Libertarian Weirdos

I’m sympathetic to much of what libertarians have to say on economic matters. I think, for the most part, they have it right on regulation and taxes. Both are most likely to be used as levers so that one group can gain an advantage over the other. Like everything else about the state, they are necessary evils that should be kept to a minimum. On the other hand, libertarians have everything about human nature exactly backwards. Humans are not rational actors and we should never want to be. A land run by robots will be a bloodbath.

The thing about libertarians is they suffer from many of the same defects as liberals. Chief among them is their moral preening. There’s no better (worse?) example than Nick Gillespie from Reason Magazine. The ridiculous outfit is excusable as you have to have a gimmick on TV. The smug self-regard is another. I read this and think he must be an awful person to be around or have as a neighbor.

As one of the folks (along with Matt Welch, natch), who started the whole “Libertarian Moment” meme way back in 2008, it’s been interesting to see all the ways in which folks on the right and left get into such a lather at the very notion of expanding freedom and choice in many (though sadly not all) aspects of human activity.

Indeed, the brain freeze can get so intense that it turns occasionally smart people into mental defectives.

No one gets into a lather of expanding freedom and choice. That’s just signaling so the reader knows he is in the presence of the anointed. The fact is, hardly anyone pays much attention to libertarians. The reason is life is not a math problem nor is it an economic problem. Public debate is about what kind of society we wish to have and that means culture.

To wit, Damon Linker’s recent essay in The Week (a great magazine, by the way), which argues that the outcomes of U.S. military intervention in Iraq and Libya disprove libertarianism, in particular, the Hayekian principle of “spontaneous order.”

No shit. Linker is being super-cereal here, kids.

Nick is a 50-year old man. There’s simply no reason to write like a teenager. Putting that aside, the observable reality of the Middle East is, in fact, a perfect case against libertarianism. Remove a central authority with the willingness and ability to enforce the rules and you get Lord of the Flies with camels and swarthy guys firing Kalashnikovs. The same is true of Africa and South America. Big chunks of Eurasia too. It turns out that the only people capable of pulling off anything close to libertarianism are Anglo-Saxons.

But, that’s noticing and that leads to the great bogeyman that haunts the dreams of the libertarian weirdo – culture. Africans prefer a form of government that is based on neopatrimonialism. South Americans have always preferred autocratic rule, often by military men. Russians love their czars. Economic systems spring from culture. Culture and genetics dance the dance within the bounds of their geography to make the people we around the world. No words on a sheet of paper will change that natural realty. Libertarians have to reject that and embrace the same universalism of the Rousseau-ist cults. Otherwise, they may as well rejoin the Old Right.

 

Assholes And Their Toys

Amongst gun nuts, New Jersey has a shabby reputation. The gun laws there would make Hitler blush. It’s why Tubby has zero chance of winning the GOP nomination is 2016. Here’s a good example of the nutty gun laws in the state.

 A New Jersey man was arrested after police say he shot down a neighbor’s remote control drone.

According to investigators, officers with the Lower Township Police Department were called to a home in the 1000 block of Seashore Road on September 26th to investigate the report by a resident that his remote control helicopter (drone) was shot down. Investigators say the resident was taking aerial photographs of his friend’s home, which is under construction.

While doing so, the resident told police he heard several gunshots as he simultaneously lost control of the drone. After retrieving the drone, the resident observed multiple holes in it that were consistent with a shotgun blast. The resident called the Lower Township Police Department and when officers arrived, he directed them to the area where he heard the shots coming from.

After an investigation, police say they determined 32-year-old Russell J. Percenti allegedly fired the shots that brought down the drone. Percenti was arrested and charged with Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose and Criminal Mischief. The shotgun used to shoot down the drone was seized by police. Percenti was released after posting bail.

First off, we will see more of this. Cheap flying gizmos with cameras means every dickhead in the neighborhood will have one. In the not too distant future some jerk-off will have a drone spying on the woman next door and her husband will throttle the guy. The reason the general IQ has fallen is modern technology has allowed the stupid to escape the natural consequences of their genetics. At the tail end of the technological revolution, assholes get to easily reach out and share their asshole-ishness with the rest of the world.

What gets gun nuts going is the homeowner who shot down the drone gets charged with “Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose.” What in the hell is that? Unless they can prove the guy bought the gun so he could shoot down that idiots drone, they are making stuff up. This is why the cops are out of control. We have mountains of vague laws like this. Every day in the precinct, the chief says, “Show me the man and I’ll find you the crime.

