Monday, December 31, 2007
  Word of the year

Since Professor Polistra isn't around to do her annual Words of the Year properly, I'll just quote from Chosunilbo in South Korea.

The Professors' Times on Sunday reported it has chosen the four-letter Chinese phrase "jagigiin (自欺欺人)" to describe the nation's economic, political and social situation in 2007. It means "deceiving yourself and others." Prof. Ahn Dae-hoe of Sungkyunkwan University, who nominated the phrase, said it "can be used to refer to actions resulting from ruthless desire. All the scandals that shook the social foundation of the country this year resulted from reckless greed." His comments aimed at scandals surrounding the disgraced curator Shin Jeong-ah's faking of her degrees, former Korea University president Lee Pil-sang's plagiarism, and corporate scandals like that surrounding the Samsung Group. The word emerged the winner in a survey conducted by the publication of 340 professors, including leaders of the national and private university professor councils, from Dec. 15 to 20.


Deceiving yourself and others. Ruthless desire. Reckless greed.

Fake news, fake economics, fake inflation index, fake war, fake politics.

And above all, the all-consuming all-corrupting genocidal false religion of "global warming".

Yes, the term applies equally well here, I think.

Labels:

 
Saturday, December 29, 2007
  Got it.....

Comparing Huckabee and Romney reminded me of something that I couldn't quite pin down.....



Finally got it.

Huck is Sheriff Andy and Mitt is Deputy Barney.

Sheriff Andy knew human nature, and Deputy Barney knew all the rules.

= = = = =

12/31: Well, poop.

I've been defending Huck on grounds of basic leadership abilities, but this latest mess with planning a negative ad, then deciding not to run it, is a deal-breaker. In the Mayberry metaphor, it makes Huck look more like the town drunk Otis.

Two possibilities:

1. He simply can't manage his staff. If you can't manage a dozen people, you're not qualified to manage millions.

2. There's an opposition mole on the staff, a David Brock type. If you can't detect and eject a mole, you're not paranoid enough to be President.



 
  Experience

Polistra is still enjoying her vacation in a better time; no reports from her yet.

Meanwhile, our precious Elites are peddling a magnificent piece of illogic. All the Top Experts agree that the assassination of Bhutto means we need to keep Experienced People in office. The experts also agree that Pakistan needs more democracy, because Democracies Don't War.

Do these people THINK at all????

The assassination happened WHILE the Experienced people were in office, and it happened partly BECAUSE Bush/Wilson has been pushing Musharraf to take more steps toward the Holy Grail of Democracy. If we had been pushing him to wipe out al-Qaeda instead of pushing him to admit Bhutto as an opposition candidate, this specific event would NOT have occurred.

A logical mind will conclude from this event that the current path, the Experienced path, is NOT WORKING. This doesn't tell us which alternate path would be better, but it emphatically and easily tells us that the current type of Experience is making things worse.
 
Monday, December 24, 2007
  Where's Polistra?



Despairing of today's intolerable idiocy, Polistra wandered into another time and place, when life was somewhat harder but common sense still survived.

An account of her travels will be coming through the ether in a couple of days.....


Meanwhile, Martha Mears sings for Christmas.

 
Thursday, December 20, 2007
  Oath of disloyalty

Listening to George W. Gore's press conference. Mostly the usual futile attempts at cleverness by a man who is incapable of cleverness.

One astonishingly honest revelation: "Dow Jones Man" asked George if he was concerned about the increasing number of large financial institutions being bought by foreign and unfriendly governments. George W. Gore said "No, I'm happy to have the money coming back. I'm not troubled at all."

It's not often you hear a Federal employee state so baldly and openly that he is fully loyal to Arabia and China.

Will anyone do anything about it? No, of course not.

J. Edgar is spinning so fast that pieces of his ghost are flying off into distant parts of the universe.


= = = = =

Less sardonically: This is what happens when you follow purely numerical economics, what is sometimes called 'autistic economics'. When the only thing that matters is increasing the flow of monetary units, you can't even imagine the real troubles or benefits that may be caused by one specific transaction between two specific countries or companies. Money moves, so everything is wonderful in this most wonderful of all worlds. Bah.
 
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
  Sarko takes over Korea

Well, not exactly. But in fact South Korea has just elected a new president who sounds like a cross between Rudy and Sarko.

