Signs

Even if the United States were not being led by the pusillanimous and incompetent Obama administration, it would be high time for Middle Eastern and NATO countries to start picking up some of the burden of dealing, financially and militarily, with the terrorist threat they face.

And time will tell whether this story checks out, or is more than a token effort.

It’s worth noting that the Reggimento San Marco is the Italian version of the Marine Corps.

Never Again Not For A While

Remember last summer’s stunt, where a smokin’ hot babe filmed herself walking for hours through Manhattan, and the response she got from men along the streets?

A Jewish journo- member of a a minority that could teach American academic feminists a thing or two about what real oppression is – did the same thing through the streets of Paris.

And the results are…

…well, pretty demoralizing, for those who’d like to think the human race has learned anything over the past 70 years.

 

Everything You Know About ISIS Is Probably Wrong

And me, too.

This piece – “What Isis Really Wants“, by Graeme Wood, in that noted conservative tool The Atlantic - explains ISIS in political, social and theological terms better than any single thing I’ve ever read.

It’s a long read, but a valuable, even vital one.

The entire piece is essential, it was almost pointless to pull out a quote.  But in a nation that is tired of war, with significant antiwar political movements on the left and right, and with people from all political perspectives engaging in much wishful thinking about ISIS, I thought this was the essential bit:

We can gather that their state rejects peace as a matter of principle; that it hungers for genocide; that its religious views make it constitutionally incapable of certain types of change, even if that change might ensure its survival; and that it considers itself a harbinger of—and headline player in—the imminent end of the world.

One can neither reason with nor rationally deter an inbound kamikaze pilot.

I try to avoid the old blogger’s crutch “read the whole thing” – so when I say it, I mean it.  By all means do.

Lessons

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Lawyers are required to take Continuing Legal Education. I’m thinking of giving a class on the subject of “Making Minnesota Muslim-Friendly.”

The auditorium would be broken into sections marked by signs: in front, Men; behind them, Women; back row, Menstruating Women; and one small area of standing room right by the door, GLBT.

In the aisle entering the room would be a table with a cardboard box of scarves and another filled with rocks.

As everyone enters the auditorium, I’d tell them “This seminar involves inter-active role playing. Please take a rock from the box. Women should also cover their heads with a scarf.”

To start the lecture, I’d ask people to move to their assigned sections. Nobody would move to the Menstruating Women section, of course, it’d be too humiliating. And probably no GLBT. So I’ll ask for volunteers “just for role-playing purposes” and if I get none, I’ll assign some.

Next, all good Muslims must understand that homosexuality is not only a sin, but a crime. That’s what the rocks are for. Everyone pick up your rocks, turn toward the GLBT section and prepare to throw. Except you Menstruating Women, you’re unclean, you don’t participate, you can sit back down.

I anticipate some vocal objections will arise. Those of you objecting, you’re out of line. God has laws, given to us by his Prophet. I have applied the laws to this classroom, you’re breaking the law. That makes you a heretic. If you don’t fall back into line, you’ll have to join the other sinful criminals in the stoning area to be put to death for your crimes against God.

Not True Islam? Tell me, what is True Islam? Islam isn’t like Catholic, where one guy decides what we all believe. Islam is like Protestant, where every group decides what it believes, all beginning from the same sacred text but spinning off into groups as diverse as Wisconsin Synod Lutheran, Old Order Amish, Shakers, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Methodists and the Salvation Army. There is no more “True Islam” than there is “True Christian” and attempting to discredit my flavor only proves how evil you are, and justifies my religious obligation to kill you lest you corrupt others with your wicked words.

If you don’t want to stone gays, fine, you can come up here in front with me. We’re going on a field trip after class, swing by my house for some guns and off to Temple Beth Israel to kill the Jews. You can help with that.

At that point, I can announce the end of role-playing. Take off your scarves, drop your rocks, sit where you like, take a deep breath and let it out slowly. That was just role-playing. This is still Minnesota.

But remember this: what you experienced for a few minutes in play life, millions of people live in real life under Sharia rule as it’s actually practiced around the world, and not even the strictest form, as I didn’t insist on women wearing shapeless clothing and hiding their faces so they wouldn’t distract the men by their lustful ways, or having a male relative accompany them. In predominantly Muslim countries, women are subservient to men. Gays are killed. Freedom of speech does not exist. Freedom of worship does not exist. And we’re not even going to discuss female genital mutilation, honor killings or gang-rape as punishment for adultery.

