Trying not to start the public floggings

Sound And Fury, Signifying Nothing

That’s been my general media attitude to the breathless headlines about Trump, Russia and all that jive. I have been getting wearied of it all, because it seems endless. But The Coldly-Furious One nails it, right here:

And that’s what it all comes down to now, I think. The Left’s target isn’t Trump now; maybe it never was. The target is Trump’s supporters. They hope to demoralize us, to make us disengage, to inspire us to resignation and defeatism and acceptance of the eternal status quo. They want us to believe that the Swamp can never be drained, to believe that Trump is a fraud who never had any intention of draining it in the first place. They want us to throw up our hands and walk away.

Remember: the lie told often enough becomes truth. What the Left is doing is not uttering the same lie, but different shades of the same lie — Trump did something with Russia that enabled him to steal the election, and if it wasn’t this, then it was that, or that, or that. And all along, all those thises and thats were baseless, groundless and in many cases, pure fabrications and/or wishful thinking.

Using yet another old cliche: throw enough mud, and some of it will stick — to the point where even cynics like myself start thinking yet a third cliche: with all this smoke, there must be fire. But there’s no fire. There’s just noise and incoherent rage, and no substance to any of it. Which is the paraphrase of this post’s title.

Ignore this nonsense, therefore. In fact, ignore what Trump’s doing, too. Let’s focus instead on the Republican Congress, and ask them why the fuck they haven’t been able to come close to fulfilling a single one of their party leader’s campaign promises? Tax reform? Not a word. Repealing ObamaCare? Nothing.

The only thing the Republican Party has been able to do since Trump was elected has been whatever Trump has done by himself.

And guess what? Next year is primary season. Maybe it’s time for We The Voters to start draining the Republican swamp, and installing people who really do want to make America great, again.

Perspective, And Numbers

I read in some article in the Dead Tree Telegraph this morning about how the BritGov (thanks to the foul Tony Blair’s NuLabour governance) has been spending £4 for every £3 it collected.

Yeah, we can all do the ratio on that one. But how much more effective would it have been to use the same ratio, only with actual proportions, i.e. “The Government has been spending £400 billion for every £300 billion it collects in taxes.” Same ratio, far more effective; and if I may say, also more truthful.

I don’t wanna ask what the USGov’s ratio has been, under Urkel Obama’s stewardship.

Missing The Whole Play

Imagine that you were a TV baseball sportscaster, and had been one for, say, forty years. All you’d ever done was baseball: you knew the rules backwards, you knew the plays backwards, and you knew everything about the teams — their franchise histories, their rosters, their managers, their fans and their cities.

Now imagine that you were asked, at a moment’s notice, to deliver TV commentary on a game of Calvinball on the planet Mars.

That was the feeling I got when I read P.J. O’Rourke’s aptly-named How The Hell Did This Happen?, his take on the 2016 elections.

I’ve always liked P.J.’s writing, by the way, because he uses just enough humor to make a political point insightful without being boring or snarky. But after reading this, his latest political work, I got the feeling that P.J., always something of a journalistic outsider but possessing a keen political sense, was almost in the same boat as the liberal mainstream media when it came to the 2016 results — he was caught between his distaste for Donald Trump as a person and his knowledge of our political system. The only thing that set him apart from the rest was his intense dislike of Hillary Clinton and most things Democratic, but in the end, he was betrayed because like our hapless sportscaster above, he only knew one game.

And if there’s a better analogy of last year’s election than Calvinball (for both political parties), I can’t think of one. The only difference between the parties was that on the Democrat side, the party bigwigs changed the rules as they went along (the Clinton campaign essentially cheating Bernie Sanders out of fully participating in the nomination process), whereas on the Republican side, the rules were constantly being changed by the voters — and as Trump was the only one who caught the “toss ’em all out” mood of the electorate, he was able to play it all the way to the White House. Nothing says “Change” like “Drain the swamp”, after all.

