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…and hasn’t been since the end of August.

Oh, the talking heads and political <sneer>leaders</sneer> are still using the language, jabbering about “public option” and “costs” and “right to health care” and the like. All the substance has gone away, though, and the whole thing has devolved into a simple exercise in power politics.

This would be a real good time to have the concession supplying paper, toner, and replacement fuser units for all the computer printers on Capitol Hill and surrounding bureaucrat-hives. They’ve got a thousand pages of fluff and generalities that has to be re-printed with the latest “bipartisan compromise” <spit> or “radical proposal” <gag> on an hourly or oftener basis by 535 legislative staffs, three or four different offices in the EOB, and God only knows how many lobbyist headquarters. In reality, the reason they don’t know what’s in the bill is that there isn’t anything in the bill, and they’ve given up caring anyway.

For the Democrats, it’s face-saving. Having announced to the entire world that they mean to save the Republic and all the little brown babies, whether rescue is needed or not, they are now obliged to pass something that can be labeled “health care reform” if viewed in a dim enough light by someone sufficiently partisan — and, of course, feed plenty of goodies to their constituents and favored interest groups. For Republicans it’s a matter of preventing any such passage in order to establish their own grip on power, with a backup of including enough pork in anything that does pass to mollify the hungry chirps of their constituents and their favored interest groups.

Out in the hinterlands, there’s still a lot of discussion of the probable benefits and/or disadvantages of this or that measure, all of it done totally in a vacuum. Debating this or that when there’s no way to know whether any of it is in the legislation, or will be in the future, because the legislators neither know nor care is a singularly bootless occupation.

::fx::heavy sigh: We need to endure it, though. At least it’s distracting them from coming up with something worse, which I do assure you is well within their capabilities.

I had a couple of posts already teed up in my mind. Then I dialed up memeorandum, and discovered that pretty much the entire Leftosphere is shitting themselves over the possibility of a military coup! apparently set off by blather from the ever-dependable source of insanity that is Gore Vidal (ADDED: and by somebody called John L. Perry, a “wingnut” I never heard of).

J. H. Xrist on a seatless unicycle, people. Get a f*ing grip.

UPDATE: Maybe I spoke too soon. The b*ds don’t just want “free” (i.e. tax paid) “health care” for Americans, they want us to pay to provide it to the whole damned world.

Trouble is, I don’t trust the generals either. A general is primarily a politician, just in a more constricted venue.

Hmm. The Russians are spending a lot of money to upgrade their ballistic missile systems to Topol-M/SS-27. That ought to leave some surplus SS-18s and SS-19s. Shall we take up a collection? It’d make a nice Eid present for Ahmadinejad.

UPDATE THE SECOND: I see the original “wingnut” version has been taken down. The Vidal piece is still up, and still generating racing stripes around the Leftosphere.

The End of Capitalism! the Left exhorts. Big Government links to a speech by Wade Rathke, outlining a procedure Rathke thinks will work to that end.

It won’t work, because it’s impossible.

Note: I did not say “undesirable”. I did not say “the cure would be worse than the disease.” I think both those things are true for many reasons, not least being the fact that the attempt — which will fail, because the objective cannot be reached — will have horrific side effects; but that doesn’t matter. It simply cannot be done.

We live in an industrial economy. Everything we have, everything we eat or need to live, every house, every car, every light bulb, every potato comes from one or another sort of factory. (Yes, modern agriculture is a food factory, using mass-production techniques and economies of scale to make food abundant and cheap.)

Factories have to be built, and once built they have to be maintained. The resources — labor and materials — necessary to build the factory cost money, which is shorthand for “have to be taken out of the economy”. That is the basic point: Every brick, every nail, every minute of worker time that went into the building of the factory could not be used to build housing or otherwise provide for the lives of the people, poor or otherwise. They are no longer available to the rest of the economy.

The resources to build a factory or other productive facility have a special name: they are called capital. If you have no capital, you have no industry; if you have no industry you have no wealth, most especially including food. There are almost seven billion hungry mouths on this planet, they all need to be (and should be) filled, and there is no, repeat no, chance of doing so without factories, and without capital there are no factories.

It works the other way, too. The reason we use the special name “capital” is that the resources so named don’t go anywhere — they just sit around, forming the basic equipment of the factory. So the relationship goes both ways: if you have capital, you have factories. If you have factories, you have capital — the factory itself is the capital.

So you can’t do away with capital (well, I suppose you could, if everybody was going back to a pre-agrarian lifestyle — not agrarian; a farm is capital — but that would support maybe a couple of million people, max. The other 6,998,000,000 will go where, exactly?) and that means that you can’t do away with the process of gathering capital, which is what “capitalism” means down at the root.