There is a massive conflict between Islam and Minnesota that multiculturalism and respect for diversity simply cannot bridge. Either we become like them – which it should now be apparent you would hate – or we drop the pretense of diversity and insist they become like us.

So . . . how much should I charge for the class?

Joe Doakes

Are you kidding? They’re lawyers. $250 an hour plus expenses.

Shelf Life

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

President Obama says Muslims are ignorant, medieval racists.

Well, not in so many words. But the point of drawing a moral equivalency between Muslims, the Inquisition and slavery in the Old South is that all three examples are equally bad so we shouldn’t single out Muslims for disapproval.

Agreed. Except Christians abandoned the Inquisition and abolished slavery in the Old South, and thereby made the world a better place. Only one bad thing left for Christians to rid the world of, Mr. President. When should we expect you to get started on that?

Joe Doakes.

Western Civilization, Christendom and America fought through immense internal upheaval to deal with the latter two.

Happy Reagan’s Birthday!

The jelly beans are on my desk, to greet passersby.

I’ve got a pot of stew in the crock pot, ready for the traditional family dinner, when I tell my kids how unlikely it is they’d have been born but for today’s birthday boy, and why.

It’s time for the official Shot In The Dark holiday.  Today would be Ronald Reagan’s 114th birthday.

I’ve been writing about Reagan – who, along with PJ O’Rourke, Solzhenitzyn, Dostoevskii and Paul Johnson is the reason I’m a conservative today – as long as this blog has been in existence.  His eight years were not perfect, and I don’t beatify my presidents, even if they’ve been out of office for twenty years (to say nothing of in their first month of service).  His last term wasn’t as stellar as his first, and his last two years were very difficult.

Still and all, he was the greatest president of the second half of the 20th Century.

But in these difficult times, when a President is promoting fear and malaise in the guise of “change” and “doing something”, it’s worth remembering Reagan’s example; when times seemed at their most dire, Reagan walked onto the scene with a smile and a vision, and a backbone of steel, and cleaned up the mess lefty by his failed predecessor – something our next president will need even more of in 2016.

And the most important part? He did it by unleashing something that many, then as now, thought was dead – the inner, optimistic, take-charge greatness of the American spirit.

Oh, there are those who say “today’s GOP wouldn’t nominate Reagan!” – to which I respond with a contemptuous sign, before telling the critic to listen to “A Time for Choosing”, and tell me who is more resembles; Arne Carlson, or Scott Walker?

Reagan’s gone. But that spirit, the one he understood, almost alone among American politicans of his era, lives on in the American people. Most of it, anyway.

So Happy Reagan’s Birthday, everyone!

NOTE: While this blog encourages a raucous debate, this post is a hagiography zone. All comments deemed critical of Reagan will be expunged without ceremony. You’ve been warned.

You have the whole rest of the media to play about in; this post is gonna be gloriously one-note.

Regime Change

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

New York Times now says regime change is bad?

US interventionism in WW II made things worse for a short time, especially in Germany. So we shouldn’t have sought to change Hitler’s regime? Washington and Jefferson were right all along about entangling alliances in European affairs? Is that what we’re saying?

Wouldn’t really bother me that much.

The European Union is about to collapse because Germany won’t subsidize Greece and the Russians can’t pay their bills because the Saudis are winning the oil price war while a bunch of vicious Middle East tyrants may be replaced with different vicious Middle East tyrants. Nothing I can do about any of it and for damned sure, Obama won’t. Boehner and McConnell don’t seem to have a clue between them, so I don’t count on the Republican Establishment for anything, either.

The “radical shift in American foreign policy” sought by the Times requires a courageous leader: Winston Churchill, fighting on the sands and beaches; Harry Truman, ending the war by dropping the bomb; Ronald Reagan, growing our military so fast the Russians collapsed their economy trying to keep up; Margaret Thatcher sending England’s baby flat-tops halfway around the world to kick Argentine ass over some tiny islands nobody really wanted but damn it, they’re ours.

No such American leader in sight.

Joe Doakes

Oh, I think there are. In 2016. If we deserve them.

Western Civilization’s Finest Hour

It was fifty years ago today that Winston Churchill died.

There’s a strong case to be made that Churchill was the greatest person of the past 100 years; that without him, Western Civilization might be a very different thing today.

He was a great political thinker, a great statesman, and – especially in the darkest hours of World War 2 in Europe – one of the most epochal leaders of all time.

