The Architecture of Fear — A blast from the past from 4/12/15

*I normally don’t do blasts from the past this recent, but somehow this one called to me this morning, and I can’t even tell you why.  I hope one of you knows!  *1  And Sorry, not awake this morning, so did the date European style.  Sigh.- SAH*

The Architecture of Fear — A blast from the past from


Years ago on this blog I talked about Technique of The Coup D’Etat by Giovanni Guareschi and I typed  the beginning in here.  I shall copy that. (Assume typos are mine.)

At ten o’clock on Tuesday evening, the village square was swept with wind and rain, but a crowd had been gathered there for three or four hours to listen to the election news coming out of a radio loudspeaker. Suddenly the lights went out and everything was plunged into darkness. Someone went to the control box but came back saying there was nothing to be done. The trouble must be up the line or at the power plant, miles away. People hung around for half an hour or so, and then, as the rain began to come down even harder than before, they scattered to their homes, leaving the village silent and deserted. Peppone shut himself up in the People’s Palace, along with Lungo, Brusco, Straziami, and Gigio, the same leader of the “Red Wing” squad from Molinetto. They sat around uneasily by the light of a candle stump and cursed the power and light monopoly as an enemy of the people, until Smilzo burst in. He had gone to Rocca Verde on his motorcycle to see if anyone had news and now his eyes were popping out of his head and he was waving a sheet of paper.

“The Front has won!” he panted. “Fifty-two seats out of a hundred in the senate and fifty-one in the chamber. The other side is done for. We must get hold of our people and have a celebration. If there’s no light, we can set fire to a couple of haystacks nearby.

 “Hurrah!” shouted Peppone. But Gigio grabbed hold of Smilzo’s jacket.

“Keep quiet and stay where you are!” he said grimly. It’s too early for anyone to be told. Let’s take care of our little list.”

“List? What list?” asked Peppone in astonishment.

“The list of reactionaries who are to be executed first thing. Let’s see now…”

Peppone stammered that he had made no such list, but the other only laughed.

“That doesn’t matter. I’ve a very complete one here all ready. Let’s look at it together, and once we’ve decided we can get to work.”

Gigio pulled a sheet of paper with some twenty names on it out of his pocket and laid it on the table.

“Looks to me as if al the reactionary pigs were here,” he said. “I put down the worst of them, and we can attend to the rest later.”

Peppone scanned the names and scratched his head.

“Well, what do you say?” Gigio asked him.

“Generally speaking, we agree,” said Peppone. “But what’s the hurry? We have plenty of time to do things in the proper style.”

Gigio brought his fist down on the table.

“We haven’t a minute to lose, that’s what I say,” he shouted harshly. “This is the time to put our hands on them, before they suspect us. If we wait until tomorrow, they may get wind of something and disappear.”

At this point Brusco came into the discussion.

“You must be crazy,” he said. “You can’t start out to kill people before you think it over.”

“I’m not crazy and you’re a very poor Communist, that’s what you are! These are all reactionary pigs; no one can dispute that, and if you don’t take advantage of this golden opportunity then you’re a traitor to the party!”

Brusco shook his head.

“Don’t you believe it! It’s jackasses that are traitors to the Party! And you’ll be a jackass if you make mistakes and slaughter innocent people.”

Gigio raised a threatening finger.

“It’s better to eliminate ten innocents than to spare one individual who may be dangerous to the cause. Dead men can do the party no harm. You’re a very poor Communist, as I’ve said before. In fact, you never were a good one. You’re as weak as a snowball in hell, I say. You’re just a bourgeois in disguise!”

Brusco grew pale, and Peppone intervened.

“That’s enough,” he said. “Comrade Gigio has the right idea and nobody can deny it. It’s part of the groundwork of Communist philosophy. Communism gives us the goal at which to aim and democratic discussion must be confined to the quickest and surest ways to attain it.”

Giggio nodded his head in satisfaction, while Peppone continued: “Once it’s been decided that these people are or may be dangerous to the cause and therefore we must eliminate them, the next thing is to work out the best method of elimination. Because if by our carelessness, we were to allow a a single reactionary to escape, then we should indeed be traitors to the Party. Is that clear?”

“Absolutely,” the others said in chorus. “You’re dead right.”

“There are six of us,” Peppone went on, “And twenty names on that list, among them the Filotti, who has a whole regiment in his house and a cache of arms in the cellar. If we were to attack these people one by one, at the first shot the rest would run away. We must call our forces together and divide them up into twenty squads, each one equipped to deal with a particular objective.”

“Very good,” said Gigio.

“Good, my foot!” shouted Peppone. “That’s not the half of it! We need a twenty first squad, equipped even better than the rest to hold off the police. And mobile squads to cover the roads and the river. If a fellow rushes into action in the way you proposed, without proper precautions, running the risk of botching it completely, then he’s not a good communist, he’s just a damn fool.”

It was Gigio’s turn to pale now, and he bit his lip in anger, while Peppone proceeded to give orders. Smilzo was to transmit word to the cell leaders in the outlying settlements and these were to call their men together. A green rocket would give the signal to meet in appointed places, where Falchetto, Brusco and Straziami would form the squads and assign the targets. A red rocket would bid them go into action. Smilzo went off on his motorcycle while Lungo, Brusco, Straziami and Gigio discussed the composition of the squads.

