Our troops are the steel in our ship of state. And though our nation may be travelling through rough waters, they give us confidence that our course is true, and that beyond the pre-dawn darkness, better days lie ahead.
Ships these day are made of steel. The hull, the decks, the walls separating interior compartments, the propeller and engine – more or less the only essential part of the ship not made of steel is the wiring. Every thing that isn’t steel in a ship – furnishings, insulation, the crew – is not normally considered when one thinks of what is the essence of a “ship.” Is the president saying that our troops are the essence of the country, and everyone else is some variety of unnecessary creature comfort? Our country is made of troops, and the rest of us are just deck chairs and decorative windows?
But there were ships before steel. For thousands of years, wooden ships sailed through rough waters and many stormy nights on the ocean, venturing to every corner of the globe. Wooden ships crossed every ocean, explored both the Arctic and Antarctic, and in the overwhelmingly vast majority of times were perfectly safe. Making a ship out of steel is a neat luxury of the modern age, but it’s not essential to making a ship. Many ships made out of steel sink (paging DiCaprio, L.) and many ships made out of wood float (paging Columbus, C.).
So if our soldiers are the steel of our ship of state, are they just a luxury? We could have a wooden ship of state that, so long as we didn’t ram against people who had steel ships of state, would be perfectly fine. Indeed, in this age of steel ships many people look back on wooden ships with nostalgia. Perhaps the world would be better if every ship of state was wood, instead of expending the needless resources making them out of steel, which is only necessary in the case of conflict with other ships of state.
And since when does steel give sailors confidence that their “course is true”? Experienced sailors can navigate by the heavens; if a captain knows where he’s going and how to use an astrolabe, a steel compass is just a luxury. Moreover, there’s no reason why a compass needs to be made of steel. Inferior quality iron will work just fine for a compass needle. Is the president saying that we could do with lesser quality soldiers? Eliminating all but our National Guard would leave us, perhaps, with an iron compass, but an iron compass works just as well as a steel compass for determining if the course is true.
Finally, and most nonsensically, steel has absolutely nothing to do with “giv[ing] us confidence . . . that beyond the pre-dawn darkness, better days lie ahead.” Sometimes, even if your ship is made of steel, there are no better days ahead. Unless you’re coliding with a steel ship, actually, I’d say that whether your ship is made of steel is more or less irrelevent to whether there are better days ahead. The word he’s looking for isn’t “steel,” it’s “optimism,” but I wouldn’t try to sail across a swimming pool in a ship made of optimism.
If George Bush had used that metaphor, we’d have been lectured on how stupid he was. Since it’s Barry, though, we’re probably just too dumb to understand.
People don’t know what’s in Obamacare and don’t like what they do know. So the cabinet secretary in charge of the program has a solution: “Reeducation“! Fantastic.
As Moe Lane points out, I think it’s fairly obvious that Sebelius isn’t being threatening when she uses that word, she’s being “inarticulate and stupidly insensitive.” Perhaps she needs to be reeducated regarding leftist totalitarianisms of the 20th Century?
Lane, on the real importance of the word: “Use of a term like ‘reeducation’ indicates that the user of it has decided that there’s nothing wrong with his or her argument; the flaw lies in whoever is not being persuaded by it. So there’s no need to fix the argument itself, obviously.”
I think the non-partisan lesson that should be emerging from Obamacare is the danger of passing big (i.e. physically large) bills without bipartisan support. I agree that there’s tons of misinformation out there, and it comes from all sides. I don’t have a clue what the law does to me, and I challenge anybody to produce a comprehensive list of what the law does to them. That’s what happens when you pass a two-thousand page bill: absolutely nobody knows what it really means.
If I could make one reform in the rules of Congress, it would be this: any law longer than 50 pages must pass with 60% of each house. If a matter is controversial, good republicanism demands that the voters at least be able to understand it and act accordingly in the next election. The Obama administration’s “people’d-love-it-if-they-only-understood-it” defense is lame beyond belief – we’ve gone from “Change You Can Believe In” to “Change You’re Too Dumb To Understand” – and, when examined in the light of how they handled the legislative process, is in fact no defense at all.
Yesterday I had to take care of registering my car – always a daunting prospect when facing California DMVs. At first I thought to make an appointment through the DMVs nifty online appointment system. I received my appointment for 3:20 pm. September 13th. I made this appointment 2 weeks ago. Sigh.
After taking care of the requisite smog check (sigh) I drove over to the DMV to see if I could just wait in line. Upon arriving the line was wrapped around the building. Twice. It was 4 hours long. Sigh.