And one of the great orators; I’m as unemotional a person as you’ll ever meet, but it’s hard not to feel something stirring at Churchill’s greatest speech, his “Dunkirk” speech:

He rallied a people whose backs were worse than “up against the wall” – and a civilization that’d just taken a massive beating after one of the bleakest quarter-centuries in history.

The Mountaintop

One of the great tragedies of our age is that “Oratory” is nearly a lost art.

It’s an age when Barack Obama is considered a “great speaker”.

But Martin Luther King was one of the great orators of modern times; to listen to his great speeches is to hear one of the summits of what was once one of the great western traditions.

And he gave few speeches better than “I Have Seen The Mountaintop”.

Rules Of Chaos

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Everybody knows warfare has changed since David’s tribe fought Goliath’s tribe.
Persians, Greeks and Romans developed large-group tactics for soldiers and ships.
European nations adapted tactics to weapons (volley fire for muskets, artillery fire when machine guns made marching in rows suicidal, then rapid movement by horse, truck or helicopter to outmaneuver and encircle the enemy).
Earlier generations of warfare depended on draftees forced to obey orders. The Geneva Conventions are based on the notion that common soldiers aren’t the driving intellect behind the war and so should be treated decently when captured.
What to make of groups that don’t fit this model? Take the Vietnam Anti-War “movement:” Students for Democratic Society held teach-ins, Weather Underground bombed government offices while Symbionese Liberation Army robbed banks and blew up police cars . . . all generally intended to change American policy at home and abroad, but fought with no conscript soldiers or top-down organization.
How should we deal with groups united by a common belief, staffed with volunteers, trained and willing to kill to influence policy but wearing no uniforms and following no “Rules of War,” selecting their own targets and loosely affiliated with – but not controlled by – any central authority? American Revolutionary Minutemen. French Resistance. German Wolverines.
Muslims Jihadis?
Joe Doakes

The traditional answer? Fight them with more of the same…

Pick Your Battles

In the days since the Paris Charlie Hebdo and Jewish Deli massacres, it’s become fashionable in media circles to say, in one language or another, “I Am Charlie Hebdo”.

I’m not.

The French paper was sort of like the American satirical institution South Park – with an unhealthy dose of that traditional drug of the European idle elite, mindless and often nihilistic pseudointellectualism.   And among that class’ fatal conceits in the days since the massacre is the idea that free speech will win out over terror.

It’s BS, of course:

Freedom and individual liberty can, and must, win over terror; “The pen is mightier than the sword” could only have been written by someone who never had to bet his life, and certainly not his family’s lives, on it.

Against civil, political opponents, speech is fine; against those who’d kill you, our freedoms need a more aggressive, tangible defense.

But Charlie Hebdo was not the criminals; the terrorists were.

Along with big media outlets like the AP and the NYTimes, I’ve been asked why I don’t run Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons.  Unlike the AP and the Times, I’m not a hypocrite – I don’t get any particular kick out of offending peaceful, law-abiding members of any faith just because I can.  Most Muslims, especially in America, want nothing to do with violent Shi’ite or Wahhabi extremism; I feel no need to piddle on their faith to stick it to terrorists…

…especially because my “beat” in Minnesota, and we have plenty of thin-skinned personality cultists in this state who don’t take satire well:

Anyway – just as the best defense against bad speech is better, louder, good speech (which this blog and my show are), the best defense against a bad guy with a gun remains…:

…a good guy, or gal, with a gun; uniform optional and, in extremis, not strictly necessary.

Satire is many things; it is not bulletproof.

Replay

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Rush Limbaugh said, about President Obama: “I hope he fails.”

Naturally, he was ripped for it by every liberal and by every mushy RINO trying to make nice with the press.

Read the linked transcript.  It’s surprisingly prescient.  Looking back on what Obama has wrought these past six years, my question is: was Rush right?  Should we hope President Obama fails in his effort to completely destroy the America that I grew up in?

Joe Doakes

Politically-correct or not, I certainly have been.

Top Ten Other Nork Demands Of Hollywood

In addition to gundecking the premiere of The Interview, my sources at the FBI tell me the North Koreans have demanded the following:

10.  Also remove “Knocked Up” from circulation.

9. Bring back Life In Rehab

8. Digitally insert Kim Jong Un into all of Rogan’s parts in Freaks and Geeks. 

7. Digitally insert Kim Jong Un at the head of the conquering Humans in Return of the King.

6. Green-light Kim Jong Un’s screenplay for “Indiana Jones and the Kimchi Hangover”.

5. A talk show on “Twin Cities News Talk”.

4. Digitally substitute Kim Jong Un for Jeff Daniels in The Big Lebowski

3. Go back and rewrite/reshoot/re-release Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith.  And get them right this time.