So all the way through P.J.’s book, I could see his complete inability to understand what was going on — why was Trump winning, how could voters not vote for Rubio / Bush / whoever wasn’t Trump, and so on. The fact that NJGov Chris Christie and OHGov John Kasich — mere distractions both — merited more than a few lines in the book was, I think, symptomatic of the media’s problem in general: they got caught up in personalities when what was really happening was a sea change in voter attitudes towards the whole political structure.

The same is true with P.J.’s casual take on the U.K.’s Brexit vote: a side issue, a non-issue even for America, when in fact what it meant was a fundamental shift in the polity — an advance warning of what was likely to happen in the U.S. when it became our turn to express a similar sentiment.

P.J. was always good when he stepped outside the country to look at the attitudes of foreign people, then applying those lessons to our local politics with devastating accuracy — which is what made his strikeout on the 2016 elections so unusual. (The same, in microcosm, is what happened to the rest of the media in the U.S.: by not venturing outside the coasts, they never saw the tidal wave coming.) But in How The Hell?, P.J. only seems to get a vague idea right at the very end of the book — and even then, he can’t bring himself to accept the fact that only a rank outsider like Trump was ever going to win the election — and because the Stupid Party has only ever nominated known political figures, their candidates of choice (Bush, Rubio et al.) never stood a chance. It’s telling that the only serious “insider/outsider” (political maverick Ted Cruz) got even close to the eventual nomination — but even that fact escaped the media, and P.J. O’Rourke.


Afterthought: What I find interesting is that the “outsider” on the Democrat side is Bernie Sanders, a self-confessed Socialist, whose interest is in changing American society into a socialist one, and who is finding favor with the Democrat version of “throw the bastards out” — only in his case, “the bastards” includes anyone earning more than $100k a year, hence his appeal to the Young & Stupid Set on the Left.

It’s Not A “Brand” — It’s A Fundamental Principle

Here’s yet another piece I wrote some time ago and is, if anything, more appropriate today than it was then.

Not A Brand

May 20, 2008
5:00 AM CDT

Here’s an article which managed to set my teeth on edge. Former-European and now-Californian RINO Arnold Schwarzenegger tells us how he thinks the Republican Party should look:

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger created shock and awe in the Republican Party when he warned years ago that the GOP was in danger of “dying at the box office” by failing to make the sale to a wide swath of voters.
And with the presidential election looming, the Republican governor of the nation’s most populous state – a decidedly blue state – has now found a chorus of agreement. The Republican “brand” – thanks to an unpopular president, a war, gas prices, foreclosures and deficit – has become such damaged goods that GOP Rep. Tom Davis of Virginia groused last week that “if we were dog food, they would take us off the shelf.”

“The Republican idea is a great idea, but we can’t go and get stuck with just the right wing,” Schwarzenegger said. “Let’s let the party come all the way to the center. Let those people be heard as much as the right. Let it be the big tent we’ve talked about.
“Let’s invade and let’s cross over that (political) center,” he said. “The issues that they’re talking about? Let them be our issues, and let the party be known for that.”

Leaving aside the obvious cognitive dissonance caused by an Austrian talking of “invasion”, I take exception to a political philosophy being referred to as a “brand” — because at the root of it all, brands are the invention of Marketing: they are a way to differentiate similar products, like Folgers and Maxwell House, and are kept alive by marketing and advertising, not by conviction.

But since everyone is so all-fired intent on turning a political philosophy into a soft drink, let’s examine the “brand” concept a little more closely, because I understand this stuff about as well as anyone on the planet.

When I studied this stuff, back when I was managing the customer-shopping database at a Great Big Retailer, I learned something really interesting. Most of a brand’s sales came from loyal customers, and a very few loyal customers at that. In any single supermarket, the destiny of a brand (even giant brands like Folgers or Charmin) lay in the purses of about two hundred customers. Across two hundred stores, therefore, the fate of, say, Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes lay in the hands of about five thousand housewives — out of a customer base of about four million shoppers. If something were to happen to that loyal base — if some mysterious disease were to kill all five thousand — the brand would die, within a matter of weeks.

