David M. Brown's Blog

December 23, 2013

Vikram Seth’s Words of Thanks

Filed under: Literature — davidmbrowndotcom @ 7:43 pm
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I bring you one of the more charming “thank you” notes ever to preface a big book. Since printing the poem here will in a minor way promote A Suitable Boy (a hefty novel of life in India in the 1950s), I don’t think the author will mind that I quote all of this thanks:

To these I owe a debt past telling:
My several muses, harsh and kind;
My folks, who stood my sulks and yelling,
And (in the long run) did not mind;
Dead legislators, whose orations
I’ve filched to mix my own potations;
Indeed, all those whose brains I’ve pressed,
Unmerciful, because obsessed;
My own dumb soul, which on a pittance
Survived to weave this fictive spell;
And, gentle reader, you as well,
The fountainhead of all remittance.
Buy me before good sense insists
You’ll strain your purse and sprain your wrists.

Still no Kindle edition of this book, so one half of the last line holds. But as I write, the best used-copy deal from Amazon enables you to obtain the book for 44 cents plus the usual $3.99 shipping price.

All I can tell you about this novel, aside from the fact that many readers are enthusiastic (no guarantee of quality), is that the setup is immediate. “You too will marry a boy I choose,” says the mother, who then takes issue with her daughter’s skeptical “Hmm.” (“I know what your hmms mean, young lady, and I will tell you that I will not stand for hmms in this matter.”) If you want a story that will last a while, here is one. It’s 1349 pages.

I heard about the novel because Christopher Priest mentions it in an incarnation of his little book on Harlan Ellison’s (still) projected anthology of original writing, The Last Dangerous Visions, a volume once supposed to have been published in the early 70s, shortly after Again, Dangerous Visions saw print. The point being that the Last anthology eventually assumed a (projected) length comparable to or even greater than that of such sprawling tomes as A Suitable Boy (which, having been published in 1993, could not have been mentioned in the earliest versions of Priest’s polemic).

December 22, 2013

There is no God

Filed under: Bible stories,Philosophy,Religion,Society and culture — davidmbrowndotcom @ 10:58 pm
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I sometimes hear that although an atheist may be entitled to not believe in God, he is not entitled to believe or flatly assert that there is no God. The atheist, supposedly, cannot be sure that there is no God.

It is true that lack of belief in any gods, i.e., an absence of theistic belief, is all that is required to make one an atheist. I agree with George H. Smith there. But any atheist, if he comes at the question with the appropriate epistemological greaves and cuirasses, which consist in nothing more than uncomplicated and explicit acceptance of the self-evident and inescapable axioms at the base of all thought, is also fully justified in asserting that there is no God. Not only has the burden-of-proof requirement never been met by proponents of notions of supernatural entities of any sort, but it is impossible for this burden of proof to ever be met. How can there be “evidence” for the existence of entities that cannot possibly exist? One is entitled to believe and to positively assert that impossibilities do not exist and cannot exist.

In addition to the theist’s claims about God’s impossible powers (e.g., although theists often quarrel about points fine and not so fine, God is said to be able to violate the law of identity via miracles; is said to be omniscient, omnipotent, creator of the universe, etc.), God and any gods are the kinds of entities for whose existence no evidence is ever provided. (Storytelling is not evidence, so no need to “contradict” me by pointing to Homer or the Bible.)

If somebody were to arbitrarily assert that there exist winged elephants (elephants of the bulk and weight we we are acquainted with, using wings to fly with), and I say that I don’t believe in winged elephants, then I would be an a-winged-elephantist, a non-believer in winged elephants. I am such now. I am also sure that winged elephants don’t exist. (I am sure only because I have paused to consider the notion; normally it would not come up and I would not be expending any epistemological effort to assess it.) The proposition contradicts everything we know and cannot be substantiated by any direct or indirect evidence.

