Archives for category: Personal Strategies

On Inauguration Day, fans of Q should’ve read Leon Festinger’s When Prophecy Fails. They didn’t, alas.

Democrats: if you want to outdo Republicans in savvy, I suggest you read that book right about now. The next few months are going to test your devotion.

Hey, we can read it together. Let’s form a book club!

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This was the splash pic for my first podcast with this libertarian luminary.

A few more minutes with the Great Dennis Pratt:

The Locofoco Netcast always sports a video version. This short episode, however, can be found as video only on LocoFoco.Locals.com.

Meanwhile, on Paul Jacob’s podcast, I get a few words in, if edgewise:

This Week in Common Sense, Sept. 20-24, 2021. Also on SoundCloud.

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How to get kicked off a progressive-run platform and still come out ahead

The extent to which statists, particularly illiberal, ”progressive” statists, quite consciously work against the idea of freedom, can hardly be underestimated. Progressives hate liberty. Even when they are too muddle-headed to understand that their basic conceptions of normative philosophy run against the idea of freedom, their revulsion against the very word liberty — and especially against any notion of liberty as a limit to government — shows through.

We who study these two very different standards do know, though, and should not be shocked when the one turns against the other and seeks to destroy it.

The idea of liberty as justice gave us free speech as a legal and as a cultural standard. Progressives, who have whored after ”social justice,” have given up on all such liberal notions. They are into censorship now. Way in.

My favorite example of this is not all the social media nonsense lying about COVID or suppressing news about Biden or constantly pushing calumnies against Trump. My favorite example? Quora kicking off Dennis Pratt.

But, considering where Mr. Pratt has re-directed his attentions, that may have not have been a prudent move on the part of Progressive Quora (P Q).

For this, see my latest podcast:

And video at:

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Why do liberals and progressives tend to be so emotional? I can’t even have a political discussion without them getting angry or crying.

. . . as answered on Quora . . . 
by Jim Grossmann
on March 8, 2018.

Because us liberals can’t always be as calm and reasonable as the conservatives who call people names like “libtard,” punch dissenters out at political rallies with the encouragement of Donald Trump, and walk around armed with assault rifles in “open carry” states.

Thanks for an opportunity to respond to another question by Anonymous, the most notorious troll on Quora.

. . . as commented on by TWV (wirkman). . . .
on March 8, 2018.

Well, that was disingenuous.

Because us liberals can’t always be as calm and reasonable as the conservatives

who call people names like “libtard,”

I am neither conservative nor progressive, and I get called names by both camps. In fact, disputants on the left call me names more often than disputants on the right — though I admit, a conservative Christian just called me a “motherfucker.” That was uncalled-for, yes, indeedy. Generally, my leftist opponents rarely do me the courtesy of not identifying me as a conservative, while conservatives rarely call me a progressive.

Truth is, I am a liberal, just not what you likely mean by that.

In any case, pretending that only rightwingers call people names is absurd. You are either living in a bubble or you are a liar. Leftists regularly hurl abuse at me instead of providing reason and evidence. I’ve been called fat, a “fucker,” a “ritard,” and much worse. By leftists.

You may be told by left-leaning media that it is the right that is nasty and abusive, but it is the left that makes false racist claims and lies about about others’ alleged racial insults (the litany of ideological hoaxes on college campuses is a long one). Both sides sling mud and lies and fake news, but you pretend that this is partisan, on one side only.

punch dissenters out at political rallies with the encouragement of Donald Trump,

You may be told by left-leaning media people that it is the right that is violent, but it is the left that offers up antifa as true anti-fascists (which the group is not) and activists who proudly proclaim “by any means necessary.” Indeed, what I saw in 2015 and 2016 regarding protest is this: leftists barging into others’ rallies to disrupt, and then claiming that their targeted enemies’ punches were unprovoked. But those awful, violent and cruel conservatives did not infiltrate the ranks of Bernie and Hillary supporters and repeatedly shouted down speakers and attendees. This was one-sided.

