Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Conversation Wreckers

Several years ago, my sister Theresa posed the question, "How large does a group have to be before you are assured of having at least one objectionable person?" I don't think any definitive answer has ever been arrived at, but this assumes that you are not inviting the members of the group.

Another question that I do know the answer to is, "How many people does it take to ruin a discussion?"

It takes one.

Back about fifteen years ago, The Foundation For Economic Education sponsored discussion groups around the country that anybody could start with their assistance. I started one and it went well for quite a while. FEE sent some speakers and they were all well received, but it was usually just us locals discussing various things, usually from The Freeman.

The whole thing was very informal, and members could invite others to "join", even though there was no organization and no dues. One day, one of the regulars brought somebody who proved to be the death of the whole group. The person was very nice, polite and not stupid, but incredibly shallow. No matter what was being discussed, from the origin or money, to the French Revolution or the types of igneous rocks in Iceland, somehow this person would always work the conversation around to some movie.

"Igneous rocks? Oh, that reminds me of the movie Journey to the Center of the Earth where these guys go down into a volcano....etc."  The conversation is wrecked from that point. Unless you are prepared to be very rude and say "Shut up, you're a bore. Nobody wants to hear about that movie." The whole discussion seems to be unsalvageable. I don't know exactly why this happens, but it seems to be a kind of lowest common denominator conversation.

If I am ever so foolish as to start another discussion club it will have the provision that nobody can bring a guest without the prior approval of the others, and the guest can only attend once. After the initial encounter, the regulars can decide if the guest would make a good addition. If so he can be voted in; if not, he can be left in the outer darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Enablers of Tyranny

In his book Obedience To Authority, Stanley Milgram describes how people can be persuaded to perpetrate heinous acts on their fellow man by adopting an “agentic state”, that is, they transfer the blame or guilt for their actions to some other figure; in his example, a man in a white lab coat prompting the subject to shock the victim with an electrical current in the name of science.

This is not a new discovery to anybody that has heard about people being thrown to the lions, sent to gulags or herded into boxcars and sent to the East. He has just shown this to be the case with a clinical study.

What seems strange is that the reverse of this syndrome seems to be the case as well.
In several recent instances, people that had confrontations with the TSA over X-rays
or attempted gropings found no fault with the perpetrators. One woman that was reduced to tears said that the TSA molesters “acted professionally.” So what? Does it excuse Mr. Capone’s or Mr. Moran’s knee breakers because they collect the protection money efficiently or even politely? Is it any solace to the Kulak that is murdered by Stalin’s myrmidons that they acted professionally? Knowing the German reputation for efficiency, it’s probably safe to say that many of Hitler’s henchmen acted professionally.
In the case of agents in a totalitarian system, they have the excuse that they themselves might be killed or tortured if they don’t do as they are told. So far, in our system it hasn’t come to that; they are acting of their own volition and are therefore wholly culpable.

Any tyrant has to rely on those below him to carry out his orders. He doesn’t have enough hands to accomplish his evil designs, so he has to have many little helpers.
On the top level there will usually be very few. The middle level will have a much larger number, but the bottom – where the boots hit the ground – there will be thousands or millions to enforce the tyrant’s will. Without millions of yes-men there can be no tyranny; this is why the petty bureaucrat, cop, code enforcement officer, TSA, DEA, IRS, EPA or other agent should be a total outcast as far as decent people are concerned.
These low level people are the enablers of tyranny. Without them, it makes no difference how malevolent the tyrant is; he must have many accomplices. This is why the goon who is “just doing his job” is more dangerous than the man at the top. He will do his job in most cases no matter what it is; his paycheck depends on it. He should be shunned and ostracized because he is a danger to society.

Many public employees claim that they will not comply if ordered to do some contemplated outrage. They will comply. They have already dulled their conscience and weakened their will incrementally. They should not be defended for being efficient.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Armageddon Or Masada?

November 21, 2010

(Mideast Wire Service) Sources in the Middle East tell MWS that Russia
has been assembling a massive naval presence in the Mediterranean
around the Israeli port of Haifa. Confidential sources inside the
Russian Duma tell MWS that the Israeli government has been told to
divest itself of its nuclear weapons or face attack by air, land and
sea before year's end. Russian spokesman Vladimir Ulyanof told MWS
that Ariel Sharon has been warned he must step down and his government
must comply with all UN resolutions that Israel is currently violating
or Russia will effect Regime Change unilaterally.

British military analyst Clement Winter-Berger tells MWS that Russia
has strategically stationed her submarines at the choke points of Suez
and Gibraltar to prevent U.S. Naval reinforcements, and moved mobile
missile launchers into its former client state of Syria.

It is not certain what has prompted the tension, but it is believed by
analysts that the U.S. invasion of Iraq and the escalation of tensions
between Washington and Tehran over Iran's nuclear program has awakened
the Russian Bear. Russia views the U.S. actions in Iraq and
Afghanistan as an intrusion into Russia's sphere of influence.

However, some experts believe that Russia's concern for the enforcing
of UN sanctions against Israel serves as a cover for Russian
aggression. Analyst Avraham Ben Joseph of the Center for Science and
Jewish Culture in New York, tells MWS that Russia sustained a
devastating "brain drain" when the Soviet Union collapsed and
thousands of Russian Jews immigrated to Israel. Ben Joseph believes
that part of the Kremlin's motive is an effort to reinvigorate the
Jewish autonomous region of Birobidjan that was founded by Joseph
Stalin in 1934. After WW II and the founding of the state of Israel,
Birobidjan has lost population steadily, although that has recently
been reversed by the return from Israel of some disillusioned

Sources quoted on condition of anonymity say that Echelon listening
posts have intercepted Russian communications referring to "Operation
Israeli Freedom" and "Operation Milk And Honey" which are believed by
analysts to be code names for the present military operations;
although Washington denies any knowledge of the intercepts.

In France, a spokesman denounced Russia's apparent aggression, but
noted that the genie was let out of the bottle by the U.S. invasion of
Iraq. At the UN, several ambassadors expressed fears of an impending

It is not known whether Russia has retargeted any of her SS 18s (ICBMs
with nuclear warheads) from the U.S. to Israel, but certainly it would
be possible to destroy every square inch of Israel with these weapons.
Sources in Israel have tried to ascertain the range of Israel's
nuclear arsenal from former Israeli nuclear scientist Mordechai
Vanunu, but he is prohibited from speaking to foreigners after serving
18 years in prison for divulging Israel's nuclear program.

Winter-Berger says that in England, Downing Street remains mum and is
trying to distance itself from U.S. operations in case hostilities
should erupt between Russia and Israel.

Sources in the U.S. would neither confirm nor deny that a war between
Russia and Israel may be imminent.

Winter-Berger says that if war breaks out, and Russia should decide to
exercise her nuclear option in order to avoid suffering any
casualties, it will be "the shortest and most destructive war