English is a language that’s forever changing; it’s been said that while other languages adopt words and phrases, English chases other languages down dark alleys, hits them over the head and goes through their pockets for loose grammar. (This observation is made more poignant for yr. obdt. as this Friday finds my own dear Mrs. Animal and me in Japan, where I am functionally illiterate and struggle to make myself understood because I don’t savvy the lingo.)
But even English has standards, and as a popular American talk-radio guy is fond of saying, words mean things. So here are some words and phrases that people need to stop abusing.
This, like many on the list, is bandied about by plenty of folks who should know better. Here’s the reason people should stop using this word: “Capitalism,” unlike socialism and communism, doesn’t have an underlying ideology or set of dogma. There’s no -ism there; it’s just liberty. What we call capitalism is in fact the free, unfettered, lassaiz-faire of people doing exactly what they choose to do with their own skills, abilities, finances and resources, unfettered by government, unshackled by regulation. It is people freely choosing what the do with their wealth. It is the result of free trade, where people exchange value for value by choice, in voluntary transactions in which both parties gain. It is a market unhampered by any meddling, where the economic trends are not forced from above by fiat but the results of millions of people making trillions of economic decisions, ever hour, every day, in a great freewheeling machine that no person or group of people could ever hope to control without screwing the whole thing up. This has been demonstrated time and a-damned-gain, see Venezuela, Cuba and Zimbabwe for recent examples.
Guns are inanimate objects. There can be no such thing as “gun violence.” There is only violence, planned and perpetrated by people.
This one is especially egregious as used in policy debates today, because, even though far more people un the United States today are murdered by fists and feet, nobody talks about “fist violence.” It is only when guns are involved that this term is dragged out.
Whether deliberate or intentional, the term distracts from the real problem – that bad people do bad things – and focuses instead on chunks of plastic, wood and metal that can take no action and possess no moral agency or capacity. A gun by itself is a moral null; it can take no action and left alone, will never hurt anything or anyone. It is only when a human being picks up that gun and uses it for good or ill that any judgement of violence can come into the picture.
Deriving from a Latin term that translates loosely as “private law,” this is another term that is badly abused in today’s discourse, mostly be people who don’t know what the hell they’re talking about.
American treasure Thomas Sowell noted that “privilege” is the idea that a white coal miner in West Virginia has some unseen advantages over a black Harvard graduate in New York. As used in such a manner, it trivializes people and assigns them arbitrary categories based on their skin color, ethic background or religious affiliation; in other words, it’s bigotry, pure and simple. As a middle-aged white male, I am supposed to meekly acknowledge the benefits of “privilege,” even though my Dad was a farmer most of his life, I went to college on the GI Bill and have worked for and earned everything I have. I guess my privilege isn’t firing on all cylinders.
Decimation is a term that originated in the Roman army. When a legion was seen to have failed in courage, one soldier of every ten was executed, pour encourager les autre. (Voltaire would have loved these guys.) The literal meaning of the term “decimate” means exactly that – to reduce in number by ten percent.
So, when a vapid talking head on a news program makes that claim that a certain terrorist group has been “decimated” he is saying that they managed to engage a nation-state’s military and only took ten percent casualties. That’s a pretty good performance by a bunch of illiterates with AK-47s and an absolute cluster-fuck on the part of any modern military.
The United States is a Constitutional Republic, not a democracy.
In fact, our Constitution, probably the most effective governing document in the history of mankind as it was originally written, contains specific safeguards against direct democracy. The Senate is one of those safeguards. The Electoral College is another.
Noticed, have you, that those are two institutions that the political Left in this country would like to do away with?
We do not nor should we have government by direct democracy. That is no more than mob rule or, as Benjamin Franklin was rumored to have said, “two wolves and a sheep voting on what’s for dinner.” We have a Republic, with a Constitution that clearly defines the roles and the limitations on the various branches of government. We have a Senate that was originally supposed to represent the interests of their states, and we have an Electoral College to make sure that a few high-population states don’t end up dictating to the entire country. Let’s keep it that way.
Any suggested additions?
Mrs. Animal and yr. obdt. yesterday afternoon made a 14-hour plane ride to a destination we are both fond of, so no regular post today. Instead enjoy a little cheesecake that holds some clue as to our destination. Regular posts return tomorrow. Continue reading Travel Day Rule Five
Thanks to our blogger pal Doug Hagin over at the Daley Gator for the linkback!
