Who Rules the United States?

The last few weeks have confirmed that there are two systems of government in the United States. The first is the system of government outlined in the U.S. Constitution—its checks, its balances, its dispersion of power, its protection of individual rights. Donald Trump was elected to serve four years as the chief executive of this system. Whether you like it or not.

The second system is comprised of those elements not expressly addressed by the Founders. This is the permanent government, the so-called administrative state of bureaucracies, agencies, quasi-public organizations, and regulatory bodies and commissions, of rule-writers and the byzantine network of administrative law courts. This is the government of unelected judges with lifetime appointments who, far from comprising the “least dangerous branch,” now presume to think they know more about America’s national security interests than the man elected as commander in chief.

Source: Who Rules the United States?

‘The Mary Tyler Moore Show’ Gave Us a Feminine, Not a Feminist, Icon

What was endearingly feminine, and touching, about Mary Richards was how willingly she acceded to organizing her life around serving others. Always available for advice, or for babysitting, or for a hug, she was poised, graceful, content. She wasn’t interested in shattering barriers but in being nice.

Source: ‘The Mary Tyler Moore Show’ Gave Us a Feminine, Not a Feminist, Icon – Acculturated (Per the blog post just before this, perhaps “nice” is “feminine.”)

“Nice” Is Not A Virtue

Niceness isn’t really a virtue, Lawler says. It’s more of a cop-out, a moral shrug. “A nice person won’t fight for you,” he points out. “A nice person isn’t animated by love or honor or God. Niceness, if you think about it, is the most selfish of virtues, one, as Tocqueville noticed, rooted in a deep indifference to the well-being of others.”

Source: The Real Motivation Behind the Left’s “Niceness” – Acculturated

The Conflict of Desirable Values

The central values by which most men have lived, in a great many lands at a great many times—these values, almost if not entirely universal, are not always harmonious with each other. Some are, some are not. Men have always craved for liberty, security, equality, happiness, justice, knowledge, and so on. But complete liberty is not compatible with complete equality—if men were wholly free, the wolves would be free to eat the sheep. Perfect equality means that human liberties must be restrained so that the ablest and the most gifted are not permitted to advance beyond those who would inevitably lose if there were competition. Security, and indeed freedoms, cannot be preserved if freedom to subvert them is permitted. Indeed, not everyone seeks security or peace, otherwise some would not have sought glory in battle or in dangerous sports.

Justice has always been a human ideal, but it is not fully compatible with mercy. Creative imagination and spontaneity, splendid in themselves, cannot be fully reconciled with the need for planning, organization, careful and responsible calculation. Knowledge, the pursuit of truth—the noblest of aims—cannot be fully reconciled with the happiness or the freedom that men desire, for even if I know that I have some incurable disease this will not make me happier or freer. I must always choose: between peace and excitement, or knowledge and blissful ignorance.

Source: A Message to the 21st Century | by Isaiah Berlin | The New York Review of Books

Cursing as “Competence” Signal

My days, nobody cursed in public except for gang members and those who wanted to signal that they were not slaves: traders cursed like sailors and I have kept the habit of strategic foul language, used only outside of my writings and family life. Those who use foul language on social networks (such as Twitter) are sending an expensive signal that they are free – and, ironically, competent. You don’t signal competence if you don’t take risks for it – there are few such low risk strategies. So cursing today

(A counterpoint to the previous post.) Source: How To Legally Own Another Person – Medium

The Case for Manners

I think that codes of manners also can be used to convey respect for others. You are telling people, including strangers, that you conduct yourself with them in mind.

I believe that restraint in the use of four-letter words used to serve this purpose, and it could once again serve this purpose. This puts me at odds with my fellow Baby Boomers and those who came after.

Source: The Case for Manners | askblog

MY SIDE vs YOUR SIDE

All of MY SIDE’s references and statements are to be taken in the coolest, hip-ironic, culturally aware, benign-metaphorical way possible; all of YOUR SIDE’s references and statements are to be taken in the most mindlessly literal, threatening way possible.

Any charge against MY SIDE requires exquisite legally admissible proof of its accuracy; WHEREAS, any charge against YOUR SIDE must be true if it was asserted by anyone, anywhere.

People on MY SIDE are responsible only for what they said personally, in full-quotation context; BUT, people on YOUR SIDE are responsible for the inferred implications of anything said by anyone who ever held any idea vaguely similar to what your people think.

(Edited for brevity and flow.) Source: THE NEW REFORM CLUB: Judge Boggs

“Smart” Is No Better Than “Strong”

Higher-than-average intelligence doesn’t make you any better than anyone else, any more than being taller, or faster, or stronger does. What it often does, however, is allow others to convince you that you should be something different than you are, or than you want to be. Even worse, it gives you the ability to successfully rationalize away your failures, to both yourself and others.

Nassim Taleb says something similar. Too often, “being smart” makes you better at rationalizing, not better at being rational. How much the worse if you make “being smart” part of your identity. (File under “being smart is overrated.”)

Source: Vox Popoli: Always an excuse.

The Iron Law of Evaluation

The The Iron Law of Evaluation (Rossi, 1987) is that the expected value of any net impact assessment of any large scale social program is zero.

Why does this happen? The simple answer is that in a largely-rich, largely-free country, with many existing (if confusing) private and public supports for low-income people, it’s just as easy to screw things up than to make things better, no matter how much you spend.

Source: The Iron Law – spottedtoad