Sunday, January 22, 2017

I Blame Democrats



It's really funny how desperately liberal Democrats want to pin the blame for Donald Trump on conservatives like me.  Well, I've got news, guys. I didn't vote for him or for Mrs. Clinton. What happened that got Trump elected was that a supposedly brilliant strategy by Democrats went terribly terribly wrong. First, millions of Democrats crossed over to vote for Mr. Trump (I have to call him that now that he's president) in the Republican Primaries because they were certain Hillary could beat him if they just could get stupid Republicans to nominate him. This they did.

Then, once he was safely nominated by the Keystone Cops over at the RNC, the Democrat strategerists nominated the only Democrat on the planet that could have lost to someone as abysmal as Donald Trump. To add insult to injury he was trained by Democrats. Up until this election, Trump was a lifelong Democrat. He donated to both Hillary and Barak Obama's campaigns. He was safely in the Democrat camp saying Democrat things right up until he decided y'all Democrats weren't going to make him president. He was getting old, so he decided to be a Republican for a while given that it was pretty much now or never.

You Democrats made him. Angry wishy-washy unprincipled "moderates" and low-information voters voted for him because they were mad about being talked down to like they were idiots by Democrats. And the hilarious thing is that you guys were surprised you screwed it up so badly. You believed your own press, your own propaganda and thought the Hildebeest was a shoe-in. You counted on the liberal East and West Coasts to carry the day and forgot about the leavening effect of the electoral college.

You people seriously screwed up. I don't know why you're unhappy though. Donald is a trained liberal and could switch hit any day now. Sure he's dismantling Obamacare. But he's still a nationalized healthcare guy like he's always been. He's just going to rename it Trumpcare. As long as his name's on the building, Trump could give a rats tukas what's in it.

Trump isn't my fault, nor is he the fault of genuine conservatives - many of us left the party over Trump in fact. But we can't help giggling over the discomfiture of the left over this one. Trump talked in 6th grade English in his speeches. Your leftist pundits chortled at that and assumed he must be stupid. You comforted yourselves that you were smarter with the superior election strategy. And while you were snickering behind your hands, Trump stole most of the lower half of the IQ bell curve voters from you. And you were shocked because you thought you owned those people. The left was arrogant and it camp back to smack them in the face. You guys on the left don't like it because Trump used the very same tactics you taught him when he was a Democrat to beat you at your own game when he went Republican.  Now we have (God help us) President Trump. Thanks to you.

Tough luck, buttercup; I don't feel sorry for you. Enjoy the next four years. Maybe if you push the whole Elizabeth Warren and the historical inevitability of a woman president thing hard enough, perhaps you can lose again in 2020 with Fauxchahontas and give us all another eight years of Donald Trump instead of just the four. Much as I distrust Trump, I must admit watching the arrogant hard left wing of liberalism squirm is kind of a treat for a crusty old conservative like me.

Almost as entertaining as watching 3 million overweight, half-naked, angry women march in the street to protect their right to murder their unborn children (which Trump will never take from them anyway) and for lots more imaginary rights they think they ought to have.  Even more interesting is watching the spectacle of the Donald actually doing some thing right for a change. And his open baiting of the media and the vast left wing conspiracy is going to rapidly become conservatives' newest favorite Reality TV show.


This might even be fun for a while, even though it also might wind up very badly. Who knows. It's those little mysteries of life that give life zest.

© 2017 by Tom King

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

THE TEN COMMANDMENTS OF BUREAUCRACY


These rules were originally magically delivered by Apoxia, the Egyptian god of governments to his priests on the famous Theban Scrolls of Bureaucratic Complexity. They were found by a lost American tank crew during World War I in the Hatshepsut Auxilliary Legal Library when a German shell accidentally uncovered the entrance during a brief skirmish outside the ruins of Memphis (Egypt not Tennessee). The Scrolls have been preserved ever since in a file drawer next to the water cooler in the Department of Retired Federal File Clerk Benefits in the basement of the Sam Rayburn Building in Washington, DC.  It is an enlightening document.

Rules of Bureaucracy: #1
It is easier to fix the blame than to fix the problem.

Rules of Bureaucracy: #2
A penny saved is an oversight.

Rules of Bureaucracy: #3
Information deteriorates upward.

Rules of Bureaucracy: #4
The first 90% of the task takes 90% of the time; the last 10% takes the other 90%.

Rules of Bureaucracy: #5
Experience is what you get just after you need it.

Rules of Bureaucracy: #6
For any given large, complex, hard-to-understand, expensive problem, there exists at least one short, simple, easy, cheap wrong answer that winds up costing three times the original estimate.

Rules of Bureaucracy: #7
Anything that can be changed will be, until time runs out and a new change can be proposed restarting the cycle.

Rules of Bureaucracy: #8
To err is human; to shrug is civil service. To call it a triumph and take credit is politics.

Rules of Bureaucracy: #9
There’s never enough time to do it right, but there’s always enough time to do it over and recommend a budget increase.

Rules of Bureaucracy: #10
Preserve Thyself!

 © 2017 by Tom King

Saturday, January 14, 2017

The Habit of Slavery


The British Civil Service is perhaps the world's most
efficient organization for maintaining bureaucratic inertia.

Why Cultural, Religious and Political Inertia Shackles Us to the Mistakes of the Past


Habits are hard to break, especially when those habits are the habits of a nation or a culture.
Railroad companies the world over lay their tracks so that the rails are four feet, eight and a half inches apart because that’s the width of a standard Roman oxcart. The standard was, of course, carried forward through several iterations including mine carts, streets and railroads – all using the standard grooves in old Roman roads. Caesar set the standard, probably based on something the Greeks were using or for some practical reason based on how far apart people put cart wheels a thousand years before.