Via Chosunilbo:

Five major employers organizations on Wednesday expressed hope that president-elect Lee Myung-bak will revive the economy and create a business-friendly environment. .... "Voters in effect gave him their overwhelming support despite various lingering suspicions and negative factors emerging during campaign because they expect him to revive the economy. We hope that he will turn his campaign promise -- achieving 7 percent growth and increasing per capita income to $40,000 -- into reality, using his experience as a corporate CEO who led the country's development and as mayor of Seoul who implemented massive projects."

Yoo Chang-moo, vice chairman of the Korea International Trade Association, asked the president-elect to build a society where law and principles are respected and create an atmosphere where business is valued. "We want to see our president aggressively engage in sales diplomacy and resource diplomacy, just like French President Nicolas Sarkozy when he flew to Libya to sell Airbus aircraft," he said.

Military leaders asked the president-elect to restore the identity and pride of the military. They called for national division and military confrontation to be seen not from an ideological perspective but from a realistic viewpoint. An Army colonel said, "The first and foremost raison d'etre of the military is to protect the people from the enemy. In the current circumstances, it's hard to teach the soldiers who the main enemy is. It's high time politicians and those in power stopped rocking the foundation of the military and sapping soldiers' morale."


So, while we are mired in total corruption and foolishness, our genuine allies are picking up the torch of civilization and carrying it for us.

God protects drunks and idiots.
 
  Oh, I see 3

Listening to a local talk show host who is (for some unknown reason) rehashing all the basic arguments for and against the war in Iraq.

I've covered this ground before, best here. At that time I wrote, among other things:

Bush says: "If we fail over there, the turrists will follow us home."

Think about this for a minute. Exactly how is this going to happen? Several thousand Sunni and Shiite warriors will not be able to infiltrate easily into American life. These guys are not the elite Westernized types that performed 9/11. If they do attack en masse by some method, it means we are not doing the basic job of controlling our ports and borders.


I realized just now that there's an even simpler argument against the "turrists follow us home" idiocy.

Bush says that the enemy wants to fight us where our army is.

Okay....

If you were Osama, where would you want to fight America? Where the US Army is, or where it isn't?

The truly odd thing is that the Left doesn't use any of these clear logical counter-arguments. Bush's claims are astonishingly easy to break, but our Left is even more thoroughly idiotized by decades of forced contradictions and weird alliances, by mixing Marx, Marcuse and Mohammed. Our Left can't even make arguments that would serve its own side. It just screams tourettishly about Halliburton, Habeas Corpus and Hitler.

Maybe God does protect drunks and idiots after all.
 
  Harris gets it

Lee Harris, one of the better commentators, sees the Huckabee phenomenon correctly. It's not really about religion, it's about culture.

Harris says:

I have also been sampling some of the anti-Huckabee literature, which is becoming increasingly shrill and mean-spirited. As I read some of these comments I found something quite strange going on inside of me. I felt offended, in a personal way, as when someone attacks not you, but your family, or your people. In short, I felt angry, righteously angry.


Harris goes on to describe his Baptist upbringing, and the role played by unspoken cultural habits. And then the key:

Much of this attack takes the odious form of snobbery. It is true that the Southern Baptist church has seldom been the home of the elite, social or intellectual. On the contrary, it began as the religion of the poor and the uneducated, those who farmed their own land and made things with their own hands.


Hands. The real difference between those "economic conservatives" who control most of the "conservative" commentary, versus plain old Americans. The "economic conservatives" don't need a country or a place; they can exist on a purely virtual and numerical plane because they have the power to escape to Dubai or Shanghai after they have succeeded in selling off America's physical production capacity. As long as their fraudulent Core Inflation remains low, as long as they have Zip Zero Nada Taxes and Zip Zero Nada Interest Rates, their gambling addiction can run wild, scouring the American landscape of mere physical objects like factories, mines, and oil refineries. Meanwhile, those of us who grew up in a hand-based culture, who come from lines of farmers, mechanics and cooks, are struggling to exist. Huckabee seems to understand this difference, though he hasn't yet offered satisfying specifics. Maybe he will listen to Hunter on this point.