2. More nude scenes involving Jennifer Lawrence.

1. No South Park parody of the entire hacking/cancelling The Interview fiasco.

In Praise Of The French

Conservatives love ripping on the French. In the aftermath of 9/11, when W was building his coalition to go to Afghanistan and then Iraq, the French were famously reticent – which bade many conservatives to start referring to The French as “cheese eating surrender monkeys”, among other things.

(As we’ve noted in the space in the past, this is also a reference – largely mistaken – to World War II. As illiterate as Liberals are about history, let it not be said that some conservatives don’t have their blind spots as well).

Conservatives who criticize the French are blinded to the key fact that the French stance was not a bug – it was a feature.

In 1986, the great military historian Edwin Luttwak wrote the classic, seminal book “The Pentagon and the Art of War”. In the book, Luttwak affixed the blame for five straight American military debacles (Vietnam, the Mayagüez incident, Desert One, Reagan’s Lebanon operation and the successful but sloppy and costly invasion of Grenada) to the fact that America had no strategy – or, rather, an underlying strategy that was entirely based on refighting a worldwide conventional war, like World War II.

In short, America’s defensive posture did not have a clear goal that related to the world we were in in the 1980s,  and our military was not built, equipped or trained to accomplish the things it did face.

Continue reading

On Remembering

Of course, today is 9/11. 

And over the years, I’ve engaged in some picking and choosing over what memories I’ll stress. 

Yes, I remember the attacks; the planes slicing into the  buildings, the people jumping, the confusion, the helplessness that so many felt in the face of what started out as anonymous burst of flaming hell from nowhere. 

And the 3,000 dead?  Yep.   I remember them – and, as always, pray for their families.  I can’t imagine the years have made anything better.  Just older. 

But no – if I’ve learned anything from a bunch of decades of life, it’s that some of the best advice you can get in life came, of all places, from Harry Dean Stanton in the original Red Dawn.  Let it turn to something else. 

So while I remember the other responses, and honor the memories of those murdered that morning, I choose to focus my reminiscence on the other half of 9/11; the response.

Not just the planes full of Green Berets that took off while the rubble was still ablaze, launching a plan that, by Christmas, would end with the toppling of the Taliban, the extinction of the training camps, the disruption of the organization that’d attacked the US so many times in the previous decade. 

And not just the people on Flight 93, who did the most American thing there is – fought back.  They died, but they fought back. 

But most of all, as we endure the detritus of a collectivist, socialist political culture that, like all such “progressive” ventures cheapens the individual for the engorgement of the collective (controlled, natch, by the political class), I remember the people of the Twin Towers. 

Because for years prior to 9/11, the assumption among the First Responder community was that civilians were mindless sheep, prone to panic or worse when the chips were down.  They assumed that buildings full of people would need to be calmed, pacified, and shepherded out of harm’s way by groups of uniformed specialists, or all hell would break loose.  Indeed, it was a cutesy, pro-law-enforcment meme that still pops up occasionally – the police are “sheepdogs”. 

The implication being that we, The People – save for the wolf-like criminals among us – are sheep.  I’ve seen well-meaning people throw that out there over the years, bit my tongue and restrained myself; it’s insulting. 

Because on that morning, virtually everyone that could get out of harm’s way – those below the impact sites in the Twin Towers – did.  They ignored the loudspeakers telling them to stay at their desks, “crowdsourced” a solution, and got themselves – wheelchair-bound and blind and handicapped co-workers and all – out of the buildings as the police and firemen were arriving.   Had everyone followed the “plan” – waited like docile sheep for people in uniform to arrive and tell them what to do – the death toll would have been double, triple what it was, maybe more. 

And yet they – regular American cubicle-drone schnooks – assessed the situation and took care of business. 

That takes nothing away from the hundreds of cops and firemen that died that day – there were many that couldn’t get out, especially those above the crash sites, and the first responders died trying anyway.  There are no words to express my admiration for this, that the Bible hasn’t already given us; truly, greater love hath no man than when he gives his life for another. 