I drove back to work fearing I would have to wait until September 13th. Upon arriving I told my tale of woe to a coworker who informed me that AAA takes care of 90% of DMV related tasks. Eureka.
I drove to the nearest AAA where they scanned my card and gave me a seat in nice plush chairs in their air-conditioned office. 5 minutes later I was called by name. 5 minutes after that I was out the door with my new tags. All this was done for free with my membership.
I’ve been a AAA member for 4 years now. I have not once used their roadside assistance services. This one trip has convinced me that my $45 a year was worth every penny.
Jamie posted this at 9:33 AM CDT on Tuesday, August 31st, 2010 as Ourselves
Passing through San Saba, Texas (aka “The Pecan Capital of the World”), home of 2,637 people in the middle of the Texas wilderness, and there’s a local coffee shop that offers free wifi and a decent cup of joe. It’s across the street from the town’s feed store, which has seen a steady stream of ranchers filling up their trucks since I’ve been here.
When the marines went to investigate, they were met with a hail of gunfire from cartel gunmen holed up at the ranch, which sits 90 miles from the U.S. border. One marine and three alleged gunmen died during a two-hour battle, which ended when the gunmen fled in a fleet of SUVs, leaving behind a cache of weapons.
My emphasis there, obviously. Or should I say, allegedly. Because if the people killed during a two-hour firefight that occurred when the military (!) went to investigate the scene of a 72-victim massacre are only “alleged gunmen,” I – that is, the person allegedly known as me – am not sure that anything can be described without throwing in the word “alleged.” Why wasn’t the one marine killed an “alleged marine”? Does the alleged WSJ journalist know he was a marine with any more certainty than the journalist knew the “alleged gunman” was a gunman? I mean, there are a great deal of facts reported in this alleged article that, in fact, are based on the journalist’s supposition and third-hand information he got from others.
Allow me to rewrite, just so we don’t have alleged readers jumping to unfounded conclusions:
When the alleged marines allegedly went to investigate, they were allegedly met with an alleged hail of alleged gunfire from alleged cartel gunmen allegedly holed up at the alleged ranch, which, allegedly, sits 90 so-called “miles” from the alleged U.S. border. One alleged marine and three alleged gunmen allegedly died during an allegedly two-hour alleged battle, which allegedly ended when the alleged gunmen allegedly fled in an alleged fleet of alleged SUVS, allegedly leaving behind an alleged cache of alleged weapons.
I hope that clarified things.
Apollo posted this at 2:31 AM CDT on Thursday, August 26th, 2010 as Journalism
I somehow found myself on this stupid Newsweek (forgive the redundancy) slide show of “Dumb Things Americans Believe.” You know, Obama=Muslism, witchcraft is real, no evolution, etc., etc. #4, though, is striking.
“According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, four in 10 Americans mistakenly believe the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act [I believe that's the secret code name for Obamacare--ed] creates a panel that makes decisions about end-of-life care.”
Is it really dumb that Americans don’t know what was and wasn’t in Obamacare? We spent months debating various proposals for what should be in there, with the president’s budget adviser recommending panels to determine when people were no longer worth saving (aka “death panels”). I think, thanks to the much derided Mrs. Palin, those didn’t make it into the final bill, but I honestly don’t know. There were so many proposals, spread out over so many months, with different drafts of the bill popping up in different committees in different houses, and then one version got scrapped after Scott Brown’s election, and then something passed and got signed. But, speaking as someone who paid a moderate amount of attention last year, I’m not positive what that something was.
We’re talking about a complex bill containing thousands of pages of statutory writing, that delegated hundreds of decisions to administrative agencies. Not even the sponsor of the bill read the damned thing. The snoots at Newsweak can call it dumb for Americans to believe the law contained death panels, but whose fault is that? When you make an unpopular law so long that normal people will never read the damned thing and so complicated that only a small handful of experts would actually grasp the full import if they did read it, people will tend to believe inaccurate things about it. To me, that’s an argument in favor a different style of law-making: smaller, simpler bills that do things that are easily explained. To Newsweak, it’s a reason to make fun of people as believing “dumb” things. If Mr. Harmon intends to make his $1 back, I suggest he get writers more interested in explaining thing than in looking down their noses.
P.S. Want to talk about people believing “dumb” things? A majority of both houses of Congress and the president believed that their 2,000 page administrative monstrosity would reduce healthcare costs. When all the administrative agencies get done with their rulemakings, there may well be something like death panels. But there’s no possible scenario where this is going to reduce costs. Now that was a dumb belief.