This was as true about supermarkets as it was about packaged goods. In any single store, once again, about two thousand customers (out of a total of about twenty-five thousand customers) accounted for over 75% of sales — and about 90% of the store’s profits.

The entire enterprise, a chain of two hundred stores covering four Northeastern states, rested therefore in the hands of a few hundred thousand shoppers (out of a total customer base of 2.5 million regular customers in a regional population of well over twenty million).

Using the same logic for our company as for Frosted Flakes: had we lost that half-million or so loyal customers (our “base”), the chain would have had to shut its doors in about a month. We, or rather I knew where our bread was buttered: and I made sure that we pampered and cosseted those customers to within an inch of their lives — preferential discounts, premium rewards, and non-store services (our Platinum customers, for instance, got free long-distance phone time and free roadside assistance).

What we could not afford to do was anything which would disenchant those valuable customers. Study after study, backed by purchase data (those pesky “shopper” cards) showed us that our strongest features were the quality of our Meat department, the quality of our Produce department, and the quality of our Deli department. That “quality” feature allowed us to stock more upscale products, charge a little more, and make a decent profit. Our customer base was not as large as that of our competitors, but they spent more with us. They were slightly older: more established families with older kids, executives in their peak earning years, and wealthy retirees.

The along came a new CEO and a new management team, who decided that they wanted to “broaden” the customer base, and start going after “young families”. As a marketing idea, it made sense — sense, that is, to anyone who didn’t understand marketing, but his background was in finance, so ‘nuff said.

In vain did I argue that “young families” required not only lower prices on all our merchandise, but a change in merchandise — larger pack sizes, cheaper meat products, cheaper deli products and cheaper produce items. Even more frightening was the fact that “young families” were not loyal customers: they bought from whichever store was selling coffee most cheaply that week, bought only “sale” (i.e. not profitable) items and products, which meant that we’d have to buy their business each and every single week. And worst of all, by tampering with our brand’s quality image, our existing “base” — those finicky, quality-driven folks — would become disenchanted with us, and leave. We would become, in other words, just another supermarket.

Well, I was only a mid-level executive, and everyone thought the new CEO walked on water, so the policy was changed over my objections and I resigned in disgust.

The supermarket chain went out of business three years later.

So let’s see exactly what it is that Schwarzenegger is proposing. He wants the Republican Party to be all things to all people, even if the “right wing” becomes disenchanted, because the Republican Party is a big tent (how I loathe that expression). He wants us to become more “centrist”, more “Democrat” so we can appeal to those people who switch between parties at will, depending on which party has the most “gimmies” on offer. And in the meantime, the much-maligned Republican base — those rightwingers, those gun owners, those religious people, those… Constitutionalists, well, they’ll just have to live with the new, improved Republican brand.

In the short term, that might work somewhat. And given that politicians live from election to election — just as finance people live from quarter to quarter — you can’t blame them for thinking like that.

But we are not a nation of panderers, a nation of accountants, a nation of short-term thinkers.

We are a nation formed in the fire of a revolution, and united under a Constitution which says that our government, in all its forms, must exist with the smallest amount of power possible, limited from excess by each of its three branches, and subject to frequent recall by We The People.

We are not a nation of cafeteria customers, shopping from one party or another.

We are, mostly, a nation of conservatives: we wish to preserve our Constitution, and this nation with all its freedoms.

There are, however, some people in our nation who want to change all that. They want us to become more creatures of the state, more beholden to government, more… European.

Perhaps it’s not surprising that chief among these people is a man born in Europe, a man for whom the founding principles of this country are malleable and can be changed in order to buy the votes of other people.

Like I said, it’s a strategy which might bring short-term success. But it’s a strategy which will ensure long-term failure, of both the Republican Party and the nation.

It really is that simple.

