Page 2 of 3

The Irrelevance of Conservative Despair

Over at Protein Wisdom, a former Marine and gun store owner speaks a few truths.

Writes Jeff:

Unfortunately, we’ve become expert, as a popular and political culture, at pretending we haven’t encountered those very truths we continue to molest — all in an effort to will new truths into being out of something so gossamer as manufactured consent based around manipulated perception.

All ideologies emphasize some truths and de-emphasize others. What Jeff is talking about is something far more insidious, because unspoken: an exercise in doublethink. One hears, one perceives truth, and one simultaneously pretends that the truth is not true, due to its simplism, its epistemic cloture, its unreasonableness. Because we do not like the truth (that the state is in many ways powerless to stop people from harming others), we will replace it with one more to our liking (that with the Courage to Act according to a Rational Spirit of this Our Enlightened Age, we can Do Amazing Things).

They are, of course, wrong. Human nature is not infinitely malleable, and even if it were, the state would need totalitarian powers to mash us into the New Soviet Man desired. And no state with totalitarian powers avoids becoming evil. Hayek spelled this out seventy years ago,  but people refuse to believe him, because they do not feel empowered by it. It spells out a limitation of human ability, which one cannot accept and remain progressive.

And right now, the progressives are powerful. Via double-think and the long march through the institutions, they can and do frame the debates to their utmost advantage. They routinely apply (while conveniently denying) a double-standard to the actions and pronouncements of people based on ideology and party affiliation. They run the tables on us, and we barely manage to stand across the train tracks yelling “Stop!”

This is all true, and we are only beginning to come to terms with it. We are passing through the stages of grief, from Shock (Holy crap, are we really going to lose Florida?), Denial (Karl Rove attacks the call), Anger (Whose Fault is this!), to Despair and Acceptance. Right now, I sense Despair, the hopelessness of standing against the Beast, the longing for the Sweet Meteor of Death, the call to Let it Burn. This feeling is real, and it is irrelevant.

Because they are wrong.

They. Are. Wrong. About Everything. About Guns. About Abortion. About Social Security. About spending, about taxation, about debt. They are Wrong about the Economy, and the government’s role in same. About every issue of public policy that has shaped the last 100 years, the progressives have put their yearning to immanentize the eschaton ahead of any other consideration, and have led themselves into continuous and repeated acts of folly, while blaming the world and we who disagree for reality’s obstinate recalcitrance.

Boasting of tolerance, they despise and indulge in violent fantasies about anyone who marches not in lockstep with them. Vomiting populism, they coagulate into a clerical/political class that exempts itself from the health care and gun laws they extol for the provincials. Yammering about freedom, they labor like stevedores to  build Caeser’s dais.

There is no magic bullet to defeat them. Negotiating with them will not slow them down. The only way out is through the truth: continuously, convincingly demanded. Taken to public forums and shoved in their face over and over and over again, until they first recognize that we will not be cowed.

And there are other ways. Pop Culture is not going to go away. It is a fertile breeding ground for assumptions – ideas which are not examined. We can use this it, too – once we understand how it works.

See, Andrew Breitbart didn’t expect someone else to do the hard, grassroots work of retaking our culture. There’s no army of conservatives out there who’s going to do it while you’re curled up watching reruns of The Andy Griffith Show (starring an actor who shilled for Obamacare).

There’s you. You need to occasionally – not always, not all the time – acquaint yourself with pop culture sufficiently to participate in the discussion it sparks. Girls poses hard questions about young people, their aimlessness, their lack of morality, their crushing unhappiness – and conservatism has answers.

You need to make sure the people around you hear those answers, but step one is to be a part of the discussion.

There’s a step two, but step 0.5 is to be prepared to argue with people, to tell them, deftly, politely, bluntly, wittily, that their ideology is built on quicksand.

So get the hell on with it. It matters less what our gutless triangulating Congressmen do if we have the strength to punish them for it. They will believe we have that strength when we start manifesting it in every way we can.

