Sunday, September 23, 2018

When Is Charity Merely Self-Congratulatory Posturing?

When its purpose is more to provide a 'good' experience for the well-to-do, than to assist the poor.

Despite the title, it's not just White Girls that are useless, it's pretty much ALL the school-age kids - AND their chaperones.

If they wanted to send kids abroad who have some skills and work ethic, they could do worse than hit up the rural and mountainous regions to do so. In those places, either their parents have taught them useful skills, or they've got a vo-ed program in school. For example, the school I was working for the last years before retirement had a terrific Work Prep program. Among the skills learned:

  • Welding
  • Construction
  • Carpentry
  • Cosmetology
  • Home Health Care/Nursing Assistant
  • Commercial Cooking/Dietary Aide
Useful things, primarily. The kids took their studies seriously. During the time I was there, ALL the students in the Cosmetology program got their licensing on the first try (not an easy test, BTW - SC women take their beauty SERIOUSLY).

We could do that in our own country, as well. Rather than send kids who are not trained to assist to flooded parts of the country, have them fund-raise to help someone else. Save the do-gooder help for projects closer to home. Our cities and rural communities have LOTS of problems, and opportunities for kids to help. It might knock some of that "White Privilege" stuff out of them if they actually worked with some down & out pale-skinned people.

Maybe they would start seeing CLASS as the dividing point between privilege and non-privilege.

"Yablochko". Igor Moiseyev Ballet.

Pass the eye bleach, please.

Git down, momma!

H/t: Postcards from Paris.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Post Partum Tristum

     If you’re a creator – and that term applies not just to the arts and humanities, but to any field where considerations of grace and elegance apply – you probably know the unique variety of sadness that comes from confronting a piece of your work and saying: “It’s finished. There’s nothing more for me to do to it.”

     I’ve just finished the first draft of Experienced, about which my regular Gentle Readers have heard sporadically for some time. I’ve backed it up on removable media and put a copy in my fireproof safe. I’ve emailed it to my “alpha reader.” I’ve notified the artist who did my last three covers that it’s time to think about a cover for the thing. I’ve straightened up my working spaces and put all my notes in order. In short, I’m finished...and the realization has left me feeling as if I have no reason to live.

     It will pass, of course. Experienced is Novel #14, so I’ve been here before. I managed to claw my way out of all those post-creative pits of despair, so I’ll probably manage it this time as well. But I don’t think I’ll ever get used to it. I know I’ll never be able to “prepare” for it. It’s different each time.

     I’m told that women who’ve just given birth feel something like this. It stands to reason.

     When a creator gives himself wholly, for a time, to some creation, he cannot detach it from him without a wound. Such a wound is never fatal; in time it will scar over and heal. But the sense of emptiness as one allows one’s creation to part from him and face the world beyond him is still a difficult thing to bear. For a little while, life loses some of its luster. It can be sharpened by the fear that one’s work is permanently done – that there might be no more creations ahead. And of course, at some point that will be the case.

     I think I have a few more stories to tell. There’s one that’s been nagging at me from my hindbrain for twenty years, but which I’ve never successfully fleshed out. There’s another that seems absolutely smashing, but up to now I’ve had no luck coming up with a cast of characters for it. There’s no point thinking about them when I’m this tapped out emotionally. Indeed, the attempt makes the post-creative sadness worse.

     Never fear, this isn’t some sort of cry for help. I’ll be fine in a couple of days. But to those who’ve occasionally expressed a wish to become a novelist / artist / sculptor / composer / what have you, it should serve as a caution. This is part of the price of creative activity. It cannot be removed from the package. It can only be endured.

     To all my Gentle Readers: Thank you for bearing with me these last few weeks. Things should improve shortly. And now it’s 3:00 PM, which we call Snort Time here at the Fortress of Crankitude, and I can hear an unopened bottle of Harvey’s calling my name ever so sweetly. You might want to consider doing likewise. Have a nice weekend.

All my best,
Fran

Romper Room out of control.

I'm not an expert but I bet the Russian assessment on the US and their allies is that they're dealing with erratic, dishonest and dangerous basket cases.[1]
Exhibit A: Mike (we dictate, you obey) Pompeo, Hillary (“We came. We saw. He died.”) Clinton, Mike (kill more Russians) Morell, Nikki (U.S. go it alone) Haley, and Victoria (“Fuck the E.U.’) Nuland.

Notes
[1] Comment by Chunga on “Putin Keeps Cool And Averts WWIII As Israeli-French Gamble In Syria Backfires Spectacularly" By Robert Bridge, ZeroHedge, 9/22/18.

This Wins The Internet For Today

     “...the collapse of society starts with open mic poetry nights.”

     Bravo, Sarah!

Why I didn’t choose a career as an investment adviser.

Headline:
Euphoria Grips Markets As Traders Brace For Quad Witching, Huge Index Rebalance
By Tyler Durden, ZeroHedge, 9/21/18.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Get On Gab And Help To Defend It!

     A Gab user has just captured the following on Twitter:

     How much do you value freedom of expression in the digital domain?

More on Secular Meditation

Dangers of New Age and other Creeping Practices. And, I mean Creeping, not as a commentary on the creepiness of that doctrine, but on the way they 'creep' into supposedly secular institutions, such as schools, government offices, and businesses.

Among the Other-than-Catholic practices being promoted:

  • Labyrinth - this is actually Pre-Greek. The legend is from the Minoan times, but "there is little evidence to suggest that such a labyrinth ever existed on the island of Crete. Whether imaginary or real, the labyrinth in the Hellenic world was a negative symbol, associated with fear and an overwhelming sense of evil."
  • Some medieval labyrinths - keep in mind that, during this time, Christianity in the West was borrowing art styles from many other parts of the world, including the East - India, China, etc.
  • Centering Prayer - this was developed in its current form at a Trappist monastery, where the abbot and his monks had been in contact with both Buddhist and Hindu teachers/monks. BTW, the link takes you to an anti-Catholic Fundamentalist site - but, the information about the practice's origins is correct. Here is a Catholic source for the same. Keep in mind the time period of the Centering Prayer's initial introduction - the 1970's - when Transcendental Meditation was all the rage.
A nice explanation of how Christian meditation differs from that which is being hyped today.


Call Them What They Are Cont’d

     Institutions, like individuals, have priorities. At this time the overriding priority of the legacy media is to defame the Trump Administration:

     The New York Times recently ended up being shamed into adding a correction to their story about a State Department expenditure for curtains that was clearly intended to give readers the impression that the purchase decision made by Nikki Haley and the Trump administration instead of the Obama administration.

     On Fox News Thursday evening, Haley said the Times had all the facts but decided to put an anti-Trump admin spin on it anyway, which ended up just adding another item to the mountain of “fake news” examples...

     This would not have been believed sixty years ago. The Gray Lady of the Fourth Estate knowingly propagated a falsehood? Unthinkable! Yet numerous similar cases can be produced by anyone who still tests his patience by reading the legacy media. But if it’s so swiftly and easily found out, why do they do it?

     The only conceivable answer lies in the priorities of the institution. One desideratum overrides all others: degrade the public’s perception of the Trump Administration. But how did the New York Times, once regarded as the world’s most reliable news source, acquire that as its top priority?

     The answer is easily arrived at, albeit massively unpleasant. The paper, like most of the rest of the “journalism” industry, was infiltrated and corrupted by Leftists – and to a Leftist, there is nothing more important than his political agenda. It’s entirely consistent with the fabled Gramscian “long march through the institutions,” which has corrupted education and entertainment with equal success.