But today?  Just as my antidote to the memory of Auschwitz is that of Israeli paratroopers at the Wailing Wall, or as I respond to the story of anyone being robbed with that of the person who shot the robber in justified self-defense, I think about the Americans that faced boundless horror and evil thirteen years ago today…

…and dealt with it. 

Just as we keep on dealing with it.

I’m Trying. I Really Am.

To be a nicer, more civil person.  I truly am.

Here’s the deal.  I left the Libertarian Party in 1998 largely over the LP’s complete illiteracy on foreign policy and defense.

Now, many “Libertarians” are drawn to the belief, and the party, by the reductionistic magical thinking that all of the world’s questions break down into binary, black-or-white answers.  The right answer to everything lies in unbending, unyielding adherence to “principles”, any deviance from which for any reason is an unforgiveable impurity.

Which is a fine and dandy thing, if your “principles” are so well-thought-out as to account for all of the myriad gray areas life, human nature and history throw into one’s path.  For example, the idea that some “libertarians” have that one is either an isolationist peacenik…or a “warmonger”, with nothing in between.  Too stupid to mock.

Anyway.

What I’m trying to do is figure out a way to write “if everything you know about history and foreign policy is stuff you read from the inside of Ron Paul’s anterior colon, you probably are not going to be a partner in a serious debate”.

And I got nothing.

I’m open to suggestions.

Death Cult

In the lulls between Palestinian/Israeli combat, I sometimes forget how very, very depressed I get at how very ill-informed Americans are about the recent history of the Middle East.

I’ve even seen relatively intelligent acquaintances of mine claim that both sides, Palestinian and Israeli, are morally equal.  One trumpeted “both sides are run by extremists!”, by way of excusing the Palestinians.

I’m going to link to this piece by Dennis Prager – the best, simplest explanation of the last seventy years I’ve ever seen.

“The Israelis want to have a state.  The Palestinians want the Jews dead”.

There is no moral equivalence.

Austerity

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

 

Milton Berle teamed up with Spike Jones and the City Slickers to release “Leave the Dishes In The Sink, Ma” in 1944.

The lyrics provide a glimpse of life for ordinary Americans in the war years.  First, it’s a big deal that our kid is coming home from the war alive, as a Sergeant no less.  Cause to celebrate.

Second, we’ll invite all the neighbors to the party; but what to feed them?  There’s baloney, cheese, pickles in the icebox, and cider in the keg in the cellar.  What, that’s the best you can do, that’s your version of killing the fatted calf?  Well, yeah, in those days, it was.

It was an entirely different world, barely imaginable to people living in America today.

And still, that life that to us is austere is unquestionably better than the life of most of the people around the globe.  The water was safe to drink, easily had.  There was food.  Roof over their heads.  Those who wish to remake America in the image of the rest of the globe, ponder that.

Joe Doakes

The presumption on the part of so much of the Big Left that America would be a great experiment, if it were only socialist, is Obama’s most toxic legacy.

In A Just World…

 …we’d have an administration with Kevin Williamson running domestic policy…:

Our choice is not really between neat ideological verities with their roots in Adam Smith or Karl Marx, but between the DMV and the Apple store. Each model has its downsides, to be sure, but it does not seem like a terribly difficult choice to me.

 And Richard Fernandez as Secretary of State:

Suppose Benghazi was a catastrophic failure, made all the more dangerous by the possibility that Russia had a hand in it. If Putin, having studied how Reagan used the jihad to bring down Soviet Union, played the same game on Barack Hussein Obama, it would explain many otherwise inexplicable things. The role of Snowden. The disgrace of Petraeus. The exile of anyone and anything to do with Benghazi. The kid-gloves treatment of the Ansar attackers. The strange enmity between Hillary and Obama. Each is bound by the same secret. Each lives in fear of the same smoldering fire burning in the bowels of the administration.

The lie is much more dangerous than the truth. America can live with an Obama mistake. But it can’t live with an Obama who cannot acknowledge his mistakes.

 The world is, of course, not just.

But both of them provide some useful templates for gauging candidates and what they believe.

Why I’m No Longer A Libertarian

My old friend Gary Miller is giving a speech to a Young Republican group tomorrow.  Or maybe a College Republican group.  And it might have already happened, for all I know.

But the particulars aren’t as important as the theme of his talk; “Why I’m No Longer a Republican”.

