Friday, November 24, 2017

An Announcement (Sticky; Scroll Down for New Posts)

     From November 20 through November 24, the Kindle edition of Innocents will be free at Amazon. Yes, friends, that’s a grand total of $0.00 for enough words to separate the wholly electronic covers. Oy vey! Such a bargain! So don't miss it.

     Please notify anyone you know who:

  1. Reads;
  2. Likes speculative fiction;
  3. Would never dream of spending $2.99 on a book by an unknown, self-published writer.

     Thank you.

Friday, November 17, 2017

A True and Wearying Thing

I came across this in a link - I'm sorry, I don't remember the original linker. The key phrase does ring true:

It's worth reading the whole thing.

Another truth that needs to be spoken: Twitter and other social media sites are vicious, catty, intensely FEMALE bullying spaces - and, you don't have to participate.

Really, I mean it. You not only won't disintegrate if you get off the overly dramatic, Mean-Girl, We ALL hate you and Want You to DIE, Bitchy site, your life will be considerably improved.

If you want to know the highlights (or lowlights) of Twitter, it will eventually hit the headlines. Trump's Tweets, alone, usually foment sufficient outrage that avoiding knowing about them is the tricky part.

And, then, there's THIS. Don't fail to read it down to the last sentence.

Social Vectors, Part 2: Plantations

     Owing to the connection to slavery, post-Civil War attempts by plantation owners to keep their former slaves laboring right where they were, and the Democrat Party’s emphasis on identity politics, the metaphor of “keeping ‘em on the plantation” has acquired great contemporary resonance. A recent Breitbart article points at the chagrin of one set of identity-group hucksters over the defectors from their plantation:

     The Guardian called the rise of free-thinking, LGBT conservatives “troubling” in an article on Thursday.

     The article, written by Arwa Mahdawi, criticized popular LGBT conservatives, including former OUT Magazine employee Chadwick Moore, who was fired after coming out as a conservative, and the Log Cabin Republicans, attempting to paint right-wing LGBT men and women as an “influential group of gay, white, and financially well-off men,” made up of Nazis, white nationalists, and misogynists....

     “Some people might argue that the increase in rightwing LGBTQ people represents a move away from identity politics. Ultimately, however, it’s just a move back to the oldest form of identity politics,” she continued. “One in which the protection of whiteness and wealth trumps everything. But as some gay Trump supporters might be starting to realize, the right aren’t your friends, and eventually they’ll come for you.”...

     In February, LGBT writer Skylar Baker-Jordan also attacked gay conservatives in an article for the Independent, where he claimed he would refuse to accept gay people who “come out” as supporters of President Trump, while in June, Slate likened LGBT conservatives to “villains.”

     The hysteria is real and palpable. Just as with the emergence of strong black and female conservative figures – surely you’ve heard the phrases “race traitor” and “gender traitor?” — the plantation overseers fear a steady crumbling of their identity groups. The solidity of those groups is what makes the overseers valuable to the Democrats. It gives them negotiating power they fear to lose.

     However, the use of ostracism and condemnation to arrest those “traitors” and bring them back to the planation appears to be failing the Left. It’s worth a few CPU cycles to investigate why.

     The desire to be thought well of is universal. We all want others to see us as worthy of respect. That’s completely independent of race, sex, and sexual orientation. But what makes a person appear worthy to others can be affected by social, cultural, and political factors.

     In yesterday’s piece, I poked at some of the vectors that are helping to propel male-to-female transgenderism. Those vectors have certain motifs in common with the ones gradually drawing individuals out of the racial, sexual, and sex-orientation plantations of the Left and toward a more independent frame of mind.

     In general, Smith will desire the good opinion of those who have Smith’s good opinion. If Smith thinks well of Jones but not of Davis, he will seek Jones’s approval but be relatively indifferent to Davis’s. Among the characteristics most commonly thought praiseworthy is independence of mind: the willingness to look at some controversy with no particular concern for what others think. When that trait is made perceptible, as is the case with black, female, and LGBT conservatives, the independent-minded individual becomes an accretion nucleus, around whom others of less intellectual courage will collect.

     It might seem that such independence is not ideologically directed – e.g., that if the great majority of LGBT persons were politically conservative, a “maverick” liberal would be an accretion nucleus for his views. Perhaps, if the logical and evidentiary bases of liberalism and conservatism were equally sound, it might prove to be so. But it isn’t that way today, in large part because the Left has attempted to wall off its identity-group plantations against ideological divergence.

     When the border guards’ guns point inward, at their fellow subjects, it’s clear to those subjects that the guards’ function is not to defend them – that there are things the subjects are not allowed to learn.

     Courage is inherently admirable. Intellectual courage married to the will to speak one’s mind is admired in direct proportion to the forces amassed against the speaker.

     The irony is staggering. The identity-group plantation overseers would have more luck at retaining their intellectual serfs’ allegiance if, rather than denouncing the escapees as villains, they were to smile winningly, concede each person’s right to his own opinions, and argue persuasively for their preferred positions. However, fear can make one do stupid things, especially when one’s money, power, and prestige are at stake.

     The stupidity reaches Brobdingnagian dimensions when the overseers hurl invective at persons of such integrity and eminence as Thomas Sowell, Walter Williams, Christina Hoff Sommers, Suzanne Venker, Tammy Bruce, Chadwick Moore, and Blaire White.