Now, if (actual) evidence could be provided for a winged elephant, rendering the claim of the existence of winged elephants non-arbitrary, I would have to examine that evidence to come to a judgment about what if any value it has. This evidence would have to show that under certain natural conditions, a certain kind of creature could and evidently does exist (perhaps in another star system) that I would be willing to call a “winged elephant” because of its similarity to elephants and the similarity of the unexpected limbs in structure and capacity to wings. But this new evidence, requiring a new conclusion in light of my new knowledge, could not be of the sort that stipulates that winged elephants are invisible, or “beyond human understanding,” or capable of contradicting the nature of things, etc. I can be shown actual evidence for winged elephants only if the winged elephants are part of the natural world. Thus they would have a specific, finite nature, interacting with other things in nature and having some kind of effect on those other things.

To be is to be something, a something that cannot be what it is and not what it is at the same time and in the same respect. If the entity that men call God, an entity currently invisible and imperceptible, were in fact a part of nature; if this “God” did in fact have a specific identity that could not be violated and this “God” could not wield magical identity-violating powers, etc., then it would not be “God” or a god in any familiar sense of the term. The entity would be a part of nature, interacting with other parts of nature, leaving evidence of its existence, footprints and so forth. But it would not be able to alter any part of the universe (let alone bring it into existence) by saying things like “Let Their Be Light.” For the entity to secure effects, it would have to enact causes. There would have to be a light bulb or a candle involved, or at least flint or lightning.

The God we’re told about is not only implausible, but impossible. What we’re entitled to take as self-evident starting points of thought are the facts that the things that we perceive exist, that they are what they are, that they act in accordance with their nature. Any claim about the existence of an entity whose very nature is supposed to be exempt from the constraints of nature is an impossibility. I know that impossible things can’t exist. Not only is there no God, but I also know that there isn’t.

December 6, 2013

We can still have a Propaedia

Filed under: Media and journalism,Society and culture,Technology — davidmbrowndotcom @ 2:39 am

The lament of this New Republic article on the demise (in 2012) of the print edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica, to the extent not merely nostaligic, seems to be based on the difficulty of updating links if one wants a Propaedia-style outline of the whole.

But the great paper encyclopedias of the past had other, grander ambitions: They aspired to provide an overview of all human knowledge, and, still more boldly, to put that knowledge into a coherent, logical order. Even if they mostly organized their articles alphabetically, they also sought ways to link the material together thematically—all of it. In 1974, for instance, the editors of the Encyclopedia Britannica added to the work a one-volume “Propaedia,” which sought to provide a detailed outline of human knowledge, while referencing the appropriate articles of the encyclopedia itself. Large headings such as “Life,” “Society,” and “Religion” were subdivided into forty-odd “divisions” and then further into hundreds of individual “sections.”…

In theory, there is no reason a digital encyclopedia could not have ambitions similar to these. A digital “Propaedia” could of course provide hyperlinks to individual Encyclopedia articles, which would work far more efficiently than printed cross-references. But in practice, to have an encyclopedia even try to provide a systematic overview of knowledge requires a fixed, stable body of articles—a discrete edition.

But the job of providing an overarching perspective on human knowledge per se—of which a a classifying directory of encyclopedia volumes is only one example—is just as tough and just as doable as it ever was.

If Britannica keeps a record of all extant articles on line, it should be possible to produce a synthesizing overview of the encylopedia that, if not exhaustive or kept perfectly updated, is nonetheless as much or as little useful as an Adlerian overview of one of the print sets. The task would have to be properly formulated and delimited. Doesn’t sound easy; what was accomplished synthesizing the print sets was doubtless not easy. Whether there’s a need for such a volume that goes beyond the benefit of feeling the warm feeling that “Ah! Such a volume exists!” is another question.

Will the next Will Durant be stymied for lack of acquaintance with an outline of a print encyclopedia to consult as he confirms or supplements background knowledge on a subject more easily than ever?