“You must do a faultless job,” Peppone told them. “I shall hold you personally responsible for its success. Meanwhile, I’ll see if the police are suspicious and find some way to put them off.

Don Camillo, later waiting in vain for the lights to go on and the radio to resume its mumble, decided to get ready for bed. Suddenly he heard a knock at the door and when he drew it open cautiously, he found Peppone before him.

“Get out of here in a hurry!” Peppone panted. “Pack a bag and go! Put on an ordinary suit of clothes, take your boat and row down the river.”

Don Camillo stared at him with curiosity.

“Comrade Mayor, have you been drinking?”

“Hurry,” said Peppone. “The people’s Front has won and the squads are getting ready. There’s a list of people to be executed and your name is the first one!”

Spoiler alert, though this is not one of the stories that you read for the denouement: by the end of the story, the entire cell except Gigio is crammed in Don Camillo’s closet, as each successive comrade shows up to try to save him and is shoved into the closet as the next one comes along.

Then it is revealed that they didn’t in fact win the election, but more importantly, the entire cell, which had lived in fear of the Stalinist *sshole who pulled book and fervor on them every time and made everyone of them live in terror of being denounced as insufficiently fervent, now knows who the enemy really is.  That is, each individual now knows he is not an isolated individual surrounded by good party members who will turn on him, but one in a collection of decent individuals kinda sorta following an ideology but not so far it blunts their humanity and ONE isolated *sshole turning them against each other for the power.

At the end of the story, Peppone finds Gigio proudly waiting to send up the red rocket and kicks him all the way to main street.

Gigio’s power is gone, because he’s revealed to be ONE individual working for himself and only that, and a hateful, little one at that.

It is worth noting that Gigio in Italian means mouse.  This was the mouse that roared, until they realized he was amplifying his squeaks through their fears to sound like roars.

This is not about the Hugo.  Or rather, this is not exclusively about the Hugo.

But it is about the Hugo as well.

My first encounter with what I’ll call the Gigio effect, was in a mailing list for writers, where I dared question the insanity of a well-respected pro who said that George Bush (personally) had raised the price of stamps to ruin her (personally) in her efforts to sell used books through Amazon.

There are levels of insanity I can’t tolerate and couldn’t even while in the political closet.  So I pointed out the sheer insanity of this, the inefficiencies of the post office and probable causes for it.

The list went silent.  I figured tons of people were cussing me behind my back (this was when GB’s name was after all like invoking the devil.)

So, I shrugged, figured I’d be kicked out of the list and went for a walk.  When I came back my email was full of “Oh, thank you, for saying…”  ALL OF IT IN PRIVATE MESSAGES.

The senders ranged from raw beginners to established pros, but no one would challenge this lady’s illusions to her face.  Only me.

So how did the private messages make me feel?  They made me roll my eyes.

I swear 2/3 of the list pmed me to say they stood with me, but in public, not a peep.  They were all so scared, you see, of the imagined disapproval of “all the rest of them.”

I didn’t say anything and I didn’t push them.  It wasn’t any of my business, and at any rate, I’d grown disillusioned with the list and the comradery (Meh) of my peers. I had gotten to see some people I’d respected prior to that in full silly mode.  (We all have one.  I try only to show it to the cats, and sometimes to my husband.)  I was tired.  I don’t know if I answered any of those messages, not now 12 years later.

And now, there’s the controversy over … more people voting in the Hugos and voting for a different slate than the entrenched group approves of.  There are many accusations flung at us, including that we’re pushing an all white slate (which would surprise some of those people) an all male slate (which transformed my friends Amanda and Cedar into guys and made Cedar’s fiance gay.  He’s still in shock) and that we’re pushing inferior taste (It bears reading this post apropos that) and that we’re buying votes for total strangers to vote our slate.  (No, we’re not.  Mary Robinette Kowal, OTOH IS, but yeah, I know, it’s different, after all leftists are good people)

I’m very tired.  VERY very tired.  Not of opposition.  I’m never a happy warrior, but I have had huge arguments (rational, non-attacking arguments) with some of my very best friends, Dave Freer and Kate Paulk included, and emerged from them energized, because we mobilized ideas and facts and our disagreement forged a stronger bond, rather than breaking us apart or making each of us feel small and isolated.

But I’m tired of answering the same senseless accusations over and over and over again.  It’s like fighting people under an enchantment that prevents them from thinking.

And all through this, there are pms on FB and emails to my old email registered with SFWA and not used much now.  “I am with you, but I don’t dare say anything.”  “I don’t agree with everything you say, but you have some damn good points.  But if I say anything, my career is done.”  “Your opponents are scary and are eating each other, but I can’t say how evil they are in public, because they’ll eat me.”

…”Get out of here in a hurry!” Peppone panted. “Pack a bag and go! Put on an ordinary suit of clothes, take your boat and row down the river.”

Don Camillo stared at him with curiosity.

“Comrade Mayor, have you been drinking?”

“Hurry,” said Peppone. “The people’s Front has won and the squads are getting ready. There’s a list of people to be executed and your name is the first one!”…

I’m not going to push ANYONE out of the political, or even the SF-political closet.  I lived in it too long and too fearfully to do that to anyone.  Your secret is safe with me.

But because it matters, I must beseech you, consider, please that you are not alone.  Consider that the sound and fury, the threats, the people pushing you to do things against your will and conscience because you’re so scared of them might be less than the full crowd.  It might be just a small mouse, full of him/herself, roaring up a storm.  Consider that the decent people who disagree with all this bs might actually be in the vast majority but not know it because none of you dares speak.

