Friday, November 30, 2007

Conformist News Network

About the Republican You Tube Debate on CNN, John Fund writes, "Almost a third of the questioners seem to have some ties to Democratic causes or candidates." I noticed something funny after the debate when they interviewed their focus group of "undecided Republicans" and a woman announced she favored John Edwards. A Republican who wants to vote for John Edwards?

I caught a few minutes of Keith Olbermann last night as he and John Edwards mocked the Republicans because they are outraged that they had to answer a question from a Democrat. If they can't do that, do they have what it takes to be President of the United States? Of course, if an unidentified Republican asked tough questions of a Democrat during a debate, Olbermann would lead the charge against "Republican dirty tricks."

In addition to Gen. Keith Kerr, who turns out from to be connected to the Clinton campaign, the list of Democrat questioners is raising suspicions.

Now it appears that an amazing number of partisan figures posed many of the 30 questions at the GOP debate all the while pretending to be CNN’s advertised “undecided voters.” Yasmin from Huntsville, Alabama turns out to be a former intern with the Council on American Islamic Relations, a group highly critical of Republicans. Blogger Michelle Malkin has identified other plants, including declared Obama supporter David Cercone, who asked a question about the pro-gay Log Cabin Republicans. A questioner who asked a hostile question about the pro-life views of GOP candidates turned out to be a diehard John Edwards supporter (and a slobbering online fan of Mr. Cooper). Yet another “plant” was LeeAnn Anderson, an activist with a union that has endorsed Mr. Edwards.

How could CNN let this happen? Was it planned? Is it some sort of conspiracy?

I don't think so. I believe we're seeing the power of philosophy in action. The liberals at CNN would pick liberal questioners because they would think those questions are the best, most challenging ones to ask Republicans.

Remember, liberals think alike to a degree that it is hard for the rest of us to understand. They have a homogenous ideology, from which they do not stray for fear that they will be denounced as bad people. Progressive education is designed to destroy the virtue of independence; it creates me-too mediocrities who are terrified of thinking different from the group. Political correctness explicitly directs liberals on what they can think. They are accustomed to picking up the cues of what is acceptable thought and what is not.

So when the people at CNN hear questions about God, guns and gays, they think, "Yes, those are the pertinent, challenging questions we must ask of these religious conservatives." And those questions are not unreasonable. But questions regarding individual rights, liberty, the validity of the welfare state, the threat of totalitarian Islam, the anti-progress threat of environmentalism and so on do not occur to liberals. These questions are so far from altruist-statist-collectivist premises that liberals don't understand their importance and might not even be able to understand them at all.

CNN failed to examine the questioners because they failed to examine their bias. The liberal imagination cannot fathom ideas outside the ideology approved by the group. To the people at CNN there is their way of thinking and then there are those extremist wingnuts that no reasonable person takes seriously.

Once again, no conspiracy is necessary to explain suspicious leftist action. Conformists don't need to coordinate their actions, they need merely to act on the premises they hold in common.

Hollywood Goes to War

Currently there are two contradicting pieces on the web that attempt to explain why Hollywood's anti-American antiwar films are bad movies that Americans are staying away from in droves. (A Hollywood mogul in the old days once said, "If they don't want to come, you can't make them." It's still true.)

The first explanation is from a liberal, Sudhir Muralidhar, writing in American Prospect (a magazine earnestly subtitled, "Liberal Intelligence"). The piece is called, "Why Are Iraq War Movies Box-Office Flops?" It should be called, "Why Are Anti-American Iraq War Movies Box-Office Flops?" Sudhir says the problem is too much passion:

In many respects, the greatest risk of making political art during wartime is that heightened political passion will trump artistic judgment, which in the case of moviemaking means that expressing a political stance will take precedence over character development and plot structure. For example, in the heat of the political moment, with a war raging on, producing a movie that features Robert Redford lecturing on the importance of civic engagement just might seem like a good idea.

Sounds plausible. But neoconservative Roger L. Simon, writing in Pajamas Media, says the problem is too little passion:

The movies are essentially inauthentic. The filmmakers think they are supposed to be antiwar, but they don’t feel it in their guts.

How do I know that? Part of this is admittedly a gut feeling on my part. This feels to me like a cinema of “received wisdom,” not based on personal experience or “emotional knowledge” of any kind. No matter how you stand or stood on the Vietnam War, compare these recent ventures (Lions for Lambs, Rendition, Redacted, The Valley of Elah) with, to pick one example, Oliver Stone’s Platoon. The director’s passion is literally splattered all over the screen. Ditto for his Born on the Fourth of July. And, not surprisingly, the audience went.

No passion, no conviction of this sort, is evident in the current movies. And that is lethal. Art without genuine conviction is boring and worthless. What else does the artist (filmmaker) have to give to the audience but his or her passion? It’s no surprise the audience is disinterested without it.

So, who is right? Too much passion or not enough? The answer is neither. Moviegoers are staying away because they don't like depressing movies.

Imagine a friend or lover asked you, "Do you want to see X? It's a depressing movie about moral corruption. The film is steeped in cynicism and shows man as inherently depraved." Do you want to sit through two hours of that?