As a gun owner and a normal person, I’m fine with local ordinances about discharging firearms in residential areas. I’m also fine with the man pulling the trigger being held responsible for the deeds of the bullet. If the idiot flying the remote control copter wanted to sue, fine. Giving the shooter a fine for discharging a firearm is fine too. This is not a criminal matter. This is guy getting pissed off at his neighbor who is a raging dickhead. But, this is New Jersey.

All that aside, technology is about to invite a whole new layer of trouble in our lives. Assholes like the the guy flying the spy camera is going to become a big problem and people will inevitably demand a solution from the state. Frankly, I don’t know the right answer. If I see a remote control gizmo flying over my property or even over my head, I’m taking it down if I can do it. If I find the guy controlling it, he’s having a very bad day. I’m sure I’m not alone. Banning the sale and use of these things, including for police departments, is probably a good idea.

 

Obama Speaks At Klan Rally

President Obama spoke at a Ku Klux Klan rally today.

Hello, CBC!  (Applause.)  Thank you so much.  Everybody, have a seat.  It is good to be with you here tonight.  If it wasn’t black tie I would have worn my tan suit.  (Laughter.)  I thought it looked good.  (Laughter.)

Thank you, Chaka, for that introduction.  Thanks to all of you for having me here this evening. I want to acknowledge the members of the Congressional Black Caucus and Chairwoman Marcia Fudge for their outstanding work.  (Applause.)  Thank you, Shuanise Washington, and the CBC Foundation for doing so much to help our young people aim high and reach their potential.

Tonight, I want to begin by paying special tribute to a man with whom all of you have worked closely with; someone who served his country for nearly 40 years as a prosecutor, as a judge, and as Attorney General of the United States:  Mr. Eric Holder.  (Applause.)  Throughout his long career in public service, Eric has built a powerful legacy of making sure that equal justice under the law actually means something; that it applies to everybody — regardless of race, or gender, or religion, or color, creed, disability, sexual orientation.  He has been a great friend of mine.  He has been a faithful servant of the American people.  We will miss him badly.  (Applause.)

This year, we’ve been marking the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act.  We honor giants like John Lewis — (applause); unsung heroines like Evelyn Lowery.  We honor the countless Americans, some who are in this room — black, white, students, scholars, preachers, housekeepers, patriots all, who, with their bare hands, reached into the well of our nation’s founding ideals and helped to nurture a more perfect union.  We’ve reminded ourselves that progress is not just absorbing what has been done — it’s advancing what’s left undone.

Even before President Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act into law, even as the debate dragged on in the Senate, he was already challenging America to do more and march further, to build a Great Society — one, Johnson said, “where no child will go unfed, and no youngster will go unschooled.  Where no man who wants work will fail to find it.  Where no citizen will be barred from any door because of his birthplace or his color or his church.  Where peace and security is common among neighbors and possible among nations.”  “This is the world that waits for you,” he said.  “Reach out for it now.  Join the fight to finish the unfinished work.”  To finish the unfinished work.

America has made stunning progress since that time, over the past 50 years — even over the past five years.  But it is the unfinished work that drives us forward.

Some of our unfinished work lies beyond our borders.  America is leading the effort to rally the world against Russian aggression in Ukraine.  America is leading the fight to contain and combat Ebola in Africa.  America is building and leading the coalition that will degrade and ultimately destroy the terrorist group known as ISIL.  As Americans, we are leading, and we don’t shy away from these responsibilities; we welcome them.  (Applause.)  That’s what America does.  And we are grateful to the men and women in uniform who put themselves in harm’s way in service of the country that we all love.  (Applause.)

So we’ve got unfinished work overseas, but we’ve got some unfinished work right here at home.  (Applause.)  After the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, our businesses have now created 10 million new jobs over the last 54 months.  This is the longest uninterrupted stretch of job growth in our history.  (Applause.)  In our history.  But we understand our work is not done until we get the kind of job creation that means everybody who wants work can a find job.

We’ve done some work on health care, too.  I don’t know if you’ve noticed.  Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, we’ve seen a 26 percent decline in the uninsured rate in America.  (Applause.)  African Americans have seen a 30 percent decline.  And, by the way, the cost of health care isn’t going up as fast anymore either.  Everybody was predicting this was all going to be so expensive.  We’ve saved $800 billion — (applause) — in Medicare because of the work that we’ve done — slowing the cost, improving quality, and improving access.  Despite unyielding opposition, this change has happened just in the last couple years.

But we know our work is not yet done until we get into more communities, help more uninsured folks get covered, especially in those states where the governors aren’t being quite as cooperative as we’d like them to be.  (Applause.)  You know who you are.  It always puzzles me when you decide to take a stand to make sure poor folks in your state can’t get health insurance even though it doesn’t cost you a dime.  That doesn’t make much sense to me, but I won’t go on on that topic.  (Applause.)  We’ve got more work to do.