     I’ve written about this dynamic many times. Here’s a fairly recent example. What baffles many is how individuals’ priorities become institutional priorities, when the substitution is nearly always unfavorable to the institution’s financial health and its original agenda.

     But an institution is nothing more than the people who populate it: its workers, supervisors, and higher management. If persons who promote politics over profitability can be brought in to replace workers who depart, the institution can be infiltrated and colonized. If those persons then relentlessly advocate the hiring of more like them and work to ensure that “undesirables” are marginalized, the institution can be conquered in its entirety. It’s why Robert Conquest’s Second Law of Politics functions so reliably.

     Of course, a Left-conquered institution will no longer function acceptably in the eyes of those who originally patronized it. It will usually require a sugar daddy, or governmental protection, or both, for market forces are inexorable. The New York Times has a sugar daddy: Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim. Owing to the First Amendment, it’s harder to see how the Times could acquire legal privileges, but the way things are trending for freedom of expression, it would be unwise to imagine that that state of affairs will never change.

     For the above reasons, the entirety of the legacy media is operating in failure mode. All its major organs (and many of its lesser ones) have been targeted, infiltrated, colonized, and conquered by left-wing ideologues with no real interest in reporting the facts. Those organs disseminate falsehoods and propaganda labeled “news.” Every one of them has lost the greater part of its credibility. Every one of them is losing “eyeballs.” Yet every one of them is vehement about its dignity, its “journalistic ethics,” and its reliability as a trustworthy source of information.

     What was that saying about protesting too much?

Thursday, September 20, 2018

What If?

     What if, in 2015:

  • Hillary told the Democratic National Committee she “had something” on them?
  • And she threatened to expose them if they didn’t get her the presidential nomination?
  • And they knew she would lose, but until she got the nod she’d be a millstone around their necks?
  • So they jimmied the nominating process to ensure her victory?
  • And then they watched with satisfaction as her campaign crashed and burned?
  • And now they’re somewhat disgusted, because she still won’t go away?
  • And now they’re considering “stronger measures” (hey, the Clintons didn’t shy back from them)?
  • And the DNC has just bought majority control of Hillary’s favorite Chardonnay vendor?

     Yes...what if?

     (Memo to me: Hat is wearing out. Must buy more tinfoil.)

Insight From A Thriller Writer

     “University politics is very odd. You get a lot of people gathered together who, if they couldn’t do this, really couldn’t do anything. They are given to think that they are both intelligent and important because they have Ph.D.s and most people don’t. Often, though not always, the Ph.D. does indicate mastery over a given subject. But that’s all it indicates, and, unfortunately, many people with Ph.D.s think it covers a wider area than it does. They think it empowers their superior insight into government and foreign policy and race relations and such. In addition, these people are put into an environment where daily, they judge themselves against a standard set by eighteen or twenty-year-old kids who know little if anything about the subject matter on which their professors are expert.”
     “Makes it hard not to take yourself very seriously,” I said.
     “Hard, not impossible,” he said. “More of them ought to be able to do it.”
     “But they can’t?”
     “But they don’t.”

     [Robert B. Parker, Hush Money, 1999]

Citizens Need Recourse Against Those Depriving Them of Their Rights

As it stands, unless a government employee is convicted of a felony against a citizen, the citizen may well be unable to get compensation for his injuries.

In the case of a cop who has exceeded his authority, as some have done with warrantless home invasions, the dead victim is out of luck. Just another death by cop.

Now, most cops are decent guys. They work within the law. They do no use their guns without a reasonable cause - like being fired upon.

The few who do are too often in those units that treat the average citizen as a likely perp. These would, often, be the drug units. I'm generally skeptical of legalization, as my former profession as a teacher leads me to be suspicious that the outcome would result in massive increase in drugs in schools.

However, one beneficial outcome of the end of the drug war would be disbanding these units, and likely reducing the number of shooting incidents.

So, how would that change work?

Cops would have to get insurance that pays the victims of an unjustified shooting. Those cops that have a higher number of incidents would be rated to pay more. It's a use of market forces to rein in those cowboy cops.

Many professionals already do this - dentists, teachers, doctors, attorneys. With the union and county-wide or state-wide government entities working to get group coverage, the cost shouldn't be prohibitive.

Method, Not Madness

     Kurt Schlichter lays it out for you:

     Character assassination is the Left’s sole remaining weapon. It shows through whenever they accuse someone of an “ism.” It shows through in the accusations of miscellaneous venalities against President Donald Trump. And it shows through when the Left’s hold on its fallback bastion, the Supreme Court, is endangered, most clearly of all.

     But, in our nation, the fine (albeit unholy) art of character assassination requires that the charges be too nebulous to refute. That’s the case with the allegations made by Christine Blasey Ford and brought forward by Dianne Feinstein. Plainly, the demand from the Democrats for an FBI investigation is a smokescreen, for how could any investigative agency determine whether an alleged assault of indefinite time, place, and participants actually occurred?

     Draw the moral. Remember that success breeds emulation. Don’t just not let them get away with it; punish it as severely as possible at the ballot box this November.

The Very Definition of Chutzpah

The Democratic-leadership has stepped into what is an Executive function , and decided that THEY have the right to order around the Dept. of Justice.

There are several things that struck me about the letter - first, the neither the President nor his attorneys have been given access to the information available to select members of Congress, absent an indictment.

So, we have the explanation of why this 'investigation' has dragged on so long, without charging the President. They did this as a way of keeping him from accessing information about improprieties in the Dept. of Justice.

They became emboldened by the ability to conduct their plot without fearing that their machinations would be exposed. That, coupled by the truly juvenile over-emotional texting of several of the participants, has put them in a very bad way. And, remember - we have seen some of the plot released, with 'bad optics'. The Leftists have batted away the clear meaning of the texts and emails.

Just how bad do the non-released parts have to be to get this level of panic started?

If the communications of the plotters is released, there is no way to pretend that this was a fair process. Their only hope, a Hail Mary play, is to stop this release of the truth. That's why they sought to bring in the accuser - they were hoping to block a non-Leftist justice from being seated. The Supreme Court may be needed, to settle this. Between the Leftist Justices, and those whom they can - uh - PERSUADE to see things their way - they plan to keep in power.

Furthermore, the 'investigators' would be specifically that department that has been SHOWN to be filled with partisan, biased people. The fact that the Dems feel comfortable with the FBI handling this, is more reason to keep their hands off this entirely. They wouldn't call for the FBI to investigate if they didn't believe that they could control them.

Instead, this all happens before the election. When it seems that they might actually lose seats, not gain them. I just don't see the Socialists getting the votes from the average man/woman, even if Democrat.

Here's a link to one who sees the connection to history in this well-deserved smackdown.

An Oldie, but a Goodie

Found a reference to this on House of Eratosphenes. I'd heard many of these, but not in one place before.

Back in the Old Days, in school, I remember a math teacher (new, and not very good, but...) who taught about classical logic syllogism. For example,

All dogs are mammals,
Spot is a dog,
Therefore, Spot is a mammal.

It's pretty simple. I do remember one or two students who didn't get it. Just couldn't grasp the format of the steps. They would construct things like this:

All women have boobs.
Caitlyn has boobs.
Therefore, Caitlyn is a woman.