Yes, it is entirely possible that the publishing establishment will turn its back on you for a while at least, even if you are a loyal leftist, because you dissented from the lynch mob.  OTOH considering — eyes emails — maybe they too are in that closet with you, trembling for fear of the mouse.

But even if you were “blacklisted” — you do realize I know indie writers making six figures a year, right?  And that I myself made as much from Witchfinder as from my Baen books, right?  DO consider that being blacklisted by the establishment might mean less fear and fewer ulcers.  And being yourself.

Do consider how it would feel to come out of the closet and kick the mouse up and down main street, making him eat his Stalinist “guilt by association” cries.

I’m not going to force you.  I’m not going to out you.

But this Stalinist “I know everything you do and it’s all analyzed for deviationism” always leads to purges.  In SF/F those purges might mean not publishing traditional.  Or they might mean not winning awards.  Or getting kicked out of an organization.

But this type of mind-set is a cancer in the culture and sooner or later leads to gulags and graves.

I can’t push you and I won’t.  If you want to keep your opinions — left, right, moderate, libertarian, anarchist — hidden, it’s your job.  I am not the keeper of your soul.

However, I want you to think of the dark and dank place that fear and that suspicion and the constant spying lead.

And then I want you to think of how good it would feel to get off your knees, stand on two, look your tormentors in the face and say “No more.  I’m free. My thoughts and my opinions, my beliefs, my tastes, my friends are my own.  You have no power over me.  Not now, and not ever again.”

That’s all.  I just want you to think.

199 thoughts on “The Architecture of Fear — A blast from the past from 4/12/15

      1. No worries. *grin* Real people have faults. Things that have no faults aren’t people (with certain exceptions depending on religion, of course- and I don’t mean the Followers of Father Marx).

    1. I’ve been wanting to read the Don Camillo books, but every time I’ve looked, they’ve been too expensive. I just looked again, and found book 1 in Kindle for $6.99 … But the most helpful negative review says the translation is terrible. 😦 Who’s a good translator, for those who don’t read Italian too well?

  1. … a well-respected pro who said that George Bush (personally) had raised the price of stamps to ruin her (personally) in her efforts to sell used books through Amazon.

    What did she think she had done to earn George’s attention, and why did she think he was using so indirect a method rather than sending jack-booted* troopers to storm her castle?

    *extended musings over the price of jack-boots, the available supplies and whether one can get seven-league jack-boots — compressed into footnote.

    1. Eric Flint once said that the occupational danger of being an author (he acknowledged that this applied to him) is going nutty.

      Authors have to work alone (ie without other human contact) and get wrapped up in their own thoughts.

      To remain somewhat sane, authors have to “get away from their desk and make contact with the real world”.

      Eric was talking mainly about another author that went nutty publicly about the author’s publisher.

      Note, long term Bar-Flies and Sarah likely know who Eric was talking about but I’m not going to talk about that situation.

        1. Oh sure — they may look like real live people and they may act like real live people, but how can you be sure they’re real live people unless you cut them open and read their entrails?

          How many of them seem somewhat round-shouldered, eh?

          1. They probably have synth components. You never know when they’re going to go nuts, pull out a laser rifle, and start mowing down your settlers…

            The worst are the Brahmin. They look totally like harmless double-headed cows… until they pull out the weaponry.

            (Playing too much Fallout 4? Nah. No such thing…)

            1. Roof Brahmin are the worst.
              You can usually roust the pesky things out when they get stuck occupying your second floor, but when they get stuck on the roof, there’s just no fire department to call.

            2. *hands you a pack of gumdrops

              Here, this will keep you goin. Btw, there’s a suit of power armor in a locked container over that next ridge.

          2. Reading entrails can now be performed by MRI scan. No need to actually gut the victim, allowing the victim’s availability for future reading of their entrails.

            1. Where’s the fun in that? Bloodless haruspicy just doesn’t have any real predictive power.

            2. but what about the garters, how can one where someones “guts for garters” using a MRI.

            1. That’s unlikely. You’ve met people who comment on this blog.

              Including me. 🙂

              1. I, on the other hand, am merely an artefact of the ‘net. “Nothing to see here, move along.”

          3. Where did Sarah ever say she *doesn’t* read the entrails of those people who she sees in museums and parks?

            When Sarah says she sees actual flesh-and-blood people, I’m willing to take her at her word. How she knows those people are flesh-and-blood are her business, and her business only.

            Besides, as any person who’s been involved with the Great American Gun Debate knows, it only counts as a death if it’s done by gun, and last I checked, most entrail-checking* techniques don’t involve guns.

            * (I’m assuming that, if the purpose is merely to check that these people are real, she doesn’t even have to read entrails. She just has to make sure that entrails are there…)

          4. eh, they suffice. then, I need to talk to a person every day or I go stir crazy. saying hi as neighbors and I cross paths while walking or having the cashier tell me how much money suffices.

      1. When a friend, associate or co-worker starts notably “going nutty” it is time for those with a hand still on the railings of sanity to act to keep them from falling overboard.

        The alternative is the possibility to find oneself doing on camera interviews about how [Person] was always so quiet and kept to [person’s] self. There is also the potential of finding oneself outlined in chalk, but that possibility tends to offer fewer chances to regret not speaking up.