Harris again:
Nobody told the Southern Baptists what they could and couldn't think—not even each other, which is why they kept dividing off into new congregations so frequently. You still can't tell them what to think, which is perhaps why the intellectual elite distrusts them — they stubbornly refuse to take the word of those who are so clearly their cerebral superiors.


I'm not sure about the last point. It's not so much that the elite distrusts us, more that they see us as utterly irrelevant and incapable of thought because we don't have Harvard degrees and we don't share their bizarre addiction to maximal status and power expressed in numerical form and measured by transparently false instruments.

Polistra has felt the same not-quite-logical loyalty to Huckabee, beginning a month ago. Huck strikes a deep chord in a native of the Protestant Midwest. He is the natural chief or delegate of our tribe, the leader of the farmers and mechanics. He insists on judging by merit rather than numbers.

Incidentally, this precise distinction probably accounts for the elite's wild hissing at his Foreign Affairs article: he is judging Persia and Pakistan by their essential human qualities and intentions, not by their weapon stockpiles as measured by transparently fraudulent CIA reports. Similarly with Huckabee's record of pardons and paroles: he trusted his judgment of character more than Due Process or Minimum Sentence Guidelines.

If the "conservative" elite could stop hissing like cats in heat and start thinking, they would realize that judging on merit is supposed to be a basic axiom of conservatism. The old American setup gave room for personal morality on both sides. Public opinion and juries were meant to examine the character and intentions of offenders; and would-be offenders were slowed down by the prospect of facing a public that had no fear of discrimination lawsuits. When the elites squawk about Huckabee's insistence on using his own morality to examine the morality of the criminal, they are following Lenin's road: they are replacing natural judgment by "objective" formulas. It's true that natural judgment makes errors at times, but when you banish morality from your brain and use stiff binary rules instead, you have laid yourself wide open to a complete systematic error.

If you measure your enemy solely by his centrifuge count, the CIA can lead you into truly stupid mistakes. Contrarily, when you use your own mature and practiced moral judgment to measure the enemy's moral nature, you won't be fooled by Joe Wilson's thumb on the scale.

= = = = =

Semi-relevantly, here's my great-great-grandfather, a Baptist preacher and carpenter. He wanted a church to preach in, so he built this one in 1880, and proceeded to build much of the surrounding town. I don't know if the church still stands ... looked solid enough when this photo was taken in 1956.




Note the work gloves, even when posing for a rare photograph. Hands.
 
Saturday, December 15, 2007
  Huck's article




Polistra's Seventh Law: When the elites say X is unthinkable, it's time to think X.

The commentariat has been focusing today on Huckabee's long article in Foreign Affairs. The brand-R and brand-D teams are both using the article's summary (probably written by an editor) to dismiss Huck as unthinkable.

I took the trouble to read the whole article. Huckabee makes three main points in various ways:

1. We need to understand our enemy coldly and completely. This requires better intelligence and stronger diplomatic connections.

2. Persia is basically a rational country. It won't be our friend, but it will be neutral if we handle it right.

3. Pakistan is basically an irrational country. It is our enemy, and we should handle it as such.

Polistra has been making these points for a long time ... except for the bit about stronger diplomatic connections, but Huck's argument there is persuasive. His main error is to focus too much on the Mohammedan element of the enemy, not enough on the Arab tribal element.
 
Thursday, December 13, 2007
  McCotter's Manifesto

Thaddeus McCotter, rep from Michigan, made a dramatic speech in the House Special Orders last night. It is a full-blown manifesto for a new approach to politics. If we are going to have a non-Communist party in the America of the future, it will have to follow McCotter's basic principles.

McCotter's high-falutin verbosity makes his speeches hard to follow orally, so I started looking for a transcript. Unsurprisingly, none of the brand-R blogs paid any attention to the speech, because it's WAY out of the standard playing field. For the two standard teams, the only permissible political dialogue is 10,000 repetitions of "Bush is God and Hillary is Satan", or 10,000 repetitions of "Hillary is God and Bush is Satan", respectively. Since McCotter's speech does not repeat either form of the rosary even once, it will be completely ignored by our two political brands.

Perhaps oddly, perhaps meaningfully, the first place I found a transcript is a pro-Obama blog, and I give credit and thanks to Arnold Sherr for locating and publishing the transcript.

I've reformatted the transcript for readability, and stored the result here.

Some key points.