It goes to show you the power of habit in determining the way things go. That’s how, for instance, Christmas became “Jesus’ birthday”. The church fathers, concerned because the people who, according to the emperor were all supposed to become Christian had this big party around the winter solstice where everyone would overeat and drink and party. By this time the church had become a ginormous bureaucracy and, thinking like bureaucrats, they decided that if the people had the habit of drinking, eating, and partying at winter solstice already, why not just make use of it for “holy” purposes. So the church proclaimed December the 25th Christ’s Mass, thus appropriating a holiday that goes all the way back to the Babylonians and used it as an excuse to take up a collection as protection from God’s wrath for all that drinking, overeating and partying. We still do it to this day, with, of course, the vestiges of the old pagan practices - Yule logs, Christmas trees, angels stuck up on trees (that one’s from a particularly grisly practice no on wants to think about) and boozing.

A lot of the inertia in our culture is, of course, for the convenience of government. Radical change is always bad for corrupt old governments. Should it sense a profound cultural shift among it's subjects, governments tend to suppress any new and disturbing ideas. Lots of folk get banished or financially ruined or imprisoned at this stage of any revolution.

The tax-collecting habit is also pretty well ingrained in the government bureaucrat segment of any nation's population. The old proverb about "If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail" reminds us that those with limited tools tend to respond in the same way to any situation. The bureaucrat mind is so fixated on what it's always done that it sees everything in terms of how it can be profitable to the bureaucracy. The more bureaucrats, the worse bureaucratic inertia becomes. Soon, anything that is fun or obligatory is fair game for them to take a piece of. Taxing becomes their reason for existing. The Romans were wonderful bureaucrats. They made tax-collecting (or as I call it – demanding protection money) into a fine art. I’m not surprised that modern organized crime has its roots in Italy.

Another example of how governments use cultural inertia occurred when Roman emperor Constantine had a nightmare and woke up with the novel thought that if he made his whole army Christian they might win the upcoming battle. So he marched his troops through a nearby river, proclaimed them “baptized” and went forth to kick his enemy’s collective butts. After that, the church quickly became a quasi-government bureaucracy and started busily searching for ways to tax its members. Of course, after all the persecutions, membership was kind of down, so they all met to decide how best to recruit new members.  The Councils of Nicaea and Laodicea eventually established that the official Christian day of worship would henceforth be Sunday.

This took advantage of cultural inertia in a couple of way.
 

(1)  The Church fathers switched the traditional day of worship. Some Christians had already begun worshiping on Sunday to avoid trouble with the pagans. Romans by and large were used to going to temple on Sunday (called the venerable day of the sun” by Catholic bishops). There were much fewer Christians than there were pagans at the time, so it was easier to change the habits of the smaller group, especially if you rewarded them by making them popular and therefore less susceptible to being thrown to the lions or crucified. So folk still went to temple on Sunday, the theology was just altered a little.
(2)  The Romans didn’t like Jews and because both Christians and Jews worshiped on Saturday instead of Sunday the two groups were associated in the minds of Romans. The Jews, having been scattered, did what they do – went into business. They were already doing well by this time, which really made people resentful. So to make Christianity more palatable, the church fathers removed a major impediment to a move from paganism to Christianity and shared the weekly day of worship with the pagans rather than the Jews.
(3)  They also removed another impediment to pagan conversion by quietly removing the second commandment (the one about graven images) from the Ten Commandments. After all, they had done pretty well by revising the fourth one, why not remove one altogether. Then the enterprising folk working for the Bishop of Rome went around swapping out the plaques on statues of Roman gods and making them saints. An edict calling for the veneration of the saints and pretty soon out of use idols all over town became apostles. When they ran out of apostles, the Bishop just made other folk into saints. A couple of my own ancestors were made saints for various reasons including genocide of Muslims and Jews and for the miracle of the bottomless beer mug. Just like that the statue of Jupiter in the main square became St. Peter. Venus became the Virgin Mary. And it worked so well that every few decades the Vatican has to replace St. Peter’s foot from where all the pilgrims kissing said foot have worn it away to a nub.


Public inertia is a truly powerful thing; bureaucratic inertia is worse. George W. Bush once said that once you become president and start receiving the security briefings, the economic briefings and all, that there really is very little you can do that’s a major innovation. He knew from experience. Bush started out with the intention of trimming the fat from the budget. I remember the horror with which the federal bureaucracies reacted. The weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth by federal life-long bureaucrats was epic .

Bush even had the audacity to demand that the CIA actually give him all the facts and not their interpretation of the facts or just what they thought he wanted to see. A relative who works for the CIA was beside himself that the President didn’t want his briefings filtered. Before Bush could rein the intelligence services in and get the straight poop, however, 9/11 happened. People talk about how Bush benefited from 9/11. The terrorist attack's benefits accrued primarily to Congress rather than the president. With Bush forced to mobilize the military, suddenly budget cutting was forced off the table by Congress. Terrorist fighting funds were held hostage to everybody's favorite pork. By the end of the Bush administration Congress was spending like a drunken sailor and the economy went bust. Sadly, you can't take away Congress's credit cards.




A lot of the inertia in our culture exists for the convenience of government, of course. Habits are encouraged. Change is suppressed - the real kind, not the feel-good kind that is no change at all.  Every president faces such bureaucratic inertia. It's why, thankfully, none of them accomplish much in the way of change, whatever their campaign slogans. People don’t like to change. They prefer the appearance of change. Bureaucracies have learned to use cultural inertia to their advantage. To bureaucrats, change is like sunshine to a vampire. It’s why every time some Latin American country overthrows its corrupt government, it replaces it with one that’s just as, if not more corrupt than the one before it. The revolutionaries always forget on thing. When they take over a government, they fail to replace the bureaucrats.

© 2017 by Tom King