Sometimes Hollywood can fool us into seeing a depressing, cynical movie if they advertise the values we want to see, such as action, plot, drama, romance and humor. But with these anti-American antiwar movies, we know what we'll get from liberals.

The left believes capitalism, America, Republicans and Bush are all bad. It's impossible for them to make a movie about our current war without portraying the war and America as immoral. As altruists, they think they have a duty to tell the truth about selfish America killing third world people out of greed or whatever. Of course, their premises have nothing to do with reality, so they wouldn't recognize the truth if it tap danced beneath a blinking neon sign that read, "THE TRUTH IS TAP DANCING BENEATH THIS SIGN."

If filmmakers had infinite resources, they would continue to make these anti-American antiwar movies and bask in the satisfaction that they had done their moral duty by exposing the corruption that lies beneath the glittering surface of our capitalist society. They would make these movies despite the fact that Americans are too shallow and stupid to buy tickets to see these masterpieces of cinematic art.

Fortunately for moviegoers, Hollywood does not have infinite resources. The studios must make a profit and the filmmakers must make money so they can send their grandchildren to Ivy League schools. They will get back to making Mindless Man IV and Total 'Splosions XIII, the physicalistic, spectacular blockbusters they do so well. They will tell themselves over martinis at night that they tried to show us the truth. But to paraphrase the Jack Nicholson line, they can't handle the truth.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Republican You Tube Debate

This was the first 2008 election debate I've been able to watch. I'm glad CNN kept it dignified for the most part, although they ran one silly cartoon question that implied Cheney has too much power. At least no one asked, "Boxers or briefs?"

The Republican Party is in trouble. The candidates are all mixed economy mediocrities, with the possible exception of Ron Paul, who is out in left field. None had specific, courageous answers about what Thompson called the "entitlement tsunami" headed our way. By all indications, the presidency of any Republican except Paul will be an extension of Bush's policies. Some made general statements about cutting spending, but only Paul gave specifics. The rest are too terrified of offending the legions of Americans who now suck off the federal teat.

McCain said he would cut all pork with the line item veto, which is nice, although I doubt it will really happen; but even if it does, cutting pork does not get to the essential problems in our vast welfare state. Pork as a general concept is an easy target because there is no constituency lobbying for "Pork in general." But when you get specific, as McCain did not, then you start offending pressure groups and then the compromises begin.

Romney came off as a weasel. He danced around the question of torture and waterboarding, saying that candidates should not go into specifics. In other words, he's saying, "As President I will get advice and make a good decision on this issue, but I'm not going to tell you now what I think." He said the time has not yet come when gays can be openly admitted into the military. Weasel.

Romney also looks like a political opportunist who was more liberal when he had to be to win election as Governor of Massachusetts, but is more conservative now that he needs to be to win Republican presidential primaries.

Giuliani, the candidate I favor, disappointed me. He made a foolish attack on Romney for using a company to work on his home that employed illegal aliens. Romney crushed Giuliani by asking if he thinks people should ask for the papers of anyone working for them who has a suspicious accent.

Hunter and Tancredo came off as protectionist, anti-immigrant, nativist boobs who desperately need to read Ludwig von Mises.

Worst of all, the debate was clearly won by the candidate who is most religious and most statist: Mike Huckabee. He came off as honest and human and he flashed the best moments of wit -- not much of an achievement among this crowd of dunderheads.

CNN showed a campaign video from each candidate. Fred Thompson did not look good by going negative -- against Romney for once supporting abortion and against Huckabee for supporting higher taxes. The others stayed positive about themselves (or attacked Hillary Clinton, the easiest of targets before a Republican crowd). Fred is still a little vague and unfocused in his answers -- Grandpa, wake up! -- although he seems human with his homey remarks. I get the impression Fred would sleep away much of his presidency; but as Mencken wrote about Coolidge, there are worse ways to govern.

Yes, the Republican Party is in trouble. The only two candidates who sounded like they had integrity were the libertarian antiwar candidate and the Christian big government candidate. The rest are the kind of middle-of-the-road hacks you would expect among Republican politicians. The candidates are in a welfare state bind: the only way to look principled is to risk angering some pressure groups full of voters; but being controversial is the quickest way to marginalization. It is impossible in today's America to be honest and principled about getting the government out of our lives and remain a serious candidate. I don't think I've ever been so depressed after a debate.

The Republican Party is in trouble. America is in trouble.

UPDATE: Slight revision.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Hillary Clinton's Pravda

Some might think calling Hillary Clinton a Stalinist is overwrought, like calling President Bush a Nazi, as leftists regularly do. After all, she has never starved millions of kulaks to death. Her secret police have never disappeared someone in the middle of the night, tortured him until he confessed to being a spy, then put him through a quick trial and shot him.

Fair enough. If those are the minimum requirements of Stalinism, then no American qualifies (yet). It would be more accurate to call Hillary Clinton an American Stalinist. It is fascinating to see how she apes a communist dictatorship in an American context.

