Friday, November 27, 2009

Who is this Winger Laird to Lightly Me?

I have difficulty keeping right-of-center sources in my sidebar. One large reason for this is that I will not send traffic where I expect that the people who represent that "traffic" will be disrespected.

I've had "the next right" in my sidebar for some weeks, and a couple-three days ago, I decided I wished to register an account for myself, so that I might contribute a comment.

The response was that my account had been deleted as a presumed spam account, based, perhaps based on my email (graphictruth at gmail dot com) and should this be in error,  I was to to respond to ... get this...

I did. I said (in part):

The question arises; is The Next Right what it purports to be, or is it administered like, oh, say, Free Republic? From my perspective, this seems - capricious, and sadly, the sort of behavior I've come to expect of people wishing to isolate themselves from any viewpoint that might be "tainted" by unorthodox thought. I admit readily that one should not make such a judgment upon one data point, but I must, if given no more.

I think at this point, it's MY turn to defer consent to participate until I have a chance to properly consider the balance of probablities.  However, seeing as there is currently a story headlined in a rather prominent sidebar location on my blog (  that contains direct misinformation about "Review Panels" conflated with a medical advisory review of standards for regular mammography, I do believe there IS some question about the editorial standards. It's not the first thing I've seen that's troubled me; I've seen some good things too. The question is, was it the good story that "slipped through the cracks?"

Convince me, Sir, that The Next Right is worth my time. If it's yet another variation on WorldNetDaily, Free Republic or Michelle Malkin, it is at best a redundancy, and my contributions would neither be welcome nor would they likely provoke any useful dialogue.
Three days later, I got a response complaining of the number of words it took me to say that I wasn't a spammer. Well, that would be correct, had that been what I'd been saying. Clearly, I was saying something a little more pointed than that.

I of course responded - but I won't share it, save to say I would be taking the link down. Now, here's where I establish why I'm wasting your precious photons with what might appear to be a silly blogwar.

You see, it really doesn't matter that I'm feeling miffed by this, nor am I even trying to justify my reaction to this at all. I'm a rather stuffy fellow at times. It should not matter that I'm a fairly stuffy fellow, with a rather high opinion of himself.

You may have noted that it is a trait I share with MANY conservative minded people. People who are sensitive of their good name, what it's worth, and what happens to it if it's associated with the wrong people.

The standard procedures, the appropriate courtesies, the traditional expectations of the behavior of peer unto peer - these are not standards that were set by limp-wrists and weak minds. They were set by touchy conservative types, people conscious of their worth, their good name - and the gun or sword at their hip which betokened their position, the honor they ought by right to be accorded, which was absolutely linked to their willingness to uphold the right, even in the face of discomfort and danger.

So don't look at my miffedness as beeing the wounded feelings of some effete and unmanly liberal-minded fool. is about ethics, and that means it's never had a trace of Kumbyah to it at all.

It's very essence is that there is, ultimately, a way to be sure what is the right way and what is the wrong way - and that once you are sure, you have a choice - stand up for what you know to be true, or wear a white feather in your lapel.

Well, thanks to such folks as the Next Right, I know what side of the border my lands do lie, and my knowing of this is summed up in the Balled of The Kinmont Willie.

186A.10  ‘O is my basnet a widow’s curch?
  Or my lance a wand of the willow-tree?
  Or my arm a ladye’s lilye hand?
  That an English lord should lightly me.
186A.11  ‘And have they taen him Kinmont Willie,
  Against the truce of Border tide,
  And forgotten that the bauld Bacleuch
  Is keeper here on the Scottish side?
186A.12  ‘And have they een taen him Kinmont Willie,
  Withouten either dread or fear,
  And forgotten that the bauld Bacleuch
  Can back a steed, or shake a spear?

That, sirrah, is the sense of my discontent. It's not that you are Right or Left; it's that you are as presumptous as an English border lord while all bereft of the force such arrogance needs to survive.

Fortunately - in the absence of conservatives springing up in the direct line of Burke and Goldwater, the left has met the need for themselves.

Begone, sirrah! You have been replaced.

Psycochemotherapy for the masses.

The bitter fruits of our common human experience of the last rough decade are being distilled into an un-cordial essence of well-earned contempt. It's a distillation I savor at times like this; while I doubt it's good for me in the long run, and I do try to avoid overproduction from my own fruits - at the same time, perhaps it may do some good.

As does chemotherapy - a toxin designed to be somewhat more fatal to a disease than the organism it's trying to kill. Axel erupts with what might be a promising insight in a thread over at FiveThirtyEight.

Dwight, what you need to understand about today's rightwinger is that he wants all the ideological gratification with none of the work required.

Surely you won't deny him the pleasure of running around with the rest of the mob while chanting the same thing over and over in infantile bliss?