The distinction between the first and the second is lost on these people. It would seem to be a foolproof test for Progressives.

No Progressive can understand logic.
Diane Feinstein is a Progressive.
Therefore, DiFi cannot understand logic.

Yep. It does seem to work.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Mindful? More Like Mind-Empty

I've meditated just about all my life. As a Catholic, I learned about ways to enter a deeply restful, soul-enhancing state, that impacted my daily life afterwards.

It's called prayer. It can involve reading and meditation on what you have read, both spontaneous and structured prayers, using artifacts, such as candles, scent, or rosaries, and can be solitary or involving a larger group (such as in retreats).

This, apparently, is not anything like those practices. It's being used in many schools, at taxpayer expense.

Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn is a professor of molecular biology at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. He founded the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society in 1995. Previously, in 1979, he founded the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Clinic. He sold rather pricey CDs and other resources at the link to the Center.

He studied with Buddhist teachers, and founded the Cambridge Zen Center. He is a practioner of yoga. Although his theory on Mindfulness was based on his Buddhist studies,
He removed the Buddhist framework and any connection between mindfulness and Buddhism, instead putting MBSR in a scientific context.
 His Wikipedia has this eye-opening information:
Kabat-Zinn is married to Myla Zinn, the daughter of Roslyn and Howard Zinn
 Here's a transcript of an interview with Anderson Cooper.

One big attraction, for the secular-minded, is that Mindfulness is often called Buddhism, without the Buddha. By divorcing the practice from the religion, adherents hope to be able to bring it into schools, businesses, and other corporate entities, without triggering complaints about church-state interference. And, that is a downside, for Buddhists.

It's a common quest for the Modern Age - to find peace and harmony in one's life, without all that icky religion-y stuff. Like the Buddhists, Hindus also disparage the de-linking of the practices of their faith from the religion. Many have tried to de-God yoga, but, to Hindus, this misses the point of the practice. You do not copy the movements to reach spiritual bliss - you do it to reach out to your deity (whether singular or plural).

Some have pointed out the irony of using a practice embedded in religion to further secular aims.
this snack-sized approach won’t sort people out, it will only ever be a sticking plaster if the root cause of the stress isn’t being addressed. Twenty minutes of inhaling in a boardroom is pointless if a lawyer is going back out on the floor to complete a 16-hour day, endlessly interrupted by emails. It also jars that an essentially peaceful practice is being used to help train soldiers to kill with greater precision, as well as cope with debilitating PTSD at the other end of combat. What would Buddha say?
More importantly, for most Americans, what would Jesus say?

If you want to start meditation, you can start small - a 3-Minute Retreat daily.  You can work up to praying the Liturgy of the Hours.

Some thoughts about, and some links to, Catholic Meditation.

An app I've used for some time is Laudate, which I have loaded on my IPhone. It's especially nice, as I can carry it around everywhere, without adding weight to my totebag. I've used other apps, but keep coming back to this.



Call Them What They Are

     The “legacy media.” The organs that were once the only conduits through which “news” reached the general public. The institutions that viewed the pictures, decided which ones we should be shown, and consigned the rest to the ever-so-aptly named “morgue.” The gaggles of reporters, editors, and publishers who exercised the Olympian privilege of deciding what We the People “need to know,” and made sure we were deluged with it.

     They liked that perch. They particularly liked that no one could take it from them, owing to the high cost of operation and a shield for broadcast-media privilege called the Federal Communications Commission. Barriers to entry are nice that way, especially when buttressed by ample propaganda.

     The Left saw the value in the privilege of unchallenged one-way communications, so they infiltrated the news oligopoly and worked to ensure that only “their sort” were thereafter admitted to its halls. And like the Fabians, “their sort” moved slowly but steadily, taking ground a little at a time and never surrendering an inch. Neanderthals like Rowland Evans and Robert Novak were eased out; persistent voices such as Jack Kilpatrick were sidelined into farcical “features” where they would be outshouted by a strident, graceless Leftist.

     It was a good gig. It allowed the Left to tell the public what we “ought” to be told. Even more important, it allowed the Left to keep us from hearing “dangerous” ideas and voices that crosscut what they, in their unquestioned judgment, deemed “news.” And it worked very well for them, until the rise of the alternative media made possible by cablecasting, digital communications, and the partial deregulation of radio breached their protective wall.

     The new media’s stories came from reporters the Left could not disqualify. Its content went to the consumer completely unfiltered. The legacy media oligopoly could no longer rule on who could say what to whom, or with what substantiation. It could not pick and choose among stories or sources. Things got out of hand...that is, out of the Left’s hands. Something had to be done, but what?

     The answer they arrived at was to prattle about “reliability” and “journalistic ethics.” The legacy media operates by a code, you see. Its reporters are schooled in a tradition of sacred responsibility to the public. Its mechanisms ensure that only carefully verified facts are reported to the public. Layers and layers of fact-checkers and editors, all supremely protective of their publication’s good name and vigilant against anything that might tarnish it.

     I think all the chrome has been rubbed off that old jalopy, don’t you, Gentle Reader?


     Apologies for the above. I had a lot of sarcasm built up and ready to spill over, so I chose this subject as a fitting receptacle. I’ve become very impatient with folks who say “Believe it because I’m telling you so, and ignore anyone who disagrees.” Or in the Firesign Theater’s formulation:

You can trust me,
Because I never lie,
And I’m always right.

     That’s the line the legacy media have been feeding us since their mid-Sixties campaign against “Pay TV” – i.e., cablecasting. And if I refuse to accept it from the Supreme Pontiff of the Catholic Church, I’ll be damned if I’ll take it from a self-nominated flock of ideologues bitter about the emergence of competition.

     Monopolies and cartels of information dissemination are infinitely more dangerous than monopolies in other sorts of commerce. When such institutions preen themselves about their “ethics,” a smart American puts one hand on his wallet and the other on his gun. Especially when its agenda becomes impossible to conceal:

     But “fake news” is tame in light of the media’s misleading, destructive, and willfully ignorant reporting last week that was intended further to inflame a divided body politic.

     Some of the lowlights featured MSNBC morning host Joe Scarborough, claiming Trump has done more damage to the country than the 9/11 terrorists; the editorial board of a major newspaper blaming Trump for Hurricane Florence; the wholesale acceptance of a highly flawed paper about hurricane deaths used to bash the president; and a despicable crusade not just to quash Brett Kavanaugh’s appointment to the Supreme Court, but to destroy his reputation and damage his young family.

     And it wasn’t just the dependable lunatics on the Left pushing trash commentary. Bret Stephens, the NeverTrump “conservative” columnist for the New York Times, compared Trump to a drug addict. Washington Post “conservative” blogger Jennifer Rubin warned that if Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) voted to confirm Kavanaugh, their names would be, “as was the case with [Nazi-era traitor] Vidkun Quisling—synonymous with ‘sellouts,’ ‘collaborators,’ or, to use a Trumpism, ‘phonies.’”

     As the week came to a close, the New York Times was forced to append its misleading article that criticized U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley for buying pricey curtains to decorate her official residence. The window coverings, it turns out, actually were purchased by her predecessor in the Obama Administration. But it was too late. Social media had pounded Haley all morning for being extravagant and heartless.

     Disgraceful.

     This is why Americans, in a recent poll, cited inaccuracy and bias as the key reasons why they no longer trust the media.

     Indeed.