The American Thinker has an entertaining piece by Kyle-Anne Shiver on Clinton's attempt to create an American Pravda. With the MSM blatantly on her side, it's astonishing that she would feel a need to create Media Matters to attack her attackers. She is either paranoid or she understands the importance of propaganda -- my bet is on the latter. She believes that the end of power justifies destroying truth. Words are nothing but weapons to be used in the fight for power.

Media Matters writes laughably inept attacks on Hillary Clinton's detractors, notably Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly.

To give you an idea of what passes for headline-worthy at Media Matters, Hillary's hall-monitor brigade caught Bill O'Reilly a couple of weeks ago in this misstep: "Culture Warrior" O'Reilly, who chided Dean over Book of Job misidentification, says Revelation "was written -- what? Five thousand years ago?" A paid writer expended well over 1000 words explaining that the Book of Revelation was written a little less than 2000 years ago. I'm personally shocked that in a 3-hour live radio broadcast, this was the only error the listener-monitor could find to transform into a written tattle.

It doesn't matter that Media Matters's arguments are specious and illogical. Hillary Clinton is counting on a media phenomenon in today's subjectivist culture: getting a "balanced" point of view. If a reporter brings up Rush Limbaugh's point of view, then the reporter (or analyst or spin doctor) feels obligated to note Media Matters's opposing opinion. All the "verbose mountains out of molehills," as Kyle-Anne Shiver calls it, is there to give their side prestige and weight. As long as it looks official, reporters can pass this tripe off as a point of view worth noting.

Kyle-Anne Shiver writes about a bizarre, hair-splitting Media Matters attack on Wolf Blitzer:

As a student during the Cold War, I can tell you that this tactic - seizing the detail to the exclusion of the substance -- is highly reminiscent of the way Pravda (the official news outlet of the Soviet Communist Party) used to take apart news from the free world for its unwashed masses. And I am truly appalled to see this verbal excrement make its way into the mainstream of American political discourse.

It is appalling. Hillary Clinton deserves to be derided as an American Stalinist because she shares the communists' contempt for reason and their willingness to lie in the pursuit of power. Behind her lies is the firm conviction that only one thing really matters: force.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

Today and tomorrow are pretty busy as I finish the week's work early for the Thanksgiving holiday. I'll be leaving tomorrow to go my cousins' for a feast and fun. Thanksgiving is a great holiday, an American celebration of abundance and achievement, in which we eat to surfeit, then watch boring football games.

And of course it's always great to see the family -- the liberals who think I'm a warmongering fascist and the Christians who think I'm an agent of Satan because I don't bow my head when they say grace. But aside from religion and politics, which it is best to avoid, these reunions are fun. I enjoy the games and camaraderie.

In a recent comments thread there was a lot of mockery, venom and insults. If my blog gets more popular and attracts more commenters, then I will certainly disable comments like Instapundit. I'm not going to spend time every day asking people to be polite -- or worse, deleting comments from nihilists and nutcases. Just look at Free Republic or Democratic Underground and you see that some people, left and right, are simply unable to comment about their opponents without insulting them. Some commenters at FR and DU have nothing of substance to say, but they will gladly take the time to deliver a gratuitous insult. The insults diminish the value of those forums and make them tedious to wade through.

For now, however, this blog is still peanuts, so I get few comments (and almost none from leftists). Most commenters have been civil, but they slip up now and then. I deliver the occasional insult myself, especially to the big ones like Hillary Clinton or George W. Bush, but I try to argue ideas. After years of effort I am much better at avoiding insults and ad hominem attacks than I was in 1996 when I discovered cyberspace -- a country that is still a rugged frontier.

Anyway, Happy Thanksgiving to everyone. I'll be back next week.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Huckabee's Latest

How bad is Huckabee? has a piece called Huckabee: God wants us to fight global warming.

A conservative Republican and devout Christian, Huckabee believes he has a biblical responsibility to protect God's planet from climate change, even though he's not convinced that climate change is largely human-caused. But mandatory limits on greenhouse-gas emissions make him squeamish.

If he has a biblical responsiblility to protect God's planet from climate change, even though he's not convinced that climate change is largely human-caused, then isn't he trying to protect the planet from the climate changes caused by God? Even by his own mystical standard, his position is incoherent.

But that last sentence in the quote, about him being squeamish on limits on greenhouse-gas emissions, is probably enough to persuade pragmatist Republicans that he is okay. After all, he's not an extremist!

Huckabee is currently running second behind Romney in Iowa. In New Hampshire, however, he is a distant fifth, behind even Ron Paul. It will be interesting to see if the best candidate, Giuliani, survives the early states, which do not favor him.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

A Little Preliminary Mud-Slinging Among Friends

From Robert Novak:

Agents of Sen. Hillary Clinton are spreading the word in Democratic circles that she has scandalous information about her principal opponent for the party's presidential nomination, Sen. Barack Obama, but has decided not to use it. The nature of the alleged scandal was not disclosed.

This word-of-mouth among Democrats makes Obama look vulnerable and Clinton look prudent. It comes during a dip for the front-running Clinton after she refused to take a stand on New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer's now discarded plan to give driver's licenses to illegal aliens.

Experienced Democratic political operatives believe Clinton wants to avoid a repetition of 2004, when attacks on each other by presidential candidates Howard Dean and Richard Gephardt were mutually destructive and facilitated John Kerry's nomination.