     Let it be frankly admitted that many in the black, female, and LGBT cohorts sincerely hold left-liberal convictions that are little or not at all affected by the convictions of others. That having been said, identity-group politics is suffering a steady loss of allegiants. That has the Left in a panic. Coalition politics is the heart of its strategy; it has no other.

     To us in the Right, it’s a strong prescription for intellectual honesty and moral courage. It mandates that we eschew all tactics founded on the divide et impera approach of the Left, for our own sake. But let’s not be too vocally triumphant about it. After all, there’s Napoleon’s exhortation to consider: “Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake. That's bad manners!” And we in the Right are all about good manners, aren’t we?

Destroying America one immigrant at a time.

In the past 40 years, upward of 50 million culturally backward, dirt-poor immigrants arrived in America, and state after state has gone blue, but we're always told states are flipping to the Democrats for some reason -- any reason! -- other than immigration.[1]
But speak of the blessing of "diversity" and, voila!, no more problem.

[1] "Yes, Virginia, immigration is turning the country blue." By Ann Coulter, 11/15/17.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Social Vectors, Part 1: Transgenderism

     A few tangential words before I leap into the tirade that’s about to burst forth: I rise early in the morning: typically between 4:30 AM and 5:00 AM. My first truly conscious act is to sit down to Cyclops (my beloved Dell Optiplex 580 computer) and scan the news for spleen fuel. On some mornings I find a great deal that deserves a written reflection; on others, the news is entirely stale and uninteresting. Today was a morning of the former sort. After only half an hour’s work I’d added nine links to my “Future columns” list.

     Sounds like an “Assorted” piece is coming, doesn’t it? But no: the cloud of psychons swirling in my cerebrum decided to engage totally with one particular entry. The others must await their time...and that time might never come.

     I’m blathering about this for a reason. On any given morning the email is likely to present notes from a handful of Gentle Readers who have subjects to suggest for future pieces. They’re nearly always worthy suggestions. Yet I seldom actually adopt any of them. I simply can’t get them to engage with any of my current concerns and thoughts.

     So if you’re one of the Gentle Readers who’s sent me such material and have wondered why I haven’t addressed it, please be assured that: 1) I’m grateful for your suggestion, and 2) it’s no fault of yours that I haven’t written about it. It’s just a quirk of my mental machinery. Somewhere in my subconscious, there’s an Editor-in-Chief who decides my blathering priorities for me. So far I’ve proved powerless to overrule him.

     And with that, it’s on to today’s helping of bile.

     Courtesy of the indispensable Mike Hendrix, we have this observation about the transgender phenomenon:

     Eight trannies elected to office in one night? That’s good. Only two of them now identify as men? That’s bad—especially if one wants to pretend that gender is fluid. If one even dares to notice a firm statistical pattern that the roaring majority of trannies are men who claim they’re women, one risks subverting the entire Tranny Gospel. If, as the case seems to be nearly everywhere worldwide, the overwhelming majority of people who desire to change their sex are men who seek refuge in womanhood, this might suggest that our current cultural climate offers very few perks for men and plenty for women....

     Studies in Europe from the 1980s and 1990s found that when it comes to declaring you’re not the “gender you were assigned at birth,” men chose to become women at anywhere from 2.3 to 4 times the clip that women chose to become men. A study in England from the 1970s found that men chose to be women three times as often as women decided to be men....

     I strongly suspect that the current tranny mania which infects and clogs up so much of our popular discussion does not represent some new, bold, post-gender frontier in human development. If it did, the genders would be swapping genitals at an almost equal rate. But since it’s almost entirely male-to-female, I sense it’s nothing more than a cultural reaction to the fact that in the current climate, there’s almost nothing good about being a man.

     The author of the article, Jim Goad, is known for speaking his mind without concern for who might profess to be “offended” by it. The source, Taki’s Magazine, has a similar reputation. Such outlets are valuable. Far too many persons are unwilling to speak of their perceptions or convictions for fear of a backlash. Perhaps they remember Galileo and “Eppur si muove” too vividly.

     A while back, pricked by having made the acquaintance of two transwomen who struck me as well balanced and generally happy, I resolved to investigate the trend as deeply as possible. I happened upon patterns that struck me as highly significant.

     Before I go into those patterns, allow me to remind you that I was of the opinion that transgenderism is an indication of a mental disorder. I still believe that to be so about most persons who claim they were “born into the wrong body.” Therapists who’ve made a specialty of counseling and treating such persons report that about three out of every four such clients eventually presents an underlying emotional problem of which the claim of transgenderism was merely a symptom. Dealing successfully with the underlying problem, they asserted, could dispose of the impulse to change sex.

     However, be it duly noted that those therapists also asserted that in about one case out of every four, a sex change was the only possible alleviation of the client’s unhappiness.

     I’m not a mental health professional. (I try to avoid them; most of them are completely BLEEP!ing crazy, and such persons frighten me.) But when such a person makes such a declaration, I allow him the presumption of sincerity and his statement the presumption of veracity. I’m neither so knowledgeable nor so arrogant that I’ll dismiss the contentions of others simply because they clash with my preconceptions. So I decided to investigate.