I opposed Trump all the way through election day, but from what I can tell, it was the conservatives who behaved decently. And then after the election! Dozens of stories of attacks upon MAGA hat wearers.

And what of Trump’s encouragement? Well, territorial self-defense could be offered as defense. It may not have been pretty, but it was in response to ranks and ranks of sometimes violent anti-Trump protesters, taunting Trump supporters outside … and, I repeat, inside hired venues.

The left is consistent on one thing: a double standard on violence. “Punch a Nazi” became a thing … and then came the charges that anyone not leftist were a Nazi. Vile.

and walk around armed with assault rifles in “open carry” states.

So? How many of those anti-leftist gun-toters committed political crimes? No NRA members have shot up schools, and yet anti-gun leftists blame the NRA while not a few of the school shooters have indeed been Democrats. There is that great moment a few years back when the news media showed footage of a rifle owner proudly carrying a rifle at a Tea Party rally, and the TV news people immediately began talking about Tea Party racism. But the news folks had clipped the footage to show only below the shoulders: the rifle carrier was an African-American.

I suppose it could be you are so unbalanced and partisan because you believe the lies you are told. And it is not as if there were not many disgusting anti-leftists and pro-Trumpers. Trump himself is quite objectionable in more than one way.

But this narrative of Liberals Good, Conservatives Bad is not believable. Both sides suck. Differently.

And as for the original question: I only see snowflakes on TV. I have not personally encountered any over-emotional wimps on the Left online or in person.

Liars, lunatics, bamboozled bumblers, and base rhetoricians? Galore.

But no wimps.

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Michael Rectenwald

“As any Marxist can tell you, ideology can blind one to the insights that might disrupt one’s political adhesions, often against one’s own best interests,” explains Michael Rectenwald in a recent article for the Mises Wire. “Only it was Marxist ideology itself that blinded me.”

Rectenwald, professor emeritus from New York University, has provided a concise intellectual confession in this piece, and yes, “How a Marxist of Twenty-Five Years Became a Misesian Libertarian” is worth reading.

His own experience is far different from mine. Not having pursued an academic career, my first-hand experience with the academic left has been limited to “the funny papers,” as we used to say about real life and mainstream news reporting. He was intimate with it, and deep, deep, deep . . . into the muck of it.

While I was grew up in a mixed-political, evangelical Christian household, and then set on my quasi-career circling literary libertarianism (with occasional forays into advertising), Michael Rectenwald gave up his lucrative advertising career to become an academic, where his literary interests were . . . perverted, you might say. “An antiliterature agenda had advanced so far in English studies by this time that at one conference, a professor of English at Berkeley decried the fact that other attendees had presented papers about novels. How regressive!”

There is a lot of ‘anti-’ this and that in the leftist Academy.

Rectenwald flirted with (and was rejected by) many varieties of “Marxism,” but, as he explains, “something within [him] incessantly rebelled against the dogmatism.”

I early on latched to liberty, not “social justice,” but something within me resisted the air of certainty that certain labels suggest. A friend called my position “agnarchism.”

Thankfully, after Rectenwald’s notorious brouhaha with woke de-platforming, he read Ludwig von Mises’ Socialism, seeing the logic of Mises’ 

  • attack on Marxist “polylogism” (one logic for ‘the bourgeoisie,’ another for the proletariat!), 
  • defense of consumer sovereignty, and 
  • Mises’ brilliant explication of socialism’s biggest failure, the state’s inability to calculate economic value without prices.

So he finally liberated himself from Marxian shackles.

This is worth confronting, because America is right now getting a double-barrelled exposure to several very dangerous forms of Marxism.

Though Rectenwald’s account would probably interest me even had he not come close to my position in politics, his “Misesian libertarianism” is more than welcome. But note: I wouldn’t say I am a “Misesian libertarian,” exactly, mainly because Herbert Spencer has had a much bigger influence on me — as have Gustave de Molinari and my footman guide to political philosophy, Robert Nozick, whose Anarchy, State and Utopia was the first work of modern phiosophy I ever read. But, nevertheless, Nozick’s “framework for utopia” and Molinari’s non-anarchy quasi-anarchy (panarchy) put me awfully close to Mises’ (dare I say it?) Liberalism!