Basically, if y'all want to have your triumph outside of the circlejerks, you have to do some actual work (for *once* in your lives) and offer up some evidence. You can't point at a pile of text and say "it's all in there I'm telling you".

One of the main reasons I want climate legislation through is because I think the conspiracy of dunces against such legislation is a sign that it is good for society. You can tell a man's worth by measuring his opponents, and the haters of Gore and the climate scientists are some of the most pathetic and odious people on the internet - they make 4chan look like a British royal reception.

Do your homework or get out of our sights. I don't go up to my teacher and say "I understand it all - I don't have to do the exam" but you cretins can gurgle with happiness over what these e-mails supposedly show?

That's not how the world works, morons.
Personally, I generally try to say something more positive than that. I don't always succeed, but I do try. More often than not these days, I walk away from the keyboard rather than publishing the incoherent rant I've managed to inflict upon my computer.

But sometimes such a rant will include a truly golden insight; an observation that we would be ordinarily too polite to point out, but which is nonetheless both true and inherently toxic to the dangerous stupidities of our day.

...what you need to understand about today's rightwinger is that he wants all the ideological gratification with none of the work required.
Actually, it's worse than that. Some of them actually seem to think they HAVE done the work, when all they have done is expended effort, evidenced by waste heat and fricative noises.

After the third or fourth time that a person of educated intelligence has been presented a crayon-scrawl as being a Grand Theory of This or The Next Great Novel or Inarguable Proof that The Truth Has Been Suppressed - well, it becomes tiresome in the extreme; particularly when it becomes apparent that they really cannot tell the difference between the nonsense they present and the minimum standard of the form.

Before you can do the work, you have to understand what the work is. Perhaps even more importantly, you really do need to understand the people doing it - because people who thrive in academia and who think that modeling chaotic systems is interesting are not at ALL like "Normal Folks." Actually, they are kinda out of the range of pretty damn smart folks - who are mostly useful for translating the banjo music into human speech.

When you have a broad consensus among people who are capable of looking at the data, People like Nate, for instance, evaluating it themselves and understanding the conclusions ,people who come at it from a wide variety of scientific disciplines, it's really rather remarkable for there to be such a broad, scientific consensus.

Bluntly, if there was room for genuine debate, there would be more "sides" to the issue than "Those who have done the work" and "those who think any opinion is as good as any other."

Do they understand the mechanisms and directions of Climate Change completely? Good lord, no. The fundamental science required to make the crudest models is barely a generation old. The computational power to model that science is scarce and inadequate. So we don't have a complete picture, and are still unable to make very specific predictions about what climate is likely to do in any place at any time. But the picture we do have is accurate enough to be a compelling argument against complacency. What we do know is that climate is changing - rapidly, possibly more rapidly than we can gracefully accommodate. It's far more likely than not that human actions are in large part responsible, which is the ONLY spot of good news. You see, that means there is something we can do about the situation. But there is a large social problem in North America with that insight. It means The Hippies were right all along.

That's what it translates to in the minds of Authoritarian right wingers. That the sky and the earth and the waters are not endless, that resources are measured and that the side-effects of private profit will always have some diffuse social impact, the earth being a closed system. In North America in general, and the US in particular, it's considered to be absolutely wrong to ask any "soverign individual" to do any thing - even such a small thing as checking their tire pressure - for any reason other than absolute self-interest.

Indeed, it's considered intrusive when it IS in one's own direct interest, because it will also benefit others.

Well, it turns out that if you dump mercury in the ocean, it ends up in your tuna salid. If you chemicals into the air - you breathe them - after they have unholy congress with ultraviolet light and their offspring ALSO ends up in your tuna salad.

Likewise, it may seem like an intrusion to be "taxed" by being required to paint your roof white. But does a 20% savings on air-conditioning costs sound like a "tax" to you? In some areas, that's a damn fine return on a day's work. So people who insist on acting against their own self interest in the name of opposing what they think to be the intrest of the group, because they have 'a gaw-damn right' to do as they gaw-damn please....

Well, that's only tolerable to a certain extent. Oddly, these are the very same people who use "toleration" as a dirty word toward people who's actions, such as gay marriage, have NO noticeable effect on the arctic ice pack, while thinking that making bonfires out of old tires and spotted owls saturated in PCB-laced waste oil  is a celebration of individual liberty.

If you take too much water from here (because you have the "right" to do so) - there is too little over there - and those who have too little, and therefore thirst and starve are likely to take action against your absolute interpretation of your right to force them to die of thirst or hunger.

The Earth is not a Pyramid - it is a globe. Crap does not flow downhill - it circulates.

You can never act with complete impunity and you can never absolutely know what the ultimate outcome of your actions will be.

When you act conservatively and within your best understandings of the ability of the various, interlocking complex systems to absorb change, you will maximize long term goals at a minimum cost. 