     Here are the patterns I found:

  • A very large majority (perhaps as many as 90%, though the statistics are incomplete) of sex changes are from male to female.
  • Among male-to-female transgenders, the self-perception of inadequacy as a man was prevalent, and was often reinforced by factors in their surroundings.
  • Male-to-female transgenders almost uniformly pursue femininity, often extreme femininity, in appearance, dress, and deportment.
  • A surprising number of men, including some extremely masculine men, found them to be more attractive and sexually appealing than biological women of their acquaintance.

     These are strong patterns that deserve to be explored for their causal connections.

     No one wants to be thought incompetent, inadequate, or unattractive. The demonstration of that claim approaches tautology. Alongside that, no one wants to believe – or to be told – that his personal preferences and tastes are somehow “wrong.”

     Many persons eventually make their peace with being mediocre...but not everyone does. Many persons eventually settle for less than they want, especially as regards love, sex, and long-term partnership...but not everyone does.

     That this has been on my mind lately shouldn’t surprise readers of my fiction. But the causal vectors it suggests don’t get enough attention from most of us, including most of us who comment on the sociocultural scene.

     In a society where both traditional masculinity and traditional femininity have been under sustained attack by vicious, well mobilized forces, the emergence of a socially tolerated “escape” from the pressures was bound to attract a substantial number of dissatisfied, interested persons. “Inadequate” men tired of being treated as inferiors would see transgenderism as such an escape. Masculine men tired of the ravings of “angry ugly girls” and the gradual disappearance of the feminine virtues might find themselves attracted to persons who actively seek to be feminine even though born male. To attain what they seek, both groups would need resolve, perseverance, and the willingness to accept certain compromises.

     No, neither all inclinations to “transition” nor all inclinations among men toward romantic or sexual involvement with transwomen arise from those vectors. However, they go a long way toward explaining why the prevalence of transitions is from male to female, especially in our current legal and social climate of “anything goes.”

     Cole Porter didn’t know the half of it.

     The above presents some obvious implications, most of which are so obvious that I shan’t bother to enumerate them. However, one stands out above the rest: the relative impotence of parental reassurance to the teenage boy who feels himself to be incompetent, inadequate, and / or unattractive as a man. The parents of such a teen would be swimming against the currents, unlikely to persuade Junior to see himself other than as his peer group does. All they can do is praise him for his objective talents and skills, and hope for the best. The hope might be vague, given current trends and conditions, but it’s all they have.

     I continue to believe, as I noted here, that the majority of gender-transitions have net-undesirable consequences: specifically, the transitioned individual is less happy and less successful than he was previously. But that’s not an argument for banning the practice. Neither is it an argument that no one would ever improve his life and its conditions through a transition. Yet the sociocultural factors that propel many such individuals to the most radical imaginable step they might ever take, short of committing murder, should be closely scrutinized...and fought.

     More anon.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Savonarola and His Offspring

Girolamo Savonarola was a Dominican friar during the Renaissance. He preached against church corruption, the Medicis, and secular art, among other things. His commission of secular books and art to flames became known as the "Bonfire of the Vanities".

Eventually, he ended where many reformers who take on powerful forces end - in death. He was excommunicated and hung, along with several of his friars. The purification movement petered out.

Periodically, similar manias flare up again. They are generally focused on purification of a society of worldly influences, sins, and corruption. They aim to bring about changes that will help the poor. The leaders take on those who they judge to be despots, and work to encourage the people to revolt against their rule.

There have been many manias since:

  • The Salem Witch Trials - used quasi-legal means to attack those in power, who were accused of working with the Devil
  • The French Revolution - different from the American Revolution, which aimed to establish independence from their colonial rulers, but a true frenzied tearing down of all "corrupt" elements in that society. All of the royal family and most of the nobility were accused of crimes against the people. A rumor could spark the mania to flare up again, and entangle yet another person or family in accusations, which would end in confiscation of property and eventual death by guillotine.
  • The Civil War - I contend that the post-Transcendentalists who lead the Abolition movement were motivated largely by their desire to "purify" America of sin. On the other side, the frenzy was based in Charleston, SC, where the most fervent and rabid secessionists had their base. On both sides, largely a war that pitted those that wanted a country free from slavery (sin), and those that wanted a country free of unconstitutional modifications (sin). [NOTE: both the Carolinas gave a disproportionate number of their citizens to the War for Independence - their children and grandchildren would have grown up hearing stories of how they had fought against tyranny (sin)]
The 60's were yet another example of mania that was based around the idea that America could be purified of its sins. The Weathermen and other radical groups just took this a mini-step further.

Since the Clinton Era, we've seen a permanent cadre of grant-subsidized fanatics who will stop at nothing to purify the USA, and rid it of perceived racism and sexism. To that end, they have initiated a war on individual freedom to start a business, to vote freely, to worship freely, to speak freely, to own a gun, to make decisions for their minor children, to publish anything that is contrary to Progressive Thought - in short, to act as free citizens in a society that they have some control over.

Sexism, Or Sex?