        Direct challenge of the person’s delusions is not generally so effective as Socratic exploration of their assumptions. Sometimes it is requisite to escort Aunt Dotty back to her attic, but it ought be done in a manner sufficiently gentle as to make the reasons clear without being unduly disruptive.

    2. Paranoia is a delusion of grandeur. Doctors often have to treat depression after successfully treating paranoia.

        1. Just because I have delusions of grandeur doesn’t mean I’m not really the reincarnation of Emperor Napoleon.

    3. I spent a lot of the back ten years of the Bush administration explaining, with varying degrees of patience, that if Bush were as bad as the sufferers of Bush Derangment Syndrome said, they would be to terrified to make the accusation

    4. I spent a lot of time during the Bush administration explaining, with varying degrees of patience, that if the ravings of the sufferers of Bush Derangement Syndrome had any validity the ravers would either be too scared to speak, or missing.

      1. Ok, sorry for the parallel posts. The interface chose to hide one from me,,and letting it sit for ten minutes and then hitting refresh didn’t work.

        Computers: you can’t live with ’em and hitting ’em with an axe is nowhere near as satisfying as it sounds…..

  2. In 1991, when the first Gulf War started, I was in college. I was an Air Force vet, in my early 30s.

    There was a candlelight vigil held that night, in front of the university’s Administration Building. A young lady I knew suggested we go. Sure.

    When we got there, a young, long-haired firebrand was ranting to the crowd. He spent a good fifteen minutes telling each and every one there that the US was going to go in, carpet-bomb cities and murder thousands of noncombatants. Our military was going to go in and rape and plunder (he was very certain of that last part). War crimes galore. He went on and on, and the crowd was eating it all up.

    He paused, then said, “now, I’m not saying anything bad about our soldiers.”


    So I spoke up. “You just spend several minutes telling us how bad our soldiers are.”

    This stopped him dead. He wasn’t used to argument. “No I didn’t.”

    “Yeah, you did. Rape. Murder. Carpet-bombing. War crimes.”

    He looked right at me, and said, “well, I didn’t mean it if I did.”

    1. He looked right at me, and said, “well, I didn’t mean it if I did.”

      Translation: No one was supposed to call me on it!

        1. The soldiers do such terrible things not because they are themselves bad but because they are victims of a system which dehumanizes them and those they confront. They are not bad, they are victims of an oppressive environment.

          1. To tell the truth, with the progressive purge of the officer and NCO corps that is ongoing, there might just be some truth in what you say here. Not the spin, but the oppressive environment claim.

            1. One of these days, I half expect the US to find itself going into battle with a technologically superior, politically correct army against a smarter and more ruthless opponent and get a serious kick in the pride.

                1. Look at the US Armed forces performance in the early years of WWI and WWII, and yeah… pretty much.

      1. Slightly more likely translation: “I was repeating a religious litany. I didn’t bother to think about what it said, and I’m surprised that anybody paid any attention.”

  3. Of course this popped up in your head. It symbolizes the times we live in.
    That Hugo business is a symptom of the greater struggle. The voices of countless little boys all over the internet are crying, “Hey, the Emperor is buck nekkid!” Going on eight years now of a blatant metrosexual European socialist is prima facia evidence to anyone paying the least attention that however bad our system of government had become, their answer is worse.
    Call them what you will, liberal, progressive, socialist, or flag waving Marxist, they are scared to death. Their poster boy and his programs have proven to be an abject failure. His reign is near over, but not I fear without a few parting shots as the lame duck flaps his last few feathers. And for a replacement all they have is an ancient socialist or an incompetent greedy liar and rape apologist. They’re scared, they’re cornered, and like the rats they resemble might do anything in retaliation.
    I’ll save comments on their opposition for another time.

    1. 345 days, if I set my countdown clock properly.
      What I worry most about is the quadrennial ‘October Surprise’. As they have squeezed tighter, more Americans have slipped from the Progressive’s grip (to paraphrase *Princess* Leia). Somewhere in the next 345 days, the realization that ‘O’ is out of power will sink in, and good times will be scarce.

      1. Swill for us, but plenty of good gravy for them.

        Look at the hefty salaries pulled down by people hired employed to head up those 23 (and counting) Obamadon’tcare exchanges that have crashed and burned. Government loves consultants, those folk who spare local representatives the burden of responsibility for bad policy (“Hey, we hired the best consultants possible to justify plan that industrial park; it isn’t our fault it failed. Look at all the jobs created constructing those white elephants multi-purpose industrial suites.”)

    1. The fundamental problem is that the movers and shakers in the SFWA imagine themselves to be a representative sample of fandom. While they take great pride in accommodating a diversity of tastes and opinions, they do not realize how skewed the diversity they are willing to tolerate has become.

              1. The exterior of whose hospital was actually the student center at Princeton University, IIRC.

            1. There have been times I’ve wanted to treat Chicago with acid. Not lysergic, but more.. hydrofluoric. Maybe it’s best I not attempt travel on the Dan Ryan ever again.

                1. Hey! My favorite hypothetical WMD! I waaaant one! But I really, really shouldn’t be allowed to have one… *sad face*

              1. Downstate Illinoisian born and raised. Tain’t a one of us doesn’t want to saw that leprous boil off the backside of an otherwise fine conservative rural and small farm town state.

              2. hydrofluoric is a weak acid, fluorine having a strong grip on the hydrogen. hydrochloric is better.