I’d hate to think that I’m one of those crotchety old people who frets at what kids do these days, but reality doesn’t really care what I think. The fact is that I’m disturbed by that level of texting. Not because it’s a “drug” or whatever the people in that story are saying, but because I can’t think of anyone I know who has 100 thoughts worth sharing in a day. I don’t think I know anyone who has 10. Personally, I may have 1 or 2, but that’d be on a very good day. And I’m much more interesting than the average teenager, who probably doesn’t have an interesting thought most months of the year.
If I had one message I could convey to my fellow citizens, it would be the following: “You’re not that interesting. I’m not that interesting. Your friends aren’t that interesting.” The talking on the phone while driving, texting while driving, texting while walking, obnoxious cell phone use in public spaces – it’s all premised on the belief that there are interesting things to be said. But that belief, by and large, is just wrong.
I’ve got enough faith in people to believe that in a few years we’ll adapt to our new ability to communicate instantly via multiple mediums and stop saying so much. There has to be a point past which even people as daft as teenagers will get bored.
P.S. Please don’t point out that the existence of this post contradicts the point of this post. I’ve managed to overcome the contradictions; I’m an Übermensch that way.
P.P.S. In the introduction toEveryday Drinking, Christopher Hitchens notes of alcohol: “The plain fact is that it makes other people, and indeed life itself, a good deal less boring.” Perhaps text messaging is more interesting when drunk? I’ll find a teenager to ask.
Flipping around on the boob tube this morning, more or less every liberal or Republican who wants to be liked by liberals expressed the following thought: “The opposition to the Ground Zero Victory ColumnMosque Community Center comes from bigots who want to deny constitutional rights to Muslims.” I did not hear a single person accept that there are some of us (indeed, most of us) who oppose building the mosque there but understand that the property owners have a right to build whatever they want to.
One of the reasons I’ve come to utterly despise the left is that they hold their countrymen in the lowest of esteem and believe that their motives are always suspect. Here were people taking at face value the words of this imam that he was building a mosque, near a location where Muslims killed a bunch of people in the name of Islam, in order to enhance dialogue. But those same people who were so credulous regarding the imam’s motives simply presumed that those who opposed the mosque did so out of abject bigotry. Their countrymen, they seemed to believe, needed nothing so much as to be lectured that not every Muslim is a terrorist.
Standing up to bigotry is generally a worthwhile activity and a noble impulse. Being so anxious to denounce bigotry that you ignorantly label the well-intentioned as bigots is an epic failure of self-awareness.
While normal people are focusing on the federal deficit, health care, and potential nuclear wars, we with more rarefied tastes are focusing on the mayor’s race in DC. The tart tongued Washington City Paper has put together honest ads for each of the contenders, incumbent mayor Adrian Fenty and challenger Vincent Gray:
Locals know that in DC, there are two endorsements that can really swing a race: that of the Washington Post, and that of the former mayor-for-life, Marion Barry. The Post’s endorsement is key in Wards 2, 3, and 6 (aka the white belt) and Barry’s is key everywhere else (aka the black belt).
One of the great tropes of liberal journalism is that conservatives are always being “divisive” or “controversial.” Take this, from a WaPo story about Republican division on the Ground Zero mosque: “But the debate among Republicans in some ways mirrors that of another divisive issue: immigration.”
Yup, Republicans are being super divisive. Anyone name a single Obama position that’s in line with 60% of the American public? The only thing not controversial these days about Obama is opposition to him.
One of the great joys for me in this phase of the Obama administration is watching people question how a man who was so awesome at speaking and inspiring people during his campaign suddenly has all the inspirational power of Al Gore on Rohypnol. Here’s an example, from a story in a New York-based publication describing how the president can’t convince Americans of basic biographical facts:
“This is a president who gave really compelling speeches about faith and values, memorable stuff,” said the Rev. Dr. David P. Gushee, a professor of Christian ethics at Mercer University who has advised Mr. Obama on religious matters. “And you’re not hearing that voice right now.”
Does anyone remember any speeches from the campaign? I don’t. Anyone ever have an Obama speech quoted at them?
Not only are we “not hearing that voice right now,” we didn’t really hear that voice in 2008, at least not from Obama. A distressingly large number of us heard voices in our heads that we attributed to Obama – eloquent and persuasive voices that held out hope – but the fact that people aren’t hearing those voices now is more a sign that people are overcoming their delusions than a sign that Obama has lost something.