     'Zeb...I think I understand you at last. You atheist. Aren't you?'
     Zeb looked at me bleakly. 'Don't call me an atheist,' he said slowly, 'unless you are really looking for trouble.'
     'Then you aren't one?' I felt a wave of relief, although I still didn't understand him.
     'No, I am not. Not that it is any of your business. My religious faith is a private matter between me and my God. What my inner beliefs are you will have to judge by my actions...for you are not invited to question me about them. I decline to explain them nor to justify them to you. Nor to anyone-not the Lodge Master nor the Grand Inquisitor, if it comes to that.'
     'But you do believe in God?'
     'I told you so, didn't I? Not that you had any business asking me.'
     'Then you must believe in other things?'
     'Of course I do! I believe that a man has an obligation to be merciful to the weak...patient with the stupid...generous with the poor. I think he is obliged to lay down his life for his brothers, should it be required of him. But I don't propose to prove any of those things; they are beyond proof. And I don't demand that you believe as I do.'
     I let out my breath. 'I'm satisfied, Zeb.'
     Instead of looking pleased he answered, 'That's mighty kind of you, brother, mighty kind! Sorry-I shouldn't be sarcastic. But I had no intention of asking for your approval. You goaded me-accidentally, I'm sure-into discussing matters that I never intended to discuss.'

     [Robert A. Heinlein, “If This Goes On”, in Revolt In 2100]

     No doubt most of my Gentle Readers are puzzling over that citation, especially how it relates to the equally quirky title of this piece, and what could possibly follow the two of them. That’s quite all right; in fact, it’s what I was hoping for.

     Today’s broadside is about unnecessary concepts.

     There are a lot of folks who regard God – specifically, a Supreme Being responsible for Creation and its laws – as an unnecessary concept. They aren’t as numerous as are we who consider Him indispensable, of course, but still, there’s an ample supply. A goodly number of atheists manage to live decent, honorable lives without ever “needing” God to do so. Evangelistic atheists often cite this as “proof” that He doesn’t exist. It’s nothing of the sort, of course, but it does lend substance to their contention that God is “unnecessary” least, for them.

     Many Americans now consider religious beliefs a battlefield to be avoided in general conversation. But even more of us are coming to loathe any mention of certain other concepts:

  • Racism;
  • Sexism;
  • Homophobia;
  • Xenophobia;
  • “Trans”-phobia;

     ...and so on. The subjectivity of these things is enough to drive a man to drink, and not from the top shelf. They’ve ruined many human relationships and have made our national discourse far more painful than it’s ever been before.

     So I’ve decided to do away with them.

     Unnecessary concepts attached to imputations about human attitudes are the principal pollutants of civil discourse today. I listed the worst of them above. There are surely others that currently command less attention, but the five in the list above will do for a start.

     I contend that those “isms” and “phobias” are phantasms: chimeric notions that have never existed, do not exist today, and will never exist at any future time. They have no reality except when employed as rhetorical bludgeons by evil-minded demagogues. We in the Right must immediately take that as our working premise, and alter both our rhetoric and our conduct to match.

     Compare and contrast the following two isms: sexism and Marxism. What do you see when you put them side by side?

  • Sexism denotes an attitude by one sex toward the other; or maybe an attitude by each sex toward itself; or maybe an attitude by each sex toward the other.
  • Marxism is an economic conception that demands that the means of production, as generally understood, should belong to those who labor in them.
  • The sexist is inclined to treat persons of the opposite sex differently from his own, or maybe to treat his own sex as superior or inferior, or maybe both or neither.
  • The Marxist votes for nationalizations and redistributive measures.
  • There is no standard by which to determine whether an individual is a sexist.
  • Marxists can be easily distinguished from non-Marxists by their political conduct.

     A concept that cannot predict is an unnecessary concept. An allegation of sexism cannot predict sufficiently well in any venue to be useful for anything. Therefore, sexism is an unnecessary concept. Quod erat demonstrandum.

     While there are two biological sexes, and statistical differences between them that are essentially inarguable, the concept of sexism cannot be relied upon for anything. I maintain that the same is true for racism, homophobia, et cetera.

     From that position, many good things might flow.

     I’m looking forward to an exchange such as the following:

     Woman: Sexist!
     FWP: (snorts) Do you deny that you’re female?
     Woman: Huh? Well, of course not! But—
     FWP: (imperiously) Are you displeased that I recognize you as female?
     Woman: No, but—
     FWP: Stop right there. You admit to being female, and I recognize you as such. That’s all that’s going on here, so take your mentalist act and skedaddle along. I have nothing more to say to you.

     Many have orated about the Left’s attempt to claim the “moral high ground” with its accusations that conservatives are racists, sexists, et cetera. The point of the exchange above is to suggest that there’s a higher “high ground” that conservatives can claim: that of objective reality itself. The key is to refuse to allow any pretense of validity to the unnecessary concepts of racism, sexism, and so forth, and to insist solely upon what’s real and observable.

     The virtue of this approach is that it treats each individual as an individual. It refuses to see any group or its claims as relevant to relations between individuals. If practiced consistently by enough Americans, it could sweep the Left’s moral pretenses into the ashcan of forgotten rhetoric.

     It would require awareness of context and interlocutor, and more than a little determination. It would demand an absolute refusal to discuss groups or attitudes toward them. It might occasion a few bellows. But it would badly upset the Left’s applecart, because its entire strategy relies upon group affiliation and the “isms,” “phobias,” and other phantasms associated with them.