But that requires that the required response to the problem must have some substantial social-action component. It will require the understanding and application of words like "Synergy" and "Appropriate Technology" and "Social mediation."

But regardless of what faith or ideology states, The Ecology is not something separate from us, nor are we independent of it. The Hippies were right. We do have to live in harmony with the land. The reverse is not actually true, though.

So, we all do have to get along. If that offends your idiology - you need a new ideological framework, because yours will eat your children. 

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Glenn Greenwald brings the Cranky.

First Amendment Militia shirt

Glenn Greenwald is suffering the effects of a very severe moral wedgie. Like many, and I include myself, he suffers from deep, impotent outrage toward the moral failure of the Obama Administration; it's abandonment of it's clear, legal duty to prosecute war crimes committed under the aegis of the Bushistas.

He waxes sarcastic and wroth, no doubt in part due to the fact that he is being studiously ignored by those who have the manifest duty to act.

"Criminals"?  "Prosecutions"?  "Obliged to open a case"?  "Violations of human rights"?  Just because they maintained a few secret prisons in violation of domestic and international law?  What kind of crazy, purist, Far Leftist utopians are running that place?  They need a heavy dose of pragmatism so they can understand all the reasons why so-called "crimes" like this can be overlooked -- just blissfully forgotten like a bad dream.  Even worse, with intemperate and shrill language of the type they're throwing around, it's seems clear that the Lithuanian press is sorely in need of some David Broders, Fred Hiatts, and David Ignatiuses to explain to them that subjecting law-breaking political officials to "investigations" and "prosecutions" is quite disruptive and unpleasant when those crimes involve matters other than consensual sex between adults.
Even more alarming, this "rule of law" and "human rights" fetish seems to be spreading: "In neighboring Poland, prosecutors in the capital of Warsaw have opened a criminal probe into reports that the CIA operated a prison for al-Qaeda suspects near a former military air base."  Last month, an Italian court convicted 22 CIA agents of the so-called "crime" of kidnapping someone off their street and sending him to Egypt to be tortured.  And the British High Court this week released its written Opinion -- over the objections of British and American officials -- ordering the release of details of Binyam Mohamed's torture at the hands of U.S. agents.

Thankfully, the U.S. remains a bastion of pragmatic sanity in this rising sea of accountability extremism.

Glenn, here's the thing. Things are worse than you suspect. You see, Lithuania is not acting idealistically, or in accordance with law through some triumph of principle over pragmatism. The rule of law is the most stunningly pragmatic concept ever developed by mankind. It precludes all sorts of problems. It's civilization's way of saying "RTFM" to the offensively and dangerously stupid. Those who will not read and abide by the manual are invited to explore the diversions provided by The Impartial Bug-Zapper of the Law.

The rule of law is preferable to the law of man because it insulates leaders from the need to make impossible political calculations between right action and personal survival. But certain sorts of men (it's almost always men) much prefer to be in personal charge and to be able to act with impunity.

People like George Bush, Don Rumsfeld and espectially Dark Lord Cheney are exemplars of this sort of man. They are sociopaths and worse, entirely indifferent to the consequences others suffer for their ambitions. And when they are permitted to flourish, they corrupt everything they touch, to the point that even the most honest and pure will be required to use corrupt and incompetent men to serve at his will.

Now Obama comes from Chicago. He may be a good man, but I doubt that "pure" or "idealistic" are words we should apply to him.

But he has a severe problem. If he prosecutes the Bushistas - as international law and Constitution alike agree is is his duty, to kick the matters raised into a Court in order to determine the outcome as matters of fact and law - there is a significant possibility that he will be faced with some sort of military/institutional revolt.

That is to say, Glenn - you are justly outraged. So am I. But since I wish to live in a society in which the Rule of Law has not been suborned, I returned to Canada. As a dual citizen, I had the right to choose - and strongly felt a substantial duty to make such a choice.

If you wish to live in such a society as a natural-born citizen, realize that it currently does not exist and has NOT existed for a substantial period of time. Not in MY lifetime, Sir.  Consider that advancements in civil rights during the last fifty years  have often come at the cost of cracked skulls inflicted by the supposed agents of the theoretical rule of law. Law that only protects some, in accordance to their utility to the State, is not law at all.

Glenn, here's the thing. It's a very depressing insight, but as near as I can tell, you can either choose to move to a country where the rule of law exists, or you can choose to fight for it's re-imposition upon at least some of territories of the former United States.  

I observe the current situation is increasingly intolerable, both for large numbers of US citizens and the world in general. Either the US behaves as befits a member of the community of civilized nations, or it will be chastised in increasingly firm and embarrassing ways until it reforms itself or collapses under the weight of it's cognitive dissonances.