Gary was of course the proprietor of “Truth Vs. The Machine”, one of the great paleocon GOP blogs of the mid-2000s.  Over the past year or two, he’s left the GOP and become a Libertarian; at times, he’s even described himself as an “Anarcho-Libertarian”, one of the small crowd of Libertarians who believe that the only good government is a non-existent government.

And, I suspect, he’s going to describe the genesis of his disenchantment with the GOP, and his eventual move into the Libertarian sphere of things.

I’m sure it’ll be worth attending.  Although I’d probably get carded and 86ed.

But for the benefit of those YRs that might be interested, I thought I’d describe a full circle.  Because where Gary is now, I was, close to 20 years ago.  The details were different, but the disenchantment was the same.  As to the final results?  Well, we won’t know that for quite a while.

Underwhelmed:  I’ve told the story on this blog, and on my show, many times; in 1994, disgusted with Republican support for the 1994 Crime Bill (the last great successful push for gun control in this country), I quit and joined the Libertarians.

I called myself a Libertarian with a big L for four years.  I ran for State Treasurer, and won a moral victory in the 1998 election; my only platform plank was to abolish the office of State Treasurer.  That election, the people of Minnesota voted in a Constitutional initiative to abolish the office, proving they didn’t need pols to do their abolishing for them – and you can’t get more Libertarian than that).

And then I left.  There were really two reasons.

Screaming Into The Void:  If a Libertarian proposes a policy in the woods, and nobody hears them, do they really exist?

Judging by how American government has morphed over the past two decades, the answer is obviously “no”.

I left the Libertarian Party because it’s a party of great, brilliant ideas, declaimed with authority to rooms full of people who vigorously agree, and who remain magnificently above the fray, neither having to try to implement any of those ideas as policy nor, in many cases, claiming to want to try.  To some, the fact that politics is about compromise – battling to a consensus with people who disagree with you – is an invitation to perdition; one might need to compromise ones’ core principles!

So while they think their big thoughts in their salon full of other big thinkers, the non-Libertarian do-ers, unworried about sullying their principles because “getting power for ourselves” was their guiding principle, would be out on the street actually convincing the unconvinced to give them more of it.

And the more I tried to discuss this, the more I realized that while Libertarians paid lip service to the idea of actually winning elections and affecting policy, to way too many Libertarians the goal seemed to be able to say “I told you so” to the rest of society as it slowly turned away from the light.

And that struck me as completely pointless.

So I thought “where can I go where I can work on pushing more Liberty into actual policy that affects real people?”  I went back to the GOP more or less by default; I figured it was a more hospitable party to the idea of “liberty” (and I was right – there is not and can never be a Tea Party, or any Pauls, Rand or Ron, in the Democrat Party).

Quixotic?  Sure.  No moreso than trying to change society from within an echo chamber, though.

Reality Bites:  The other reason?  Libertarians – collectively and singly – are right about just about everything.  Freedom is better.  Government largely is the worst possible solution to every issue.  Decentralized is better than centralized.  Markets are better than regulations.

But there are threeissues about which Libertarians – individually, rather than as a Party – are dead wrong:

  • People are social
  • Human nature is not a construct.
  • Evil exists.

The classic Ayn-Randian Libertrian vision – and to some extent, our founding fathers had it as well – is that society is a mass of autonomous, disconnected equals, whose fate is governed entirely by their own merits and talent in navigating The Market.

But humans are social animals.  We gather instinctively into groups – marriages, families, clans, tribes, villages, congregations, religions.  Some of them are voluntary, some aren’t.  All of them have rules.  Those rules sometimes take the form of “laws”, and laws are by their nature enforced by something, whether it’s Don Knotts or Catholic Guilt or a SWAT team.

Of course, those rules – “laws” – exist for a bunch of reasons, the most useful and justifiable of which trace back to our evolutionary imperative to make sure our next generation grows up healthy and able to take care of us and able to raise yet another generation.  Rules like “if you have a kid, take care of it, dont’ run off, don’t kill it”.  Then ” don’t kill other peoples’ kids”.  Then “Don’t kill the people that take care of those kids”.  Then “don’t steal the means by which people feed and care for the next generation – food, land, property, means of production”.   And finally, “don’t go taking the land and killing the people that are the who and where our next generation gets raised”.

Put another way – thou shalt not kill, steal, lie, cheat, covet other peoples’ stuff or piddle on whatever order we do have.

And in a nearly perfect world, those rules have to be arrived at by consensus – so we, the people, end up with the bare minimum of “government by consent of the governed”, meaning me.  I want my government to be my employee, not my self-appointed master.