Gun Laws and Other Acts of Folly

This is several days old, but since I greatly enjoyed David Mamet’s The Secret Knowledge: The Dismantling of American Culture (Have you not read it? You must), it would be remiss of me not to link his brilliant, hilarious essay for the Daily Beast, “Gun Laws and the Fools of Chelm.” It contains many useful arguments about the nonsense surrounding the gun control debate, such as this oft-quote graph:

The Left loves a phantom statistic that a firearm in the hands of a citizen is X times more likely to cause accidental damage than to be used in the prevention of crime, but what is there about criminals that ensures that their gun use is accident-free? If, indeed, a firearm were more dangerous to its possessors than to potential aggressors, would it not make sense for the government to arm all criminals, and let them accidentally shoot themselves? Is this absurd? Yes, and yet the government, of course, is arming criminals.

Of course they are. Because if it was not a perverse unintended consequence, the government would not be doing it. To wit:

All of us have had dealings with the State, and have found, to our chagrin, or, indeed, terror, that we were not dealing with well-meaning public servants or even with ideologues but with overworked, harried bureaucrats. These, as all bureaucrats, obtain and hold their jobs by complying with directions and suppressing the desire to employ initiative, compassion, or indeed, common sense. They are paid to follow orders.

This is the truth the progressive cannot admit. Forever they call for “sensible” laws, “reasonable” regulations, emphasizing the adjective in unspoken testimony to their own sense and reasonability, even though they may have little or no knowledge about the law passed or the thing to be regulated. Then the law and regulation is handed over to an indifferent functionary who knows perfectly well that if he fails utterly to achieve a goal, his superiors will insist that lack of funding is to blame. Forms will be filled out, and reports will be filed, and we will be exactly where we were the day before. Except the paper Leviathan will be that bit bigger, and we that bit less free, just as fifty years of Drug War has made drugs exactly as available as they were in 1960, except for the massive expenditure, slow erosion of the Fourth Amendment, and a prison population to rival Stalin at his most paranoid.

Such a thing can not be explained as public policy. It even strains ideology. There is something deeper in this, a surrender to fear that I remember the Left warning us about incessantly after 9/11. This bespeaks and emotional need to “do something” when tragedy strikes, and an almost willful ignorance of whether the thing done will accomplish anything at all.

An “assault weapons” ban will not prevent a single murder from happening on the streets of Baltimore tomorrow. You know that, I know that, everyone knows that. It will not prevent a single robbery. It will not prevent a single rape. And it will not prevent a single mass shooting from happening anywhere in the country. And when that mass shooting happens, as it will, we will fall all over ourselves being sensible and reasonable and attempt to ratchet up the regulations a step further, like Johnson dropping ever more and more bombs on North Vietnam, because what’s been missing is more of the same.


Piers Morgan, Freedom Fries, and Other Jokes That Progs Don’t Get

Right now there’s apparently a White House Petition to get CNN jawflapper Piers Morgan deported to the that happy realm whence he came. Something to do with his flubbering commentary on Newton and the 2nd Amendment. I haven’t read it, and I certainly haven’t signed it. Because punishing idiotic speech is not what we do in America. Middle-Class Englishmen with tony accents are always welcome here, even if their understanding of American law, liberty, and culture is no better than your average working-class yob with a few pints of Newcastle in him (stereotypes: they never get old).

Unfortunately, Morgan himself doesn’t seem to know that:

Dear me, what a sticky wicket! Like to chuff one’s chips down the apples and pears! Narky! (I have no idea what I’m saying).

Now’s probably a good time to mention that none, or very few, of those who’ve signed the petition actually want Piers Morgan deported. And even if they did, almost none actually expect it to happen. Even if President Obama was terribly interested in checking the visas of European immigrants, he’s hardly like to expel a man for agreeing with him on what should be done in the wake of Newton. So Morgan need not worry. He’s got a home in the USA so long as CNN can pretend his ratings can only go up.

So why are we bitterclinging wingnuts bothering? Aren’t we just making asses of ourselves, diminishing the dialogue, making a big deal out of nothing?

Probably. But consider this:

This is what no one ever got about “Freedom Fries.” OBVIOUSLY French Fries weren’t really going to be renamed. OBVIOUSLY a Congressional resolution to rename the items on the Capitol Menu was an utter waste of a legislative session. OBVIOUSLY the whole thing was juvenile and stupid.

But what about the message that it sent? The disrespect to a valuable ally?

