple exercise – try to follow the FUE’s logic that led to his very unfounded and uncouth epithet. gjr]
Imagine my surprise when I read Jeff Pelline’s statement on the State of Jefferson public comments in Tuesday’s Board of Supervisor’s meeting. He notes “This part chaps me the most: a new state where we would be guaranteed a voice in the decisions that shape our lives and the future of our children. What does Eddie Garcia know about my child? What an ass.” Obviously, he totally misses the point that parents would have more freedom to shape their own children’s future. Mr. Pelline’s child would be his own obligation.
I also find it comical, at best, that Mr. Pelline, who revels in pointing out every little one letter error in The Union, did not even correctly identify the author of the statement. I truly resent his calling my wonderful husband of fifty-four years an “ass.” Eddie Garcia did not make that statement – I did. If you have any journalistic integrity, it is important to get your facts right.
I might also direct Mr. Pelline’s attention to a dictionary where he can check the word “civility.” It was the manner in which we used to conduct respectful discussions even when we did not agree. If we live by the “Pelline Protocol” we will never cure the deep divide that is the curse preventing progress.
[29jan16 update] Thank you all for your enlightening and humorous comments on Mr. Fue. As a relative “newbie” here, I am still learning.
One more comment on the constant refrain that we cannot survive financially without the money that comes from the state. If we are such a drain on the already financially floundering government, they surely will be happy for us to remove the burden from their back by separating from the state. So far, we have not heard a single government official stand up and applaud our resolve. What does that tell us?
[This little dissertation was forwarded by a friend, and I post it for both its humor and explanatory power of the progressive mind. Well, maybe it’s not all that humorous, but it does provide a change of pace hereabouts, and perhaps, just perhaps, may give rise to an awakening. gjr]
Only weeks after leaving office on January 20, 2017, former President Barack Obama discovers a leak under his sink, so he calls Troy the Plumber to come out to fix it. Troy drives to President Obama's new house, which is located in a very exclusive, gated community near Chicago, where all the residents have a net income of way more than $250,000 per year.
Troy arrives and takes his tools into the house. He is led to the guest bathroom that contains the leaky pipe under the sink. Troy assesses the problem and tells Obama that it's an easy repair, that will take less than 10 minutes. Obama asks Troy how much it will cost. Troy checks his rate chart and says, "$9,500."
We read George Boardman’s 'Nevada County's supervisors cede leadership to sheriff on medical marijuana' in today’s (18jan16) Union on last Tuesday’s BoS MJ prezo by Sheriff Keith Royal et al. Generally it was a good piece, we had some inevitable nits because the changing face of MJ production and consumption in CA is a complicated affair, especially when we translate it down to our county level. And Nevada County being a nationally known source of prime MJ doesn’t help sorting out how we should conduct business in the coming new world of pot.
Readers know that years ago RR came off the fence on drugs and has supported selective and prudent legalization. Since then the debate has grown on how, when, and under what conditions should the county permit medical marijuana (MMJ) and recreational marijuana (RMJ) production and consumption. These considerations have been made even more complicated by the existence of conflicting federal and dynamic state laws re MJ in its various forms. And when we start picking apart all the components of legalizing the growth and consumption of the weed, we wind up as we have, in the weeds. The recent BoS hearing and vote by supervisors on a revised ‘emergency ordnance’ and the upcoming vote on an MJ initiative have not helped resolve anything in the minds of the two major factions – one facilitating its production and use, and the other essentially opposing all parts of the MJ scene in Nevada County.
What I’d like to discuss here is recognizing the real conflict that is hidden underneath the layers of details of MJ grow parameters, neighborhood nuisance factors, and specifics of RMJ and MMJ distribution and consumption. The anti-MJ folks voice legitimate concerns about neighborhood nuisances, crime, underage consumption, etc. And these same people are essentially following the tactics of the anti-gun people in wanting to banish MJ from the county – i.e. make the attendant parts of a facile MJ economy so cumbersome and difficult that it will wind up being ‘constructively banned’.