And I want that government to exist for, and deal with, a strictly limited list of things; enforce our contracts, impart consequences on those who do violate the bare minimum of rules we do have (mostly related to using force and violence against others)…

…but, most importantly, when I find my property crawling with Methodists with guns and bombs and knives, to respond with snipers and paratroopers and tanks, to drive the Methodists from all of our property as we sing “Constitutional Capitalist Collective, F**k Yeah!”, and “we’ll put a boot in your ass, it’s the Strictly Limited Government way…”.

Those are really the only three reasons why anyone should have to interact with anyone else on a non-social basis.  And as it happens, they are the only three that matter…

…and are the ones on which libertarian purists are the  most lost in the philosophical clouds.

So that’s why I’m no longer a Libertarian.

I’m a libertarian-conservative who votes to prevent as much damage to liberty as possible, election by election.

To some, the distinction is meaningless.  To others, it’s meaninglessly precise.  Either way, that’s me, and that’s why.

A Critique

SCENE:  Mitch BERG is walking through the garden store looking for organic potato seeds.  He spots Avery LIBRELLE, over in the tomato section.  BERG turns and tries to quietly leave, but LIBRELLE turns and sees him.

LIBRELLE:  Merg!  (Hurries over toward BERG)

BERG:  Oh – uh, hi, Avery.  What’s up?

LIBRELLE:  I read your stupid piece yesterday about the supposed decline of logic

BERG:  Yeah? 

LIBRELLE:  The first thing I thought was “It’s only Berg.  Who cares what he has to say?”

BERG: In other words, the ad hominem…

LIBRELLE: Oh, shush with all your Greek words.  It lowered my self-esteem for a bit – until I realized something; an argument can be fallacious but still be logical!

BERG:  Er…sorta.  You can use logic to persuade people of something that’s not true.  I mean, that’s basic rhetoric.  But the problem is in the audience’s ignorance, or the lack of information they have, or…

LIBRELLE:  Exactly!  Logic is one of those things lawyers use to hide the truth.  Anyway - what I do is, at the beginning of an argument, I ask “What is the truth”.

BERG:  Er…OK.  So before the debate starts, you find out….what…

LIBRELLE:  I find out whatthe truthis.  And then I run with that. 

BERG:  OK…so you just ask “what is the truth, here?”

LIBRELLE:  Yep!  Because the truth of something isn’t related to how well it’s argued!

BERG:  So you figure “I’ll just go straight for the truth”.

LIBRELLE:  Yep.  Truth is truth, whether people or know or discuss it or not. 

BERG:  Huh.  And so how do you find what is “the truth”?  Say we’re on a jury, and the prosecution has their version of what happened, and the defense has a different version of what happened.  Do you just ask the judge “what is “the truth” here?”

LIBRELLE:  Well, empirical evidence helps.

BERG:  OK, now we’re onto something!  Where does “empirical evidence” come from?

LIBRELLE:  Western Thought!  And modern western thinking started when thinkers became willing to consider the illogical!

BERG:  Good lord – the process of getting “empirical evidence” is called “the scientific method”, and it is built on classical logic!   And then when your evidence leads you to a conclusion, you have to convince others that your conclusion is valid!  And logic is how you build a valid argument that focuses on fact!

LIBRELLE:  Just like Johnny Cochrane did! 

BERG:  Er, “If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit” was part logic, part rhetoric.  It was closer to marketing than classical logic…

LIBRELLE:  I demolished you with that!

BERG:  Look – logic is how we convince ourselves, and others, what the truth is.  For example, if I’m trying to convince you that “Stand your Ground” laws make sense, I would show you, logically, how such laws are immediately correlated with drops in unjustifiable homicide…

LIBRELLE:  …and then I call you racist!  Because I read something in the Daily Kos that said so!

BERG:  Er… (slowly backing away) I hadn’t thought of it that way… (notices that LIBRELLE has started chewing on a tomato start.  BERG slowly turns and walks away .

(And SCENE)

(AUTHOR NOTE:  While the names and flow have been changed, the conversation above actually happened with a liberal on Twitter.  Yes, it did.  Remember; the left are the smart ones).

The Left’s War On The Western Intellect

One never needs to look far for a Berg’s Seventh Law violation.  But this one may be the big daddy of them all.

For all the left’s bargling about how smart they are and how stupid the teabagging wingnuts are, it’s the left that’s waging a war against the intellectual traditions that made the West a great, and – by world historical standards – free, prosperous and enlightened place.