It’s easy to take a stand when you’ve got health insurance.  (Laughter and applause.)  I’m going off script now, but — (laughter) — that’s what happens at the CBC.

Our high school graduation rate is at a record high, the dropout rate is falling, more young people are earning college degrees than ever before.  Last year, the number of children living in poverty fell by 1.4 million — the largest decline since 1966.  (Applause.)  Since I took office, the overall crime rate and the overall incarceration rate has gone down by about 10 percent.  That’s the first time they’ve declined at the same time in more than 40 years.  Fewer folks in jail.  Crime still going down.  (Applause.)

But our work is not done when too many children live in crumbling neighborhoods, cycling through substandard schools, traumatized by daily violence.  Our work is not done when working Americans of all races have seen their wages and incomes stagnate, even as corporate profits soar; when African-American unemployment is still twice as high as white unemployment; when income inequality, on the rise for decades, continues to hold back hardworking communities, especially communities of color.  We’ve got unfinished work.  And we know what to do.  That’s the worst part — we know what to do. 

We know we’ve got to invest in infrastructure, and manufacturing, and research and development that creates new jobs.  We’ve got to keep rebuilding a middle class economy with ladders of opportunity, so that hard work pays off and you see higher wages and higher incomes, and fair pay for women doing the same work as men, and workplace flexibility for parents in case a child gets sick or a parent needs some help.  (Applause.)  We’ve got to build more Promise Zones partnerships to support local revitalization of hard-hit communities.  We’ve got to keep investing in early education.  We want to bring preschool to every four-year-old in this country.  (Applause.)  And we want every child to have an excellent teacher.  And we want to invest in our community colleges and expand Pell Grants for more students.  And I’m going to keep working with you to make college more affordable.  Because every child in America, no matter who she is, no matter where she’s born, no matter how much money her parents have, ought to be able to fulfill her God-given potential.  That’s what we believe.  (Applause.)

So I just want everybody to understand — we have made enormous progress.  There’s almost no economic measure by which we are not better off than when I took office.  (Applause.)  Unemployment down.  Deficits down.  Uninsured down.  Poverty down.  Energy production up.  Manufacturing back.  Auto industry back.  But — and I just list these things just so if you have a discussion with one of your friends — (laughter) — and they’re confused.  Stock market up.  Corporate balance sheet strong.  In fact, the folks who are doing the best, they’re the ones who complain the most.  (Laughter and applause.)  So you can just point these things out.

But we still have to close these opportunity gaps.  And we have to close the justice gap — how justice is applied, but also how it is perceived, how it is experienced.  (Applause.)  Eric Holder understands this.  (Applause.)  That’s what we saw in Ferguson this summer, when Michael Brown was killed and a community was divided.  We know that the unrest continues.   And Eric spent some time with the residents and police of Ferguson, and the Department of Justice has indicated that its civil rights investigation is ongoing.

Now, I won’t comment on the investigation.  I know that Michael’s family is here tonight.  (Applause.)  I know that nothing any of us can say can ease the grief of losing a child so soon.  But the anger and the emotion that followed his death awakened our nation once again to the reality that people in this room have long understood, which is, in too many communities around the country, a gulf of mistrust exists between local residents and law enforcement.

Too many young men of color feel targeted by law enforcement, guilty of walking while black, or driving while black, judged by stereotypes that fuel fear and resentment and hopelessness.  We know that, statistically, in everything from enforcing drug policy to applying the death penalty to pulling people over, there are significant racial disparities.  That’s just the statistics.  One recent poll showed that the majority of Americans think the criminal justice system doesn’t treat people of all races equally.  Think about that.  That’s not just blacks, not just Latinos or Asians or Native Americans saying things may not be unfair.  That’s most Americans.

Draw whatever conclusions you like.

Straussian Bust Out

By now, regular readers know I’m more a man of the Old Right than any other grouping. I’m not inclined to think the neoconservatives are part of a global conspiracy, but I think Leo Strauss was full of baloney, at least when it comes to politics. His “distinction between exoteric (or public) and esoteric (or secret) teaching” was just an excuse to project his own opinions onto the classics. Jacques Derrida went down the same road, except he was carrying a copy of Reveries of a Solitary Walker instead of the Torah.

That said, I think the neoconservatives want to reach the right answer. At least, I’ve always assumed that to be the case. The primary difference between the Rousseau-ist cults and classical liberalism is means and ends. The former is unconcerned with the means as long as they reach their desired end. The latter is willing to accept imperfect ends as long as the means comports with ordered liberty. Neoconservatives try to fuse two antithetical world views by using liberal means to reach conservative ends.