Which is now libertarianism. More or less.


Note: Lee Waaks and I interviewed Michael Rectenwald last year:

I just stopped watching a Fox News woman-on-the-street interview spot where the question asked of a number of young attractive women was whether they were ”proud to be an American.” This is typical Fox conservative patriotism pandering. I roll my eyes.
It is an issue I have been thinking about for years.
First, am I proud to be white? To be a Finn? To be a man?
These strike me as dumb questions. Pride? What?
I am not ashamed to be any of those things. Or of being an American. I cannot help but be these things. Why would I be proud of something that I cannot change, that I did not work for?
This is one of those kind of questions that right-wingers traditionally press as important and left-wingers, i. the good old days, would roll their eyes about, but nowadays leftists talk about their shame at being white, or American.
The Fox interviewees were all negative, but for stupid reasons. I mean, really stupid. They seemed to think that because America (never defined — the “country”? the government? the culture? the what?) is problematic for racist and colonial reasons (I kid you not) they had to demur of pride for being an American.
Now, I often express my derision at Americans, a people who generally cannot think and who almost invariably ratchet up the political folly and evil every generation. To the point where we may be reaching a generational crisis point. But that has nothing to do with me. I don’t feel shame because my neighbor is an idiot. I do not feel shame because Americans generally are a boobish lot. I should only feel shame when I’m an idiot. And prudence dictates that I shouldn’t talk about that!
It is in politics that people become most unhinged. And there are reasons for that, as explained by a number of economists, Vilfredo Pareto and Murray Rothbard most memorably, but Public Choice economists generally.
The youngsters who complain about colonialism, though, strike me as especially ditsy. America has had a terrible, lunatic foreign policy since at least George Herbert Walker Bush’s presidency, but I think much, much longer. But the problem with that policy is not ’colonialism.’ What a bad word for America’s world policeman stance. Never let Marxists or neo-Marxists get near education, folks.
It seems to me that using pride and shame as means of social control should not be done on a collectivist, group basis. It is repulsive. I think it is inherently a conservative gambit, which is why this ’proud to be an American’ rap is being pushed by Fox. But leftists are now conservatives, too, in many ways. Which is why they are pushing shame so hard.
What a despicable lot.
But funny. And amusing. So I don’t hate my fellow Americans. I just do not admire them much.

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As a libertarian, why did you choose to be a libertarian over being a moderate or centrist?

…as answered on Quora….

I was a moderate “liberal” when I was in high school. Well, maybe. I was strong on civil rights and hated anything that smacked of imperialism, but had rather humdrum and unexceptional notions about economic policy. I sometimes thought of myself as moderate, like my mother, and, at other times, as more liberal than my Democrat father.

But I was not a reactionary. And I was never inclined to socialism — the extremist version, “Communist” socialism — which I knew enough about to regard with utter suspicion.

I was nevertheless very curious about utopian communal experiments. That may have been more a romantic curiosity than an eager political agenda. So, I was a seeker, and my quest led me to a book that was new at that time: Robert Nozick’s 1974 classicAnarchy, State and Utopia. I devoured it at age 17, but — though greatly impressed (and in complete agreement with the final third of the book) — for another three years I assumed that gun control was a grand idea and that minimum wage legislation was the very minimum we could do for the working poor. Nozick had not convinced me of libertarianism, and I was still pretty much in the centrist camp, between left and right — the former which I distrusted and the latter which I loathed.

What changed my mind?