Introduction:

... Republicans must accurately assess our party’s past and present failings; and its future prospects of again providing Americans a meaningful choice between the major parties. This remains, after all, a party’s duty to the citizenry. For my GOP to fulfill it, first we must bury our ideological dead. ... Such was the Republican bathos: a transformational majority sinned and slipped into a transactional “Cashocracy” – promises, policies, principles, all bartered, even honor. The majority now is of the ages, may it rest in peace ... And be redeemed.


His short list of basic principles:


1. Our liberty is granted not by the pen of a government bureaucrat, but is authored by the hand of almighty God.

2. Our sovereignty rests not in our soil, but in our souls.

3. Our security is guaranteed not by the thin hopes of appeasement, but by the moral and physical courage of our troops defending us in hours of maximum danger.

4. Our prosperity is produced not by the tax hikes and spending sprees of politicians, but by the innovation and perspiration of free people engaged in free enterprise.

5. Our cherished truths and communal virtues are preserved and observed not by a coerced political correctness, but by our reverent citizenry’s voluntary celebration of the culture of life.


And the strongest bit of his conclusion:

In this Age of Globalization, however, while Americans are vexed by their seeming inability to influence the potent economic, social and political forces radically reshaping their lives, American corporations are busy decentralizing into 'virtual corporations' reliant upon the outsourcing of jobs to other nations to obtain lower labor costs and evade cumbersome domestic laws and regulations. Such 'rootless capital' being sent around the world in a keystroke to more 'competitive markets' has cost Americans their livelihoods; reduced their wages and employer-provided benefits; diminished their unions' memberships; eclipsed their optimism regarding our economy’s continued vitality; and, in cases of extreme economic distress and angst, destroyed their marriages and dreams for their children.


The failure to realize the seismic ramifications to normal Americans of this tectonic economic shift was a primary cause of the Cashocracy's collapse. As rising corporate profits and Wall Street bull markets became increasingly divorced from working Americans' prosperity, the Cashocrats clung ever more tightly to their corporate benefactors without grasping that Americans had concluded what is 'good for GM' is no longer necessarily good for them.

The advent of virtual corporations and transient international capital has ended the old industrial-welfare state model of governance, wherein solutions to Americans' economic and social anxieties were the shared burdens of centralized corporations and government. The stark choice is now between increasing the centralized power of the federal government or decentralizing power into the hands of individuals, families and communities.

 
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
  Whole lotta diagnosin goin on, but no prescribin.

In today's Iowa "debate", the questioner lady gave plenty of opportunities to state specific actions, but got no meaningful response. Lots of "I will use the bully pulpit" and "I will encourage" and "I will raise the level of dialogue", for Christ's sake. But I didn't hear any promises to take specific actions.

On education, Thompson finally diagnosed the core problem: the NEA. But he didn't say that he would eliminate the NEA by executive order.

In 1957 Eisenhower used force to insure that black kids got an equal
education. When Ark gov Orval Faubus "stood in the schoolhouse door", Ike called out the National Guard.

At this point we need a similarly forceful action to insure that all kids get a decent education. Charter and voucher systems must be established nationally; no state shall be permitted to have a monopolistic public school system, and the NEA and AFT must be eliminated entirely.

Generally (as always) Hunter stated the priorities and problems best, but even he was woefully short on solutions.

Worst thing of all: Even though the little rebellion against "handshowing" was fun, every single one of the candidates allowed the criminal fraud of Global Warming to stand without question. Several swore full allegiance to Gaia, others said that it didn't matter whether the fraud was a fraud or not.

Unforgivable.
 
Friday, December 07, 2007
  Time capsule: Anonymous heaven

Still in the hidden-gem mode:

In the late '40s the Aunt Jemima pancake flour company ran a brief daily music show, something like an infomercial. Aunt Jemima and an announcer bantered for a minute, then abruptly cut to a piece of music, then bantered again, then a second piece of music. The banter was below even the usual standard of daytime commercials, but the music was above anything else heard on radio. A small chorus sang a mix of Old Favorites, gospel numbers, and a few newer songs.

I'm purely guessing the "Jemima chorus" was actually a set of records made by a college glee-club ... because of the classical flavor, somewhere between barber-shop and madrigal. [College a-cappella choirs and madrigal choirs were a semi-pro phenomenon in the 1930s; many of them toured nationally and made records.]