President Obama may well be cast in the role of overseeing the dissolution of the United States as we have known it. But whether he is to be seen in hindsight as the caretaker of the process of dissolution in as peaceful a way as possible - the Gorbechev role - or as the exemplar of a renewed vision and a newly vital nation is still largely up to him and, of course, the strings he can haul upon and the people he can call on. People... well, people such as YOU, Glen. Do not ask what your country can do for you, Glenn. What the fuck are you gonna do for your country?

For myself, I could not continue to live within the boundaries of a nation that would not apply it's own laws to itself, one that will abandon it's fundamental principles when slightly startled. And in fact, is all  9/11 was, on the scale of events that happen within the US every single year. I came to the conclusion that the US didn't lose it's brains that day - it simply and collectively dropped the pretense of being a civilized nation of laws even unto itself.

So Al-Queda won without need to even try firing one more shot. After all, what need? Your own C-Street Taliban was more than happy to continue the fight on their behalf, seeking every single social outcome BinLadin would.

But Glenn, you are starting to become shrill - and it's a sure sign that you risk your health continuing in this vein. Granted, the path that those in power OUGHT to follow, under the terms of concience and law, is clear.

It's equally clear that there are those in power that will oppose that to the last ditch. That will commit acts of violence to prevent it happening. That will sabotage it in every way possible. And yet, you think law will prevail? 

Someone has to enforce the law. That implies the willingness to step up and do it. If those charged with that task refuse, they must not merely be nobly and peacefully protested. They must be replaced by those who will - and they must be made to understand that it is not a negotiable choice. By peaceful means, by political pressure, by force of public outrage if possible - but the continuing abuses of power must end and those who have abused it held to account, that this is not a matter of political will or calculation.

Unless it becomes quite clear that the danger to the administration from the left is just as grave as the danger from the right, and by "danger" I mean a very literal potential danger, there will be no progress. It's not about Left and right, it is about Lawful and Unlawful, a choice between the Rule of Law and the rule of unworthy, corrupt, unaccountable sociopaths. Such people will not simply admit defeat. The only "dirty bomb plot" EVER proven to be greatly advanced past the wishful thinking stage was by a Nazi-identified Maine Millionaire.

And it was apparently aimed at the Obama Inaguaral.

It's not cynical to say that might makes right - for no right has ever been established in the face of superior might. So progressives should start thinking as to whether their convictions carry with them the courage to fight, at need. For that need may well come, and weak Reids will not serve you well.

Look at the numbers. Given courage and determination, Glenn - which side has more Divisions? Assembled into serried and courageous ranks, with rotund tummies sucked in, by the numbers sir, by the logistics, sir, by the accounts of who has the ports, the people and the expertise, who wins, if they have the will?

Obama still seems to think this is a question that has a political resolution - but he is opposed by those who will not abide by the results of an honest political process - should it actually occur despite their best efforts.

Therefore, the left (and by "Left", I mean "not batshit crazy") needs to comprehend that this is not a debate.  It is a choice between competing powers and competing visions - and one side is stupid, crazy, dangerous, and a lot smaller. They are quite aware that if they are to gain power over you, it must be through confusion and terror, by threats and by the use of examples of extreme violence.

That is to say, Dick Cheney and his ilk, these people are terrorists, traitors and worse. They must be dealt with as such. Indeed, they will leave you no choice but to deal with them, now, tomorrow, next year. And that is not at all a matter of debate. The only question is, will they prevail over you before being dealt with by the rest of the world?  

Debates occur between peers. Persons deserving of equal respect. People of sound moral and mental character. People willing to admit fact, reason and a decent consideration of the feelings and ambitions of all parties in the public square. This is not the case, nor has it been the case for at least a decade. Nor has the situation been particularly changed by an apparent change in power. Power, sir, must be used and used well in order to have meaning.

Take compromise off the table. One does not compromise with those who's most fundamental belief is that you deserve death, or worse.

Stop pretending that they don't really mean that, or that they have a higher nature to appeal to. Their choice is as stark as that they would impose. They may submit to a reconstituted, civilized national culture, and live, or they may choose to dash themselves against the reality they reject. The process may be unpleasant - exactly how unpleasant depends in part on how long those who know what must happen resist an unpleasant chore. But the outcome is not even slightly in doubt.

The rest of the world would be perfectly happy to see the United States disintigrate into a collection of smaller, competing states. It would simplify matters enormously, since the US is certainly no longer seen as a stablizing power, much less a force for good or even an economic engine. Nobody is interested particularly in helping the US save face - and certainly not at the expense of their vital trade relations or their own ideals.

Glenn, what are you going to do about it? I think we both know how much reasonable speech has achieved. It's now time to apply pressure. Start thinking of yourself as the leader of a First Amendment Militia - for if the first is not applied hard, true and well, the exercise of the Second may well be required.

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