     Note that what I’ve called “unnecessary concepts” are collectivist concepts. Collectivism is the denial of individual autonomy: the denial of the individual’s rights and responsibilities as a moral agent. It subsumes him into a group that supposedly possesses those things. Strangely, that group is never around to change the oil or take out the garbage when those chores impend.

     Group identification has been promoted as a route toward effectiveness for the weak: “In union there is strength.” But we know, from many decades of experience, that “in union” there is political power, and that power and its benefits will find their way into the hands of the least ethical and most ruthless pursuers. “The little guy” gets only crumbs and promises, if he gets anything at all.

     The dissolution of group-identity politics and claims can begin only with individuals determined to see and relate only to individuals, never to the groups to which they profess allegiance. It rejects groups as obstacles to seeing the individual, in whom all rights and responsibilities really reside. Today it’s the road less traveled by. Taking it, refusing the course of groups and their claims, could make a huge difference.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Day Off

     For a good reason this time: I’ve just popped an appealing idea for a story, and I hope to get the whole thing done in first draft today!

     If you have any unallocated prayer bandwidth, toss a Hail Mary my way. If I’m successful – a bet against the odds, as I write fiction much less rapidly than non-fiction – I’ll announce it later to a flourish of trumpets. And who knows? You might even get to see the results when it’s finished.

     UPDATE: No, I didn't finish it -- but I made a good start (about 3,000 words) and I hope to have it done by week's end. Watch this space!

Pakistani honor killings.

Nearly 1,000 Pakistani women are killed by close relatives each year in honor killings.[1]
No reason to shut off immigration from Pakistan though. These savage cultural attitudes do not come WITH immigrants from Pakistan. They leave those attitudes at the airport when they arrive. We know this, right?

Any risk involving immigration is worth taking because diversity is our most precious value.

[1] "Pakistani bride kills 17 in botched plot to kill husband." AP, 11/1/17.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Utopia By The Glass

     That alcohol in dilute aqueous solution, when taken into the human organism, acts as a depressant, not a stimulant, is now so much a commonplace of knowledge that even the more advanced varieties of physiologists are beginning to be aware of it. The intelligent layman no longer resorts to the jug when he has important business before him, whether intellectual or manual; he resorts to it after his business is done, and he desires to release his taut nerves and reduce the steam-pressure in his spleen. Alcohol, so to speak, unwinds us. It raises the threshold of sensation and makes us less sensitive to external stimuli, and particularly to those that are unpleasant. Putting a brake upon all the qualities which enable us to get on in the world and shine before our fellows - for example, combativeness, shrewdness, diligence, ambition-, it releases the qualities which mellow us and make our fellows love us - for example, amiability, generosity, toleration, humor, sympathy. A man who has taken aboard two or three cocktails is less competent than he was before to steer a battleship down the Ambrose Channel, or to cut off a leg, or to draw up a deed of trust, or to conduct Bach's B minor mass, but he is immensely more competent to entertain a dinner party, to admire a pretty girl, or to hear Bach's B minor mass. The harsh, useful things of the world, from pulling teeth to digging potatoes, are best done by men who are as starkly sober as so many convicts in the death-house, but the lovely and useless things, the charming and exhilarating things, are best done by men with, as the phrase is, a few sheets in the wind. Pithecanthropus erectus was a teetotaler, but the angels, you may be sure, know what is proper at 5 p.m.

     All this is so obvious that I marvel that no utopian has ever proposed to abolish all the sorrows of the world by the simple device of getting and keeping the whole human race gently stewed. I do not say drunk, remember; I say simply gently stewed - and apologize, as in duty bound, for not knowing how to describe the state in a more seemly phrase. The man who is in it is a man who has put all of his best qualities into his showcase. He is not only immensely more amiable than the cold sober man; he is immeasurably more decent. He reacts to all situations in an expansive, generous and humane manner. He has become more liberal, more tolerant, more kind. He is a better citizen, husband, father, friend. The enterprises that make human life on this earth uncomfortable and unsafe are never launched by such men. They are not makers of wars; they do not rob and oppress anyone. All the great villainies of history have been perpetrated by sober men, and chiefly by teetotalers. But all the charming and beautiful things, from the Song of Songs to terrapin à la Maryland, and from the nine Beethoven symphonies to the Martini cocktail, have been given to humanity by men who, when the hour came, turned from well water to something with color to it, and more in it than mere oxygen and hydrogen.

     I am well aware, of course, that getting the whole human race stewed and keeping it stewed, year in and year out, would present formidable technical difficulties. It would be hard to make the daily dose of each individual conform exactly to his private needs, and hard to get it to him at precisely the right time. On the one hand there would be the constant danger that large minorities might occasionally become cold sober, and so start wars, theological disputes, moral reforms, and other such unpleasantnesses. On the other hand, there would be danger that other minorities might proceed to actual intoxication, and so annoy us all with their fatuous bawling or maudlin tears. But such technical obstacles, of course, are by no means insurmountable. Perhaps they might be got around by abandoning the administration of alcohol per ora and distributing it instead by impregnating the air with it. I throw out the suggestion, and pass on. Such questions are for men skilled in therapeutics, government and business efficiency. They exist today and their enterprises often show a high ingenuity, but, being chiefly sober, they devote too much of their time to harassing the rest of us. Half-stewed, they would be ten times as genial, and perhaps at least half as efficient. Thousands of them, relieved of their present anti-social duties, would be idle, and eager for occupation. I trust to them in this small matter. If they didn't succeed completely, they would at least succeed partially.