Three things, at least:

  1. I came to see that many statist “solutions” to social problems (minimum wages being a great example) are in and of themselves (a) not what people typically think they are even on the face of it, and (b) do not show the uniformly good benefits claimed for them. Indeed, they often, even usually, produce widespread negative effects.
  2. Since grade school I had been deeply concerned with in-group/out-group dynamics. From observation and from reading I had learned that people become rather irrational in relationship to both their tribes and to outsiders. The sense of justice that so keenly moved me, but seemed fragile in so many others, was almost invariably perverted because of the playing out of this inevitable social orientation. I saw amity/enmity (inclusion/exclusion) in both standard and inverse forms as a huge problem, and I came to see the individualist conception of liberty as the best solution to it.
  3. Being, as I was, an odd duck, I recognized that my values and my developing understanding were largely at variance with common opinion. This landed me with a philosophical problem: value diversity. How could there be any justice if values were diverse? That is, if justice is giving people “what they deserve” but desert is largely dependent upon a specific, invariant value set, how can we determine the substance of justice? Isn’t it arbitrary? “Relative”? This was the question that unsettled me as I closed Anarchy, State and Utopia for the first time. How is justice even possible at all? I came to see liberty as a universally handy and usually easily identifiable social equilibrium boundaryone that could adjudicate competing values by not resting on strategies dependent and understood primarily in values terms. (Whew; sorry about that.) Freedom possesses a formalistic element that allows it to serve as a good balancing point among competing valued agendas.*

And there we get to the answer to our present question: freedom is a moderating principle.

It is not an extremist notion at all — I am with Brandon Ross on this. Both your desire to steal from me and my desire to steal from you must be thwarted. The compromise is no stealing. Grogh’s plan to enslave others, and others’ machinations to enslave Grogh? Both strategies must be given up. I leave you alone, you leave me alone . . . until we can find mutually advantageous opportunities for cooperation. And then we work together (or just trade) to achieve either shared or separate ends.

We respect each other’s separateness and individuality as a baseline, and hold each other accountable no matter what group we belong to. We can be as gregarious or as withdrawn as we want. But neither our “other-interests” nor our “self-interests” provide excuses to harm each other.

And the simple rule that prevents chaos and strife?

Do not to initiate force.

Freedom is the condition where no one is preyed upon by others. It is the condition where we support each other voluntarily. Or not.

Today’s political centrists try to moderate competing claims in amazingly inconsistent ways. On some occasions or contexts your group lives off my group; in others, mine lives off yours. On some occasions “we” sacrifice individuals for group benefit; in others, “we” sacrifice our wealth or attention for the benefit of a few individuals. How the “bargains” are made depends upon political pressure in either a democratic or behind-the-scenes corrupt fashion (there are differences, but the differences are not huge), and it is by historical happenstance that a centrist holds to one program one week, a competing program the next.

A centrist can be talked into just about anything.

Because what centrists moderate are competing expressed political demands, their principles are ad hoc and non-rigorous.

One epoch the blacks are ridden herd over; the next they are released from such oppression; a decade later they are given vast amounts of resources without anything in exchange, enticing them to become wards, “clients” of the State. One decade Asians are allowed in the country to do hard labor; a few later they are harassed and deported; in wartime Japanese are interred; much later some are compensated. There is no real principle discernible. Centrists move to and fro to the winds of doctrine.

They call it “being realistic.”

Libertarianism offers a way out of this appalling back-and-forth of in-group/out-group antagonism.

It is an eminently civilized way out. It is the basic “moral deal”: I sacrifice my options for gain through initiated force, and you do the same — and among all these freed people (freed from each others’ malignity and coercion and exploitation) we find opportunities for mutual advance.

Despite the apparently huge sacrifices for individual or particular group gain, the gains from civilization are vast, and for everybody.

I know, I know: the cost of liberty sure seems high: you can no longer gain a sense of pride — or revel in temporary triumph — in making your enemies pay for what you want. The desire to coerce and be coerced is very baboonish, and suppressing that desire is not always easy. Limiting our lust to dominate down to defense and restitution (and perhaps retaliation)? Easier for some than others. And to restrict the resolution of conflicts to public adjudication, according to public principles that are impartial as to specific persons or groups? Where is the fun in that?

Well, there is nothing much fun in relying upon the rule of law, rather than the rule of regulators, redistributionists, and rent-seekers.

But the rule of law does allow a lot of fun. Not for no reason is freedom commonly associated with fun. Yet that is not the whole story: there is a certain nobility in the responsibility required, in insisting upon an acute focus on actions.