Durant’s 11 bulky volumes of the Story of Civilization don’t say everything about everything about what men have learned and accomplished over the centuries; and no doubt many of his details must be corrected or updated. (It’s not hard; read a section of Durant, then search the Internet, Google Books, the online Britannica to find some results of later scholarship.)

The first volume of Durant’s Story was published in the 1930s, the last in the 1970s. It can hardly be up-to-the-minute in its use of secondary sources. But anyone who glimpses the achievement of The Story of Civilization knows that its wisdom and its value do not rest on being perfectly up-to-date and perfectly exhaustive. In addition to the talents and drive of the Durants’, what made their detailed and readable synthesis possible was their philosophic bent. They could see and they were eager to see so many of the connections among the details of mankind’s story, both within each volume and across volumes. Also, they must have been pretty darn good at organizing their notes.

September 5, 2013

It’s all about around and round and round and round as we advocate for

Filed under: Language and grammar,Technology,Writing — davidmbrowndotcom @ 10:21 pm
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In an article on the second coming of watches, Nick Bilton writes: “While there is a lot of excitement around the Samsung watch, it is not the first of its kind.”

If I understand this sentence correctly, Bilton discerns no excitement about the Samsung watch, but only about something or other in the vicinity of, or “around,” the watch. What then is the reported excitement directly about?

The preposition, like other words in the sentence, is poorly chosen, but its deployment is not an inadvertent slip. Such wording is increasingly common among the kind of writers who have learned to shun the word “about” and to never use ten words when 19 will do.

Also showing up more and more in the prose of early adopters of the maladapted is the arbitrary appending of propositions to verbs. Thus, companies don’t “offer” a product for our consideration any more, they “offer up” the product (to be sacrificed?). “Show up” as I just used it and “spin on” as I am about to use it are standard idiomatic expressions; “offer up” in lieu of “offer,” as the preposition-appenders use it, is neither standard idiom nor a clever spin on standard idiom. Their “offer up” carries a connotation that the early adopters do not intend. Its function is only to introduce fog and sog. (These are also the writers who perpetually “reach out” for comment instead of just phoning or emailing people.)

Another example, which I never tire of wearying of: When one advocates a position, one normally does so transitively. “I advocate freedom,” let’s say. Or “I advocate gay marriage.” The dictionary will confirm (until the next edition, perhaps) that the verb “advocate” takes a direct object. But now many writers and editors seem to feel that to refer to the value being advocated so directly is too bald a declaration of loyalty. Thus we now often hear about─excuse me, “around”─we now hear around how a writer, activist or politician “advocates for” Position X, as if Position X had hired him to be its spokesperson. What’s next? “Demand for” instead of “demand”? “I demand for absolution.” “I demand for a divorce.” “I demand for you to put all the cash in this duffel bag. I insist about─I mean, around─I insist around it.”

Sure, language evolves. But scribblers should not eagerly or lazily adopt palsied simulations of linguistic innovations which only squishify or opacify their prose. Untutored writers copying the pseudo-hip blunders of other untutored writers should emulate good writers instead, and should study the tools of their craft.

May 26, 2013

U.S. Senate candidate Ed Markey, tax-break foe, reports abundant deductions

Filed under: Economics,Politics — davidmbrowndotcom @ 5:47 pm

Congressman Ed Markey has chastised income earners for seeking to keep their tax bills as low as possible. But has he ever tried to minimize his own tax bill?

Deviating from his 37-year policy as an elected official of keeping his tax matters private, Democratic U.S. Rep. Edward J. Markey, now running for U.S. Senate, on May 24 released tax-return data for the last several years.

The returns show a 25% total tax bite of the Massachusetts congressman’s income of $161,443 for 2012. He paid 20% of his income to the federal government and 5% to the state of Massachusetts. From 2008 through 2012, his total state and federal taxes ranged from 18% to 25% of his annual income.