They argued that the ends could be achieved through politics. Low taxes, limited government regulation and a defense of traditional values could be made by winning control of the state. They also bolted on hawkish foreign policy attempting to create a three-legged coalition. One leg is social conservatives primarily concerned with the culture. One leg is the low taxes and regulation and the other is the hawkish foreign policy. George Bush the Younger won the White House on that coalition. The 2000 election made clear the neoconservatives had routed the Old Right in the fight for the GOP. Karl Rove was triumphantly talking about the big tent and a permanent majority.

Here we are in 2014 and it is clear it was a disaster. Bush gave the social conservative nothing. In fact, he screwed them with his expansion of the state into charitable institutions. In 2000, the idea of two men getting married was an absurdity. Today, homosexuals are allowed to force normal people to work for them. Small government types were screwed over so bad they no longer exist. The small government wing of the GOP was raped to death by the Bush people. When he took office Federal spending was roughly $1.7 Trillion. When he left is was just under $3 Trillion. Foreign policy speaks for itself. Everything they predicted turned out to be wrong. The world Bush left was much worse than the one he inherited.

There’s no shortage of who struck John debates about how all this came to pass. I’m not sure it really matters. What’s important is recognizing that it was a big fat failure. People fall for all sorts of dumb ideas. The smart ones figure it out and learn from the experience. That’s not what has happened to the neocons. They can’t seem to accept what seems blazingly obvious to most of us. For instance, guys like Ramesh Ponnuru keep insisting that a new round of social engineering through the tax code is the golden ticket. The guy is obsessed with child tax credits, like they are special magic.

On the foreign policy side, guys like John Bolton want to carpet bomb the world until they stop acting like the rest of the world. We have been bombing  and saber rattling for two decades now. The world is not safer or more peaceful. In fact, it is going to shit and that’s mostly due to our policy of busting up the existing arrangements. You would think that two decades of failure would humble a man, but these guys keep screaming for more blood.

I could understand it if the public was falling for it or even giving them the benefit of the doubt. The Left is just plain crazy at this point anyway. Less crazy could be a decent strategy, maybe, but that’s not the case. The upcoming election could very well be the most favorable to Republicans in a generation. Everything is in their favor and they still can’t get the public interested in yet another round of neoconservative policy making.

This column in the Spectator nails it, I think.

Rove says the Republican “wave” everyone expects this fall isn’t materializing as yet because Democrats are outraising and outspending Republicans across the board. As evidence, he cites that the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee had outraised the National Republican Senatorial Committee by $1.6 million in August and, as of August 31, was sitting on a $5 million larger war chest. Rove also noted a study by American Crossroads which concluded that so far Democrat political entities had run or placed some $109 million in campaign TV ads, while their Republican counterparts had only run or placed $85 million.

Rove asserts, “The midterm environment is terrible for Democrats,” and reminds the reader of all the conditions we already know about this cycle.

In his assessment of the atmosphere surrounding the midterms, if not much else, Rove is correct. This is an environment in which there ought to be an electoral decimation of Barack Obama’s political fellows, and with a Senate that is embarrassingly dysfunctional — there are more than 300 bills passed by the House of Representatives sitting on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s desk awaiting a vote — an expectation of a Republican wave is anything but wishful thinking. Needing to gain six Senate seats to retake the majority and consign Reid to irrelevance, it’s virtually assured the GOP will pick up half that number from Montana, South Dakota and West Virginia. There are eight other seats — from Louisiana, Alaska, Arkansas, North Carolina, Colorado, Iowa, New Hampshire and Michigan — that Republicans in a real wave election ought to be able to steal away from Reid and Obama.

And yet, as of now, such a wave is elusive. Even in states like Arkansas, Alaska, and Louisiana, where Democrats as a party are clearly on the way out, polls don’t show GOP blowouts. And in races in Kansas, Kentucky, and Georgia, deep red states all, Republican victory is hardly assured.

Rove’s alarm about fundraising might be more self-serving than instructive. The money shortage is but a symptom of a larger disease. The Republican Party, in part thanks to Rove’s actions, lacks credibility and trust with voters and activists — both of which it must have.

After all, how does the GOP sell itself as the party of reform when it’s asking voters to replace Harry Reid with Mitch McConnell? How does it sell itself as responsive to voters when John Boehner inexplicably touts amnesty for illegal immigrants as “good for the economy”? How can it stitch together a broad coalition of voters or present fresh ideas when senatorial fossils Pat Roberts and Thad Cochran can’t even get a majority of Republicans in their states to vote for them?