Why, if the Clinton campaign has decided not to use it, are agents of Sen. Hillary Clinton spreading the word about scandalous information concerning Sen. Barack Obama? What is their purpose? Is it a subtle way of planting doubts about Obama without looking like you're attacking his character? Is it to make Democrats think Obama would be a weak Presidential candidate who would get Swift Boated by evil Republicans? Is it a warning to the Obama campaign of Mutually Assured Destruction if they go dirty against Clinton? Or is it something else entirely?

Keep this in mind next time a Clinton whines about the Politics of Personal Destruction. These people are masters of the art.

Saturday Thoughts

A woman heard on the radio said she plans to vote for Barack Obama in the primary election. Now, gentle reader, what do you think her reason was? Try to think of a plausible reason to vote for Obama.

She might have said, "I like that he does not put his hand on his heart when the National Anthem plays. This tells me he understands that America is a racist, imperialist, fascist state that starts wars with third world countries in order to rape them of their natural resources." I would disagree with her Marxist-Leninist boilerplate, but I would accept it as an honest, pseudo-intellectual answer. At least she would be thinking in ideological terms, however wrong the ideology was.

She might have said, "Obama is a progressive with extremely liberal ideas and I want to remake America on the European socialist model." Again, we disagree, but I respect the answer.

Or she might have said, "Obama would be the first black president and that would be a powerful step forward for social justice in a country that has a legacy of slavery, racism and hatred." Although I still disagree, I can kinda, sorta understand what she's getting at. Again, she would have an idea, though a wrong one.

But she said nothing near these reasons for her vote. She plans to vote for Obama because Matt Damon is voting for him. A Hollywood actor is determining her vote.

Perhaps, several thousand years from now, the epitaph for Western Civilization will read:

They allowed morons to vote.

And the wise souls of the next civilization will nod and think, "It is no wonder they died."


I experienced another Adventure In Dining today. This time it was a Vietnamese restaurant. I ordered sweet and sour duck, as I have enjoyed Peking duck in the past.

It was bad. The sweet and sour sauce was nothing like what you normally get in Chinese restaurants, but was a thin, bland liquid. The duck meat was dark, fatty and had a strange aftertaste. I think of that aftertaste as Daffy Duck's Revenge.

Around the World Wide Web 40

1. Burgess Laughlin has started a blog, Making Progress. Burgess has an Aristotelian mind, which fits someone who wrote The Aristotle Adventure. By Aristotelian, I mean that he focuses on clear and precise definitions of the words we use. He strives for clarity in thinking.

2. Salma Hayek's prayers were answered -- along with the prayers of a lot of red-blooded men. Praise the Lord.

3.Glenn Greenwald continues his campaign against Rudy Giuliani. Andrew Sullivan is on board.

4. Sullivan also links to a piece by Norm Geras that says intentional bombing of civilians is a crime, just as terrorist bombings are. Geras doesn't understand that in matters of defense the end justifies the means. Killing in self-defense is not murder; it prevents murder. If a free nation must bomb civilians in order to survive in a war against those who would destroy freedom, then the bombing is morally justified.

If we get hung up on "Just War Theory," then we are heading for the end of civilization by following principles of altruistic sacrifice in war.

5. Dan McLaughlin has a series of posts on Republican presidential candidates, Rudy Giuliani (whom he supports), Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney 1, 2, 3.

The Huckabee piece is particularly revealing of what a disaster that candidate is. When asked what his three priorities would be he answered (in my words): 1) Some vague state-corporation program for health care (vague because intentions and feelings are more important than facts to altruists like Huckabee); 2) Volunteerism; and 3) Balanced Budget Amendment. This guy combines the worst aspects of both parties -- mysticism, collectivism and statism. The last thing America needs is a Republican President who is a religious socialist. Oh, wait -- that's what we have now.

6. Starbucks reports decreased earnings. Comments interesting, too.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Wild Man

I'll probably regret this, but here is the story of how I got my nicknames in the Air Force. I had two of them. The first one was Wild Man.

If you look at the pictures of me to the left, you might think, "He doesn't look that wild to me." You're right, I'm not. This is the story of a nickname that makes no sense.

I was stationed at Kadena Air Base in Okinawa. A typhoon was headed our way. When typhoons come, airmen are ordered to stay in their barracks. Everyone loves this, because it means party time.

In anticipation of this typhoon party, I bought a gallon of rum at the liquor store. These huge bottles of cheap booze were ridiculously cheap, something like $3. (A carton of Winstons set me back $1.80 on base. That's 18 cents a pack.)

With my big gallon of rum proudly in hand, I knocked on a friend's door in the barracks. We'll call him Arnold. "Let's party!" I said to Arnold.

Arnold must have seen a two-day hangover in my bottle because he said no thanks and shut the door.

I went to another room filled with five or six lively chaps and the party began. Of course, none of these idiots had thought to buy their own gallon of firewater, so they all drank mine.

After three hours we were all toasted and there was only an inch of fuel left in my bottle. I weaved over to Arnold's door and pounded on it. "Let'sh party!" I yelled.

