Can one be both socially conservative and libertarian? Answer: yes

Roger Simon discusses something I had been meaning to write about. His post touches on the tension between social conservatism and the libertarian impulse.

I myself identify as both a social conservative and a small-l libertarian. The contradiction, in fact, is only an apparent one. Allow me to explain.

First of all, there is a fundamental difference between libertarianism and libertinism. Libertinism seeks not liberty but license — the license to ‘do as thou wilst’ while being fully insulated from the consequences of irresponsible behavior. Libertarianism, on the other hand, seeks to get the state out of one’s wallet and bedroom to the extent practically possible, but by definition rejects the concept of the state insulating one from consequences of one’s own irresponsible behavior.

Yes, I believe deeply in a number of values that are generally considered socially conservative, and believe society would benefit greatly if more people would strive to live by these time-proven values. But I believe in furthering them by persuasion and personal example, not by state coercion with its reverse Midas touch.

The answer of every GOP candidate when asked about social issues (other than work ethic and self-reliance, which were still considered social issues when I was young) should be this: “My beliefs are well known, but I do not believe it is the government’s task to enforce them. Now, about the federal deficit and the economy…”

Of course, here’s the flipside: if you don’t want public resources to be used to enforce your beliefs, neither should they be used to enforce those of the other side (no subsidized abortions or s3x changes, no creating a ‘protected/privileged class’ out of a s3xual preference,…). And if you want to engage in risk behaviors (be they nutritional, sexual, smoking,…) do not seek to simultaneously deny us the right to criticize these behaviors yet tax us to foot the bill for them.

And the flip side of rejecting state coercion in “family values” matters is, what ‘cousin Dave’ calls, “get[ting] government out of the business of rearranging society with its offerings of perverse incentives. ”

“Bring the state back to basics.” Even if you do believe that the state should do some stuff beyond what I call “night-watchman duties” (national defense, public law and order, border protection, international relations), as long as it cannot handle the essentials properly it should not concern itself with peripherals. One does not argue about interior decoration while the house is on fire.

Focusing on marginal hate speech as a form of ‘displacement’

Laura Rosen Cohen reflects on a recent incident in Canada:

A Quebec broadcaster let someone on his show and “Maria” proceeded to call Israelis dogs, and talk about how the Holocaust was the best thing to have ever happened, and say all kinds of other things about Jews.

The host warned her that one must be careful about saying things about Jews because the conversation can easily get shut down, that’s it’s a sensitive topic.

Well first of all, the person trying to insult me by calling me a dog needs to work a little harder, since I can think of quite a few categories of humans that make dogs look excellent in comparison — such as  antisemites, apologists for islamofascism, fascist sympathizers (whether their favorite color of fascism be black, brown, red, or green), and of course Chicago Machine hacks. My answer to the kook and her host would probably be something along these lines (NSFW, especially in Italy).

Laura bemoans the excessive amount of attention devoted by Canada’s establishment (and left-leaning) Jewish organizations to combating a few marginal antisemitic kooks, to the detriment of fighting much greater, clearer, and more present dangers elsewhere. While I quibble with some of the language and specifics of her post, her general points — including that the answer to ‘hate speech’ is not ‘hate speech laws’ but better counterspeech — are well taken.

But I believe something else is at work, namely the psychological defense mechanism known as displacement:

an unconscious defense mechanism whereby the mind redirects affects from an object felt to be dangerous or unacceptable to an object felt to be safe or acceptable.[1] The term originated with Sigmund Freud.[2]

A special case of displacement I have discussed on these pages: incompetent managers, when faced with problems that are clearly too big for them,  single out some small, insignificant aspect of the problem, redefine that as “the” problem, attack that, and declare success.

In this case, the establishment Jewish community organizations are afraid to tackle the really serious problems — because that would, inter alia, make them no longer salonfähig among the cocktail party set, or cause a confrontation with a type of imported fascist that may actually try to kill you. Or, for those deeply invested in left-wing world views,  it may entail a reassessment of values and realignment of loyalties more comprehensive than they can handle. Much simpler to ‘displace’ onto a few marginal remnants of the “ancient enemy” (which command no public sympathy) than to try and face the “new enemy” which all too many consider the wave of the future…

Saturday beauty: Jon Schmidt, “All of me”

I owe y’all a post on what the cease-fire in Israel means but am swamped with work. Meanwhile, here is a piano piece that I instantly fell in love with, played by the composer (Jon Schmidt). Some would call the style New Age piano, others neo-roots music, I might call it ‘neoclassical’: by any other name, after a brief intro, you get three minutes of sheer exuberance. (For the  pianists among us, here you can view sheet music and here you can buy it.) Enjoy!


Ayatollah Ghilmeini on “Pillar of Cloud and Pillar of Fire”

At Correspondence Committee, commenter “Ayatollah Ghilmeini” has some reflections on mivtza amud anan/Operation Pillar of Cloud (a.k.a. Operation Pillar of Defense) that need sharing:

I had wondered how many more rockets were going to hit Israel before there would be response.  It was clear the recent escalation, right after Obama was elected, stemmed from multiple needs of the people shooting rockets: Iran and Syria needed international community pressure off of them while they murder the Syrian people into submission, the radical Islamists in Egypt and Gaza, flush with the belief that Obama would protect them wanted to get the shooting started, lastly, and most importantly, all of these radical organizations and governments are committed to jihad against the Jewish people.  The jihadis are in political ascendancy throughout the region and they only know one way, permanent war until victory.

In blessing the rocket assault the triggered this war, they made one supreme political miscalculation.  They believed, that the Israeli government going into elections would be afraid to respond for fear that there be political backlash at the polls.  This fundamental misreading of the Israeli body politic is the reason for this war.  When Israeli political leaders acknowledged that 1 million Israelis were within missile range of Gaza, it was clear to me that any politician wishing to get elected that did not speak to this continuing and unacceptable situation faced certain defeat at the polls.