            2. Followed a link from Insty recently to a sampler of Chicago electro. A couple of tracks were okay, but I just could not get into most of it. I always assume that there are some tracks in any genre I’ll like – and I’m almost always right about that – but finding them can be daunting.

        1. How could that foolish actor have won 49 states. Neither I nor any of my friends voted for him.

      1. > accomodating

        Accomodate enough, and the Overton Window slides in the direction of “crazy.”

    2. I was looking at that thread, and I just realized a major flaw in what they are attempting to study. They are starting from the premise that the Puppies succeeded because of organized slate voting…and using Hugo data, they conclude that the Puppies would not have succeeded as well, had EBH been implemented…

      The problem with this analysis is that they are assuming that the voting would have stayed the same regardless of what rules were in place…which contradicts the assumption that the Puppy campaign was an attempt to strategically manipulate the Hugo nomination process in the first place.

      If the Puppies really were out to manipulate the process, then using last year’s–or any year’s–data is useless. You don’t know who was deliberately trying to manipulate the process, nor how their votes would have been, had WorldCon used a different voting system.

      Meanwhile, the Puppy mantra has been, starting with Puppies III, “You, too, have a voice in the Hugos! Get out and vote! Vote for something you like! Here are some eligible books we think you will like!” They are twiddling with arcane voting rules while the other side is playing a completely different game…

      1. From the people who don’t understand the first rule of economics (change the incentive, change the behavior) this is hardly surprising.

        1. For one thing, they believe people must be organized. They believe in Evolution and spontaneous organization of chemicals into cells and cells into higher life forms, but balk at the idea of intelligent life spontaneously organizing according to perceived incentives and costs.

        2. And yet they claim to understand what happens in an ecosystem when a new predator is introduced…

      2. In fact, the blogger not to be named who goal is to burn the Hugos down around the SJWs has already started doing thing specifically to work around EPH if implemented (one of the reason the minions are numbered). I suspect they’ll be as surprised when he owns the noms in 2017 after they implement EPH as they were when he was happy they Noah Warded the place to the ground last year.

        1. Vox Day isn’t the Blogger Not To Be Named. Unlike that particular blogger, Vox doesn’t have Google alerts set up to inform him anytime someone mentions his name — and the occasional times when he has shown up here and posted a comment or two, he’s been polite and rational.

          1. I thought the problem with mentioning Vox Day was the trolls who “look for his name mentioned” here (or elsewhere) and coming calling.

            1. Horde, reporting for duty, ma’am, heh, heh, heh. Actually I prefer to think of myself as an VFM sans carte.

          2. Wait…I thought VD was the blogger not to be named? Can somebody tell me who it really is (does it rhyme with “hike flyer”?) without actually using the name? I’m confused now.

            1. I think it’s the guy who used to run (still runs?) a blog titled… let’s just call it “Diminutive Verdant Sports Equipment” to avoid any Google Alerts that may exist for the blog’s real name. He used to be conservative, then at some point, from all reports, he lost his mind and went full SJW.

              1. He started out as a liberal. After 9/11 he became conservative, then over time (as his fear wore off perhaps?) his ‘friends’ convinced him to be liberal again.
                I knew about him because he used to play with Stanley Clarke, who I’m a fan of. I had the honor of being thrown off the website twice: after the first time I wrote him and asked wtf? and he put me back on. After the second time, I just didn’t care anymore – things had gone full potato.

            2. No. It rhymes with Carls Olson. But VD is not named in posts, because we get more minions than I want to deal with, and some of them are completely insane (as opposed to you guys who are amusingly insane.)

      3. Certain factions seem to have difficulty with the concept of dynamic scoring. For example, they tend to believe that if the government reduces the tax rate from 100% to 50%, tax receipts will be halved. While they intuitively know this is not so, they wholly fail to grasp why it is not so.

        Might as well explain Stravinsky to a shih tzu.

        1. Just try telling them that JFK tried to cut income & cap gains taxes but was blocked by the Republicans. Tax cuts were passed under LBJ.
          I’ve yet to find a left winger that believes me (their heads would probably explode).

          1. Quote:

            “We do not assume taxpayers change their behavior,” said Warren Gunnels, the policy director for the [Sander]’s campaign. He said the tax rates under the plan were not chosen with an eye toward the Diamond-Saez hypothesis, but rather to generate sufficient revenue to pay for the senator’s policy proposals. He said the plan assumes that new, higher rates would be applied to the existing income base, without taxpayers reporting lower incomes.

            [Emphasis added]

            As James Taranto is wont to say, Hypothesis:Proof

          2. Heck, have them look at Nixon’s “Federal II” plan with its Mack Reynolds style guaranteed annual income, among other things. Like chopping the size of the Fed roughly in half.

            Think about the average bureaucrat’s reaction to that second part for a while…

      4. a) They purport to know whether Vox Day was attempting to game the system in any serious way.
        b) They appear confident that their countermeasures are capable of reliably stopping Vox Day should he make an effort

        1. I would consider Vox Day’s statements a more reliable indicator of Vox Day’s actions than the claims of a SJW.
        2. Being charitable to the Hugo establishment, I wouldn’t be confident in my ability to anticipate and thwart Vox Day.
        3. Assuming that a rule change will work before testing it several times under different conditions is not wise.
        4. Long term, the Hugo game will depend on the future of the industry. Vox Day is doing the foundational innovation that will let him show up.