Arnold's eyes got all wide when he saw there was only an inch left in the gallon bottle. "You're a wild man!" he yelled, thinking I had drunk it all myself.

For the rest of my time in Okinawa I was called Wild Man. I think the name stuck because I'm not at all wild. I'm calm, rational and centered. But no one gets a nickname like "Centered" -- unless one is a screaming psycho. The guys enjoyed the humor of calling me Wild Man.

Later I was stationed at NSA in Ft. Meade, Maryland. I worked with a bunch of civilians. One day I picked up the phone at work. Someone on the phone asked if I was in charge there. "No," I replied, "I'm just an Airman."

For the rest of my time at NSA my coworkers called me Justin. (They call me that to this day.) Justin Airman.

I think I preferred Wild Man.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

A Liberal On Rudy Giuliani

Wow! Glenn Greenwald makes a powerful case for supporting Rudy Giuliani! You would think that a liberal would be against any Republican, but look at some of the glowing praise Mr. Greenwald heaps on Rudy Giuliani:

The most transparent and destructive fallacy being recited by our Beltway media class is that Rudy Giuliani is a moderate or centrist Republican.


The very idea that Giuliani is a "moderate" or a "centrist" is completely absurd. Regarding the issues over which the next President will have the greatest influence -- foreign policy and presidential powers -- Giuliani is as far to what is now considered the "Right" as it gets. His views on foreign policy are far more radical and bellicose even than Dick Cheney's, and his view of presidential powers makes George Bush look like Thomas Jefferson.


A warmonger with authoritarian impulses and liberal positions on social issues isn't a "moderate" or a "centrist." He's just a warmonger with authoritarian impulses and liberal positions on social issues.


Whatever else Giuliani might be, "centrist" and "moderate" is not it. He is one of the most radical major candidates in memory.

And what exactly is so good about Giuliani?

He has one of the most extremist and war-loving foreign policy teams ever assembled for a major candidate. He has advocated or expressed openness to such radical policies as imprisoning American citizens with no trials, having Israel join NATO, and launching a first-strike tactical nuclear attack on Iran. And he speaks more glibly than virtually any individual in the country about torture.

All that and he supports torture, too? Enough, Glenn, enough -- I'm sold. Go, Rudy!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Around the World Wide Web 39

1. Quite a weapon: A 747 with a huge laser in its nose. The future is here today. (HT: Ace of Spades)

2. Quite a story: A tale of internet deception and tragic consequences. (HT: Ace of Spades)

3. An account of a little known, disastrous American bombing raid during WWII in Romania that ended up with as many American casualties as 10 months of Iraq. Murphy's Law was at work on this one.

4. Captain Ed says Hillary Clinton's campaign is "getting close to a meltdown now." The campaign is falling apart because Hillary Clinton attempted to run a campaign that was dictatorial and Stalinist in spirit, if not in fact as bad as what communist dictators got away with. The candidate seems to want everything controlled and staged, including the questions she is asked. Much of the MSM would happily cooperate with Clinton in setting up a pseudo-Stalinist bubble of protection around the candidate. After all, who are they protecting her from? Corporate America and the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy. So they're justified, right?

If I was wrong in a previous post and Hillary Clinton does not get the nomination, despite having a lot of money and inheriting her husband's organization and party contacts throughout the land, it will be because the Democrats show remarkable good judgment and nominate someone else. That would be the worst thing that could happen in Republican eyes; to them Clinton's meltdown is coming nine months too early. The other candidates would be much harder to beat.

5. Senator McCain answers the question of how he would beat Hillary Clinton in this brief video. Actually, he says nothing, but the way he is relaxed and laughs shows why he would demolish Clinton. I don't like McCain at all, but I will admit the obvious, that he has more charisma than Clinton. He is Clinton's opposite, in that he comes off as a real, honest human being. In China they can set Mao on a pedestal as if he were a god, but that doesn't work in America -- at least, not yet. A candidate has to react to unstaged questions as McCain did, and as Clinton seems incapable of.

6. Where are the right-wing playwrights?

'Very simply put,' he says, 'after the Second World War the avant garde became the establishment. That meant that no one was poking fun at the establishment any more because they approved of it.'

So is it a conspiracy? 'Absolutely not. I don't want to give the impression that there's some plot going on. It's just become impossible not to be a socialist within the artistic community these days.'

See also The Playgoer and Parabasis.

Monday, November 12, 2007


I floated the idea to our drummer of doing a Frank Zappa medley of "I'm the Slime/Dirty Love," like Billy Beck's band. He wants to do a medley of "I'm the Slime/San Ber'dino," because we grew up in Rialto, which is next door to San Bernardino.

Both songs are satirical and negative. They strike me as hippie attacks on bourgeois, middle class values. Of course, not everything aspect of the middle class is rational and tasteful, but a little of Zappa's bile goes a long way with me. He was a killer guitarist, though.

I'm The Slime

I am gross and perverted

I'm obsessed 'n deranged

I have existed for years

But very little has changed

I'm the tool of the government

And industry too

For I am destined to rule

And regulate you

I may be vile and pernicious

But you can't look away

I make you think I'm delicious

With the stuff that I say

I'm the best you can get

Have you guessed me yet?

