8. [blank] and [blank] are meaningfully different; what works for one does not necessarily work for the other.
9. [blank] and [blank] are functionally equivalent; they are not different in any meaningful way.
Those two, #8 and #9, are perhaps the most difficult truths to recognize in some situations, out of all of the twenty. They are also, perhaps, the most important.
And our friends the liberals seem to take exception to them, especially #8. I’m reminded of one of Vice President Biden’s famous “gaffe that we’re not sure was really a gaffe” gaffes:
“And folks look, AARP knows and the people with me here today know, the president knows, and I know, that the status quo is simply not acceptable,” Biden said at the event on Thursday in Alexandria, Va. “It’s totally unacceptable. And it’s completely unsustainable. Even if we wanted to keep it the way we have it now. It can’t do it financially.”
“We’re going to go bankrupt as a nation,” Biden said.
“Now, people when I say that look at me and say, ‘What are you talking about, Joe? You’re telling me we have to go spend money to keep from going bankrupt?’” Biden said. “The answer is yes, that’s what I’m telling you.”
This is troubling, because Biden’s nonsensical thought here is at the very axis of the flywheel that is modern liberal thinking: To avoid losing all of our buying power, we must burn it away. And, after watching liberals for a time, the neutral but thoughtful observer must entertain the idea that, perhaps, something should be duct-taped to the end. Like, “and it doesn’t matter how we burn it as long as it isn’t on defense.” But Biden’s idea, which is foundational to the liberal ethos, irreconcilably contradicts non-partisan-truth-eight, which is foundational to all responsible thought. Different things are different. Things are not the opposite of what they are. You don’t keep from going broke by spending more money.
Biden’s boss, and His followers, have now engaged for a very long time going through the motions of building something new, creative, game-changing and amazing. It is difficult to define what exactly it is they are building. But both they, and their critics, would have an easy time defining what it is they want to destroy. In some cases they wouldn’t even disagree that much about what it is, they’d only disagree about the after-effects. But when you can define what you’re trying to get rid of, but you can’t define exactly what it is you are creating, the time might have come to admit you’re engaged in a destructive process rather than a creative one. But they won’t do this. So here, again, we run afoul of truth #8. Creating is creating. Destroying is destroying. Those two things are not the same. They are opposites, and no practical or effective thinking can proceed from a fundamental error in confusing a thing with its opposite.
I’m seeing with the global warming hooey there is a lot of dogmatic doctrine, an awful lot of “supposed to” involved. A group of concerned citizens has been logging in here under a common user account, trying to educate us on the danger, but this education doesn’t involve too much real education. Conflict arises when I say, I find this thing certain but this other thing questionable. The group does not say, “you are not allowed to question it,” although I get the impression they’d like to. But they do say, “you have to look at the science FIRST.” Failure to do so, means I’m not thinking on the situation critically. Isn’t that funny? They are not alone in this. Accepting something uncritically, is the first step toward critical thinking. Again, truth #8. Effective thinking cannot proceed from a fundamental error in confusing a thing with its opposite.
Liberals often castigate conservatives for being “inconsistent,” supporting the death penalty but opposing abortion. This is something I’ve never understood entirely. It makes no sense. My tentative theory is that liberals “think” out loud, in order to produce a desired effect, namely to convert low-information centrists into liberals. They’re like vampires. So if they “think” something that works, they’ll just keep thinking it a lot more until the time comes it doesn’t work anymore…they seem to suffer cognitive dissonance, but they don’t meet the criteria for it because they’re not really holding the contradictory thoughts in their heads, they’re just routing them straight to their mouths. Here’s the deal: The unborn baby has not done anything to anybody, ever. It’s called innocence. When a conservative favors the death penalty, if you talk with that conservative awhile I think you’ll invariably find this is out of a sense of certainty that the convict is guilty. Now you can argue about that, I guess…but…innocence is not guilt. Those two things are different. They’re opposites. What works for one, does not work for the other. So who’s inconsistent?
I very often hear liberals use the phrase “working families” to describe groups of people who do not work, and do not make up any sort of “family.” Whenever I buy a newspaper, in any city, and flip to that paper’s Section B, I get to read about a lot of liberals complaining that the economy is in trouble and something has to be done, because the standard of living is beneath the desirable for some sad sack that they’re interviewing. This sad sack usually does not work. The way an economy works is, you produce something, you get something back. There is productive. There is unproductive. Those two things are not the same. They are opposites.
Some liberals have the letter “R” after their names, unfortunately. I see Congressman Ron Paul just made a complete ass out of himself, by way of a now notorious tweet:
Chris Kyle’s death seems to confirm that “he who lives by the sword dies by the sword.” Treating PTSD at a firing range doesn’t make sense
— Ron Paul (@RonPaul) February 4, 2013
The trouble with this is that it makes a very common lefty-politician/hippie mistake of denying the necessity of defense, and therefore envisioning evil motives in those who provide it. Creation and destruction are important things in the application of truth #8. To those two things, we can add preservation. It can get complicated when we view human efforts this way, because they are often concerned with doing one of those three things immediately, to facilitate some different thing over a longer term. Buying a property and razing an old house to the ground so you can build a new house…that would be destroying something so something else can be built. A military destroys things so something else can be preserved. Just like a weed killer or pesticide for your garden. That’s what they do. They are not random, out-of-control killers “living by the sword.” They are defenders. Those things are different. What works for one, does not work for another.