Heavenly music rammed up against crass commercialism produced an immiscible incongruity that beggars description, but I'll try anyway. Just imagine The Gabrieli and Tammy Faye Show, or J.S. "Buddy" Bach and the Oak Ridge Boys.

Here are several of the best pieces, carefully clipped away from the stupidity so that these anonymous musical angels can finally be appreciated.

= = = = =

Note: Originally these clips weren't available anywhere else online, so I had a few good selections on my own website. They are now (late 2011) available free at archive.org, here.

= = = = =
 
  The Commie that didn't bark

Hugo Chavez held an election last week, and the voters turned down his proposal for lifetime rule. Holding such an election is not unusual: Commie leaders have often taken power through elections. What's deeply strange, even unique in history, is that Chavez allowed the election result to go against him, and that he hasn't [yet!] dissolved the Parliament and grabbed total power anyway. Thus violating Manweller's Rule, the deepest law of human political nature.

Most American commentators are (quite properly) cheering the result, but they seem to take it for granted that election results are automatically valid and automatically followed. This is obvious nonsense, even in the US. Plenty of elections, from county-seat choices to Presidential votes, have been 'thrown out' by all sorts of methods.

We should be both puzzled and happy that Chavez has followed the will of the people. Maybe he isn't such a dumb thug after all? Or maybe his real power was never as great as he wanted it to appear.
 
  Cherokee leprechauns

I find the WPA Guides make good bedtime reading. Always well-written and objective, and they occasionally yield a surprising little gem of knowledge. This is from the Oklahoma guide:

Some three miles south of Salina a small creek flows from the east into the Grand River at the foot of a range of rocky bluffs. High on the cliffs is the spot which Cherokee Indian legends say is the home of the "Little People" who have been a part of Cherokee traditional lore since ancient times. When the tribe lived in the East, they believed in the "Little People", who were supposed to be no more than knee-high, but well formed, handsome and exceedingly clever. They lived far back in the mountains and were never seen except at dusk or by solitary individuals.

Some Cherokees, at the time of the Removal, still believed in the legendary figures and moved their "Little People" to the new nation and to this site. Tribal members would stop fishing at a certain spot on the Grand River if stones happened to roll down the bluffs into the water, usually with the remark "Let's move downstream, I see the Little People live here and want the fish for their own use."


These legends are so widespread and so similar that I sometimes wonder if there's an underlying reality. A human subspecies that coexisted with Sapiens for a while? Extraterrestrials? A gate to a parallel universe?
 
Thursday, December 06, 2007
  Subliminal Mitt

Listening to his "I am not Brigham Young" speech this morning, without looking at the TV screen.

He's a great writer but a totally uncomfortable speaker. Somewhat overmodulated, too much aspirate on the consonants. The voice tone belongs to a teenager trying to explain plausibly why Dad's car has a dented fender this morning. It doesn't belong to a grown man describing his deep faith. In the last debate, when he got into a tiff with Rudy over illegal immigrant gardeners, the adolescent tone came out even more strongly.
 
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
  Tired.

Still working on the spreadsheet job, generally tired, still too disgusted with political matters to think much about them.

One exception. Anti-Huckabee callers to talking-point shows are repeating the idiotic argument that we must not switch to a national sales tax ('fair tax') until the 16th Amendment is repealed so the income tax can't be restored. This is a fantastically stupid excuse, and it's based on insufficient paranoia. There is simply no point in even thinking about the text of the Constitution now, because:


 

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Polistra was named after the original townsite of Manhattan (the one in Kansas). When I was growing up in Manhattan, I spent a lot of time exploring by foot, bike, and car. I discovered the ruins of an old mill along Wildcat Creek, and decided (inaccurately) that it was the remains of the original site of Polistra. Accurate or not, I've always liked the name, with its echoes of Poland (an under-appreciated friend of freedom) and stars. ==== The title icon is explained here. ==== Switchover: This 2007 entry marks a sharp change in worldview from neocon to pure populist. ===== The long illustrated story of Polistra's Dream is a time-travel fable, attempting to answer the dangerous revision of New Deal history propagated by Amity Shlaes. The Dream has 8 episodes, linked in a chain from the first. This entry explains the Shlaes connection.

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