I'm the slime oozin' out

From your TV set

You will obey me while I lead you

And eat the garbage that I feed you

Until the day that we don't need you

Don't go for help . . . no one will heed you

Your mind is totally controlled

It has been stuffed into my mold

And you will do as you are told

Until the rights to you are sold

That's right, folks . . .

Don't touch that dial!

Well, I am the slime from your video

Oozin' along on your livin' room floor

I am the slime from your video

Can't stop the slime, people, lookit me go

I am the slime from your video

Oozin' along on your livin' room floor

I am the slime from your video

Can't stop the slime, people, lookit me go

San Ber’dino

She lives in Mojave in a Winnebago

His name is Bobby, he looks like a potato

She’s in love with a boy from the rodeo

Who pulls the rope on the chute when they let those suckers go

He’s a slobberin’ drunk at the Palomino

They give him thirty days in San Ber’dino

Well there’s forty-four men stashed away in Tank C

An’ there’s only one shower, but it don’t apply to Bobby

You may think they’re dumb an lonely

But you’re wrong ‘cause their love is strong

Stacked-up hair an’ a cheap little ring

They don’t care ‘cause it don’t mean a thing

Looka there...they don’t care

Best-est way that they can feel-o

Out on the highway, rollin a wheel-o

He’s her tootsie, she’s for real-o

Trailer park heaven, it’s a real good deal-o

Real good deal-o! Real good deal-o! Real good deal-o!

The rest of their lives in San Ber’dino

Gonna spend the rest of their lives in San Ber’dino

The rest of their lives in San Ber’dino

Come on with me

Come on with me

Come on with me

Down in San Ber’dino

Just 60 miles, 60 miles down the San Ber’dino freeway

They got some dark green air an’ you can choke all day, that’s right!

Gonna spend the rest of their lives

Rest of their lives

Rest of their lives

Say now

Ain’t talking' bout Fontana

Ain’t talking' bout uh uh

Ain’t talking' bout uh uh

Ain’t talking' bout uh uh

Ain’t talking' bout the Redlands, no, no

Zulch is the auto works

I’m telling you

That’s where they take

All the cars that they hurt

Come on and lets all go down to San Ber’dino




Lets-a go down down down

Down in San Ber’dino

Wouldja b'lieve it

San Ber'dino

San Ber’dino

(got to call it)

San Ber’dino


San Ber’dino

The rest of their lives

In San Ber’dino

Oh bobby, I’m sorry you got a head like a potato

I really am


The story I heard is that Zappa got a traffic ticket while driving through San Bernardino. (Back then you had to go through San Bernardino to get from LA to Las Vegas. Zappa got off easy compared to Sammy Davis, Jr., who lost his eye in an auto accident in San Bernardino.) Zappa's revenge was this song.

Spend the rest of their lives in San Ber'dino -- I am living the dream.

Adventures In Dining

I like to go into restaurants I've never tried before and eat new dishes. Usually it works out all right, but once in awhile, such as today, I get burned. I went into a Thai restaurant and ordered something called Kai Kua. It is a noodle dish with chicken, so I thought I was safe. Noodles and chicken, how can you screw that up?

Had I read the list of ingredients further, I would have seen that it also has calimari. With my first bite I knew something was wrong; it was rubbery and redolent of the sea. Upon closer examination I found pieces of tentacle among the noodles and chicken.

Check, please.

If I were in the position of Tom Hanks's character in Cast Away, I could eat octopus or squid. If it's a matter of eat octopus or die, that cephalopod is history. But in any situation less desperate, I'll pass.

I won't be going back to that restaurant, which is hardly fair -- it's not their fault I can't read a menu -- but that's the way it is.

Around the World Wide Web 38

1. Forces has some excellent words from Thomas Jefferson on Christianity:

The Christian god can easily be pictured as virtually the same god as the many ancient gods of past civilizations. The Christian god is a three headed monster; cruel, vengeful and capricious. If one wishes to know more of this raging, three headed beast-like god, one only needs to look at the caliber of people who say they serve him. They are always of two classes: fools and hypocrites...

I have examined all the known superstitions of the world, and I do not find in our particular superstition of Christianity one redeeming feature. They are all alike founded on fables and mythology. Millions of innocent men, women and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined and imprisoned. What has been the effect of this coercion? To make one half the world fools and the other half hypocrites; to support roguery and error all over the earth...

2. Meanwhile, Doc MacDonald displays this inspiring quote from Benjamin Franklin:

The Declaration of Independence only guarantees the American people the right to pursue happiness. You have to catch it yourself!

3. This map of the world according to Americans is too funny. (HT: Noodlefood)

4. The ultimate pretentious mediocrity, Norman Mailer, is dead at 84. I've read some of his non-fiction, but I never attempted his fiction because I knew I would not like it. The title of his first novel makes me laugh: The Naked and the Dead. It's like a parody of a modern novel title -- but Mailer was serious. He was an anti-American New Leftist and he leaves behind a legacy of lowered standards and nihilism. This is not a respectful thing to say about the dead (or the naked), but Mailer's departure from existence is probably a good thing; the way is cleared a bit more for better writers, artists and thinkers to begin the task of rebuilding in our culture what the New Leftists destroyed.