So let’s be clear, all these details and specifics aren’t the real issue – they comprise the fog that hides what really is on the minds of the anti-MJ people who are mostly right-leaning conservatives, and also what is apparent to the more strategically minded left-leaning progressives. The real issue is the ongoing battle for Nevada County between two very different cultures.
The local Left joins the national Left in their happy dance about the ‘Climate Change agreement’ reached in Paris this week. What they don’t seem to appreciate is that it will have about as much impact on earth’s climate, no matter how widely it is accepted or rejected, as does the Iran deal have on that country’s development of nuclear weapons. It is all a desperate search for some optics to bolster the community organizer’s legacy and support heir apparent Hillary’s campaign.
The humorous part of their awareness spills over to more immediate concerns about economics and development of the local economy. For openers our devout Democrats are overjoyed that California is on the upswing in job creation and corporate formation. The feds (Census Bureau) recently tried quietly to pour some calming water on these breathless reports, pointing out that one fifth of California’s population lives in poverty, the state has the highest poverty rate in the nation, and the largest fraction receiving welfare of one kind or another. And our unemployment rate (5.7%) remains doggedly above the national average no matter how the numbers are tortured.
But the real knee slapper is that the local Left has finally discovered STEM and the benefits that jobs in that sector bestow upon those who can do numbers among other things. I was pointed to one loud local luminary who now advertises a ‘how to’ posting on lifting the local economy – he advises we become a major STEM employer. Now sumbich, why didn’t the rest of us think about that ten years ago?! The knarly part is that their ‘how to’ isn’t a ‘how to’ at all – liberals have no clues in this department – but only a ‘what if we only could’ dissertation. One worthy even uses Boulder,CO as a template for Nevada County, apparently ignorant of the extensive workshop put on by our ERC last January that also featured Boulder in its unsuccessful attempt at a ‘how to’ for us. It turned out then and does still today that Boulder and Nevada County have almost nothing in common save some H. Sapiens inhabitants.
Many of us in Nevada County have known for years (at least a generation?) that STEM is the third and now wobbly leg of our local economy, the other two being tourism and the retirees. (I don’t want to include government because it brings to mind shuttered socialist towns like Lakeview, OR.) But the promotion of STEM employment here is a longstanding effort that is made difficult by our politically correct econut faction and the obstacles they place and maintain in the path of any development. That kind of opposition is endemic across the state, but it really impacts low population rural counties, especially those off the beaten path and not in the armpit of a coastal urban area.
Among other things, I would like to see the establishment of a technical high school in the county that would form a tight bond with our local Sierra College campus and also expand its STEM curriculum. The NC Technical High School would focus on preparing kids for degree and certification based STEM careers. Such a high school would most likely require a merit based entrance exam such as the existing SESF sponsored TechTestJr taken annually by county eighth graders. No feel good politically correct or artsy-fartsy curriculum paths would be offered, there are already enough of those in our county. NCTHS would draw in the elite kids who can, and as such would also be an attractant for the kind of parents who see value in putting their offspring into educational programs that lead to rewarding wealth generating careers. Who knows what would follow such a successful initiative?
I predict that the Left would oppose this approach because promoting such highly discriminating education does not guarantee a reliable klatch of liberal voters upon matriculation.
[14dec12 update] The post conference drumbeat about green jobs from Obama and Kerry is getting louder again. These socialists, as the many failed before them, continue to believe that imposing government mandated markets to supply unwanted products to enable citizens and businesses to comply to unneeded regulations counts as creating new jobs.
Any fool (well, not quite) knows that with a gun you can force people to do what they would not do if not forced. Were I a tyrant I could mandate that life-sized paper mache statues of me would be placed at every city street corner. Since inclement weather is rough on such artifacts, new ones would have to be emplaced every time it rains. The businesses and towns would be required to buy them, and the manufactories would be subsidized to keep supplying them. The requirement for implementing such an enterprise would create thousands of jobs in the land, but to what productive end?