     The objection remains that even small doses of alcohol, if each followed upon the heels of its predecessor before the effects of the latter had worn off, would have a deleterious effect upon the physical health of the race - that the death-rate would increase, and whole categories of human beings would be exterminated. The answer here is that what I propose is not lengthening the span of life, but augmenting its joys. Suppose we assume that its duration is reduced by 20%. My reply is that its delights will be increased at least 100%. Misled by statisticians, we fall only too often into the error of worshiping mere figures. To say that A will live to be eighty and B will die at forty is certainly not to argue plausibly that A is more to be envied than B. A, in point of fact, may have to spend all of his eighty years in Kansas or Arkansas, with nothing to eat save corn and hog-meat and nothing to drink save polluted river water, whereas B may put in his twenty years of discretion upon the Côte d'Azur, wie Gott Im Frankreich. It is my contention that the world I picture, assuming the average duration of human life to be cut down even 50%, would be an infinitely happier and more charming world than that we live in today - that no intelligent human being, having once tasted its peace and joy, would go back voluntarily to the harsh brutalities and stupidities that we now suffer, and idiotically strive to prolong. If intelligent Americans, in these depressing days, still cling to life and try to stretch it out longer and longer, it is surely not logically, but only instinctively. It is the primeval brute in them that hangs on, not the man. The man knows only too well that ten years in a genuine civilized and happy country would be infinitely better than a geological epoch under the curses he must now face and endure every day.

     Moreover, there is no need to admit that the moderate alcoholization of the whole race would materially reduce the duration of life. A great many of us are moderately alcoholized already, and yet manage to survive quite as long as the blue-noses. As for the blue-noses themselves, who would repine if breathing alcohol-laden air brought them down with delirium tremens and so sterilized and exterminated them? The advantage to the race in general would be obvious and incalculable. All the worst strains - which now not only persist, but even prosper - would be stamped out in a few generations, and so the average human being would move appreciably away from, say, the norm of a Baptist clergyman in Georgia and toward the norm of Shakespeare, Mozart and Goethe. It would take æons, of course, to go all the way, but there would be a progress with every generation, slow but sure. Today, it must be manifest, we make no progress at all; instead we slip steadily backward. That the average civilized man of today is inferior to the average civilized man of two or three generations ago is too plain to need arguing. He has less enterprise and courage; he is less resourceful and various; he is more like a rabbit and less like a lion. Harsh oppressions have made him what he is. He is the victim of tyrants. Well, no man with two or three cocktails in him is a tyrant. He may be foolish, but he is not cruel. He may be noisy, but he is also tolerant, generous and kind. My proposal would restore Christianity to the world. It would rescue mankind from moralists, pedants and brutes.

     [Henry Louis Mencken, cribbed from A Mencken Chrestomathy, after my third glass of Harvey’s Bristol Cream. Any typos are my fault alone. -- FWP]

The insufferable United States.

The arrogance and deceit of the U.S. government knows no bounds:
So the US Justice Department is cracking down on RT America for what it says is manipulation of US domestic affairs while the US State Department announces a new program to manipulate Hungary’s domestic affairs.

The State Department’s new program would send three-quarters of a million dollars to Washington-selected Hungarian media outlets to “increase citizens’ access to objective information about domestic and global issues in Hungary.” On what authority does the United States pick winners and losers in Hungary’s diverse media environment? Since when does one government have the right to determine what news is “objective” in another country? Hungary is not a country to be “regime-changed” — it is a full democracy where the will of the people is regularly expressed at the ballot box and where the media competes freely in the marketplace of ideas.

Washington’s Hungarian media project is clearly meant to interfere in that country’s domestic political environment.

"Manipulation: The US State Department’s New Program to Take On Hungarian Media." By Daniel McAdams, Straight Line Logic, 11/12/17.

Union Cards

     I was thinking I might take today off from the blog. I had a strenuous day yesterday, topped off by disappointments and bad food. I told myself that I could use a respite and was preparing to enjoy some downtime.

     Then, courtesy of Victory Girls, I read this article:

     Rapists and sexual harassers deserve no sympathy and no due process. They deserve an eternity of suffering and torment, much like what their victims have to go through everyday.

     However, this is not about rapists or victims of rape, but rather, about how so called “sexual harassment” is being used to devalue the work of longtime civil right activists and pushers of progressive values . Hollywood is currently experiencing what is perhaps its most damning controversy yet, which has seen many (mostly liberal) men like Harvey Weinstein, Louis CK, Ben Affleck and Kevin Spacey accused of sexual assault by men and women, some of whom allege that the assault took place decades ago....

     Regardless of whether any of these men are guilty of the crimes they have been accused of or not, one thing is for sure – the ones who hold left wing values have earned the right to make at least one mistake in their lives.