And remember, it is honest.

Centrists, I came to see, were always getting sucked into little grafts and even extravagant boondoggles. And yet they are proud. Their pride can be seen in their over-confidence, their conceit in their discernment. They think they can conjure up wisdom to judge each new situation “according to its merits.”

That is hubristic. No one can do that on the macro social level. The world is too complex.

We need simple rules to live by, and to allow the prudential principle of “according to its merits” succeed or fail on voluntary terms. Failure must be accepted as such — and not merely shrugged off as in moderate statism, where every failure is an excuse to throw more money at it, sometimes also placing “better people” at the top.

Without freedom as a limiting principle, democracies become welfare states and welfare states become “churning states” — where there is so much redistribution of wealth and advantage that in most cases it proves impossible to know who really comes out ahead and who gets the short end of the stick.

I became a libertarian because I saw liberty as a solution to

  1. the craziness of the left’s “cult of the other” as well as
  2. the right’s “no kill like overkill” defense of in-group.
  3. But, perhaps most importantly, to the centrists’ pathetic attempts at moderating those two anti-freedom tendencies in politics in ad hoc and piecemeal fashion, according to the realpolitik of the moment.

I became a libertarian because I did not want to be suckered by incoherent or perverse strategies. I did not want to be a mark. And I did not want to encourage the grifters.


* My position before becoming a libertarian was, philosophically, summed up neatly in Walter Kaufmann’s 1973 treatise/self-help book From Decidophobia to Autonomy Without Guilt and Justice. I worked through his congenial non-cognitivism by seeing the Schelling Point aspect of the Non-Aggression Principle, and, later, by incorporating an evolutionary component to establish justice as an emergent property of distributed adjudications of disputes over long periods of social history. The book that helped me see freedom’s utility — a sort of anti-disutility — was Ludwig von Mises’ 1962 classicThe Ultimate Foundation of Economic Science. In that work I saw something even more challenging than value diversity: value subjectivity. And the social function of freedom became apparent . . . but that’s another story.

As Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s demise leads to the brain death and moral implosion of the left, I am reminded of a question I answered, two years ago, on the Net’s premiere Q&A site. Here is what I wrote on Friday when I heard the news: “RBG RIP — and sayonara to the last shred of sense in American politics. Not because she was that sense, but because her life held her admirers’ utter desperation in abeyance.”

Why aren’t Supreme Court justices assassinated often, given their political importance and their low number?

…as answered on Quora….

What inspires the anger, hatred, rage, or vendetta to nurture a hankering to kill a powerful person? I think it is the kind of authority that the powerful person represents.

The American Presidency focuses executive power, and is usually accompanied by charismatic and traditional modes of authority. Additionally, the single office-holder in the position has a lot of discretion in favoring or disfavoring a person or group, and is seen — not without reason — to hold a great deal of personal power. And this combination of modes of authority and efficacy for change makes presidents good targets for the aggrieved. A number of American presidents have been shot at, but have failed to succumb to the bullet — Andrew Jackson and Teddy Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan come quickly to mind — and the successful assassinations are infamous, numbering precisely four:

  • Abraham Lincoln
  • James Garfield
  • William McKinley
  • John Fitzgerald Kennedy

They were killed, historians tell us, by

  • an actor out for revenge (and perhaps working on a bizarre plot to help the South rise again);
  • a disgruntled job seeker (who felt personally and professionally betrayed);
  • a crazed anarchist; and
  • a Communist ex-Marine.

Can you imagine the kinds of men that these four were . . . actually setting their minds against a Supreme Court Justice, to see someone so “impersonal” as worth killing? The kind of authority wielded by the Nine is rational-legal. People tend to have a hard time wrapping their heads around that kind of authority, which is why they keep voting for charismatic men to fill the Presidency role. We understand charisma. Viscerally. And we grok traditional hierarchy, too. (Both are related to sexual selection, so these forms of authority get at us deep.) But rational-legal authority? That does not grab us either by the gut or the groin.

And to kill a man, especially at the likely cost of one’s own life, requires, surely, some deep appeal to the innards.