This is effect is doubly true when forcing private individuals and commercial enterprises to dance to the tidal wave of new green laws and regulations that are supposed prevent a global warming catastrophe. Our know-nothing elites even argue that these mandates will also induce economic growth. Nothing could be further from the truth. Were these diktats shown to actually create wealth, no government guns would be required. That they don’t and cannot explains why force must be used to guarantee the required response from the rest of us.
Some time ago I reported (here) on the results of an audit on the ideological tilt of The Union performed by the Nevada County Republican Women Federated. This was in response to our local Left claiming that our newspaper had become ‘The Tea Party Gazette’. As usual, these know-nothings missed the boat. The audit considered in detail the paper’s op-ed content over several months after which the NCRWF met with publisher Mr Jim Hemig to present the results. He was surprised to find that numerically the paper had published considerably more Left than Right leaning pieces, since he stated the paper considered itself politically neutral.
Nevertheless, the meeting and presented data did make an impact, and Mr Hemig reports on that in today’s (11dec15) Union – ‘The editorial page challenge?’. Therein he announces a reader participation audit scheduled for January 2016. The NCRWF audit is ongoing, and I’ll report updated results as they become available. RR’s position repeated is that as a private enterprise The Union can choose its own political tilt, and grouse as we may from our own perches there is no need to demand that the newspaper succumb to someone's standard of ‘balance’ as constantly called for by our locally loud progressives.
The San Bernardino massacre investigation continues. Given the evidence to date, the authorities still cannot decide whether it was just ‘workplace violence’ or the latest attack by Islamic terrorists. What is reported by the news services – Associated Press, WSJ, … - is pretty compelling (more here). We do know that –
1. The two shooters were Muslims – Syed Farook, a native born American citizen, and Tashfeen Malik, the immigrant wife of Farook and the mother of their 6-month old child.
2. Farook had travelled to Saudi Arabia last year from where he returned with Malik.
3. Upon his return he grew a beard as do many newly devout Muslim men.
4. He worked for San Berdoo county as a restaurant inspector, was a model citizen, and had no criminal record.
5. Before their 2dec15 attack at a county facility where a holiday party was in progress, the couple had made extensive preparations for acts of terror at their home which included pipe bombs, IEDs, radio controlled vehicles besides obtaining the full combat gear which they wore during their killing spree. Earlier that day they gave their baby into the care of relatives.
6. Authorities on the scene stated that Farook and Malik were definitely executing a “planned mission”. Given the preparations, there was no evidence of spontaneity in their attack.
There will undoubtedly be more and the story is still developing. But what I want to cover here is that again we have an atrocious act of terror carried out by formerly normal people who worked, were raising a family, blended in admirably, and gave no evidence of anything aberrant before they acted. In hindsight, the only attribute that connected them to such previous attacks is that the couple were practicing Muslims.
A Bayesian would take a look at the evidence and rationally conclude that yes, given the recent history of radical Islam and jihad, and the tenets of their faith, this couple would have a higher probability of being terrorists in waiting as they finally demonstrated to the world. (For those who disagree, the Bayesian would be compelled to change his mind given evidence that religious belief was not a supportive/determinant factor.)
From the worldview which apparently guided Farook and Malik and so many Muslims today, is that these terrorists were courageous, self-sacrificing soldiers acting for and with the blessings of Allah. They were prepared to die and die they did in the service of their faith. In that worldview they were not cowards or miscreants but model mujahedeen serving as exemplars to their fellow believers in the spread of Islam.
And to execute their plan they practiced taqiya to perfection. Students of Islam and readers of these pages know that taqiyya or taqiya (q.v.) is the scripturally sanctioned practice of dissimulation and other forms of perfidy including the denial of one’s faith that is allowed Muslims if such practice may serve to promote the greater goals of Islam. All such surprise attacks by Muslims living among us here and overseas are launched subsequent to successful preludes of taqiya. Where in other belief systems such practice of ambush and shattering of the social contract would be considered abhorrent, in the world of radical Islam it is a much admired and condoned facet of selfless martyrdom.