     Now, the site from which the above was pulled has a “Trolls” category, and it is possible that this piece of filth was meant merely to enrage conservatives, rather than as the expression of a sincerely held opinion. However, as the Victory Girls’ piece sets forth, there are many on the Left who would agree with its sentiments:

     Just remember, to Whoopi Goldberg, Roman Polanski’s victimization of a kid wasn’t “rape rape.”

     Just remember, Hollywood starlets have for decades kissed up to Harvey Weinstein, and ensured he was isolated from criticism regarding his widely-known proclivity toward sexual predation.

     Just remember, Bill Clinton’s alleged sexual assaults of Juanita Broaddrick, Kathleen Willey, and Paula Jones, were ignored, and Billy boy wound up in the White House for two terms.

     Meanwhile, Bill Maher developed a convenient lapse in memory about l’affaire Clinton, when he recently claimed liberals “arrest” our alleged rapists but conservatives “elect them.”...

     Three accusers came out to accuse Bill Clinton of actual rape. Rape. And yet, he still was elected President twice.

     In our hyperpoliticized age, accusations of sexual misconduct and the responses to them aren’t about morality or decency. They’re about who’s a member of which union.

     When “the personal is political” – never forget that that’s been the Left’s mantra for decades — there is no such thing as purely personal conduct...or misconduct. Moreover, from the Left’s perspective political considerations will always have the highest priority. Is the alleged offender a conservative? Then the scandal must be amplified to the heavens, whether or not there’s substantiation for it; it could be the key to a Congressional majority. Is he a liberal? Then we must exonerate him at any cost, for we can’t afford to lose his services.

     Sexually related behavior is frequently the grist for the Left’s mill because “the flesh is weak.” Men prominent in politics, who are guaranteed to have larger egos and higher opinions of themselves than the rest of us Y-chromosome bearers, are unusually prone to sexual excesses. (Concerning women prominent in politics, the evidence is too scant for a reliable evaluation.) Thus it is easier, if not always easy in absolute terms, to unearth sexually suggestive behavior at the very least in the pasts of such men.

     As it happens, sexual sins are not uniformly distributed. You’ll find them far more often among the luminaries of the Left, for several reasons:

  • The Left’s total lack of moral standards;
  • The adulation it showers upon its public figures;
  • Its willingness to exculpate such persons for just about anything.

     It’s of a piece with the Left’s total endorsement of any and every sort of sexual aberration or perversion...that is, unless it can somehow be used against a conservative. But it does put them in the uncomfortable position of trying to rationalize away the conduct of persons such as Roman Polanski, Harvey Weinstein, and Bill Clinton. The effort is required of them, for how else could they continue to excoriate the few sinners on the Right accused of lesser sins?

     Remember Mark Foley?
     Remember Larry Craig?
     Remember Clarence Thomas’s confirmation hearings?
     Remember the smears of Fred Thompson for the heinous crime of marrying a younger woman?

     And of course there’s no need to “remember” the campaign to disparage Donald Trump. That’s fresh in the memory. Yet no single instance of actual misconduct by Trump was ever verified. He’s had three wives, two of whom he divorced. That’s not something I can approve, but he’s not a Catholic, and his moral pledges are not mine. While he was between wives, he apparently dated widely, as unmarried men are known to do, and often much younger women, as rich and powerful unmarried men are known to do. How great an offense is that? How does Trump’s record compare with Woody Allen’s three marriages, of which the most recent was to his stepdaughter Soon-yi Previn?

     The hypocrisy is too staggering for words.

     If we omit the arguments over sexual morality itself, this is a peripheral topic. It’s a resultant of our hyperpoliticized sociocultural milieu. The Left might soon find its ass in a crack over this. The evidence of its bad faith is growing too copious, and too well confirmed, to fan-dance it away.

     Compare the Left’s defenses of Leftist sexual predators with the Sturm und Drang over Vice-president Mike Pence’s policy of never being alone with a woman other than his wife. That’s the sort of self-protection a conservative politician must adopt today. But the Left attempted to turn it into a criticism of Pence.

     Pence doesn’t belong to the right union. Or perhaps it’s that he belongs to the Right union, whose members take sexual predation seriously. The secretions flow much more freely in the other tent.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Dining Out On A Sunday


     Sunday is a truly unfortunate day to go out to eat...and mid-day (2:30 - 4:00 PM) is the worst of all times. We tried three different restaurants today. The first one was serving "brunch" and didn't want to hear about anything else. The second one was so jammed that diners waiting for tables were playing War and Go Fish on the hoods of their cars. The third one let us in...and then served us food so tasteless it might as well have been library paste (Cf. Evelyn Waugh's "Decline and Fall").

     We last tried Sunday dinner out a few years ago, in the Berkshires. The first restaurant made us wait 45 minutes for a table we’d reserved that morning. The second one seated us...and then told us the kitchen had just been closed by the Department of Health. The third one brought us menus...and was never heard from again.

     We wound up at Burger King, at 11:30 PM. We raised a lot of eyebrows, pulling into the parking lot in a Mercedes S550. We raised even more by being dressed in our best: me in a charcoal suit and tie, my wife in her minks and diamonds. We waited 20 minutes for a completely pedestrian order – hamburgers, fries, and a shake each – and they got it wrong.

     There’s a moral in there. somewhere.

What Is A “Failed State?”