In a few short hours, my own dear Mrs. Animal and yr. obdt. will board a big ole jet airliner for the a distant land, for a week of a little bit of business but mostly just fun. Watch these virtual pages for tales of our adventure.
But while that’s going on, here in the States, pols are doing what pols do – being phonies. Excerpt:
It was bound to happen in the Democrat-Left Age of Intersectionality. In an era where you lose “society-advantage points” for being White, more points for being male, more for having progenitor roots anywhere in Europe, and a few more for being all three plus “straight”… In such a society, it was bound to happen that imposters would start emerging — even among candidates for the nation’s highest office and among their biggest donors — claiming false identities. Remember Rachel Dolezal, the Caucasian of European lineage, who rose to head an NAACP chapter by falsely presenting as Black? Now they all seem to be prescribed medical formulations of Dolezal.
Let’s start with Beto the Skate-o. I initially was fooled into thinking that Beto O’Rourke was some Mexican-American, or whatever, who was running in Texas for Senate against Ted Cruz. Who names a kid “Beto” if not a Hispanic family? There are no “Beto” personalities in the Bible. I figured the guy was Latino, maybe Chicano, pitching for that vote down in El Paso.
Although Karl Rove of Texas refused to call Beto by his sobriquet, insisting on calling him “Robert Francis” O’Rourke, Rove failed to clarify why he denied the Skateboard King his moniker. So look deeper: His Dad is Pat Francis O’Rourke. Irish. The Mom is Melissa Martha Williams O’Rourke. “Beto” is of Irish and Welsh ancestry. Hmm. So what’s with the “Beto”? The presumed underprivileged Hispanic life that he overcame to rise and raise $80 million from around the country against Ted Cruz?
The author of this piece, American Spectator’s Dov Fischer, writes of many more candidates than the Irish O’Rourke, of course, and his treading the John Kerry route to fortune (he married it.) But his description of Beta O’Rourke is spot-on.
The guy has so many backstories, even he can’t keep them straight. And he’s launched his campaign by apologizing for his white-maleness – well, OK then, if you’re going to start your run by apologizing for having the nerve to, you know, run, then please explain to me why anyone should vote for you?
I get it – politicians are phonies by nature. But in Beta’s case, his phoniness is of a particular kind, and it’s rather similar to the guy he’d like to be compared to, one Barack Obama. They have something in common – neither of them has ever held an honest job, neither of them had any accomplishments of note before seeking the Presidency.
While we’re on the topic, let’s crowd-source a good nickname for Beta. How about “Paddy Tortilla?” “Beta” is pretty descriptive, but I like to be creative. Ideas?
Speaking of guns: In Missouri, a state lawmaker wants to mandate that able-bodied residents all own an AR-15. Yes, really. Excerpt:
A Missouri State lawmaker has introduced a bill that is sure to upset anti-gunners. Rep. Andrew McDaniel (R-Deering) introduced House Bill 1108, which would establish the “McDaniel Militia Act.” If passed, everyone between the ages of 18 and 35 would be required to own an AR-15.
“Any person who qualifies as a resident on August 28, 2019, and who does not own an AR-15 shall have one year to purchase an AR-15,” the bill reads. “Any resident qualifies as a resident after August 28, 2019, and does not own an AR-15 shall purchase an AR-15 no later than one year after qualifying as a resident.”
A section of the bill would establish tax credits for those who didn’t own an AR-15 before the law went into effect. They would be given a tax credit of 75 percent of AR-15’s purchase price.
Citizens would be allowed to sell their AR-15s as long as they still had at least one in their possession.
McDaniel told WDAF-TV he knew the bill wouldn’t pass but he introduced it to “make a point on mandates in general.”
The former deputy sheriff said the bill “points out the absurdity of the opposite side,” and anti-gun proposals to “add more requirements and barriers for law-abiding citizens.”
Fortunately McDaniel obviously understands that his bill is a stunt, intended to illustrate absurdity by being absurd. But let’s assume for a moment that he’s serious about this bill, because let’s be honest, odder things have been proposed in the various state legislatures, not to mention the Imperial Congress. If this was a serious proposal, it would be a really bad idea for a few reasons.
- Mandating folks to own something – a weapon, a watch, a health insurance policy, anything – is as antithetical to liberty as forbidding them from owning that same thing. What is not banned is not mandatory. What is not mandatory is not banned. That’s not how a free society works.
- You don’t have to be Milton Friedman to figure out what a subsidy of 75% of the rifle’s price would do. Prices of AR-15s would skyrocket, fast.