The real problem that taqiya presents to America and the west is in how should we deport ourselves with our Muslim neighbors. To continue normal social life in our land we must presume that the large fraction of Muslims among us would never practice taqiya and lay in wait for an opportunity to kill us and ours (polls to the contrary notwithstanding). Yet every time one of their co-religionists perpetrates such an abhorrent act, it gives all non-Muslims pause as they review their relations with their Muslim friends and neighbors. And that exactly is the aim of the jihadists. They want to disrupt our social order, and they want to cast suspicion on their brethren living with us so as to compel them to opt for ‘their own kind’ as they drive the wedge they have created ever deeper between Islam and the world of the Kafir (q.v.).
I don’t see any ready solution to this growing schism between our civilizations save prompt, unfailing, strenuous, loud, and large scale demonstrations by moderate Muslims during which they denounce such acts of terror. They cannot remain silent in the face of such killings, and they cannot shelter those of their own who preach violence against the west. In sum, they cannot ask us to trust them more than they trust us, for that we have already done. Contrary to the pabulum spewed by progressives, taqiya is an enduring problem which yields to no simple solution.
[This is the addended transcript of my regular KVMR commentary broadcast on 2 December 2015.]
Jo Ann and I hope that everyone had a meaningful and enjoyable Thanksgiving, and have properly girded themselves for the busiest, most stressful month of the year. Rather than delve into another globe shaking issue or national catastrophe in the making, I’ll instead try to rattle some cages on a more general collection of our new shibboleths and ingrained verities. Many of you know that I host a controversial blog that is inevitably on the wrong side of every politically correct thought held dear by 21st century progressives. This evening I want to cover some details of these thoughts. And in line with today’s progressive protocols, perhaps this is the place to issue a trigger warning to some of our more sensitive listeners.
The other day on my blog it was noted that five illegal aliens are suing Oregon for not granting them driver’s licenses. I then had the temerity to post the following, somewhat edited, question – “Does anyone know where these illegal aliens and their coddling collectivists get the harebrained idea that they are owed anything in this country save a free trip back to the border? How did all this get started?”
The point of the question was summarily ignored, and I was taken to task by two prominent liberals of our community about my presumably callous attitude toward these people, seeing as how I too was born in a foreign land and, at the invitation of the US Congress, immigrated here after WW2. The left-leaning debaters made no difference between legal immigration and a felonious entry into our land. The implicit conclusion was that as long as you’re both here, you both should have equal rights. However, the last time I looked, immigration to America was still subject to a two-party agreement between our government and the applicant for immigration.
I will not bore you with the heated discussion which followed, with many readers weighing in on the issue. One of the threads that developed, at least in my mind, was the matter of culture. What may be called America’s mainstream culture has always been in flux since Europeans first set foot on these shores. But the progress of cultural change was very measured, and in the public square centered on an amalgam of European Christian values and traditions. This accepted cultural target for assimilation started to unravel in the 1950s, slowly at first as we became Judeo-Christian, but then picking up steam as the Great Society programs kicked into gear, after which an uncounted number of new and old cultures and their traditions were elevated and celebrated, while symbols and observances of the old were diminished or completely removed.
Today we are in a cultural turmoil where the once dominant American culture is now daily maligned along with those who dare recall it in discussions of who then are we and where are we going. Have we abandoned the adoption of a new American culture which can again be accepted by all as our common ground? Don’t get me wrong, we cannot go back, nor am I promoting a return to yesteryear. But will our future hold a culture that again can be called American, and about whose traditions and tenets our young will be educated? Or will we continue as a multi-cultural polyglot with no shared center?