     We are fortunate to live in a time when a news oligopoly, at least, is no longer sustainable. But there are other protected bastions of information dissemination at work. There’s one in your neighborhood. It gets a hefty share of your tax payments and over a thousand hours per year to indoctrinate your minor children, and it makes full use of both.

     Isn’t it about time we put an end to this crap? And I don’t mean cutting it back or limiting its “mandate.” That’s like excising half of a malignant tumor and leaving the rest in place.

     Outside of government, the Left has made almost all its gains through the exploitation of three institutions: the legacy media, the “public” schools, and the entertainment industry. All three have fought like wounded tigers to prevent the emergence of competition. But only one who knows himself to be vulnerable is unhappy about competition. Smart businessmen know that the competition is the greater part of what keeps them honest.

     Honesty! What a concept!

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

You Don't Know What You've Got 'Til It's Gone

Recognize the lyrics?


Day 4 without Internet. I’m composing this offline, and will be posting later today – whether on a restored home Internet (I hope!), or by using local wifi resources (the always available Micky D’s, library, coffee shop, or other location). Honestly, what DID we do before access became so ubiquitous?
I’m using my offline time productively. I’ll be cleaning house today, in prep for a visit from the Internet tech. I’ve been sidelined, again, with some respiratory issues, so have been slacking off.
I’ve also been reading Sharyl Attkinson’s new book The Smear: How Shady Political Operatives and Fake News Control What You See, What You Think, and How You Vote. Too-long title, but a detailed and riveting book. If you’re not up on the details of how your media feed is manipulated, you need to read this.
Quote from the book:
Pay attention to those stark moments of cognitive dissonance. That’s when a theme, meme, or supposed majority opinion is entirely at odds with what you believe to be true.
Just talked to Internet Tech Support at my provider – I have an appointment this morning. YAY!
7:50 am – am eagerly awaiting the anticipated arrival of the repairman.
9:38 am – Wahoo!!!! I’m back online.
Apparently, when the pole for the electricity was replaced, they didn’t put back the internet stuff. So, it didn’t work.
Now I can do all of the things I've been putting off - financial, mail, etc.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Balm For Troubled Souls

     Just enjoy.

     God bless you, Will. Wherever you are, I hope you're well and happy.

How I Got Where I Am - Update

A non-conforming, semi-professional iconoclast.

It took a long time. Most of my life, I desperately wanted to fit in. I was from a working-class family, with a Catholic stay-at-home mom, and a high school dropout (about 2 months of 9th grade) Fundamentalist-raised father.

What we then called a mixed marriage.

So, I often got the feeling that I was different - which, I was. Never quite fitting into a single culture.

In school, unlike most of the kids of my social class, I was a quick learner. For the first few years, I worked hard, and excelled. By fourth grade, my grades were mostly average. I'd learned to back off to fit in.

Despite my efforts, the school found out my potential. I first caught attention of the administration when I wrote a book report that got passed around among the teachers. It was over 6 hand-written pages of a re-telling of a funny incident in the book.

Then, the Iowa scores came in, and I'd scored in the 99th percentile in all areas. My cover was blown.

The next year, I got taken away from my friends, and put with the kids in the highest track. I REALLY didn't fit in with an upper-class crowd. It was a difficult year.

For the next 6 years, I bounced between the Regular and Accelerated tracks. In both, I'd generally under-perform, spending most of my days goofing around, cutting class, and reading - a lot.

I had no particular goals. I knew college was expensive (my father had dropped out after a few years, due to financial difficulties), so I never planned on attending. I was never told that the PSAT was the test that provided access to scholarship opportunities, so I didn't take it - I didn't have the money for the fees.

My guidance counselor was elderly and frankly incompetent (she later miscalculated my accumulated credits, so I ended up 1/8 of a credit short of graduation - had to attend summer school, and missed the big ceremony). By that chance, I avoided going to college with many of my classmates, until, years later, I enrolled in a community college.

In some respects, this was a good thing. By the time I was in college, I had little time for protests and blathering, and focused on graduation.

After school, I again followed the crowd. They voted Democratic, so my first presidential vote was for McGovern.

And, I waited up until 2 am, waiting for the tide to turn in his favor. Boy, was I an optimist!

I continued on that path through the Nixon years, Watergate, Carter (I voted for Anderson), and Reagan/Bush I years. Always, always, believing in the party line.

I first began having some small doubts during the Clinton

UPDATE: I did NOT mean to end on a cliffhanger - it's just that I was busy with storm prep, and, after losing power, could not access any internet.

Quite a refreshing break, actually. We completely lost electrical power for almost a day (fortunately, we have a generator).

I'm partially back (still no home internet), but will finish this over the next few days.

Meandering Through Monday

     A lot of people do, you know. Why should the Curmudgeon Emeritus to the World Wide Web be left out?


1. #YeahSuuure

     They tried it with Clarence Thomas. It almost worked. As it happened, Justice Thomas was too determined to defend himself and his good name, and he prevailed. Afterward, they attempted to keep Thomas on the plantation by harping on the Anita Hill accusations, as if they’d gained credibility. That didn’t work either. But their memory of how close they came to a successful “borking” of Thomas has remained bright.

     It should come as no surprise, given the Left’s high priority on controlling the federal courts, that they’d try again with Brett Kavanaugh, especially once their disruption tactics had failed them. But the accusation lodged by Christine Blasey Ford – alleging an assault 35 years in the past and never before brought to the attention of any authority! – is being laughed aside by a public that’s become used to these eleventh hour torpedo launches against conservative judicial nominees.

     In part it’s a problem of timing. Had Ford’s accusation been brought to the light six months ago, before the Asia Argento business, it might have gotten more traction. But the #MeToo nonsense has already “jumped the shark,” in the process exposing the motives of its promoters for what they truly are. The process has swung the public-opinion pendulum against such long-delayed, evidence-free allegations of sexual misconduct.

     Successful poker players know what it means to overplay a hand, and what it can cost. It’s an old bit of wisdom among them that the hand you least want is the second-best one at the table. What the Left has in the Blasey Ford accusation isn’t even that good. But the hysteria among Leftists at the thought of losing their fingernail grip on the Supreme Court, for decades the most reliable defense of their many unConstitutional initiatives and demands, has overwhelmed the good sense of their tacticians. Hallelujah!


2. Left Coast Shenanigans

     Kurt Schlichter is always worth one’s time, but today he’s both hotter and funnier than usual:

     Enter the search term “San Francisco feces map” into Google and it comes back with 1,040,000 results. Yeah, it’s a thing. San Francisco was always grungy – back in the 1980s, I believe it was comic Bobby Slayton who called it “the city that makes its own gravy” – but it has gone from merely unwashed to actively unflushed.

     Sure, it’s funny to the rest of us, in a horrifying and disgusting kind of way, just like the fact that the socialist geniuses in Venezuela are forcing the famished locals to gnaw on its zoo’s zebras and gnus for sustenance. You look at these examples of leftism in action and you have to laugh, but what’s not funny is that this is not some sort of aberration. This is the future our liberal elite wants for us, and it’s doing everything it can to make it a reeking reality.

     You see, they could stop this nonsense any time. No one has to live with derelicts choking grumpies in public places. Most places don’t have this problem – yet. Hell, public sanitation was one of the great leaps forward that took the world out of the Dark Ages. It’s not hard to stop. You just don’t tolerate it. Drop a deuce, do a month in jail.

     Simple. You just have to want to stop it, but our liberal overlords don’t want to stop it. They want this.