The Boston Herald notes that Congressman Markey’s release of his returns was “timed for the Friday before a holiday weekend in an attempt to minimize the impact on his campaign. He had been delaying putting the returns out for more than a week despite Democrats attacking Gomez for failing to release enough years of his returns.” Gabriel Gomez is Markey’s Republican opponent in the June 25 special election for the U.S. Senate seat vacated by former U.S. Senator John Kerry, now the U.S. Secretary of State.

Both the contents of tax returns and a candidate’s reluctance to make tax-return details public can be fodder for mere demagoguery. During the recent presidential election, for instance, Senate majority leader Harry Reid, a Democrat, used Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s reluctance to release his tax returns to accuse Romney of “basically [paying] no taxes in the prior 12 years,” a vaporous charge for which Reid refused to provide evidence, and which was soon confuted.

But tax-return information can also be used to legitimately expose a politician’s hypocrisy ─ e.g., if his conduct as income earner or as tax-filer contradicts some of the key doctrines that inform his policy-making.

The Boston Globe reports that Congressman Markey has habitually taken large deductions, which include “about $9,000 a year in work-related deductions.” His deductions were as high as $49,066 in a single tax year. Thus, it seems that the congressman has made liberal use of the much Markey-reviled “tax breaks” to reduce his taxes.

Does he therefore believe himself to be tearing lucre from the beneficiaries of government handout programs?

The question is pertinent because in a 2011 article on his congressional web site, Congressman Markey is quoted as saying that he regards the efforts of “Exxon-Mobil, BP and other large companies” to keep “unnecessary tax breaks” as “the kind of shocking, tin-eared, tone-deaf, special-interest lobbying that has Americans sick and tired of how political power is wielded in Washington. Every dollar given to an oil company is another dollar taken away from Medicare, from student loan assistance, from child hunger programs. This isn’t some kind of cute social media campaign, it’s an anti-social safety net monstrosity that should be given the hashtag #CLUELESS.”

Hmm. Perhaps nobody should be allowed to keep any of his honestly earned money?

This passage comes to us via the same congressman who has formally asserted, in Congress, that “Christians had a better chance against the lions than the consumer has against the oil companies at the pumps in the United States today” (the clip is on YouTube), thus demonstrating a puzzling inability to distinguish between murder and shopping.

The anti-tax-break fulminations quoted on Markey’s congressional web site invite the reader to conclude that:

1) A person or company that earns an income by productive effort is not entitled by right to the fruits of that effort.

2) To earn profit on the market is somehow to take the money from other persons not involved in the relevant voluntary transactions. If I pay for a gallon of gas and the gas station owner or oil company employees then deploy the revenue I have given them for their own purposes, to pay bills and so forth, there’s something wrong about their doing so.

3) Running a productive, profitable company does not create jobs that keep persons off welfare rolls. In a free market, wealth cannot be used to produce more wealth. If a successful company is free to use and dispose of a greater percentage of its own income than politicians would prefer, the company either cannot or will not use that wealth to expand or improve its operations and to hire more employees. Very large companies do not employ more persons or pay more vendors than do very small companies.

4) Any attempt to keep more of one’s own honestly earned income from politicians trying to grab ever more of it proves that one is “tone-deaf” to the demands of those trying to grab more of one’s money. (By similar reasoning, any mugger would be entitled to scream “Hey, don’t be tone-deaf!” if his victim objects to turning over the wallet.)

One cannot necessarily call any congressman’s labors “productive,” as opposed to, say, counterproductive. But the question may still be asked: Since Congressman Markey, just like the large oil companies, has sought to reduce his tax burden by exploiting tax breaks, does Markey also regard himself as shockingly tone-deaf and inadequately subservient to the demands of government welfare program recipients and/or politicians?

If not, does Congressman Markey still regard large oil companies ─ profit-seeking entities that do offer something of value to people ─ as shockingly tone-deaf and inadequately subservient to the demands of government welfare program recipients and/or politicians?

If not, will Congressman Markey recant his attacks on the persons running large oil companies for trying to keep as much of their own honestly earned wealth as possible?