Well, that was what I wrote on Quora in August 2018. But times have changed. Now we see Democratic luminaries openly threatening insurrection and a deliberately destructive holocaust if the president goes ahead and . . . does his constitutional duty. Would these luminaries actually light the fires, set off the bombs and shoot the guns? Not likely. But their words sure look like incitements to riot. To me. What else would they be?

And they also go some way to feed my deep suspicion that the fires set throughout my state, and the two states directly south, were set, in numerous instances, by antifa/Black Bloc “protesters.”

If this becomes a shooting war, on the streets, between anarchists and antifa and Democrats manqué, on the one side, and those of us who prefer a rule of law to tyranny, on the other, then shouldn’t the breakdown of law and order be directed, in part, at the twits like Reza Aslan who tweet evil threats?

Or Twitter could apply its own rules against these maniacs and de-platform them. That would go some way to reëstablishing a moral order. And show that the apparently partisan microblogging site takes actual threats seriously.

But it is interesting how a Supreme Court position has become so vital to the left. Is this really all about keeping abortion and protecting that bizarre decision, Roe v. Wade?

Democrats sure do like their child sacrifice rights.

As someone who, when young, developed ideas that were not present in my family, church, or school environments, the idea that people are expected to conform to ideas merely associated with some in-group they cannot help but belong to (and as a kid, there were few opt-outs for me, practically, to family, church, or school) is bizarre. And possibly insulting.

Yet the woke folk insist that the African-American descendants of slaves are only authentic to their true selves when they adopt wokist race theory and some variant of socialism. When a white woke neighbor recently accused non-woke whites of being racist for their skepticism about Black Lives Matter, I mentioned that many blacks hated BLM. One lackwit retiree was incredulous, wanting proof. It is probably one of my many character faults that leads me rarely to provide such evidence. The examples are many and varied, so if you have not seen them, you know you have bubbled yourself in a tightly sealed ideologically secure media container, I typed back. When my white woke interlocutor restated his demand, I responded, Do your own homework.

It had apparently not crossed the mind of this white woke joke of a fool that his very expectation of black uniformity of opinion based merely on a name is the acme of condescension.

I like to joke that White Privilege consists in ONE THING ONLY: the expectation that no opinion inheres to us by reason of race.

But that is a problematic thing to joke about, seeing that we are told incessantly that white privilege does not include the privilege of not being racist.

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The photo, taken from Facebook, shows the red-head holding a baby goat in her arms, smiling. 

A big, lovely grin; cheerful, charming. 

She appears to have a great life ahead of her, backed up by wealthy New York City professional parents — her mother an architect, her father a child psychiatrist. You might think she has every reason to smile.

But no.

You see, she faces criminal charges. 

“Clara Kraebber, 20, is one of eight people arrested Friday night after a roiling, three-hour rampage that police say caused at least $100,000 in damage from Foley Square up to 24th Street,” reports the New York Post.*

Six years earlier she had been quoted in the New York Times explaining her participation in a Manhattan rally held in solidarity with the Ferguson, Missouri, protests. “We don’t have much political power right now, being youths, but this is something we can do.” The Post identifies the Ferguson cause célèbre as “police-brutality casualty Michael Brown,” not mentioning that the “hands up”/“don’t shoot” meme that spurred the protests was false witness by a bystander, that Mr. Brown had been recorded earlier in the day committing a crime, and that multiple official investigations had concluded Brown had attacked the officer who shot him.

Not police brutality at all. The protests which drew Ms. Kraebber into a life of woke criminality were based on untruths. 

So if you want to shift blame onto someone else for her wilding vandalism, shift the blame to all those who, to this day, repeat the lie about an innocent Michael Brown.

A good girl gone bad because adults prefer their ideological narrative to the truth.

She could actually go to jail. Is she paying for your sins?

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* “Every city, every town, burn the precinct to the ground!” the group [had] chanted as it moved up Lafayette Street while busting the plate glass facades of banks, Starbucks and Duane-Reades,” the Post tells us.