I see Sen. John Kerry has been confirmed as our nation’s next Secretary of State. Chuck Hagel was nominated for Secretary of Defense, and that’s not going so well. Kerry and Hagel have it in common with Biden, and outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, and a whole bunch of other high-profile types including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Congressman Henry Waxman, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, Department of the Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan, Congressman Steny Hoyer, Senator Patty Murray, et al…there is a certain level of difficulty involved in pointing to any one single thing, or group of things, that these people are known for doing very well. It seems the ones that can demonstrate any desirable talent at all, are all specializing in giving speeches and winning arguments. Some of them are something, as opposed to being noticed doing something. Energy Secretary Stephen Chu is a Nobel Prize winner. I suppose that indicates some smarts, but it isn’t doing something, besides of winning a medal that is awarded by a bunch of people whose names I don’t know, who I’m not going to meet anytime soon, and who don’t have my confidence. To be frank about it, the whole sorry lot of them remind me of Ayn Rand’s description of Wesley Mouch, “…the zero at the meeting point of forces unleashed in destruction against one another.” This causes problems, often. Bernanke, for example, said back in 2007, “The impact on the broader economy and financial markets of the problems in the subprime market seems likely to be contained.” See, there are keen, forward-thinking prophets, and then there are bland buffoons. Which means, generally, clueless dorks. We run into real trouble and end up genuinely hurt, when we pretend the latter are the former. But we should expect trouble, when we regard things as different from what they really are, and make important decisions based on this.
When you go to your mandatory sexual harassment training, the first thing they tell you is something like “these rules are put in place to foster a safe and non-threatening work environment, for everyone.” The second thing they tell you is something like “in determining whether an actionable offense has been committed, it is important to remember that the intent of the accused is entirely irrelevant, and the perception of the offended person determines everything.” When you have to work in proximity to some neurotic, stringy female who is offended by everything, and your boss picked her out and you didn’t, that’s not a safe and non-threatening work environment — especially if her perceptions determine everything and your intentions are entirely irrelevant. So these statements are mutually exclusive. Which is it? You’re either trying to make the workplace safe or you’re trying to make the workplace dangerous. One or the other. Not both.
We have doctors prescribing medication for ADHD, who are essentially using the ADHD as a contrived excuse for prescribing the medication, so that the medication doesn’t have anything to do with any actual disorder, it’s just…how did he put it…”too expensive to modify the kid’s environment, so we have to modify the kid.” Some of these cases are even “diagnosed.” That word is supposed to mean something, and in the past, it has. It meant a real measurement. Nowadays though, as the word “science” is being used to describe a ritual that is faux-science at best, “diagnose” is coming to mean little more than institutionalized gossip. There are clinical measurements. There is institutionalized gossip. Those two things are not the same, they are different.
There are people who help other people. There are other people, who do not do anything to help, not even themselves.
There are people who live self-sustaining lifestyles. There are people who live self-destructive lifestyles.
There is improving the economy. There is spreading the wealth around. Which translates to, a deliberate and premeditated attack on profits. I discussed a few paragraphs back what an economy is, how it works; what is left of that, without profits?
All these things represent meaningful differences. But we seem to be living in a time in which it is undesirable, usually, to recognize differences. The last Secretary of State notoriously shrieked away at a congressional hearing over one of her monumental screw-ups, “what difference does it make?” There is deep psychological meaning here. We are conditioned from childhood to do whatever is necessary to curry approval from females, and it packs a powerful wallop when you can put out an unspoken message of “I’m an old frumpy woman, I’m super aggravated right now, and you’re aggravating me even further.” Because of that, it seems Secretary Clinton’s outburst accomplished what it was supposed to, and took the heat off of her. In addition to which, her statement is an exceptionally apt summary of the thinking of the current time, that nothing is different from any other thing, everything is all the same, all preventative or defensive action is pointless. But it’s very poor form, to say the least, with four Americans dead.
There is a government we have now, staffed at its highest levels with these pasty, unremarkable, mediocre but argument-winning bullies, these caterwauling narcissists. “What difference does it make”-ing their way through everything. Shrieking harpies and bloviating blowhards who can’t think their way out of a paper bag. And then there is a government fitting for this wonderful nation.
Those two things are different. They are not the same.
Cross-posted at House of Eratosthenes.
They know, Mr. Taranto, they know. [Shanta] Driver’s position seems instead to be based on the contemporary leftist theory that
“We should be led by Osama bin Laden. I mean, Obama and Biden.” — Charlie Wilson of Charlie Wilson’s War