5. When Dolphins Attack People

6. An unexpected tiger attack

Friday, November 09, 2007

It's Over

According to the latest poll averages at Real Clear Politics, Hillary Clinton leads the Democrat field with 45.9% of the vote. Obama is a distant second at 22.9%.

I might end up eating these words, but the election is over. The next President of the USA will be the Republican candidate, whoever he is. I'm not saying this is a good thing or that I will vote for the Republican, I'm just saying that Hillary Clinton will get the Democrat nomination and there's no way in hell she can win the general election.

Hillary Clinton's problem is TV. As Dan Rather said, the camera never blinks. TV is not the best medium for communicating ideas, but it is the best for showing who a candidate is. TV communicates a candidate's character, his personality, his sense of life. Voters have an instantaneous emotional reaction to a candidate they see on TV and for all too many voters their first reaction is their last.

Hillary Clinton has a remarkably unpleasant character. She is one of the coldest personalities I have ever seen in a politician. And she can't hide who she is on TV. When she tries to cover it up, such as the day she laughed a lot, she looks worse and ends up on You Tube.

Clinton is a statist through and through. She sees the American people as helpless, deluded creatures who need to be forced and controlled for their own good by altruist philosopher-kings like Hillary Clinton. She thinks of herself as having "compassion" and "caring for the common man," but when one thinks of people as inferior children who need to be lied to, there is another feeling just beneath the surface: contempt. Her contempt and condescension shine through on TV.

A Hillary Clinton candidacy would excite and mobilize the Republican base; it would bring out more Republican voters. At the same time, it would not excite the Democrat base much. If anything, Republican attacks on Clinton would motivate Democrats more than anything positive about their candidate. (Such is the sorry, hate-filled state of American politics.) I see very little enthusiasm for Clinton at Democratic Underground or Daily Kos.

That leaves the independents, who are least interested in ideology or party loyalty and are most susceptible to impressions of a candidate's personality on TV. In his piece on the case for Republican optimism in 2008, Jim Geraghty writes this about independents:

The Democrats have thrown away most of the reform issues that helped them a lot with independents: lobbying reform, ethics rules, earmarks, lack of disclosure, junkets, etc. The “culture of corruption” narrowly outranked terrorism on the list of voter concerns in 2006.

What can we infer about independents from this?

Placing "culture of corruption" above terrorism as a concern shows complete ignorance of politics and economics. The welfare state spends over $2 trillion a year on programs the government should not be involved in. The penny ante corruption of politicians is nothing compared to the scandalous injustice the state perpetrates legally.

People who can think at least a little in principle will evaluate whether they support the war and the welfare state and then choose their party accordingly. But people who ignore the war and the welfare state to place corruption as their number one concern are simply... well, maybe I'd better stop before I degenerate into profanity.

Why don't independents align with any party? For the most part, because they're ignorant. They don't give a damn about politics. They play video games and watch American Idol and take their kids to soccer practice and gossip about Britney and Paris. At some point in the fall they realize there's a campaign going on and they get their first glimpse of the candidates -- on TV.

So you see, Hillary Clinton is doomed. She can lie about her ideas, but she can't fake who she is. How ironic is it that a Democrat candidate will lose because a large part of the American electorate has been dumbed down by government schools (teachers unions being a huge bloc of the Dem base) to the point that they are actually too stupid to listen to Hillary Clinton's lies?

UPDATE: Slight revision. I can't believe all the typos I found in this post. In one sentence I meant to write stop but wrote the opposite, start -- a kind of conceptual dyslexia.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Around the World Wide Web 37

1. Bill Quick on how his life has changed in the last 20 years. I'm the same way on many of them. Bookstores are a waste of time now compared to amazon.

2. Gus Van Horn is up for a Weblog Award. I can understand this, but how does Post Secret lead the Best Blog category?

3. Night Watchman investigates inflation. In gold dollars gasoline is at an all time low, probably below 10 cents a gallon now. It is outrageous how politicians, led by the conservative Republican George Bush, are using the hidden tax of inflation to fund their welfare state and buy votes.

4. The Dalai Lama calls homosexual sex "sexual misconduct." Wonder what Richard Gere says about this:

In an interview with the Vancouver Sun in 2004, the Buddhist leader was questioned about homosexuality to which he replied, "For a Buddhist, the same sex, that is sexual misconduct."

The Dalai Lama elaborated, "they use the mouth and the anus, this is sexual misconduct in Buddhism." He also noted that the restrictions on sexual activity applied even outside the homosexual context to heterosexual and even married couples. "Even as (sic) a heterosexual context. Even if one uses one's own hand this is sexual misconduct. So if you are a genuine believer, then you must avoid this," he said.

All religions are lunacy.

5. Jerry Seinfeld Rips Larry King for the same reason politicians love Larry King: he's a little slow.

6. Fred Phelps, who tells us that God hates fags, is a Democrat who campaigned for Al Gore in 1988. It's all so confusing.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

The Art of Conversation

Recently, I talked to a couple that has been married since 1951. That's a long time. The woman talked a lot. Our conversation was more like me saying one sentence and her giving a five-minute lecture on my statement. As she talked I noticed the husband checking a few times to see if I was getting bored.