Moreover, Rove’s hands are not clean in the party establishment’s all-out war against the Tea Party earlier this year. A major effort was made to decry the practices of Tea Party groups using populist messaging as a fundraising tool for selfish profit rather than to move the electoral needle, and that criticism is valid. It’s true that many of the D.C.-based Tea Party outfits are running a racket on conservative activists and donors. But while the argument holds water, Rove and other Beltway GOP gurus like him are the wrong people to point fingers, because that’s precisely what they’ve been doing to their own donors.

In 2012, Rove’s American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS raised some $325 million to purportedly help Mitt Romney and the GOP’s Senate candidates win elections. The results were catastrophic. But the media buyers who work for those organizations banked their 15 percent agency commissions anyway. Fifteen percent of $325 million in TV ads sure is a handsome sum, especially when those ads fail to sell.

What we are seeing is an old fashioned bust out. In the 1980’s, a natural coalition of normal people rebelled against the Liberals. In the 1990’s and 2000’s, a lot of people got rich selling books and TV shows to people on the Right. Much of it was sincere, but a lot of it was cynical. Now, it is just a bust out. Guys like Rove are stealing every nickel they can get. That old conflict between means and end is no longer operative, as Ron Ziegler used to say. Instead it is all about raking in the cash from voters desperate to counter the liberal onslaught.

This column from Quinn Hillyer is a good example. Hillyer is a decent guy and he means well, but his column is nothing but a thinly veiled fundraising plea. Ed Gillespie is a perfect example of the cynical grasping of GOP Inc. Gillespie is an open borders fanatic. He has also spent the last decade working with Jack Quinn, a liberal democratic operative, pitching big government on Capitol Hill. His list of clients is a laundry list of barnacles sucking the life out of the American public. His candidacy is a joke and now the establishment is trying to get conservative voters to pay off his campaign debt – all owed to carbuncles like Karl Rove – a man getting rich from the great Republican Bust Out.

 

The Stupid Person Veto

There’s a term called the “heckler’s veto” which describes how lunatics are able to stifle normal public discourse. Colleges will not invite Ann Coulter to speak anymore because the lunatics are so disruptive the school fears harm could come to their students. The crazies over at Media Matters and The Southern Poverty Law Center work from this premise. In both cases it is a small number of people, but they make such a ruckus it is easier to go along with their racist demands than do the right thing.

The thing is, Media Matter and all of the other Cult pressure groups rely on mass media to pull their stunts. One of the weird consequence to the technological revolution is we now have the lunatics veto and the stupid person veto to go along with the heckler’s veto. Because we made it so easy for the stupid and crazy to reach a broad audience, we are more aware of them than at any time in human history. Matt Osborne, in another age, would have passed the time playing checkers with the other patients at the local asylum. Today he participates in public debate.

Steve Sailer has a post about the increasing number of two-digit IQ’s writing for popular websites. That column by Daisy Hernandez is funny, but it is also a good example of the the stupid person veto. Daisy is probably a nice girl who is kind to puppies and children. Her bio suggests she is clever enough to fool others in her slice of the bell curve, but she is not adding anything to the stock of human capital. In a different age, she would be a secretary at an office somewhere or at home raising children. She’s also not a “woman of color” but she’s smart enough to know that’s how stupid people gain a toe-hold in the opinion rackets these days. Liz Warren got a job at Harvard once she became a fake Indian.

Reading her column, you see a familiar game. Some self-described victim declares herself to be a moral authority. That gives her a veto over the rest of us. After all, the only reason her “white male editor” spiked her asylum story is he is a racist. His pointing out the idiocy of such a proposal is the proof. After all, only “skinny white guys” notice that dimwits like Ms. Hernandez have heads for of goofy ideas. Because it is so easy for blockheads like Daisy to get on twitter and Facebook, they can now shout down everyone else.

I’m fond of pointing out that the mouth breathers on MSNBC were not allowed on TV and radio thirty years ago. The men running television and radio, sympathetic to the causes of these lunatics, were still responsible enough to keep these nuts off the air. They rightly feared the consequence. Even now, without mandatory cable fees MSNBC would go out of business in a week. technology has flung open the asylum doors and we are awash in dimwits and lunatics. The sane and sober are drowned out and the results follow.

Weird People

F. Scott Fitzgerald supposedly said the “rich are nothing like us.” I remember hearing that a million times in my youth and it was always attributed to Fitzgerald. I have no idea if he said it and I’m too lazy to look it up. The fact is the rich do live different lives than everyone else. For most people, money is the thing you never have enough of and so you are forever fussing over it. It is always at the heart of your decisions. Rich people have excess and so they don’t spend as much time fussing about money in their daily lives. Money discussions are done quarterly with their accountants and brokers. That leads to lives that are strangely different than the rest of us.