        1. Vox’s Vile Faceless Minions are a single bloc, large enough to pwn several categories, and EPH can’t stop that. And VFM is still growing.

          It costs Vox no money and almost no time, and the VFM are in it for the lulz. He’s played it straight so far, but he has the resources to strike pretty much anywhere he wants. And the more they lean on him, the more powerful he becomes.

          “Griefing: not just for MMORPGs any more.”

          1. As long as there is any degree of ‘outsider’ access to voting, Vox wins. If they find some way to justify limiting votes to a ‘right-thinking’ minority (Trufans), the Puppies’ point is made and Vox still wins.

  4. “But I’m tired of answering the same senseless accusations over and over and over again. It’s like fighting people under an enchantment that prevents them from thinking.”

    It has been my experience that they do not believe in reality the way we do. They believe in “The Narrative” and that whoever controls “The Narrative” controls reality in that reality will of course conform to “The Narrative”.

    It took a friend being so shocked by a piece of research that she let it slip that reality did not matter to her to wake me up to this and I still cannot get my mind fully around it, but it appears to be true.

      1. Y’know, the idea of Narrative Causality is a thing, but…

        It’s another one of those “It’s a warning, not an instruction manual” type of things, isn’t it?

      2. As someone else said, “They may not believe in reality, but reality don’t care if they’re stupid.”

    1. “It’s like fighting people under an enchantment that prevents them from thinking.”

      We call that “leftism”.

            1. “Smash” is such a strong word, so harsh and threatening. Couldn’t you instead go with “Pants The Nanny State”?

  5. Was chatting with a casual acquaintance about nothing in particular when I said something disparaging about Obama. He immediately challenged me, asked if I could name one thing that BHO had not made better.
    I think I had reached number five on my short off the top of my head list when he walked away from me. When he came back he did not raise the issue again, and when I tried he immediately changed the subject.
    As that old saying goes, “denial ain’t just a river in Egypt.”

    1. I’m intrigued that so many of my students seem to lean toward the libertarian side of the spectrum. I’m not so pleased that they are also very cynical about politics in general. And then there are a few die-hard environmentalist or socialist souls, mostly of the “must be nice and fair to everyone and make everyone happy” school of thought. SIGH.

      1. “must be nice and fair to everyone and make everyone happy”

        In other words, kindergarteners.

      2. Having lived their entire lives through the time they have, can you really blame them for cynicism? The Clinton-Bush-Obama administrations and their concurrent legislatures haven’t exactly been inspiring in the honesty and competence of politicians, or in the effectiveness of the political process.

        1. We have done with Hope and Honour, we are lost to Love and Truth,
          We are dropping down the ladder rung by rung,
          And the measure of our torment is the measure of our youth.
          God help us, for we knew the worst too young!
          — Rudyard Kipling, “Gentleman-Rankers”

      3. I was like that in college. Clinton, then Bush II. Politics was a dirty word. It stained anything it touched. I didn’t want to get any on me.

        For what it’s worth, I grew up and out of it. With luck, they will too.

          1. It smacks of pessimism to me. Or at least, it did when I was that way. And pessimism/cynicism is easy mode. I am *still* a default cynic. I see the worst in anything first. It takes *work* to see the lighter side.

            Pessimism is easy mode because it stops there. If everything sucks, and always will, what’s the point in trying to make a change? Who gives a *redacted*? A critic is the simplest thing to be, because all you must do is point out the flaws in someone else’s work. It contains no element of creation.

            Optimism is *hard.* It starts with “things aren’t completely awful,” and from there it points out things that are good. And from there, it is a short step to “and let’s make what we can, better.” It’s active, not passive. It accepts the responsibility, that if things are sucking, and we can do something about it, then why the *redacted* aren’t we?

            It’s easy to give in to the inertia. It’s seductive, like warm blankets on a cold Monday morning. But while there’s life, there’s hope. And given where we are today? There’s a long, looooong way to slide before things literally *cannot* get any worse. As long as it’s a little better than that, it behooves us to keep doing what we can to make things better.

            Baby steps. While it may be easier to create than destroy, there is an impulse in our nature to *build* things, it is so ubiquitous. To make lasting impacts, to be the best example we can for what we believe is right. Pessimism *is* easy mode. But Optimism can be addictive…

            Sorry for the extended reply. Those soap boxes, they sneak up on a man when he least expects it!

            1. Well I for one a glad that soapbox snuck up on you: I needed that today. That’s the spark of the Divine, that urge to create; made in His image means a lot of things, but I’m certain that’s one of them. Thank you for the reminder, Dan.

            2. Different definitions, I think, but I entirely disagree with you. Optimism is Panglossian. Everything will work out for the best in this best of all possible worlds. No responsibility for actions, inactions, or for anything else.
              Pessimism is what you describe as optimism: things will go wrong, you’ve got to plan for it and work for it. I’d rather be a pessimist: I know the SHTF and I have a plan to deal with it when it does. My optimist friends are oh so shocked when their kid gets sick or their car breaks down, and . . . someone else shoulda oughta do something.
              Pessimists know they need to work hard for what they get. Optimists just know they’re going to get lucky real soon now.

              Hey, where’d this soap box come from? Dan, I think you mislaid this, here you go!

              1. Despair is a sin.

                Christianity calls for hope in its place, but not the hope of Obama. Obama’s so called ‘hope’ is merely wishful thinking.