Bullies

Via Insty, I read this little snippet [NRO link warning] and I confess to being a little bit puzzled.

If some ugly harpy came up to me in, say, a restaurant (forget that gym nonsense), and screamed: “I find your presence in this [place] to be unacceptable, your presence in this town to be unacceptable”, I’d tell her, politely, to fuck off because her opinions are of no importance to me or anyone else. Then if she persisted in her bullshit, I’d punch her in the face because, quite frankly, she’s nothing more than a bully, and I’ve found that bullies become somewhat less bully-ish when they encounter violence coming from their intended victim.

In the case of this particular harpy, a punch in the face would not affect her appearance much, and may even be an improvement:

Why do all these liberal fanatics get that pinched, unattractive look? I call it the Perpetual Scold, which somehow manages to incorporate a wagging finger into a facial expression.

“Oh but Kim,” you might say, “she’s going to sue you for assault!” Maybe so, maybe not — there’s a good chance I could plead self-defense in the face of such a verbal attack — but whatever; I might be sued, but she’d still have massive facial injuries.

And in future, maybe her little liberal buddies might be a little more civil, even polite, lest something similar happen to them when they start berating someone with whom they disagree. (In classical terms, this approach is called “Pour encourager les autres.”) Or, as some dickhead ex-President once put it: “Punch back twice as hard.”

We need to see more of it from conservatives, but unfortunately, conservatives seem to have this ingrained politeness and deference when treating political adversaries, and especially so if they’re women. (I know I do; believe me, I’d punch Professor Fair in a mood of utmost sadness and reluctance.) But we need to get over this reticence because gawd knows, the Left has none.


Update: The folly of my reaction has been pointed out to me in Comments, and I am advised that mockery would be a better course of action. So:

“I find your presence in this [place] to be unacceptable, your presence in this town to be unacceptable!”

…would be met with:

“Hey… it’s not my fault that you can’t get laid, you bitter, ugly bitch.”

Then, if she were to attempt to strike me, I’d go with Plan B (see above).

Putting In The Asterisks

Via Sarah at Insty comes this thoughtful piece:

Yes, an intolerant minority can control and destroy democracy. Actually, as we saw, it will eventually destroy our world.
So, we need to be more than intolerant with some intolerant minorities. It is not permissible to use “American values” or “Western principles” in treating intolerant Salafism (which denies other peoples’ right to have their own religion). The West is currently in the process of committing suicide.

I’ve often pondered this issue. If we assume that the Constitution isn’t a suicide pact — by no means a certain assumption, by the way — then yes, of course we can attach asterisks to certain socio-political movements (e.g. Nazism, Communism etc.) which rely on the tolerance of the typical Western-style democracy (and in the case of the U.S., the tolerance entrenched in its Constitution), and use that tolerance to further their own brand of intolerance. As an example, note that a considerable percentage of U.S. Muslims support the idea of Shari’ah law as first an adjunct to, and then a replacement for the existing U.S. legislative system. And in the name of “tolerance”, or “cultural appreciation” (or whatever term liberals use to disguise “eventual submission”), we should allow such ideas to become not only acceptable, but accepted?

No.

Here’s a little thought for the Intolerants to ponder. Even our Constitution is not written in stone; it can be amended — admittedly with considerable difficulty —  but there is nothing to stop a majority of members of Congress, and a majority of states, from creating an amendment to the First Amendment which says, simply, “except for [Islam / Nazism / fill in your brand of intolerance].” Here’s an example of such an action, a funny one but still one that is absolutely possible:

Our “group” here in the United States is one which supports tolerance. But if you think for one moment that we are incapable of expelling an intolerant sub-group, think again.

One of us is going to have to change their outlook and philosophy, and we’ve probably changed ours enough — or too much (which is what I think). Beware of mistaking gentleness for weakness, of tolerance for submission. Start acting like citizens of the United States, accept the principles of our Constitution, or risk losing your place at the barbecue. It can happen. Pray that it doesn’t.