The Late, Great Debate:  I did debate team for one year, and speech team for two in high school.  And with all due respect to the debaters in my social circle – including John Hinderaker, a national college debate champ – there was no question about it; debate team was the lesser set of skills.  The best “debaters” merely honed their ability to rattle off, auctioneer-style, factoids in a coherent-sounding case; oratorical style and even audible legibility didn’t make the cut as priorities.  Debaters tended to make lousy “forensics” speakers.

But debate teaches a vital skill – indeed, perhaps one of Western Civilization’s most vital skills; classical logic.  A good debater knows how to contruct a logical argument, quickly, steering clear of glaring logical fallacies which will, of course, cost them points with literate judges.

Or rather, they knew it.

John Hinderaker relates the story of the decline and fall of collegiate debate, where teams are now winning “debate” tournaments while ignoring the stated topic and swerving into their own personal polemics, often in “slam poetry” and hip-hop styles and, dumber still, declaring the idea of “logic” and “structure” to be racist:

The assertion that “the framework of collegiate debate has historically privileged straight, white, middle-class students” is puzzling. By “privileged,” the writer apparently means that these are the people who have been good at it. Historically, most college students have of course been white and middle-class, but so what?

“Collegiate debate” has turned into the MinnPost comment section!

I’m tempted to declare that the structure, rules and equipment of the NFL are ageist, classist and ableist, and play using only a shotgun and a hockey stick; why should those privileged with athletic talent and lack of years have all the fun and money?

Well, no – I won’t.  Because I’m not an idiot.

The underlying message from the academy (and hip hop forms notwithstanding, the end of collegiate debate is a battle between academic points of view, not tastes in music) is that logic and structure – the building blocks of western philosophy, “liberal” government, modern science, and indeed every Western intellectual tradition worth preserving – are matters of racist “privilege”.

Would we have had a small-”l” liberal government, ann Enlightenment, a Renaissance, math and science as we know it, a legal system remotely worth having, and any common intellectual tradition without classical logic?

Happy To Be An Intellectual Midget For A Better Minnesota!:  Of course, it’s more than just a national thing; the Minnesota Left has been doing its best to make politics and public life in Minnesota  dumber, coarser, nastier thing.

Bill Glahn dials this tendency in as remorselessly as a sniper:

As the 2014 election campaign heats up, a drearily familiar pattern is repeating itself. Flush with big dollars from out-of-state donors, Democrat-front group Alliance for a Better Minnesota (ABM) is attacking Republican candidates under the theme Wrong for Minnesota…Back in the dim mists of time—when dinosaurs still trod upon the earth—I was taught that arguing against the person (ad hominem) rather than what the person was saying, defied the laws of logic.

When I was in debate in high school, and moreso when arguing points in college, leading with the ad hominem was a good way to have your thesis sent to the showers.

I was taught in classical Greek rhetoric that a message that relied exclusively on raw emotion (pathos)—rather than reason (logos) or an appeal to values (ethos)—was considered the lowest form of communication.
Ad hominem and pathos are the only form of expressions ABM is capable of. The reason why ABM relies on these tactics is because they work. The object is not to engage in debate, but to end debate by surpressing voter turnout. ABM is not trying to convince you that you should vote for Democrats, they are trying to convince you that no Republican possesses the personal character worthy of your vote.

And it works.  A potential candidate for higher office talked with me about ABM’s efforts last year; this person wanted very much to run for an office that would be up for election this year, but couldn’t; while they have the political savvy, experience and record to do the job, ABM would make their personal life – things unrelated to politics, of course – a living hell.  And so a good candidate opted out of the race – leaving that bit more room for an inferior Democrat.

To add insult to injury?  The same media full of Lori Sturdevants and Keri Millers that snivel about the “vitriol” and “anger” in politics, are utterly silent about the Alliance’s crimes against logic:

Should a Republican whisper about the health of our current governor or the temperament of our junior senator, they are immediately shouted down by local media.

Either because of personal relationships or broad sympathy with the aims of ABM, these tactics are never questioned by local media. ABM’s increasingly fantastic and desperate claims against Republicans are never subjected to the “fact-check” apparatus.

And why is that?

Why has MPR, especially their “Fact-Check” operation, “Poligraph”, never systematically looked into ABM’s propaganda?  Catherine Richert?  Mike Mulcahy?  Tom Scheck? Anyone?