Over the life of our Republic immigrants have come to enjoy our liberties and opportunities for a better life, and in the process they have contributed lavishly to what made America the envy of the world. These immigrants came and stashed their native cultures behind their private lives as they visibly celebrated American culture and assimilated with astonishing speed. But today there is little reason to abandon exhibiting the culture into which you were born. Why? Because there is nothing of apparent value, form, and function which you can adopt in its stead. So all over the world immigrants and migrants are facing the same cultural challenge, and given a choice, they would overwhelmingly opt to return to or retain their native culture. This is especially true in the Mideast where, instead of emigrating, almost all refugees in the camps simply want to return to the life and culture they had. The important question then becomes, what culture will they cling to as they arrive in a strange country that neither claims nor offers a dominant culture of its own?
And from our own perch here in the western hemisphere, what kind of country are we evolving toward as we indiscriminately pile every new culture upon our already large stack of recently arrived and recognized cultures? It’s worth a thought when we consider the function that culture serves in organizing a cohesive and stable society.
My name is Rebane, and I also expand on this and related themes on Rebane’s Ruminations where the addended transcript of this commentary is posted with relevant links, and where such issues are debated extensively. However my views are not necessarily shared by KVMR. Thank you for listening.
[Addendum] Coincidentally the 2dec15 WSJ contained a piece by News Corp executive chairman Rupert Murdoch from a recent speech he gave at the Hudson Institute. The essay ‘America the Indispensible’ summarizes much of my conservetarian sentiment that is recorded in these pages, and it is germane to my radio commentary since Murdoch is also an immigrant and naturalized American citizen. The essay is about world order and America’s role in maintaining it since WW2. In it the author expresses a sentiment I experienced as a sixteen-year-old ‘Indiana teenager’ when I finally received my citizenship papers after being country for seven years – “Like so many naturalized citizens, I felt that I was an American before I formally became one.”
Well, our little union educated, progressive darlins have once more confirmed the longheld Rebane Doctrine tenet that the Left proscribes free speech wherever it can establish a beachhead of power. You can feel visible hatred from these mobs of ‘university students’ against those who disagree with them, and more importantly, also those who don’t support their views with sufficient vigor. They have no idea about the First Amendment simply because it and its place in American society has never been taught to them.
On college campuses in the 1960s, was it not their grandparents who relied on the First Amendment to support and protect their open protests against the government and university administrations? It used to be that a university was anything but a safe place for any idea – there ideas were treated to rigorous intellectual enquiry and analysis, and discarded unmercifully when found wanting.
Now the little darlins even banish journalists from covering their rage against a society they deem insensitive to their own needs and demands. In their public appearances they demonstrate both their ignorance and emotional fragility. This is the generation that needs ‘trigger warnings’ on all things academic and otherwise that might fracture their brittle countenances. They now need to set aside ‘safe spaces’ where politically incorrect speech and other communications are barred.
They abhor violence to such a degree that they do not hesitate to use it against others in order to diminish it in society. And, of course, they are against all forms of discrimination, stereotyping, and bias, as long as it all conforms to their own peculiar notions of goodness and light. They rail against McCarthyism blacklisting communists during early cold war years, but today they have no problem blacklisting distinguished Americans from speaking or even setting foot on their campuses. These young narcissists already know it all to an extent that they stand ready to remake their schools by vetting their own administrations and professors.
Our campuses have long been recognized as havens of collectivist thought. But now we seem to be entering into a new era of what may at best be described as the lunatics running the asylum. The progressive administrators and professors have a conundrum on their hands. Their half-baked and mini-minded spawn are actually putting into practice the proletarian putsches they have been carefully taught. Since they have been abandoned by their elders, the salvation of the American university now lies in the hands of the remaining serious cohort of students who are there for an education from institutions that can again be made to invite, nurture, and honor all ideas that illuminate and advance the human condition. No more blacklists about who can and cannot speak about what on campus.
Here is what The Atlantic had to say about ‘The Coddling of the American Mind’.