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March 12, 2013

Are sugary-drink-guzzling New Yorkers getting a reprieve from Big Brother?

Filed under: Politics,Society and culture — davidmbrowndotcom @ 7:39 pm

New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s looming law to ban Big Soda is vicious in all kinds of ways.

The idea is to stop an individual from drinking “too much” sugary drink during a snack or meal. Under the ban, sometimes you’d be able to buy more than 16 ounces of soda in a single container, sometimes not.

Bloomberg has touted the ease of evading the regulation as a reason not to be disturbed by it. Settle down, doomsayers! If you’re so thirsty, just buy a more expensive multiple of small servings! Meanwhile, he’s saving us from the plight of obesity, or so he pretends to think. People are dying, Bloomberg reminds us. True enough, we’re all mortal. And we all take various risks in the process of living our lives. Sometimes in relation to the food and drink we ingest! Ergo, why not make the time we have left as uncomfortable and tyranny-ridden as possible? (Hmm…mightn’t the oppression itself, though, serve to abbreviate our life spans–or anyway chip away at the quality of our lives–by thwarting our ability to judge for ourselves how to sustain our lives, including how to apportion what we ingest, as well as by depressing our spirits vis-a-vis how hard it has become to escape the mandates and rhetoric of the gun-toting nannies of the world? It might!)

Whether the ban is futile or one more step toward telescreens in every room to monitor our every nutritional move, or both, New Yorkers who reject this immoral violation of their rights now have a friend in Justice Milton Tingling, who has blocked implementation of the ban in part on the grounds of its “uneven enforcement.”

“Uneven enforcement” is the least of the problem. I’m sure you can imagine that if the law were allowed to stand, Bloomberg and other government functionaries bloated with statist inclinations would have no problem saying “hey, sure, let’s harden the prohibition to make it more consistent.” Next he’d be soliciting bids from telescreen companies.

To be sure, Justice Tingling also decries the blubbery “administrative Leviathan” that would be spawned by the ban.

The city is appealing the ruling. Who will win? Bloomberg, arch enemy of adipose and individual rights, or the rights of liquid-drinking New Yorkers?

February 13, 2013

A partial solution to the it’s-in-a-box-somewhere problem

Filed under: Philosophy,Self-help,Society and culture — davidmbrowndotcom @ 10:26 am

Having moved so often, I have become skilled of the art of moving. Perhaps I am not a professional but at least I am a gifted amateur. One thing I learned to do is label boxes of books “A,” “B,” and “C,” in the order in which they were to be unpacked. It takes a long time to unpack the boxes. After my most recent move I never did finish unpacking them, in part because I don’t have the room to shelve them all.

The point I am approaching is that I often know that I have a certain book in my library but am unable to easily get the book because it’s in a box somewhere instead of on a shelf. Recently I came across a recommendation of The Art of Cross-Examination by Francis Wellman. This volume, purchased many years ago, is in my library and may even be on a shelf, but I did not bother to look. Via Google I soon found two free pdf editions, one more cleanly typeset than the other, and downloaded the cleaner version to the Goodreader app on my iPad mini. These days, a reasonably readable free electronic edition of almost any classic text out of copyright can be gotten within a few minutes.

Part Two of The Art of Cross-Examination includes transcripts of famous cross-examinations. I began reading John K. Porter’s examination of Charles J. Guiteau, who assassinated President James Garfield on instructions from God, as Guiteau believed or pretended to believe. Wellman writes that the defendant was “cleverly led [by Porter's cross-examination] to picture himself to the civilized world as a moral monstrosity.” Porter grills the assassin about when God inspired him to do the deed, when he realized the notion had been instilled by God, whether he initially disagreed with God about the feasibility of killing the President, etc. Goiteau’s thought of killing Garfield seems exactly like the kind of thought that might occur to a person had no deity implanted it. His insistence that God authorized the deed seems like what a rationalization of his own decision to commit it would seem like.