- Why only an AR-15? What if I wanted to defend home and hearth with a Winchester 94 in .30-30, one that I’ve owned for decades and with which I am an absolutely deadly shot?
But, of course, this is a stunt, and a not particularly creative one. While I’m sure McDaniel is trying to make a point, and in truth I appreciate the point he’s trying to make, I just don’t see how this sort of thing moves the ball forward.
File this one under “Well, duh”: Americans are mostly economic illiterates. Excerpt:
Economic literacy has been in the news a lot lately, with some high-profile politicians demonstrating the need for some basic financial understanding. However, recent Job Creators Network/ScottRasmussen.com polling shows that the general public has a poor understanding of economic and personal finance topics as well, with a majority of Americans flunking five out of ten basic questions.
- 75 percent of people underestimated how long it would take to pay off $5,000 in credit card debt if you only paid the minimum.
- Only 27 percent of people knew how large the federal debt is expected to be in 2019.
- 60 percent of people didn’t know that a rise in the minimum wage would reduce the number of minimum wage jobs.
- Only 22 percent of people knew that the unemployment rate for Hispanic Americans was at an all-time low.
On the bright side, a majority of Americans understood the basics of supply and demand, tax deductions, credit scores, and fixed mortgage rates.
The public can take the quiz online at our InformationStation.org website, here.
It’s not just that Americans in general don’t understand these things; it’s that the generally lackwitted people who manage to get themselves elected to Congress don’t understand these things.
How would you rate the US economy today? Excellent (12%), Good (39%), Fair (32%), Poor (13%), Not sure (4%).
Is the economy getting better or worse? Better (36%), Worse (26%), About the same (33%), Not sure (5%).
Okay, how would you rate your own personal finances these days? Excellent (12%), Good (39%), Fair (31%), Poor (17%), Not sure (2%).
Are your personal finances getting better or worse? Better (33%), Worse (17%), About the same (48%), Not sure (3%).
Are companies in your area more likely to be hiring new workers or laying off existing workers? Hiring new workers (43%), Laying off existing workers (22%), Not sure (30%).
Add all of that up, and according to (at least) this survey, a plurality of Americans are pretty happy with the way the economy is going. That’s certainly good news for President Trump, as the historic key metrics for a Presidential election are 1) incumbency and 2) economy. Trump holds the high ground on both of those – oh, and it doesn’t hurt that the Democrat field is shaping up to be a race to the left, and a race of nitwits at that.
Still – November 2020 is a long damn ways away yet.
Remember that old saw about blind hogs and acorns? It seems that Nancy Pelosi has found a couple. Remarkable! Excerpt:
First, she douses progressives’ impeachment dreams in cold water, telling the Washington Post that such a divisive and drastic political step should only be taken over egregious criminality that’s “compelling and overwhelming and bipartisan.” She cagily adds, “he’s just not worth it,” a personal swipe at the president, likely deployed to placate Trump haters who will bristle at her stance. Insulting him is a little wink that she’s still ‘on the team.’ But even if the hard-Left wing of the party is willing to forgive Pelosi’s hesitant posture on impeachment, how might they react to her intense fiscal skepticism on ‘Medicare for All’ — the holy grail of the statist agenda? Via Rolling Stone:
When they say Medicare for All, people have to understand this: Medicare for All is not as good a benefit as the Affordable Care Act. It doesn’t have catastrophic [coverage] — you have to go buy it. It doesn’t have dental. It’s not as good as the plans that you can buy under the Affordable Care Act. So I say to them, come in with your ideas, but understand that we’re either gonna have to improve Medicare — for all, including seniors — or else people are not gonna get what they think they’re gonna get. And by the way, how’s it gonna be paid for? Now, single-payer is a different thing. People use the terms interchangeably. Sometimes it could be the same thing, but it’s not always. Single-payer is just about who pays. It’s not about what the benefits are. That is, administratively, the simplest thing to do, but to convert to it? Thirty trillion dollars. Now, how do you pay for that? So I said, “Look, just put them all on the table, and let’s have the discussion, and let people see what it is. But know what it is that you’re talking about.” All I want is the goal of every American having access to health care. You don’t get there by dismantling the Affordable Care Act.
It’s nice to see a dose of reality sink in to that old San Francisco liberal.
Now, she’s not exactly switching to being a flaming supply-sider, at least not yet (and, candidly, not ever.) But it’s just too much fun to see old Mrs. “We Have To Pass It To Find Out What’s In It” counseling caution now; urging members of her own caucus to “come in with ideas” but stating that they’ll have to decide how they’re going to pay for them.