What you maybe can do is establish monopoly capitalism, in which all the capital comes from, and is credited to, a single entity. That entity is generally “the Government”, and it is presupposed by the supporters of ending capitalism that “the Government” is synonymous with “the Public”. Whether it is or not doesn’t matter, really — in either case you’ve got One Big Central Organization doing all the heavy lifting. That’s a recipe for disaster, as I’ve pointed out before.

Supporters of “Ending Capitalism” fall into two broad groups, with fuzzy boundaries and a lot of overlap: the deluded, who cannot imagine their easy comfortable lives coming to an end and are anxious to share the wealth with the less fortunate, and the opportunists, who know perfectly well that capitalism is a permanent fixture and has been since the first farm was established. The opportunists are angling for nice, cushy, high-status jobs as the ones anointed to decide where the capital goes, and not one of them that I’ve seen has shown one iota of ability for the job. That’s a real recipe for disaster.

We are all capitalists, and will continue to be. The choice is between decentralized capitalism and monopoly capitalism, and all the verbiage in the world won’t change that.

The United States’s OAS representative says Manuel Zelaya’s return to Honduras is “irresponsible and foolish”. The invaluable Fausta has more, including a link to a Brazilian blogger with valuable insights.

Take heart, SeƱor Zelaya. It’s a momentary thing, and the offender will get slapped down soon enough.

One of the things you have to watch out for in these sorts of situations is a tendency to accuse the State Department of loving dictators. They do, but it isn’t because they think the dictators are wonderful people.

The State Department is made up of bureaucrats, and bureaucrats hate to have their comfortable routines disturbed. Democracy is a horrible imposition upon their lives — they get everything arranged, they have all their contacts in the Government set up and the invitation lists for the diplomatic receptions (for which read, drinking parties where the elitists congratulate one another on their elitism) programmed into the computer, and WOOPS! they’ve got a whole new government and a whole new set of cronies to cope with.

Continuity and stability are practically definitional qualities of a dictatorship. The bureaucrats can get all the right names in their Rolodexes and all the Important People programmed into speed dial, and sit back and let the world flow. Their cocktail-hour relaxation is not disturbed by having it turn out that the cronies and contacts they developed under the Previous Administration are now on the outs with the new ones, and they can down tools at 1530 like civilized people.

They don’t really enjoy seeing the peasants’ faces ground in the dirt, or schlepping bags of money to the Dear Leader to “maintain access”, and some of them get acerbic about it. It’s just that that’s the routine, and they’ve got all the paperwork and procedures in place to deal with it, and if it gets disturbed they might actually have to show up at 0900 and not get off until 1600 in order to deal with the new situation.

Once in a while, as here, one of the diplomats remembers momentarily which country he’s representing and what he’s supposed to stand for, and goes off on a tangent that threatens “stability”. The others will bring him into line tout suite, never fear.

Rape of a child is the New Sainthood.

UPDATE: Shoot the SOB or give him an Oscar, but shut the f* up. I just don’t give a damn about Roman Polanski. I do think it odd that forgiveness for egregious crimes is available to those who make good enough movies.

Here is a cool map Siberian Light found from Russian sources. It shows the trajectory of a Washington-bound Iranian missile, and where the Polish and Czech installations were to be in the original plan. Makes all plain.

What it doesn’t show is the <sneer>replacement</sneer> proposed by Obama. Stick a warship symbol in the area between Britain and Scandinavia, and surround it by smaller circles — the blue circle (range of the radar) is about half what’s shown for the land-based one, and the red missile-range circle would be about a third.

If it makes you feel better, you can put more in the Med and just off Iran in the Indian Ocean. The principle ought to be clear, though.

UPDATE: The BBC shows us a much simpler map of what the missiles Iran has now can hit. Find all the places to put an Aegis cruiser, hmm? Those relieved by the actual vs. possible trajectories are urged to buy a blankie, blue for preference. It’s guaranteed to keep the bogeymen away, although it may not work perfectly on wingnutz.

Anthony at Watt’s Up With That has the obituary.

There’s not much to add regarding the specific matter. What it does bring up is this: science is an elaborate working-out of the adage “everybody’s entitled to their own opinions, but nobody’s entitled to their own facts.” The language of “scholarly discourse” is a set of euphemisms designed to soften the in-your-face nature of the confrontations, and entirely too many people have been seduced into thinking it’s the basic meaning.

A real scientific paper is, in reality, the writer shoving the data and analysis up opponents’ noses, crowing, “See, assholes, I’m right about this!” It doesn’t work worth a damn if the report is incomplete, because what makes it “scientific” is that any damn body with the same data and any brains will reach the same conclusions.