After our conversation, I thought, "That poor guy has been living with this for 56 years."

I know a few other people who can talk about themselves for 45 minutes, no exaggeration, and if I put two sentences together in the conversation they get restless and bored. Then they remember all the other things they must do and have no time to continue talking.

I knew a woman once who, if you complained about anything, no matter what it was, would respond with, "You think that's bad? Listen to what happened to me..." I mean, if you had an accident and were in a coma for months, she would come up with something to one-up you in the misery contest. I realize now that I should have said to her, "I know a dreary woman who responds to any complaint with a story of even greater misery." Would she have gotten the message? Or would she have told me about another woman who was even worse?

How do these people fit into the Objectivist ethics, in which selfishness is a virtue? They are self-obsessed and can talk only about themselves. They have no interest in anyone else. Aren't they selfish?

It's hard to generalize because all the people in the examples above have their own personality and psychological problems. It's not a moral failing to want to talk about your day. Some people do it more than others. Some are self-aware enough to know they love talking about themselves and they make an effort to show an interest in others -- in order to buy time for them to talk more about themselves.

This might sound like a contradiction of Objectivism at first, but I think it is in one's self-interest to understand that the universe does not revolve around you. Objectivism is not narcissism. A sign of maturity is understanding that the facts of your daily life are not as fascinating to anyone else as they are to you. It takes a special talent and charm to make a story about doing laundry and getting the kids to school interesting.

One thing I had to learn as I grew up -- and I'm still learning it at times -- is that nobody cares about me as much as I do. Nobody cares. Why should they? Even people who love you will not care about your stubbed toe as much as you do because they don't feel it.

Real self-interest means understanding reality and evaluating it properly. Those who do this well would, I believe, be more interesting conversationalists. They have a heirarchy of values of which they have given some thought. They know that giving a laundry list of what they did that day is not important and therefore not interesting. They give these things some thought maybe before they speak.

Conversation is an art that involves give and take. It is in one's self-interest to be an interesting conversationalist -- if one values conversation at all. Those who bore people with monologues about their petty lives are not interesting conversationalists; they end up driving people away from them, which is not in their long-term self-interest. (Some gifted people can talk for half an hour and never cease to be fascinating. More power to them.)

Those are my thoughts. Tell me yours in the comments. Let's have a conversation.

Monday, November 05, 2007

The Museum of Western Civilization

"Keep moving, please," the tour guide said. Her voice was cool, assured and a little bored -- it was obvious she'd given this tour many, many times.

"We now enter the 20th Century Room; this century was a little over 1,000 years ago. It is an odd century because science and technology made huge advances, whereas culture and art declined greatly. The 20th Century saw the coming of atomic power, airflight and the internet, but also saw the genocide of tens of millions by totalitarian states and the coming of non-representational art -- that is, art that is not really art because it does not recreate reality. The smears of color on the wall to your right were highly esteemed and valuable paintings in the 20th and 21st centuries. After the 2050's most of the works of that school were destroyed or neglected and finally lost, but these specimens have survived. We believe the large, splattered canvas in the middle was painted by someone called Jackson Pollack, but the other artists have been forgotten.

"In the 1960's what we now call the 'Cultural Dark Age' began. The CDA lasted about 80 years, into the 2040's. It was essentially an egalitarian movement that destroyed all standards. Before the CDA, fashion was quite stylish; after the CDA -- let me direct your attention to the exhibit on the left."

The crowd gasped. One man asked, "Are they cavemen?"

"These are the leaders of the Cultural Dark Age; they are called 'Hippies.'"

"Why do they look like that?" a high school girl asked. "Have they no pride?"

"The appearance of the Hippies is egalitarianism in style. When a culture destroys all standards, this is the result. I shall now play a sample of the primitive music of the Hippies.

The tour guide pressed a button on her belt and the music of the Everly Brothers filled the room. Members of the tour group cringed, grimaced and covered their ears. "Please, turn it off," the mother of three children shouted as her kids grabbed her legs in fear.

The tour guide shut off the music.

"Hard to take, isn't it? This music is called Rockie music. The name probably comes from the Rockie Mountains, where the music is supposed to have originated. This music features a heavy beat with some distorted harmony. The vocals are often screamed. The melodies are undeveloped and primitive. There are no melodic climaxes in which a soprano might show off her high B flat. The music has no sense of beauty, style or intelligence as our music today does."

"Does anyone still listen to that noise?" a voice in the crowd asked.

"Rockie music is listened to only by a small cult known as Deadheads. Deadhead communes can be found in the mountains of California and in the plains of central Canada. The music went out of style, thankfully, with the Neo-Romantic Counter-Revolution of the 2040's, which we will explore further in the 21st Century Room."

"I can't wait to get there!" a man quipped to general laughter.

"Then let us move on through the door ahead to that happier century," the tour guide said. "Keep moving, please."

UPDATE: Changed the artist from Van Halen to the Everly Brothers. Funnier that way.