[…]Looking back over the last few days it was clear that the silence coming from the Israeli government as it checked its fire and the enemy kept shooting rockets was the implementation of the modern war plan.  The operation is currently called Pillar Of Cloud, and anyone who remembers their Bible, remembers that with the pillar of cloud [by day], there was also a pillar of fire [at night].  It is my belief that, unless the rocket fire diminishes immediately, Israel will shortly begin ground operations in Gaza on a major and significant scale.  Unlike the inconclusive war 2006, this time, they will go all the way.

[…] If a bunch of New Jersey separatists were firing rockets into New York demanding back Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty because they are part of the sacred religious property of the New Jersey people, the people of New York, and the United States for that matter, would shut that crap down in about a day.  But in the bizarre double standards of the modern world, Israel is expected to tolerate this. When the situation finally got so unbearable that they had to act, Israel’s leaders finally acted.  […]

I pray for her soldiers and people […] I also pray for the Palestinian people to be freed from the tyranny of the bunch of psychotic religious terrorist maniacs.  May this war be short and end in a complete and total Israeli victory. Am Yisroel Chai!

Amen. Go read the whole thing.

UPDATE: “Anne in Petach Tikva” has updates from the scene here and here. The named of the town in central Israel where she lives, fittingly, means Gate of Hope.

Replacing the aristocracy of money by the aristocracy of pull

Ayn Rand is an extremely verbose author, but she could be very concise and to the point when she put her mind to it. Witness this scene from ‘Atlas Shrugged’: the crony-capitalist James Taggart starts on a familiar rant and suddenly gets cut off:

We will liberate our culture from the stranglehold of the profit-chasers. We will build a society dedicated to higher ideals, and we will replace the aristocracy of money by–

“the aristocracy of pull,” interjects d’Anconia.

Bingo. Had she been writing today, she might have said “the aristocracy of clout” or “the aristocracy of connections” or in Israel or Russia “the aristocracy of protektziya“.

Make no mistake: there is no such thing as a purely equal society. As George Orwell had his fictitious Emmanuel Goldstein put it: every society in human history has had a High, a Middle, and a Low. In a capitalist society, the High tend to be those with the most money. In a society of the type envisioned by the ‘social justice’ crowd (a term like “People’s Democratic Republic” in which every word actually means the opposite of its plain meaning) all that will happen is that who is part of the ‘High’ gets determined no longer by one’s net worth, but by the number and quality of one’s connections.

I have seen this first-hand in socialized medicine systems, where indeed money could not buy you access to gold-plated treatment — but being connected to the right people could. As an Israeli friend told me: “I’d go to the hospital and say my name is Yossi Cohen and get one type of treatment; I’d go back and say my name is Prof. Joseph Cohen from [name of famous research university] and get the red carpet. It ought not to be like this but this is reality.” (Or it was, until private medicine started making significant inroads.)

Now guess what kind of people figure they would be the High in such a system? Yes indeed, the New Class. This is what ‘social justice’ is really about: a disaffected group from the (upper) Middle trying to set itself up as the new High, using the Low as mascots or (electoral) cannon fodder.

CNN pop shrink declares we have a disorder now



Correspondence Committee reports that the CNN pop shrink now has tips for ‘Republicans depressed by the election outcome’. Yes, we have a ‘disorder’ now. Gee, diagnosing refractive political disagreement as a disorder: what could go wrong?

Tell her to look up ‘gaslighting‘, which is what her own employers have been perpetrating on the American public:

Gaslighting is a form of psychological abuse in which false information is presented with the intent of making a victim doubt his or her own memoryperception and sanity. It may simply be the denial by an abuser that previous abusive incidents ever occurred, or it could be the staging of bizarre events by the abuser with the intention of disorienting the victim.

The term “gaslighting” comes from the play Gas Light and its film adaptations, in which a husband secretly dims the gas lights in the house and, when his wife remarks on it, he claims that she is mistaken. This is done to convince the woman that she cannot trust her own judgment, and so will not be believed if she tries to report other strange things that are genuinely occurring, which the husband wishes to keep secret. The term is now also used in clinical and research literature[…]

On a lighter note (ahem), here is Steely Dan live with “Gaslighting Abbie”:

The beached whale ORCA: a campaign consultant con job?

I am a firm believer in Hanlon’s Rule (actually Heinlein’s Rule): “Never attribute to malice what can adequately be explained by stupidity/incompetence”, but at times that faith gets shaken. Such as by the ORCA fiasco (see AceBusinessInsiderWaPo , CNETComputerWorldPolitico, and Breitbart) which may very well have cost Romney the election. RedState (via Althouse) now has more on how the campaign acquired this turkey. Go read it all and weep: it is a horrifying story of nest-feathering by consultants, arrogance, and campaign decisions based on bogus statistics and poll numbers from the turkey’s droppings.

The result of all of these false numbers and inaccurate ground reports is simple: Mitt Romney was ill-prepared for the actual numbers on election day and his false sense of confidence directly translated into how the campaign operated in the closing weeks. In the words of one source, it was a con job. As David Mamet famously said, “If you’re in the con game and you don’t know who the mark is … you’re the mark.” Mitt Romney had no idea what was coming.

And thanks to the greed and hubris of a few we are now stuck with four more years of the worst administration in living memory. Thanks for worse than nothing.

UPDATE: More here from Bethany Mandel. And more on the company: seems to consist of a bunch of execs and marketers and… two coders, one of which actually used to work for Al Gore. I might have been able to overlook the latter, but on principle I avoid IT companies that are “all hat and no cattle” (or all jacket and no bomber) like the plague.