The scientist then sits back, holding his or her breath, waiting for somebody to say “the data don’t support that conclusion” (which is “scholarly discourse” for “you fucked up the analysis, dickweed, and here’s where you went wrong”) or “your dataset is incomplete” (which is science-speak for “pay attention to what’s under your nose, you incompetent twit”). The objector(s) then write their own paper, and shove it under everybody’s nose just as the first one did.

The result of this process is that mistakes get corrected, erroneous data gets purged, and relevant data gets included. That, in the end, results in reliable information — whether or not it’s TRVTH in any sense is irrelevant; if you have reliable information, your space probes go where they should and your heart surgery doesn’t kill people.

So there’s an absolute, totally reliable touchstone for “science”: if the presenter does not include all the data and the entire process used for the analysis, that individual is not a “scientist”, regardless of what it says on the sheepskin on the wall. Most, if not all, of the “climate science” being played in the news doesn’t come close to meeting that standard, and Thomas Mann is so far from it he shouldn’t be hired as a lab assistant.

UPDATE: Watts mirror-posts Steve McIntyre’s original article to ease the load on Climate Audit’s server.

BACKDATE: This isn’t a new story, but the National Review has a good summary. Bottom line: we can’t make an informed decision because all the data got somehow destroyed or lost before anybody but the first lookers got to see it.

Americans believe that the normal state of things is not-violence…

Do you suppose that’s true? That that’s why we have such absurdities as people climbing in zoo cages to cuddle the animals? It would explain a lot of things.

It would explain, for instance, why the writer of that article is able to regurgitate a century and a half of Socialist propaganda and get commenters calling it “insightful”. Two centuries of modern capitalism have resulted in such ease, such comfort, such near-total safety and security, that Americans (at least, some Americans) don’t just take it for granted but consider it the normal state of affairs, so much so that they are ready and willing to smash the structures that created it, in the confident “knowledge” that the safety and prosperity will remain because they are “normal”.

And that’s sad.

An acquaintance on a USENET group says that, since the future belongs to those who show up for it, the future of the world is to belong to Mormons and Muslims. When I see that sort of thing, I wonder if he might not be right.

A few of you may be aware that for the last two years my wife and I have been operating a little pack&ship store. It’s been convenient in a lot of ways. Among other things, I live in the country and can’t get high-speed Internet without spending Big Buck$. Here in town, the cable company provides it at a fairly reasonable rate, and I needed it anyway for sending shipping data to the companies.

The original concept was that it would pay for itself, plus or minus a bit, and provide Bobbe with a way to get out and meet people, and me with a storefront and Internet access for various purposes. Then, first, Bobbe got sick; she’s now almost blind and gets around shakily with a walker, so she can’t do much at the store. That nails my feet to the ground, and as my former primary expertise requires travel to make any money, it cut severely into my income.

Then came the “economic slowdown” <harrrk! spit!> and a push for Internet marketing.

Look, I don’t pretend to be an excellent manager, and the store’s location is and has been bad — well away from the economic center of the town, where few people become aware of it. But the result has been that for the last two months the store has grossed a little under half what it needed to keep the rent paid and the lights on, and I can’t keep it up.

What’s been especially galling is the opportunists. (Yes, I know, this is the bitch of every retail merchant about the Internet. Whinge whine snivel.) People get on the net and go to the shipping companies, or set up their own accounts, and discover Woot! That guy’s overcharging out the ass! I can save a lot of money by doing it directly! So they set it up — and discover that OOPS! the shipping companies charge for one-time pickups (around $10 to $15, depending on the company). Oh, well, no problem — I can just drop it off at that guy’s store! For the last two months, such “dropoffs” have been over half, sometimes as much as three-quarters, of my daily package volume. My contract requires that I accept them for pickup, and three months later I get $1 for each one. Whoopee do.

So the store will close Oct. 5, the day the Internet connection goes away, or before that if somebody else cuts the water off first. I think we can squeeze by on horse boarding and Bobbe’s Social Security, at least until the inflation hits and wipes everybody out, but damn this would be a good time to see some tipjar hits. If there’s anybody who’d like to buy a nice Mettler Toledo scale, an HP 3390 multifunction copier with no document feeder ($20 from HP), a cheap Casio cash register, or a Hypercom credit card terminal so old it uses NCR paper for copies, and is close enough (west of Fort Worth) to come pick them up, that would be good, too. I’ve also got an old Canon copier/fax, a couple of obsolete car GPS units, and some other stuff, if you should want it.

The EBayers and local businesses who’ve been leeching off me will now have a twenty-mile drive to leech off somebody else, which will give them plenty of leisure to congratulate themselves on their savings.