     You’ve heard the term applied to Libya, and perhaps one or two other places. But what does it mean?

     Chris Farrell of Judicial Watch has his own interpretation:

     There is a massive “leadership failure” in the United States Congress and in our government agencies according to Judicial Watch’s Chris Farrell. He is worried we are moving towards a “failed state” because of it. No one will step up in the face of unbelievable corruption, he says.

     Please read the whole thing, especially if your blood pressure is dangerously low and could use a jump-start. I shan’t argue against Farrell’s indictments of federal government corruption. The majority of them are plain as day. But does rampant corruption inside a government render the relevant nation a “failed state?”

     It’s worth more than a little thought.

     Corruption is pervasive inside many governments. The majority of Latin American nations, if their officials and lesser functionaries were to be denied the “privilege” of bribery, probably couldn’t function at all. Hernando de Soto could tell you all about it. Indeed, such practices are hardly confined to the Western Hemisphere.

     Yet Argentina, Brazil, Peru, and so forth are never described as failed states. Clearly, the term doesn’t apply to corrupt regimes simply because they’re corrupt. What, then, is the distinguishing characteristic?

     Is it a failure to enforce the law? But most nations have many, many laws that go unenforced. The United States of America is one such. Enforcement power is always insufficient to enforce all the laws on the books, because governments enact laws without regard for that consideration. The firearms laws of the U.S. provide an exceptionally compelling case.

     Is it some characteristic of the law itself – some quality that the laws of a failed state must possess (or lack) that’s not present in (or absent from) the laws of other nations? That’s too nebulous to explain why the term has been applied so sparely. The luxuriant proliferation of law in every nation on Earth would reveal the presence (or absence) of any proposed characteristic in at least some of the laws of each nation.

     Here’s an interesting case: Was South Vietnam, just before its conquest by North Vietnam, a failed state? It lacked the will, the power, or both to defend itself against the invasion, which is an important aspect of sovereignty. But at what point would that begin to matter? A number of smaller nations are probably just as ill-prepared to defend themselves against their neighbors, even if those neighbors haven’t troubled them yet.

     No, there’s something else involved...some other characteristic of a nation that qualifies it as a “failed state.” It’s about the nature of the state itself.

     The defining characteristic of a state is an organization that possesses the pre-immunized privilege of coercion over those within its scope. Note the qualifier pre-immunized. Many non-state organizations can and do use coercive methods to attain their objectives. However, they remain liable to pursuit and penalty under the law, whatever it might be, should the state decide to act against them. Only the agents of the state are granted immunity – i.e., the presumption of lawfulness – for specified uses of coercion.

     Many organizations seek to become immune to punishment for their coercions. That’s one aspect of the dynamic of corruption: such an organization – assuming it can’t or won’t simply overthrow the existing state and take its place – will attempt to acquire such immunity through bribery, blackmail, or exchange of favors.

     A state which can operate under the presumption of immunity for its deeds is a functioning one. Regardless of the laws it promulgates and whether or not it chooses to enforce them, it has not failed. It maintains its defining difference from the other organizations within its jurisdiction. Inversely, a state whose agents and other subunits are routinely punished for their actions by non-state actors is at the very least in danger of failure. A state some of whose subjects have mounted a credible insurrection against it is in the critical stage that precedes failure, though complete failure might yet be averted. Should the insurrection persist despite the state’s attempts to suppress it, the verdict would become definite.

     The failure of a state, like dying, is a process rather than a sharply bounded event. We seldom hear a state called failing, no matter how seriously events have endangered it. Only when the process has run to completion do we speak of that state as having failed.

     Note the difference between a country with a failed state and a country that is itself in a condition of failure. The two conditions are independent of one another. Venezuela, a failed country with an unpleasantly firm state, provides an excellent example.

     Libya is spoken of as a failed state because the government that asserted itself after the execution of Muammar Qaddafi could not maintain itself against the several Islamic insurrections that arose. The Benghazi atrocity was a clear indication that that government had no practical influence over events. Another state that displays clear indications of failure is that of Lebanon, which has been wracked by insurrections for so long that no one can remember when it was otherwise. The government over Syria, by contrast, appears to be winning against the insurrections mounted against it, though remnants of those movements may persist for some time further.

     The federal government of the U.S. is not a failed state by that criterion. At this time there is no force in existence that threatens the immunity of its agents from punishment. Ruby Ridge and Waco provide clear demonstrations, regardless of our opinion of what happened in those two incidents.

     The unwillingness of high federal officials and agencies of justice to act against blatant criminality does provide reason for a judgment of corruption. What’s lacking is any indication that those officials and agencies will suffer for their nonfeasance. Were that the case, the question would then become: Will the rest of the federal government treat the responsible officials and agencies as liable and punishable? An answer of yes would be most gratifying, but even a clear no would not mark the federal government as a failed state. As I noted above, corruption of that sort is known in many other nations, none of whose governments we would call “failed states.”

     Missing from all this logic-chopping and word-mincing is any consideration of whether it’s more desirable to have a failed state or a functioning one. It’s a fascinating subject, as it requires us to weigh the value of legal and governmental stability against the importance of punishment for “official” misdeeds and acts of tyranny. However, I prefer to leave that question to the side of me that writes fiction.