     It’s awfully hard to refute that statement. California in particular demonstrates how the Left actively encourages the proliferation and amplification of social pathologies, to induce submission from those under its rule. Trouble is, the tactic only works when the pathology is relatively new and still in the “treatable” zone: i.e., when “the neighborhood” has gone from almost entirely clean and civilized to “fouled:” i.e., blighted here and there to a noticeable degree that falls well short of total ruination. Under those conditions, the Left’s media handmaidens can persuade the public to accept a governmental remedial measure that promises to undue the damage at a modest cost.

     But as with the Kavanaugh / Blasey Ford business, the Left has lost its tactical judgment and gone over the edge. San Francisco hasn’t been “fouled;” it’s been destroyed, with the active encouragement of its municipal government. California as a whole is near to being destroyed by the combination of the illegal alien tide, the surrender of its justice system, insane “environmental” laws, and taxes that approach confiscatory levels. The state’s once vibrant middle class is steadily packing up and moving out. What remains are criminals, illegal aliens, the poor, and the very wealthy, who can afford to live in walled enclaves resistant to the crime and filth outside.

     I’ve written before about the “hacienda on the hill.” California is acting it out. San Francisco is the premiere for the future of California – and for the nation, should the Left ever again regain control in Washington.


The “Steady State”

     Angelo Codevilla is one of the few prominent commentators to have systematically and persistently addressed the existence, intentions, and methods of the American political class. Today, in reaction to the recent, anonymous (and infamous) “steady state” column in the New York Times, he zooms in on that egregious eruption:

     Truly revolutionary, as well as false, is the claim that officials who oppose the choice the voters made at the ballot box by acting under a false flag of loyalty thereby bring any sort of stability to American public life. For better or worse, the American people elected a president of the United States according to the Constitution. On their behalf, he acts. To them alone is he responsible, by well-defined constitutional instruments. To acquiesce in that claim is to abet a revolution.

     Who appointed anyone as the guardians of the “steady state?” Among many notions of steadiness, whose do they guard? To whom are they responsible? Since they take care that none but their friends should know what influence they are having on what actions of government, on whom shall Americans displeased with those actions vent their displeasure? And how shall ordinary people vent their displeasure with a “steadiness” of which they disapprove? Pitchforks?

     In short, who rules here? To whom does America belong?

     I’ll wait here while you read the whole thing. Because the matter deserves a deeper look.

     Despite innumerable claims to the contrary, the United States is not a democracy. It’s a Constitutional federated republic. If you’re sixty or older, there’s a chance you learned that in school. If you’re younger, the odds are against you – and the younger you are, the larger those odds will be.

     The Constitutional structure of the Republic was intended to dampen certain kinds of political fluctuations: specifically, the sort brought on by “factions,” in Madison’s term, that seek to ride roughshod over individuals’ rights. Indeed, the entire point of a Supreme Law that’s difficult to amend is to prevent rapid, destabilizing changes. Our Supreme Law was written to confine the federal government to a narrowly defined set of activities, and to prohibit lower governments from undertaking other intrusions into individuals’ liberty to live and work as they please.

     Now, that compact has largely failed of its purpose. Pliable federal judges willing to “reinterpret” the Supreme Law, finding “penumbras” and “emanations” that contradict the intent of its Framers and the plain meanings of its words, have robbed its barriers of their solidity. Nevertheless, that was its purpose: as a stabilization measure against the surges in popular passions and the ambitions of political actors willing to pander to them.

     Once certain conditions are in place, stability in the law is a good thing. The election to the presidency of an aspiring dictator who intends to set the Constitution aside and rule by decree would be a very bad thing. And note that that is the very core of the Left’s more sober objections to the presidency of Donald Trump. They claim that he intends to rule through personal ukase rather than through the existing, Constitutional federal mechanisms. It’s their way of justifying the Deep State, by implying that only the immense, unelected federal bureaucracies can withstand his supposedly dictatorial intentions: i.e., by ignoring him or defying him outright.

     It’s a blatant falsehood of several parts. President Trump has been working to undo the damage done to the Constitutional order by the Deep State...and by the Left’s foremost operator in recent years, Barack Hussein Obama, to whose tune the Deep State was more than willing to dance. Note how, in a stunning departure from the decorum practiced by past presidents over the two centuries behind us, Obama has eagerly taken to the podium to denounce his Oval Office successor for exactly that.

     So Codevilla’s emphasis on the populist thesis is somewhat misconceived. Were Trump and his Administration what the Left has claimed – i.e., a threat to individual rights and civil order – no degree of popular approval would justify him. However, the actual state of affairs is precisely the opposite.

     Let The Curmudgeon’s Carbohydrate Aphorism apply:

Keep thine eye fixed upon the doughnut, lest thou pass unaware through the hole.

     And have a nice day.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Faith And The Familiar: A Sunday Rumination

     Regular attendance at Mass confers a number of benefits on the communicant. Yes, the Church says it’s obligatory to be there on Sunday (or Saturday night, in many parishes), but even were that not the case, I’d still be in “my pew” at 7:30 AM on Sunday morning, at least as long as I’m physically able to get there. I wouldn’t want to go without what it does for both the mind and the spirit.

     Part of what it does is to put me in the same general locale as a lot of familiar faces. In an era when so many developments are prying Americans away from traditional society – “traditional,” in this case, meaning “in the flesh” — that’s a benison that ought not to be dismissed.

     I probably feel this more strongly than most Christians, both because I prefer my own company, and because the work I do has a tendency to isolate me. But I could be wrong about that. There’s evidence to that effect in the church parking lot.

     I seldom get into my car to head home without being buttonholed by another parishioner for a quick conversation. Mass attendees at my parish don’t just run to their cars and race to get home; they mill about exchanging greetings and how-are-yous with one another. The parking lot dribbles empty far more slowly than a non-communicant might guess. This morning it’s given me to reflect on the particular value of the company of others who share one’s convictions.

     Churches aren’t the only manifestation of this effect, of course. Political societies, special-interest clubs, sewing circles, and many other reasons for persons to associate share it, with varying degrees of power. And on balance it appears, at least from my perspective, to be a good thing, especially given the socially atomizing effects of so many other modern trends.

     In his early, wildly popular book Games People Play, Dr. Eric Berne notes the importance to the human animal of “strokes:” broadly, acknowledgement of and acceptance by others as one tends his own affairs. His explanation of this need is particularly striking:

     On that biological side, it is probable that emotional and sensory deprivation tends to bring about or encourage organic changes. If the reticular activating system of the brain stem is not sufficiently stimulated, degenerative changes in the nerve cells may follow, at least indirectly. This may be a secondary effect due to poor nutrition, but the poor nutrition itself may be a product of apathy, as in infants suffering from marasmus. Hence a biological chain may be postulated leading from emotional and sensory deprivation through apathy to degenerative changes and death....What has been said so far may be summarized by the "colloquialism:" "If you are not stroked, your spinal cord will shrivel up." Hence, after the period of close intimacy with the mother is over, the individual for the rest of his life is confronted with a dilemma upon whose horns his destiny and survival are continually being tossed. One born is the social, psychological and biological forces which stand in the way of continued physical intimacy in the infant style; the other is his perpetual striving for its attainment. Under most conditions he will compromise. He learns to do with more subtle, even symbolic, forms of handling, until the merest nod of recognition may serve the purpose to some extent, although his original craving for physical contact may remain unabated.