                True hope, Christian hope, is based on realistic appraisal. It does not have the wishful thinking of “I’m good, what I want is good, so everything will come to me”. I think* Christianity teaches that things should be sought after. The Christian understanding of grace means that there is something to look forward to, to work towards, in even the direst of circumstances. This is how the martyrs had hope**.

                People can choose how to train their problem solving habits, and these influence their emotional experiences.

                *My theology is more than a little weak.
                **Ibid. with emphasis.

                1. Sort of. It’s…complicated.
                  Short version, Christian hope (like most things about Christianity) basically involves walking a knife-ridge.
                  Fall off on one side, and you get Obama hope, which leads to all sorts of nasty. Fall off the other, and you get the belief that it’s all on you to get stuff done, which also leads to all sorts of nasty.

                  1. Which is the whole point of this quote from Chesterton’s Ballad of the White Horse.

                    “But you and all the kind of Christ
                    Are ignorant and brave,
                    And you have wars you hardly win
                    And souls you hardly save.

                    “I tell you naught for your comfort,
                    Yea, naught for your desire,
                    Save that the sky grows darker yet
                    And the sea rises higher.

                    “Night shall be thrice night over you,
                    And heaven an iron cope.
                    Do you have joy without a cause,
                    Yea, faith without a hope?”

              2. *grin* I think you’re right, it’s a definitions thing. There’s enough people calling themselves both with the firm conviction that they don’t need to do one blessed thing, because reasons.

                Either way, I think they’re delusional! *chuckle* Much prefer our way.

        1. I think it was Heinlein who said, “Just because you ignore politics, doesn’t mean it will ignore you.”

          1. Sounds like Trostsky: “You may not be interested in war, but war is interested in you.”

            But yeah, that. And the whole getting over pessimism/cynicism thing.

    2. I need a copy of that list! Please? I (theoretically) know, but have trouble putting together such responses on the spot.

      1. Healthcare, the Middle East, race relations, unemployment, the U.S,’ image worldwide, our military… Off the top of my head. Probably other big ones I’m missing and some of those could be put together anyways.

        Oh, individual freedoms, too- but that rolls back into healthcare and race relations. Really, lots of things he’s fundamentally screwed up.

        1. He told us he was going to do this. “Fundamentally transform” our country. Into what I’d like to know? A third world hellhole?

          1. A “socialist paradise”? Which is another two words for the same thing, most like. As frustrated as he seems when he scolds Americans- about every time I hear him speak to us- we’re probably not precisely what he intended. That’s probably a good thing.

        2. David Brooks is a fool or a knave. I am offended at myself on behalf on fools when I say that.

            1. Embrace the power of “and.”

              He is a fool for not seeing the obvious and a knave for not recognizing we are not blind. Others noticed:

              ‘The Obama Administration Has Been Remarkably Scandal-Free’
              By Jim Geraghty — February 9, 2016

              David Brooks, this morning:

              The first and most important of these is basic integrity. The Obama administration has been remarkably scandal-free. Think of the way Iran-contra or the Lewinsky scandals swallowed years from Reagan and Clinton. We’ve had very little of that from Obama. He and his staff have generally behaved with basic rectitude.

              “Remarkably scandal-free”? David Brooks works in the news business, right?

              Fast and Furious. The IRS scandal. The $2 billion spent building The Veterans Administration letting veterans die waiting for care. The Office of Personnel Management hacking. Lying about Bowe Berghdahl. “Companies like Solyndra are leading the way toward a brighter, more prosperous future.”

              Jonathan Gruber’s declaration that Obamacare depended upon the “stupidity of American voter.”

              The NSA and Edward Snowden.

              The stimulus “was riddled with a massive labor scheme that harmed workers and cheated unsuspecting American taxpayers.”

              Prostitution and incompetence in the U.S. Secret Service.​

              Hillary and her private e-mail server.

              The Department of Justice secretly reviewed the phone records of at least 20 phone lines of Associated Press reporters — their work, home, and cell-phone lines. The Department of Justice’s decision to call Fox News reporter James Rosen a criminal “co-conspirator” in leaking classified information. The Department of Justice punishing whistleblowers.

              Benghazi — the failure to provide Chris Stephens with the security he requested, the inability to put together a rescue operation that night, and the false explanation to the public afterwards blaming a video.

              I’m sure you can remember others. Just how deep in denial do you have to be to write a sentence like, “The Obama administration has been remarkably scandal-free”?

              [Links embedded at original site.]

              1. I overlooked the various Secret Service issues in my summary, and hadn’t heard about the AP reporter issues. I forget if there is anything related to the apparent harassment of Sheryl Atkinsson that we can directly tie the administration to. Certainly the close ties between the media complex and the administration is somewhat of a scandal.

                1. The problem is that Obama’s administration has flooded the zone, putting up so many scandals that a) any single one seems minor in comparison to the entirety and b) they become very difficult to keep in mind.

                  I was just reminded of his campaign fund-raising web site’s having disabled the component whose function was to prevent foreign donations from flowing in illegally.

                  1. I believe it was Instapundit who used the lovely phrase ‘Dense Pack’ to describe this, referring to the missile basing strategy of the Cold War.

              2. > Obamacare depended upon the “stupidity of American voter.”

                I don’t recall being allowed to vote on that.

                I do, however, vote against its supporters every time I have the opportunity.

                  1. They said it was the first step toward single-payer. Given their egos, they clearly meant it would knock our socks off, and we would leap to hand more of our health care to the government.