There has always been resistance to the Census from people who didn’t care for busybodies answering questions. The 1950 Census came right after I was born, but I have hazy remembrances of my redneck neighbors complaining about having to answer questions. It got worse when the Census started asking demographic questions — what’s the family income, what jobs do you do, how big is your house — instead of confining itself to determining how many eligible voters there were, for apportioning the House of Representatives.

Several of my acquaintances were hired as assistants for the 1960 Census, and one and all had stories of truculent resisters who threatened them with violence for “nosiness”. Even then, there were people who advocated minimal answers if any — “There are X eligible voters here, and Y minor children of ages […], and the rest of it’s none of your damned business” — and would grip a shotgun for additional punctuation.

Later Census questionnaires have gotten longer, more and more “nosy”, and less and less pertinent to the basic question of apportionment. Most people, even those who resent it, go along, largely because it just isn’t worth the hassle to resist; but, just as there are always a few people who scrawl “MYOB!” or something obscene across the top of their 1040s instead of filling them out, there always are, and have always been, a few stubborn individuals who refuse to answer the Census questions, some of them with at least threatened violence.

So it wouldn’t be a big surprise if the murder of Bill Sparkman turned out to be the work of a Census resister (nor would it be surprising if it turned out it wasn’t). RS McCain will be on the case. There’s nothing new about Census resistance, and it didn’t need Rush Limbaugh, Michelle Bachman (carefully described as a Republican Representative), or Glenn Beck to start it. In fact, in eastern Kentucky I’d be surprised if one out of fifty residents knew who any of those people were, let alone what they talked about.

You wouldn’t know it from Teh News, though. CBS News shrieks “Terror in Kentucky!”. Faiz Shakir at Think Progress, in hushed tones, finds “…a disturbing similarity to some of the worst hate crimes…”, and the commenters overwhelmingly agree. Josh at Right Wing Watch delivers an impassioned sermon about “Right-Wing Census Paranoia”. Scan ’round the Web, and you will find unanimity among the Leftoids and Democrats — this is new and really scary; Ms. Bachman needs to be censured or unseated for rabble-rousing, and Something Must Be Done to suppress all the wingnut pundits who are egging the violence on.

Sheesh. And these are the people who accuse me of “bedwetting” because I’d like to take sensible precautions to counter a known, if minor, threat? BUUUWAHAHA!

It must be admitted that the level’s been ratcheted up, but it can’t be blamed on “wingnut pundits”. Appointing ACORN to do Census work will go down in history as one of the stupidest, most asinine, and most tone-deaf political moves of all time. Clark Hoyt at The New York Times notices, but his lede (“Tuning In Too Late”) is more castigating his paper for taking too long to notice than it is addressing the question.

There has always been Census resistance (google those words for over five million references). Most people went along, if grudgingly, both from reluctance to tangle with armed Feds and from a feeling that the Census did, in fact, do something useful. Appointing ACORN as, as Hoyt divertingly puts it, “…one of thousands of unpaid organizations promoting the 2010 census…”, convinced a lot of already-suspicious people that the intent was to completely and finally discard the Constitutional purpose of the Census. It says, in letters of flaming fire to those otherwise predisposed to suspicion, that the promoters had no intention whatever of honestly determining the data needed for apportionment — that their “results” would be like Hugo Chavez’s “referendum”, already determined for their own intentions — and that Census workers were primarily casing the joint, looking for people who had enough to be worth taxing (or robbing more directly, cutting out the middleman).

Publicly <sneer> ending ACORN’S involvement </sneer> does nothing to allay such fears, because as Left and Right agree (the Left approvingly, the Right disparagingly) Fedgrabs are a ratchet — once the Government takes control of something, that control is permanent regardless of pious declarations or “walkbacks”, and serves as the basis for the next grab. ACORN is going to continue to be subsidized regardless of Potemkin Congressional actions, and ACORN is going to be running a substantial part of the Census; that’s a done deal, cast in stone, and all the speeches and House votes won’t “walk it back”. It remains to appoint Bertha Lewis as Secretary of Community Organizations, and find room on the Mall for the building needed by the new Department — hey, there’s plenty of room where the useless and insulting Viet Nam Memorial is!

So my advice to you is, don’t volunteer for Census work. It’s all a show, anyway. The “results” are being prepared by feverish effort in DC basements, and they will confirm that our elite political class are properly and rightfully privileged. Collecting data that will be discarded as soon as it reaches the center is futile and hazardous to your health, and lends credibility to the process. Stay away.

UPDATE: Moe Lane takes notice at RedState.

UPDATE THE SECOND: Dan Riehl has some speculation about a completely non-political possibility. I won’t put money on it either way.

BTW Dan, yes, there are a huge number of small unmarked cemeteries around there. It’s what happens when people can’t afford canvas and quicklime.

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September 2009