If one believes in God, how does one distinguish between a thought that has not been injected into one’s head by God but which one has convinced oneself (or at least is trying to convince oneself) has been thus injected, and a thought that has in fact been thus injected? In light of the fact that there is no God, there is no way to do it, no distinction to be made. The former is always the case.

December 19, 2012

When better tech writing is still not good enough

Filed under: Language and grammar — davidmbrowndotcom @ 2:10 pm

The New York Times pointed me to The Wirecutter, a web site published by Brian Lam, formerly of Gizmodo and other places. (This is the Brian Lam who for the sake of a scoop purchased a stolen pre-production iPhone model, which Apple could only have wanted to be returned pronto.) Lam started The Wirecutter in order to write about tech at a slower pace and with greater care than is possible at frantically scribbled traffic-scavenging sites. The Wirecutter aims not to talk about everything in the tech world (including every trivial thing) but to steer readers to the best stuff.

The few articles I’ve read so far are informative and relatively well-written. (In relation to what? Good question. Other tech sites.) However, look at the following two paragraphs from a piece on the iPad mini, “The iPad mini is the best tablet,” authored by the initially pseudonymous “W C Staff,” whose implied collectivity does not prevent him or them (Seamus Bellamy and Brian Lam, we learn eventually) from referring to a singular self in such scissors-worthy self-referential sentences  as “I’m embarrassed to say this because I’ve been part of the problem by not talking enough about the heft” (my, that is embarrassing):

Basically, the mini makes any full sized tablet feel as cumbersome and as ridiculous as a Nano does compared to an iPod classic, or an Air does next to a 17-inch Macbook, or an iMac does next to an Mac Pro. In most of those cases, we don’t need the power–we need the convenience. In the case of a tablet, where most of us can go to a computer if we need more power, having more makes even less sense; this is not the kind of gadget you need more power in, and lying on a bed, sofa, or packing it in a bag for travel, the mini is superior in all contexts as compared to its big brother.

Sure, yes, it’s smaller but there are compromises. Yes it’s harder to touch type on in landscape–but typing on any iPad is miserable and it’s easier to thumb type in portrait. Yes, it is only as fast as an iPad 2 and sometimes a 3, making it less than half the speed of the iPad 4. Yes, it does not have a high end retina display like the iPad 4, and the Android and Amazon tablets have better resolutions and sometimes better screens overall. Yes, one day, it may be upsold with a retina display and you may have wished you waited. That might come as soon as next year.

We have here redundancy; breaches of parallelism; wordiness; the horrific (yet, by all evidence, ubiquitous) insistence on phrases like “compared to” or “superior as compared to” in the expressing of comparisons when standard-issue comparison-expressing phrases like “better than” or “bigger than” do just fine, as compared to the alternative of not-fine; lapses in verb tense.  So we have the mini “basically” (as opposed to derivatively? tangentially?) making its big brother look ridiculous. We have “as ridiculous as a Nano does compared to an iPod classic” instead of “as ridiculous as a Nano next to an iPod classic” (if we’re going to keep the “next to” in all three examples in our coordinate structure), or “superior in all contexts as compared to its big brother” instead of “better in all contexts than its big brother.” We have “upsold” instead of–instead of what? We have “one day…you may have wished you waited” instead of “one day…you may wish that you had waited.” The author or authors should also be introduced to the hyphen. Etc.

What’s the solution? Copy-editing. Hire a copy editor, tech sites. Because I’m embarrassed to say that if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem. Don’t just talk about the heft.

December 1, 2012

The “I” has it; or, the bloated minimizing of “me”

Filed under: Language and grammar — davidmbrowndotcom @ 3:46 am

Can there be any plausible rationale for the following wording: “For me, I…”? (As opposed to a justifiable stressing of contrast with a preceding subject as typically conveyed by “As for me, I….”?) A few examples of “I”-padding that I find flabby:

For me, I have been waiting for the iPad Mini for some time.