In February I gave an interview to Vice UK to help promote a film I had written and financed called The Canyons—I did the press because there was still the idea, the hope, that if myself or the director Paul Schrader talked about the film it would somehow find an audience interested in it and understand what it was: an experimental, guerilla DIY affair that cost $150,000 dollars to shoot ($90,000 out of our own pockets) and that we filmed over twenty days in L.A. during the summer of 2012 starring controversial Millennials Lindsay Lohan and porn star James Deen. The young journalist from Vice UK asked me about the usual things I was preoccupied with in that moment: my admiration of Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street—the best film I saw in 2013 (not great Scorsese, but better than any other American film that year) and we talked about the movie I’m writing for Kanye West, my love of Terrence Malick (though not To The Wonder), a miniseries I was developing about the Manson murders for FOX (but because of another Manson series going into production at NBC the miniseries has now been cancelled), the Bret Easton Ellis Podcast (link), the possibility of a new novel I had begun in January of 2013 and that I lost interest in but hoped to get back to; we talked about my problems with David Foster Wallace, my love of Joan Didion, as well as Empire versus post-Empire (link) and we talked about, of course, The Canyons. But the first question the young journalist asked me wasn’t about the movie—it was about why I was always referring to Millennials as Generation Wuss on my Twitter feed. And I answered her honestly, unprepared for the level of noise my comments caused once the Vice UK piece was posted.

Bret Easton Ellis is not a billionaire, but he lives a life of leisure. His books and the movies from those books have made him millions. His fame means rich people looking for cultural trinkets are willing to pay him to hang around them. That’s why his opening paragraph resembles something you would expect from a patient at the local psych ward. The name dropping and impulsive self-reference is strange enough, but the volume of it is not like anything you find in normalville.

I have been living with someone from the Millennial generation for the last four years (he’s now 27) and sometimes I’m charmed and sometimes I’m exasperated by how him and his friends—as well as the Millennials I’ve met and interacted with both in person and in social media—deal with the world, and I’ve tweeted about my amusement and frustration under the banner “Generation Wuss” for a few years now. My huge generalities touch on their over-sensitivity, their insistence that they are right despite the overwhelming proof that suggests they are not, their lack of placing things within context, the overreacting, the passive-aggressive positivity, and, of course, all of this exacerbated by the meds they’ve been fed since childhood by over-protective “helicopter” parents mapping their every move. These are late-end Baby Boomers and Generation X parents who were now rebelling against their own rebelliousness because of the love they felt that they never got from their selfish narcissistic Boomer parents and  who end up smothering their kids, inducing a kind of inadequate preparation in how to deal with the hardships of life and the real way the world works: people won’t like you, that person may not love you back, kids are really cruel, work sucks, it’s hard to be good at something, life is made up of failure and disappointment, you’re not talented, people suffer, people grow old, people die. And Generation Wuss responds by collapsing into sentimentality and creating victim narratives rather than acknowledging the realities of the world and grappling with them and processing them and then moving on, better prepared to navigate an often hostile or indifferent world that doesn’t care if you exist.

People who make their name in response to popular trends always come to bad ends. Comics rarely have careers into their fifties for this reason. Once you hit your 40’s you begin to lose touch with pop culture. By your mid-50’s you have no idea who most of these people are even if you try. The aging comic’s references become sad and dated. The aging satirist starts to sound like a retired athlete. Ellis appears to be heading down that road where he compares everything to his generation.

That said, what a strange man.

 

Spies Like Us

A very long time ago when I was a young man, I knew a girl who worked for the NSA. She was an “escort” which meant she escorted people around the facility. She stood at one door. When someone came through that door, she would check their ID and walk with them to their assigned area. Apparently, this was a common way of handling internal security back then. I have no idea if it remains in place, but it sounds like a bureaucratic solution to security. I had a client that did security work for the Feds and they had a similar setup so I’m guessing it is common.

More recently, I knew a guy whose daughter worked for the CIA. She started as an intern in college. Her studies had nothing to do with security. She was a theater major. She was also as dumb as a goldfish and about 150 pounds overweight. After college, she got a full time job at the CIA and they sent her all over the world. She worked in Baghdad and Kuwait during the last wars there. Once she started having kids she was sent back home. What a fat stupid women could possibly do for the CIA is a mystery, but she got to pretend she was  Mata Hari. Probably still does.

Back in the 80’s, it was revealed that the number of paper pushers to field agents in the CIA was something like 150-to-1. They had an army of people who spent all day reading foreign newspapers and categorizing the stories. If you spoke Russian, you would sit there all day listening to Russian TV and radio, cataloging the details. All of those people need coffee and they need managers. They all got to tell people at dinner parties that they worked for the CIA. The fact that they put that on the credit card applications and had it on their parking stickers did not make it less mysterious, I bet.