Every now and again, we on the right like to blow off a little steam, stick our fingers in the eye of whoever happens to be irritating us. It doesn’t accomplish much, but it lets us find an outlet for the frustrations we suffer sharing a country with socialists and the useful idiots who love them. The French were being rather annoying back in 2002, so Congress found a creative way to remind those cheese-eating surrender monkeys that we hold them in as much contempt as they hold les laides americains. And unlike similar events in European history (War of Jenkins’ Ear, anyone?), nobody got hurt.

The effort to run Piers Morgan out on a cyber-rail is much the same. It will accomplish jack mixed with squat, but it gives us a way to be obnoxious to a man who drives us to drink every time he unbuttons the flap on his pie-hole. It reminds the triumphant progs that we are not quite dead yet. And it reminds those recalcitrant mopers who still can’t believe that Mittens lost that there are better targets for bitter japes than our fellow wingnuts.

And besides, as I tweeted to Piers:

Never let the redcoats get too comfortable.

A Sober and Objective Summation of The Media Response to the NRA Presser…

“Guns are Bad. M’kay?

The NRA defends guns. They’re bad. Because Guns are bad. M’kay?

Putting armed guards in schools is bad. Because they’ll have guns. And Guns are bad. M’kay?

The Second Amendment is real bad.

Because the NRA likes the NRA. And the NRA is bad, so the Second Amendment must be bad.

Don’t be bad; don’t have guns, or like guns, or support guns. Then you’ll be bad. Because Guns are bad.


Micheal Moore and the Musket Fallacy

In 1789, the best available military technology was the musket. It was a cumbersome weapon by today’s standards, and had an involved process to load and fire.

However, it was not quite as slow to load as it would appear to modern eyes. A trained soldier, commiting the steps of the process to muscle memory, could be quite a quick shot.

This weapon is the Brown Bess Musket, the standard British infantry weapon for centuries. It had an effective range of about 50 yards, hence the need for volleyed fire. Rifled muskets could be much more accurate at longer distances, but they were comparatively rare until industrialization, and they did not come equipped with a bayonet, which was needful to fight at close distances. So this was the best available military technology of the day.

In writing the Second Amendment, the Founders certainly had in mind that citizens should own what was the best available military technology. That was the whole point of the Second Amendment: that the citizens should be armed, that they may defend their liberty from the grasping state, as the Founders had done themselves.

So Michael Moore is wrong: if James Madison looked into a crystal ball and saw an AK-47 in the hands of a citizen, he would only ask whether the weapon was comparable to that of the US Army. This technology fallacy that gun-control advocates offer relies upon two incorrect premises:

  1. The weapons of the 18th century were not that dangerous, indeed comical in their rate of fire.
  2. The Founders did not intend that citizens should be well-armed, only sort-of armed.

Both of these proceed from ignorance about 18th century warfare.

The Strange Birth of New York’s Gun Laws

Ernst Schrieber, commenting in the Protein wisdom post linked earlier, offers this New York Post article:

In 1911 — in the wake of a notorious Gramercy Park blueblood murder-suicide — Sullivan sponsored the Sullivan Act, which mandated police-issued licenses for handguns and made it a felony to carry an unlicensed concealed weapon.

This was the heyday of the pre-Prohibition gangs, roving bands of violent toughs who terrorized ethnic neighborhoods and often fought pitched battles with police. In 1903, the Battle of Rivington Street pitted a Jewish gang, the Eastmans, against the Italian Five Pointers. When the cops showed up, the two underworld armies joined forces and blasted away, resulting in three deaths and scores of injuries. The public was clamoring for action against the gangs.

Problem was the gangs worked for Tammany. The Democratic machine used them asshtarkers(sluggers), enforcing discipline at the polls and intimidating the opposition. Gang leaders like Monk Eastman were even employed as informal “sheriffs,” keeping their turf under Tammany control.

The Tammany Tiger needed to rein in the gangs without completely crippling them. Enter Big Tim with the perfect solution: Ostensibly disarm the gangs — and ordinary citizens, too — while still keeping them on the streets.

In fact, he gave the game away during the debate on the bill, which flew through Albany: “I want to make it so the young thugs in my district will get three years for carrying dangerous weapons instead of getting a sentence in the electric chair a year from now.”

Sullivan knew the gangs would flout the law, but appearances were more important than results.

What is done by politicians is done for political reasons to achieve a political end. Anyone who believes that they are motivated by the desire to effect change in society is quixotically naive.