Yes, you read that right. She’s worrying about how to pay for things like Medicare for All. What a novel concept.
Of course this caution may well evaporate the next time a Democrat ensconces him/herself behind the Resolute Desk.
Still; it turns out old Nancy isn’t the only blind donkey stumbling across those fruits of the oak tree. New York Governor Cuomo has chimed in on the same theme:
“Single payer. Okay. Pass it. I’ll sign it. You pass it, I’ll sign it,” Cuomo says. But … would he want to sign it? “No, but no sane person will pass it,” he says. So he’s daring the legislature to pass it? “Oh no. If they pass it, I’ll sign it,” he says. Even though he thinks it’ll blow up the state budget? “Yeah, well, you’d double everybody’s taxes. You want to do that? Let’s go,” he says. “They can never pass it. But I have no problem with the dare. Every union is against it. The hospitals are against it. The Civil Service Employees Association is against it. The 1199 health-care union is against it.
Dare we hope that some semblance of fiscal sanity is sinking in to at least a few people on the political Left?
Nah. Probably not.
Now: Clever those Japanese, now they are one step closer to cloning a mammoth! I’ve written on this subject before, but this is a new step forward, and a neat one. Good news, I want to go mammoth hunting one day. Excerpt:
New findings indicate that the resurrection of mammoths is not a fantasy, a research team including members from Kindai University is saying, after cell nuclei extracted from the 28,000-year-old remains of a woolly mammoth were discovered to retain some function.
When placed in the ova of mice, the nuclei developed to a state just before cellular division, according to a paper published Monday in the British journal Scientific Reports.
The team includes researchers from Japanese and Russian universities. It has been working for about 20 years on a project to use cloning to resurrect mammoths, an animal that has long been extinct.
The cell nuclei used in the team’s recent findings were extracted from musculature and other tissue from Yuka, an about 3.5-meter-long female woolly mammoth excavated nearly intact in 2010 from permafrost in Siberia. When inserted into mouse ova, five out of 43 nuclei were observed to develop to a point just before the nuclei would split in two as a result of cell division.
Now, this is still the longest of long shots, to be sure. But I’m excited at the prospect. And no, I don’t think this falls into the “just because we could, doesn’t mean we should” category. This isn’t a T-rex or a genetically engineered monster; it’s a mammoth, something that went extinct within the last few thousand years, something that co-existed with our species, something our ancestors occasionally laid their jaws on.
And jokes about mammoth hunting aside, it’s not like these critters will be turned out to fend for themselves in Alaska or Siberia. The recreated mammoths would be the most valuable, pampered, coddled, protected and cared for animals in the history of livestock.
But mammoths. Imagine that.
Oh, the horror! The Imperial Department of Education faces a 10% funding cut in President Trump’s proposed 2020 budget! Excerpt:
The plan, titled “A Budget for a Better America, ” requests $62 billion for the Department of Education, or $7.1 billion less than the agency’s allowance in 2019.
The budget eliminates subsidized student debt, in which interest doesn’t accrue on the loans while borrowers are in school or in economic hardship. It also reduces the number of repayment plans for borrowers and scratches the popular, if challenged, public service loan forgiveness program.
“We have also reaffirmed our commitment to spending taxpayer dollars wisely and efficiently by consolidating or eliminating duplicative and ineffective federal programs,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos.
The plan would narrow the numerous income-driven repayment plans, which caps people’s bills at a percentage of their income, to just one. Under that option, students’ monthly payments would be limited to 12.5 percent of their discretionary income, compared with 10 percent now.
Any remaining debt would be cancelled after 15 years for undergraduate students, and 30 years for graduate students.
I’ve got a better idea: Reduce their budget to zero.
Here is the Constitution of the United States; you know, the highest law in the land? That Constitution? Well, have a read through that, and tell me where it says that the Imperial government is allowed to meddle in education at any level.
Now, here is the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution:
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
In other words, if the Constitution doesn’t specifically allow the Imperial government to do a thing, then they are actually prohibited from doing that thing. Not that that hasn’t stopped the Imperial Congress from wiping their asses with the Constitution since about 1860.
To President Trump, were he to listen to me, I would have the following advice: Grow a pair, Mr. President! Defund the lot, and a bunch more extra-Constitutional agencies into the bargain. Swing that axe! You’ve talked a lot about Imperial debt; do something about it it! Cut spending!