The point being is we have thousands of people working in the CIA, NSA and other intelligence agencies who are just cubicle jockeys. Most of what they do is pointless. Some of it is useful and some of it harmful. The fat girl in the CIA most likely spent her days filling out forms and reading e-mail. Like the “escort” I met in my youth, she was as much of a spy as the janitors or coffee jerks working at the CIA Stabucks.

The new supervisor thought his idea was innocent enough. He wanted the baristas to write the names of customers on their cups to speed up lines and ease confusion, just like other Starbucks do around the world.

But these aren’t just any customers. They are regulars at the CIA Starbucks.

“They could use the alias ‘Polly-O string cheese’ for all I care,” said a food services supervisor at the Central Intelligence Agency, asking that his identity remain unpublished for security reasons. “But giving any name at all was making people — you know, the undercover agents — feel very uncomfortable. It just didn’t work for this location.”

This purveyor of skinny lattes and double cappuccinos is deep inside the agency’s forested Langley, Va., compound.

Welcome to the “Stealthy Starbucks,” as a few officers affectionately call it.

Buck Sexton likes to brag about working for the CIA. His act on Glenn Beck’s network is to be the national security guy. One look at him says he was never a field agent. Unless we go to war with the Boy Scouts, a guy like Sexton is not needed in an under cover role. Red Eye has another fake spy on named Mike Baker. He actually did field work, but it was drug cases and that’s more like police work than espionage. He pretends to have been a government hit man on TV. Both are entertaining, but the tough guys stuff is a little silly.

The comical part of the Starbucks story is that no one buying coffee there is a ever going to be a field agent. Maybe they get out into an embassy job, but they will never go under cover. Driving into Langley with your CIA badge and CIA parking sticker on your car is a terrible way to maintain your cover. Yet, everyone in the place, including the guys emptying the trash barrels, carries on like they are Maxwell Smart. I bet you could make a money selling them show shoe phones and cones of silence.

Rich Man Poor Man

The Bush years, I suspect, will be studied by historians for a long time. It’s not that Bush was all that interesting. It’s that he and his band of neoconservative fanatics sent so many people into a permanent state of insanity. Most of the old paleos went nuts over the war mongering. Many eventually embraced the weird anti-Israel paranoia that used to be the private domain of the Lyndon LaRouche followers. The Left, of course, was taken over by the Cult of Modern Liberalism. I tend to think the collapse of the Old Right open the door for this new Rousseau-ist religion we call liberalism in America, but that’s a topic for another day.

There were minor figures who also went bonkers. Rod Dreher was a conventional Catholic Conservative in the Sam Francis vein. Then he started getting squirrelly, writing about “crunchy-cons” and then he wandered off to find himself. His work today has all the hallmarks of a man who was defined by his faith and then lost his faith. There’s a maudlin obsession with suffering. The source story is here. My bullshit meter is at eleven on this one. Poor people don’t write books, even in England. A little google work and I see it is a hoax.

The fact is we have four types of poor people in America. The first and most common is the dependency class. Unless you’re like me, these are the folks you never see. They live in the bad areas or what you assume to be bad areas. In the ghetto, the women get on the dole and the men sell drugs, get high and get in trouble. There are some of the other type of ghetto dweller. This is the working poor. These people have jobs and try to live decent lives. Ferguson Missouri was full of this sort until the liberals moved a section of the St. Louis ghetto to Ferguson.

Then you have the temporary poor. These are young people starting out and divorced mothers trying to bounce back. The former often made some poor early choices and are struggling to recover. They do and it builds character. The latter are women who end up divorced with kids and living in an apartment. Again, it is temporary. Eventually their salary rises and the kids move on or they find a new man. The thing with this group is they just don’t have money. That’s different than poverty, which has a behavior component. Give these people more money and they put it away for a rainy day. Give the ghetto dweller more money and they blow it on drugs.

The final category of poor people are the imaginary ones. These are the poor the SWPL-types like Rod Dreher read about or see on TV. The imaginary poor are designed to elicit feelings of pity followed by an urge to “get involved.” The tale offered up by Linda Tirado, for example. hits all the current fads in SWPL-ville. She smokes and eats junk food. SWPL’s are big into self-denial. She prefers abortion to motherhood, but the closest abortion mill is too far away so she has kids she does not want. The whole point of the thing is to function as a morality play for the types of people who think religion is for losers.

This weird form of Mercerism would be harmless if not for the fact public policy is all geared toward helping the imaginary and temporary poor. Rod Dreher spends hours coming up with ideas to do something about the imaginary poor. Democrats in Washington are always championing polices to help the temporary poor, but end up writing laws for the imaginary poor, cause that’s where the emotion lies. It is why Mao packed off the intellectuals for the rice paddy. Not only did it feel good to see these barnacles humiliated, there was some hope they would learn something useful about the people.