     This seems unimpeachable. And participation in a faith-based gathering helps to satisfy the need. But of course, there’s more than that going on.


     Most Americans are aware that the traditional nuclear family has fallen on hard times. Few families still function in the fashion that characterized family life before World War II. In truth, the family was already under stress owing to the Great Depression, but the effects of the War and the sort of economy to which it gave birth have caused the pressure to mount to a near-irresistible level.

     I’ve written about this before. While certain countervailing forces have recently reared their heads, the net tendency is still toward routine separation: of spouses from one another, of siblings from one another, and of parents from their children. The separations are overtly physical – two wage earners per family; the collegiate diaspora, and the separation from the childhood home at the arrival of adulthood – but they have a large amount of emotional baggage as well.

     If we genuinely need human connections, as Eric Berne has posited, the forces acting to shatter families are our enemies, and to be feared. Inversely, those things that help to keep families together, if only in an emotional fashion, are our friends. One of those latter things is shared religious convictions.

     However, children no longer routinely follow their parents’ faith. That cement for the family has largely dissolved. But as long as the churchgoer remains a regular participant in his church, he can still get and give “strokes.” That, I think, explains a great deal of what happens in my parish’s parking lot after a Sunday morning Mass. I’d venture to guess that much the same thing happens at many others.

     And of course there’s more going on than that, as well.


     For me, to look out over a sea of familiar Catholic faces is among the greatest comforts of life. It reassures me that if my faith is crazy, at least I’m not alone in my madness. It also tells me that the value that I find in the Mass is not something imaginary – that immersion in the ritual re-enactment of the Last Supper confers a real psychological and spiritual benefit.

     So much of life is spent alone, at least functionally, that togetherness for just about any reason short of a mass murder is itself a blessing to be cherished. And there’s more than one sort of togetherness being practiced at a Catholic Mass. Yes, we’re all in the same building, however briefly. Yes, we all hoof it out to the same parking lot where we renew acquaintances and exchange little bits of news. (And jockey with one another to get out the one and only exit.) But we’re also reaffirming the supra-temporal connection among us: our unity in the Mystical Body of Christ, which is prior and superior to all Earthly rituals and practices.

     “Wherever two or three are gathered together in My name, there I am also.” (Matthew 18:20) The Holy Spirit, the Advocate Christ promised would be with us after He had left this world, is present whenever we who believe are together...and if we renew acquaintances with Him as well as with our fellow communicants, we are stroked twice. We are, however briefly, renewed in what I deem to be the most important of the cardinal virtues: fortitude, that which supports our efforts to persevere in this world and our hope for God’s acceptance in the next.

     It’s excellent refreshment for the spinal cord.

Modern-Day Slavery

We technically no longer have legal slavery in this country.

Technically.

Because, for too many people, their employment is contingent on accepting less-than-market wages, payoffs to contractor-bosses, debt-slavery, hazardous conditions, no benefits, and little legal recourse.

I'm talking about the people lured to the USA with promises of jobs, education and health care, and little fear of being deported. Because, the Left will fight the government tooth-and-nail to prevent it.

So, what Rush says about California's secession-in-all-but-name is correct.
The state of California is in utter defiance of federal law each and every day, much like Southern states during the Confederacy were. In fact, they’re much like the Southern states, when you get right down to it, except the subject is illegal immigration, not slavery.
Illegal immigration is fueled by the cynical exploitation of these foreigners, in a way that approximates slavery (limited freedom of movement, tied to a single employer, dependent on charity for housing and health care, and the refusal of the legal authorities to recognize their grievances or to protect them from abuse).

From the site: https://katelyndehoff.wordpress.com/human-trafficking-in-the-us-popular-audience-web-page/

In short, very much like slavery. So, the modern Democrat is still in the same business as his ancestors - profiting from and facilitating slavery.

Insufferable, untouchable, and smug.

These monopolists, those untouchable Deep Staters, that is.
If we look at the economy as a whole, we find it is dominated by monopolies and cartels, public and private. No wonder overall productivity is declining: there are no feedback loops or mechanisms to enforce transparency, accountability or pressures to improve efficiency and productivity gains on these neofeudal, extortionist structures.[1]
Mr. Smith means “feudal” above. It’s all the rage now to add “neo” to the front of some word as though a new and different version of the non-neo phenomenon is working its magic, its invariably bad, bad magic. “Liberal,” “Nazi,” “classical,” and “feudal” are favorites for this, though “fascism” seems to have no need of modification. But “Nazi” does. We hear plenty about it but never much about “communism” as in “neo-communism.” In fact, actual communism gets no mention at all. Forget “neo” or the original article. Ain’t there.

If “neo” doesn’t git ‘er done then “post” rides to the rescue, as in “post-modern,” for example. I’m not even all that clear what makes now or the recent past “modern” and as for “post-modern” I struggle to get a grip on this phenomenon as there seem to be functioning sewage and water treatment plants, power plants, hospitals, planes, phones, computers, antibiotics, ED remedies, and a host of other technological marvels.

Wonderful machines hardly are the whole story on modernism, of course. Devotion to liberty, the search for truth, limited government, specific laws judiciously adopted, an independent judiciary, rulers not too far out of reach of the ordinary citizen, free markets, and hostility to superstition and privilege seem to be more like it. Modernism seems to be a superior state of mind ruled by rationality and eternal principles of working human groupings extracted from experience and the holy books. Savages can pull the trigger on marvelous weapons but have little individual ability to craft a weapon much better than a club or a spear.

Well, there it is. Some partisans of the “post-modern” persuasion think there’s a new “something” out and about. But I see a fanatical devotion to superstition and pure fantasy, whether climate change, female combat prowess, white male evil, white privilege, institutional racism, multiculturalism, socialist efficiency, American rottenness, a living Constitution, social justice, sexual stupidity, and totalitarian politics. The academy is not longer a bulwark of rationality but a prime mover in the destruction of freedom and white civilization. Rationality has flown that coop some time ago and the press exists not to reveal excess, corruption, and crime but to conceal or gild it. The "post-modern" world is racing past mere feudalism into simple primitivism. Our ways are crap; import real crap!

That's in in a nutshell. What’s new in our time is this strange passion for primitivism and determined regression to it. Zuckerberg looks like a mole person in a B scifi movie but he and his like in the upper reaches of Google and Twitter can effortlessly shut down those engaging in crimespeak with no consequences whatsoever, which is Mr. Smith’s point, of course. New lords of the manor, don't you know.

Post-modernism isn’t anything pretty but an entirely new phenomenon that's recreating the feudalism we thought we had escaped – (1) rule by unaccountable elites according to an unexplained or unjustified divine right to dictate to others what they will read, say, and do with their resources and (2) elite power to enrich themselves ad inf. by manipulating financial, technical, legal, and informational resources unattainable by plain folk.

And, as I say, we want to go even further back than that. We'll see how much savagery the West can stand, fondly though we do embrace its beginnings.

Notes
[1] "Why Is Productivity Dead in the Water? ." By Charles Hugh Smith, Of Two Minds, 8/30/18 (emphasis added).

H/t: Yer Old Woodpile Report.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Perspective

     Sometimes it takes a long time to get the import of what a wise elder was saying.

     It’s been observed, by many other commentators, that the Left is fond of using the law, including the Supreme Law, the Constitution of the United States, to defend its own prerogatives, but is willing to have the law endlessly bent – I believe “reinterpreted” is the current phrase – to advance its initiatives, regardless of the law’s explicit terms. Needless to say (though, as always, I shall say it anyway), this is deplorable and indefensible in a nation that’s supposedly founded on explicit laws.