                    1. Really? You think they thought we would like that steaming serving of [manure]? My thought was they believed they could slide this in and hold it together long enough to collapse the entire health insurance market and leave single-payer as the only way to “fix” the dog’s breakfast they’d made of the market.

                    2. Hate. Obamacare. So. Much.

                      It has quite literally forced me into direct dependence on the government.

                      “Let us institute a plan that will force you to buy health “insurance” you can’t afford! Oh, you can’t afford health insurance? Oh, let us pay for that for you with tax money we took from you, and aren’t you grateful to us for our help?”

                      What’s that scene from Misery? The crazy nurse breaks the guy’s leg so that she can take care of him?


                      That’s Obamacare.

                  2. Of course we are stupid — if we were “smart’ we would hold the views of the elite (as they style themselves.) The tautological problem of their concept of “smart” is proof of their being not so smart as they imagine themselves.

                1. More like the cupidity of the American Media, which could be relied upon to distract from the inherent contradictions of the scheme.

                  The American voter largely opposed Obamacare in spite of the Ruling Class’ assurances that everything would work out swell.

      2. There’s someone who posts d100 tables for roleplaying. I’m pretty sure I can make one for legitimate Obama administration scandals, but haven’t yet.

        Add to Dan Lane’s list of areas IRS, Robert’s Supreme Court Decisions, Mexico, VA, nuclear security, intelligence compromises (OPM, Hillary, maybe manning and snowden), gitmo releases, renewable energy stimulus fraud, keystone, EPA, immigration…

        Weren’t there issues with the CDC and Ebola just prior to the 2014 elections?

        1. I think there were, yes. Wasn’t there a quarantined nurse that didn’t stay quarantined, I believe? Ah ha. Yes, the ebola nurse that complained about the quarantine. And Obama said something like “quarantines are based on fear, not facts”?

          And immigration, that one is yuuuge. Can’t believe I missed that, but I did! Chalk it up to full belly, sleepy mind. *grin*

          1. Immigration has been festering for some time. One could argue that the aspects that are worse under this administration could fall under the healthcare and race relations umbrellas. That and basic credibility on ethics and transparency.

            IIRC, the Mexican civil war had been spilling over the border during the Bush administration. I know that even I was plotting stories about Muslims smuggling nukes via drug trafficking routes back then.

          2. Thanks, guys! And I appreciate your soap boxing on optimism, Mr. Lane. I find the blue funk thing too easy to fall into. Especially when certain people keep throwing out false stats… like yesterday’s claim that Obama has fixed unemployment (4.x%).

            1. Fixed unemployment? You mean, like making it a permanent feature of American life for an appalling large portion of the populace?

              1. fasten (something) securely in a particular place or position

              1. Ha! I like that explanation!
                (Sadly, no. The tool in question was claiming “solved” not “made permanent.”)

            2. I just misread ‘Mr. Lane’ as a reference to Moe Lane, who is also of the ‘despair is a sin’ persuasion.

              Scope and scale are important. The bigger the problem, the more it takes to solve, and the less any one person can be sure of fixing it. You can be certain of solving smaller problems in your area under your immediate control. If the big stuff gives you paralysis because you are not certain of those you might be able to work with, focus on what you can do.

              (Deep Survival by Larry Gonzales is descriptive, not prescriptive, but still worth considering.)

              Even if my preferred presidential candidate wins, even if his effectiveness is the highest possibility, it will be pointless if other Americans aren’t interested in solving the problems in their ballparks.

              Words sometimes are used as weapons, to confuse or demoralize, as part of the battle. Hardening one’s heart against them is one thing you must do to prepare to be in fights.

        2. NY Post Business columnist John Crudele has been doing an interesting job tracking managerial “problems” at Census and how they have been making up their unemployment numbers.

  6. “but I have had huge arguments (rational, non-attacking arguments) with some of my very best friends, Dave Freer and Kate Paulk included, and emerged from them energized, because we mobilized ideas and facts and our disagreement forged a stronger bond, rather than breaking us apart or making each of us feel small and isolated.”

    This is one of the litmus tests I use to determine whether somebody is truly a friend. Not only can we disagree, but we can actually debate our differences and be better for it. Hell, I swear that’s the main reason my husband and I are still married. But it also means that I have friends across a broad spectrum of world views. I want to be better for the company that I keep, not remain the same.

    1. But when perfect adherence to a perfect philosophy yields Utopia on Earth, any attention paid to kulacks and wreckers makes you a worserest person.

      1. Since I eat Utopias for breakfast between my random spewing of microaggressions, I think I’ll risk the consequences.

              1. I can sooooo see a parody product with bleeding hearts, empty moons, forbidden stars, withered clovers, purple unicorns, rainbow flags, and blue wymyn powerrrrr!!!! shaped marshmallows.

                  1. Dang – that wasn’t told to post!

                    Closing shot —
                    Kid #1: I think this stuff’s making me sick.

                    Other kids, in chorus: That’s because you’re not eating enough!

                    1. Send in enough boxtops (plus $999.99 S&H) for your very own Safe Space.

                      What’s the free prize in every box, though? Obamaphone?

    1. With extreme difficulty. At least for me. I was LITERALLY losing hair at such a rate that when I swept the kitchen it would have a lot of my hair on it afterwards (being white tile made this obvious.) But yeah. It’s better now.

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