Different story, different writer:

The iPad mini—at least for me—allows me to type easily…

Same story, same writer:

For me, I didn’t feel that way…

For me, I don’t think I’m nitpicking, given how many other examples of wordiness can be found in each of the above articles.

Does any writer genuinely fear that the naked and alone pronoun “I” (or, for that matter, “me”) will unless slathered in redundancy be confused with “you,” “he,” “they,” or some other uber-familiar pronoun? Isn’t the first person singular pronoun very well established in its reference to self? As pronouns go, it cannot be surpassed for clarity. At least I think so. For me.

Assertions of knowledge are always asserted by a self making a claim to know. The better informed a writer is, the smarter he is, the wiser he is, the more confident he may be in voicing his judgments. Even so, the possibility of error or incompleteness may be taken as a given unless the writer is also making a special effort to imply infallibility. Yet some writers seem to fear that their most ordinary and uncontroversial articulations of personal assessments will be taken as too obnoxiously egotistical and assertive of identifiable fact unless linguistically wet-noodle-ified. Paradoxically, the result of the linguistic linguini is that the judgmentalism-eschewing self calls distracting and wordy attention to itself. The point of the article is set aside until the author can exorcise the demon of self. “Look at me! I’m not foisting my preferences and analysis on you!! I, for me, am not trying to pick a fight here! I’d never impose me and my subjectively perceived universe on you and your subjectively perceived universe, which latter, however contradictory to mine, is ever so equally valid! Ah me! Wonderful, tentative, card-carryingly nonjudgmental, unedited me! Oh frabjulous day, coolah coolay!”

For you, do you agree with me? Because, you know (and I know), for me, and for you, you sure should.

November 7, 2012

After Obama’s reelection, give up or give clarity?

Filed under: Politics,Society and culture — davidmbrowndotcom @ 7:18 pm

The only chance to achieve major progress toward a fundamental alternative to Obama’s socialism and dictats is to offer a fundamental alternative to these. Never mind about ground game, polling methodologies, tactical blips and blunders. Suppose Romney had managed to eke out a narrow victory. How then could he have proceeded to repeal Obamacare and lead the way to the massive spending and tax cuts that are needed? Would he have even been inclined to fight for them?

Of course Obama is hard-core leftie and vicious, much worse than Romney; so we would have had a better chance to expand our freedom and improve our economy with Romney than with Obama. But Romney is muddled at best. In Massachusetts, he signed off on Romneycare, the proto-clone of Obamacare. Romney would most likely have sought to entrench aspects of Obamacare he “could agree with,” and otherwise fecklessly prepared the way for the next Democratic incursions. It may well be true, as Romney infamously speculated, that 47%+ of voters “can’t” be–or, at least in the short term, won’t allow themselves to be–reached by any appeal to values of freedom and self-reliance and non-robbery-of-thy-neighbors. But let’s find that out instead of trying to guess at it by offering only a muddled and self-contradictory alternative to full-throttle Obama-style statism. Alleged friends of freedom who divine from this defeat that the best way to proceed is to give up for lost even more of our rights and freedoms so as to avoid alienating the most recalcitrant Obama supporters are following the same failed strategy that has so often served to entrench and expand the welfare state since at least the New Deal. You don’t win battles you don’t fight.

What should Republicans in Congress do now? For one, obstruct. Don’t, for example, raise the debt ceiling–i.e., act instead as if the ceiling is a ceiling. Offer, at the very least, a balanced budget. Why not? And push for it. Don’t give up when demonized by the lib-dems. Expose their obfuscations and lies. Etc.

For two, explain–clearly, simply, repeatedly–what is at stake, what will happen to our wealth and freedom if the looters of our wealth and freedom are allowed to keep on stealing them and eroding our ability to foster our own well-being. Explain how our wealth and freedom will decline, ever more precipitously. And how it will then be harder not only for the productive people, but for everybody, to survive. Europe is the preview. Explain also that stealing stuff is wrong.

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