     I was reading Eugene Volokh’s commentary on NancyMacLean’s book Democracy in Chains, a seemingly tendentious, hyper-politicized treatise on the late James Buchanan – the economist, not the president – when something a high school American history teacher said came back to mind.

     That teacher opened our eleventh-grade American history class by telling us that the approach to American history taken by other teachers is to frame the subject as “good guys versus bad guys” in an ongoing struggle over who would control the U.S.’s federal government. In connection with this proposition, he noted that the typical eleventh-year American history course treats the period from 1921 through 1928, when Warren Harding and Calvin Coolidge were presidents, as a time when “the bad guys were in power.” Of course, they treat Franklin D. Roosevelt’s assumption of the presidency as the return to power of the “good guys.”

     Our teacher’s approach was quite different. He stated that the underlying theme of the course as he intended to teach it would be the eternal question of whether Man is basically good or basically evil. And indeed, he returned to that question on numerous occasions, in connection with the great controversies that animated American political discourse at various times.

     I puzzled over that orientation, being only fourteen years old and barely acquainted with the study of history. But if we note the attitude of the “progressive” Left in our time, and compare it to the “good guys versus bad guys” approach to American history, the parallels become all but overwhelming.

     For the contemporary Left is overt in its claims that it is the possessor of unquestionably superior wisdom and virtue. They’re the “good guys.” Moreover, that virtue entitles the Left to do anything and everything that would conduce to their aims – most especially, getting back into federal hegemony. Slander? Disruptions? Intimidation? Violence? Outright defiance of the law? These things are quite all right, the Left will tell you, in a Leftward cause.

     Needless to say, the tactics the Left allows itself are absolutely forbidden to us in the Right. We’re the “bad guys,” and the bad guys must be fought with every tool at the Left’s disposal, including the strict terms of the law.

     My old teacher’s focus on whether Man is fundamentally good or evil throws a harsh light onto such pretensions. He who claims that no moral constraints apply to him has arrogated the position of the Supreme Lawgiver, God Himself. Correct me if I’m wrong – I am rather old, and my memories of remote events can be a bit cloudy – but wasn’t that what Lucifer wanted?

     How much of the Left’s current self-apotheosis derives from the “good guys versus bad guys” orientation of teachers of high school American history? Of course we can’t answer such a question definitively. Nevertheless, the parents of high school age children should converse with them regularly about what’s being told them in their “Global Studies” classes. You might hear a few things to get your ears prickling.

     I owe that old American history teacher more than I ever knew.

Missing The Dynamic

     Jack Dorsey admits Twitter has a problem:

     Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey admitted that the social media giant’s staffers who have right-leaning political views don’t feel comfortable to speak up because of the company’s ultra-liberal work environment.

     “We have a lot of conservative-leaning folks in the company as well, and to be honest, they don’t feel safe to express their opinions at the company,” Dorsey told New York University journalism professor Jay Rosen in an interview published on Friday by Recode.

     “They do feel silenced by just the general swirl of what they perceive to be the broader percentage of leanings within the company, and I don’t think that’s fair or right,” he added. “We should make sure that everyone feels safe to express themselves within the company, no matter where they come from and what their background is. I mean, my dad was a Republican.”

     Let’s assume, if only for the sake of argument, that Dorsey is expressing a sincere opinion in the above. He’s actually missed the point: the dynamic of large-company sociopolitics at this time favors the Left.

     It doesn’t take a preponderance of Leftist activists to make conservatives feel they must stifle themselves. Indeed, it only takes one, because Human Resources departments automatically favor him who claims to have been victimized. The favor flows in that direction because of corporate risk aversion: specifically, fear of the consequences of confronting the self-nominated victim and compelling him to make an objective case for his complaint. A large company, perpetually fearful of adverse publicity and aware of Leftists’ tendencies in that direction, always finds it easier to placate the “victim.” As the news gets around, “victims” proliferate like toadstools after a rain.

     Large companies whose managements are courageous enough to counter the dynamic are rare. Perhaps when H. Ross Perot was running EDS, or when T. J. Rodgers was running Cypress Semiconductor, they might have had the necessary courage. But I’d be hard pressed to name a publicly traded company operating at this time about whose CEO that could be said.

     A prevailing dynamic can overwhelm an individual’s motivations, however wholesome. Dynamics are founded on incentives, which affect large number of people in a consistent fashion. It takes cojones the size of beach balls to stand against them saying “Not here.” Not many CEOs of publicly traded corporations are that well equipped.

Report from the Carolinas on Florence

Except for the coast, and some freak accidents, it's been calm and not all that bad. Even for a Cat 1 hurricane, the amount of storm surge has been devastating to property. I think it's time to change the Flood Insurance practices, which would include rates for new property that discourage further building along the coasts, and only have complete re-building payouts for those owners who will agree to build further inland.

Perhaps some program that provides quick cash from the insurance companies for those agreeing to turn over the rights to the property to a trust that will NOT allow building in the future on that site.

I also think that we need to start looking at higher rates on beachfront and nearby property. Why should the rest of the USA pay for a life of sun and fun for the privileged? At least, if the person won't agree to leave, their rates should be jacked up quite a bit. Pay for the privilege of inhabiting a risky site.

I do believe that many were HOPING - just PRAYING - for this to be the Killer Storm that would take Trump down. That Trump had handled the Puerto Rican hurricane, Maria, which was far more destructive, without a PR disaster, must have been quite disappointing to the Left.

That number you may see pushed at the public (3K+)? Not true. The essence of Fake News.

The good news is - this hurricane was far less destructive than previously feared. I think I can confidently state that in the upper northern SC region (right near Charlotte), we will not even suffer much loss of power or damage. Minimal for both.

Deals With The Devil

     Sarah Hoyt has a plaintive piece today about those who advise us to “go along to get along:”

     [T]he deals with the devil people make — the real ones, which apply whether one believes in the devil or not — are not the kind made at twilight at a crossroads with a being of distinctly evil shape, and imbued with a suspicious smell.

     Instead, they’re made in nice rooms, in meeting rooms, at conferences, with well-dressed people who are so benign, so kind, so full of wish to help us. And also, inevitably, powerful and full of the aroma of success.

     They stand in our way and without quite saying anything political (some of them do. One of them was stupid enough to at least hint at politics to me when I was in the political closet, but most don’t) make it clear that if you want to advance, succeed, or even “just” remain employed, you must say the right words, believe the right things, hang out in the right circles.

     Is this a sin only of the left? I don’t know. For my entire life, the half century or so I’ve been cognizant of such things, the people in control, the people who were rich, famous, well put together, were leftist.

     The thought that we might have been deprived of a multitude of good things because of political differences is enough to wring tears from a stone. But it’s been going on for decades; it’s only recently come out of the closet and strutted boldly before us.

     The espousal (or mute acceptance) of a particular set of convictions -- especially political ones -- to gain entry to a specific circle, or acceptance in one's educational or working environment, is commonplace. Yes, it's insincere. Yes, it's a deal with the devil, in more than one sense. But it is appallingly common.

     A university with which I'm familiar once had the academic equivalent of a purge in its Economics department because the chairman had decided to admit a young Friedmanite as an assistant professor. The sitting professors were heavily to the left, of course, and they didn't want this heretic among them. The chairman didn't just lose her chair; she lost her tenured position. So the disincentives to divergence can be severe.