My Shadow Grows

A bit I’m stealing from Steve Sailer is pointing out whenever people on the big stage “borrow” my material. I think it is funny how fringe material eventually finds its way into the hands of the more buttoned down types. Anyway, Jonah Goldberg has borrowed one of my lines for his latest column. If you put “pale penis people” into a google machine, I turn up a lot. It’s a line I started using on a mailing list back in the 80’s. The best bits are the ones that make a point and make you laugh.

This blog gets 20,000 unique visitors a month now. It is a small crowd compared the big sites, but I’ve been at it for just a year. Plus, I’m anonymous and have done little to promote the site. That’s a good number under the circumstances. I’ve been linked to some popular sites and a couple of famous people have mentioned the blog. I’m not in it for any reason other than my own entertainment so organic growth is fine by me.

I installed some tools last month to analyze my traffic. One of the strange things is the number of UK-based readers I have. Someone e-mailed me a while back and said something to the effect that my brand of content is not permitted in the UK so people go on-line to find it elsewhere. Apparently, the UK polices their part of the Internet. I don’t have anyway of know if that is true, but it makes some sense. I read the British tabs for the same reason. American papers don’t cover the stuff people find interesting. Instead they proselytize.

Of course, now that the maniacs from the Cult have discovered me, I may get unwanted attention. Kooks like the #stoprush crowd have been known to stalk bloggers. Many years ago when I had a blog (before there were bloggers) I had a stalker. The guy was a harmless nut, but you never know. The guy I just linked to is the type that ends up in the police blotter or the morgue. But, we’ll take that as it comes. Giving these crazies the heckler’s veto was always a mistake and one I would never go along with under any circumstances.

For now, a specter is haunting the ‘Net— the specter of the z-blog.

 

The Mind of a Maniac

I post a lot of lunatics. It is a weird hobby, I admit, but it is good material. The lunatic lacks the internal brake that keeps most of us from lurching off into extreme opinions, beliefs and actions. I think MSNBC is full of demented crazies, but I’m not starting a website to denounce them. I’m not going to quit my job so I can stand outside their studies screaming “MSNBC Lies!” That brake in my head tells me to let it go and forget about it.

Anyway, this turned up in the comments of my Limbaugh post.

What I really love is how so many self-taught constitutional scholars suddenly appear to declare that what StopRush does is somehow illegal or immoral. When did it become a crime to ask a company to divest from misogyny and bigotry? After all, it was fine with right wing nutjobs when it happened to Howard Stern. It was happening to MSNBC with #OpSlam right before Limbaugh went off on his “slut” rant.

But for some reason, Rush is a special person who gets special protection from the law…despite the fact that neither you, nor Rush’s favorite legal professor, nor Brian Glicklich can cite any actual laws to back this assertion.

About those names you’ve reposted: they are already getting threats, and if history is any guide they will now be subject to identity theft, real-life stalking, and smears. That’s what happened to the first cohort of volunteers on Twitter, which is why these volunteers were operating under pseudonyms. But I’m sure that liberals are just fair game…because of some imaginary law that none of you can cite.

Just to give you one example of how incorrect Glicklich is, we have volunteers in radio markets around the country listening to his show so that we can identify and contact his sponsors — but these volunteers are not accounted in his math, are they?

Our volunteers currently have a database of nearly four thousand companies that have divested from Limbaugh’s hate-radio show. We have been so successful that we now have to focus on his PSAs because there are no paid ads left. This took thousands of people, and not one of us has ever seen a Media Matters personality in the Flush Rush Facebook group. Not ever.

So you can continue to believe what you want, but the laws say otherwise, and so do the volunteers of a movement that is succeeding in its mission. This is why his fans’ hatred for us is so vile and disinhibited: we are effective, and it causes them tremendous butthurt. They are such wonderful people.

It’s obvious that Matt Osborne is a nut. Sane people just turn off the radio, but lunatics like this guy quit their job and spend all day stalking Limbaugh’s advertisers. His website should be enough to have the guy committed if anyone were to bother. I’d say there’s a pretty good chance he has a long list of medications to take every day. These guys with these obsessions usually have a long list of other issues.

My former lawyer is one such guy. He was fine for a long time. He was prone to crazy talk about politics, but he did not obsess over it. Then he slipped a gear, quit his job and now he won’t shut about the imaginary right-wing conspiracy. My guess is this Matt Osborne guy went down a similar road. Back in the Bush years he jumped the track and now spends all of his time harassing people on-line.

That said, it would be awesome if Limbaugh dragged these guys into court. That would be great TV.