     Families can be like that too. Especially the sort of family that's geographically compact and whose members frequently gather for holidays or other special events. A friend of mine who has seven siblings is unable to attend his family's holiday get-togethers for that reason: he's a conservative and the rest of them are hard-left. “Conform or be ostracized by your own family” is quite a threat. I admire my friend for his refusal to bend...but there are many who surrender simply for the sake of familial peace and a place at the Thanksgiving table.

     It's evil. Standing firm against it can cost you everything. And it is shredding much of American society.

     It’s largely a sin of the Left – their “the personal is political” mantra requires it of them – but a dilute form of it affects the Right as well. On the Right it’s manifest in a person’s mimicry, often encouraged by his peers, of those whose approval and support he hopes to gain. “Dress like the boss.” “Spend your free time and money on classical music and museums, not rock concerts and saloons.” “Don’t date her; the people who count think she’s vulgar.”

     As usual, C. S. Lewis has an insight for us:

     The deepest likings and impulses of any man are the raw material, the starting-point, with which the Enemy has furnished him. To get him away from those is therefore always a point gained; even in things indifferent it is always desirable substitute the standards of the World, or convention, or fashion, for a human's own real likings and dislikings. I myself would carry this very far. I would make it a rule to eradicate from my patient any strong personal taste which is not actually a sin, even if it is something quite trivial such as a fondness for county cricket or collecting stamps or drinking cocoa. Such things, I grant you, have nothing of virtue them; but there is a sort of innocence and humility and self-forgetfulness about them which I distrust. The man who truly and disinterestedly enjoys any one thing in the world, for its own sake, and without caring twopence what other people say about it, is by that very fact fore-armed against some of our subtlest modes of attack. You should always try to make the patient abandon the people or food or books he really likes in favour of the "best" people, the "right" food, the "important" books. I have known a human defended from strong temptations to social ambition by a still stronger taste for tripe and onions.

     [From The Screwtape Letters.]

     Being true to oneself can seem “obvious,” even “automatic,” to one who has yet to confront the contrary temptations. Today those temptations are all around us, for politics has infiltrated itself into every cranny of human involvement. Nor is any man’s strength of conviction guaranteed to resist them when threatened by poverty, ostracism, and ridicule.

     This is one of the handful of cases where the other Leftist mantra, “if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem,” really does apply. Think about it and how you can be part of the solution – not for yourself, but for others.

Let’s all OD on the breaking “humanitarian disaster” bullshit.

Sorry for the bad language but there is no better word in the English language to express that particular combo of lie, stupidity, manipulation, and contempt. The mother's milk of contemporary leftist, RINO, Dem, neocon, Never Trumper, Deep State, and MSM utterance let it be said. (E.g., "comprehensive immigration reform," "living Constitution," "nation of immigrants," "responsibility to protect," "regime change," etc.)

Here’s a list of Guardian articles[1] playing the “humanitarian crisis” garbage like a mighty Wurlitzer.

  • “The human price of inaction and action in Syria, Turkey and Libya.” (Picture of kids preparing for chemical attack.)
  • ”UN head calls for Idlib to be spared 'humanitarian nightmare.'” (Picture of FSA "rebels" causing said nightmare.)
  • ”The Guardian view on Idlib: nowhere left to go.” (I.e., civilians trapped.)
  • ”UK must take lead to protect the people of Idlib.” (Picture of kids. U.K. role in starting and prolonging this war unmentioned.)
  • ”I have seen the bloodied bodies of Syria’s children. Tell me nothing can be done[.] Samer Attar.” (Photo of surgeons operating. Stop the killing!)
  • ”Thousands of Syrians displaced as threat of Idlib attack grows. UN warns Idlib civilians could be facing worst humanitarian disaster this century.” (Hopefully, thousands of civilians still trapped to satisfy Assad blood lust. Same picture of kids.)
  • ”MPs demand inquiry into consequences of UK's inaction in Syria. Foreign affairs committee report comes as Russia readies assault on rebel-held Idlib.” (You should see what the U.S. did to rebel-held Raqqah. Picture of kids and old lady.)
  • ”As Putin incites more atrocities in Syria, Europe is exposed as craven.” (He’s Russian. What can you expect?)
  • ”Turkey warns Russia an attack on Idlib will turn it into ‘lake of blood’[.] Erdo─čan pleads with Putin not to launch offensive on Syrian opposition enclave.” (And the winner of “Most Lurid Language” award is . . . .)
  • ”Syria: Idlib braces for assault as Russia and Iran dismiss ceasefire calls.” (The killing of innocents must continue. Picture of really cute kids.)
  • ”America last: Trump has brought US to irrelevance in Syria.” (Let me guess. Because of inaction?)
  • ”Millions of us are trapped in Idlib, facing death. The world must save us[.] Anonymous.” (Picture of little boy looking anxious with comforting adult.)
  • ” 'Lots of evidence' Syria preparing chemical weapons in Idlib, says US envoy[.] Special adviser Jim Jeffrey warns any offensive by Russia or Syria would create huge numbers of refugees.” (Yuuge numbers. Picture of urban destruction.)
Assad the "Gas Killing Animal" readies another murderous, irrational assault on the people of Syria. So far as I know there’s a slight jihadi problem in his country that’s the political equivalent of gangrene of the foot, but you’d never know that from reading the absurdities issuing from the mouths of the Guardian, Mike Pompeo, and Nikki Haley, among others.

Notes
[1] “Syria” category, September 6-13, 2018.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Facebook Blocked the Original Post at the Link

Let's see if this gets it through the Censorship Filter.

They Call Me Mad, But I Am Not Mad Dept.

     Several other bloggers have noted the following emission from Adam Schiff (D, CA):

     “There was one issue we were not allowed to look at and the Senate hasn’t been either that concerns me a great deal and that is the issue of whether Russians were laundering money through the Trump Organization and [if] that is the leverage they have over the president....Someone needs to determine whether those allegations are true or they are not. That certainly would be a priority for me.”

     This is not a man concerned with justice, or evidence. This is a man in the grip of an obsession. It might be an obsession with retaining public attention. It might be an obsession with President Trump himself. Or it might be an obsession with becoming Speaker of the House, as if that were an elevation open to someone who looks as if he’s just wriggled out of a straitjacket. But in Adam Schiff, obsession is present and more than just voting; it’s in unopposed control.

     And being the sort whose memory never fails to amuse him at such times, it’s just tossed this up at me:

     "That's what they called me at Masters and Johnson's clinic, mad. Because I had visions of explorations in sexual areas undreamed of by lesser human beings. It was I who first discovered how to make a man impotent by hiding his hat. I was the first one to explain the connection between excessive masturbation and entering politics. It was I who first said that the clitoral orgasm should not be only for women! They ridiculed me, said I was mad, haha! But I showed them. They threw me out of Masters and Johnson, no severance pay and I had it coming. But I showed them!" [“Dr. Bernardo,” in Woody Allen’s 1972 movie Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex * But Were Afraid to Ask]

     It might not be entirely on point, but...compare and contrast. (And just look at those eyes.)

Every last one.

Every violent death in Syria is the fault of the US and its allies. The narrative that there is a bad guy who that same alliance needs to protect civilians from is the exact opposite of the truth. The Syrian government is trying to restore stability to a region the US-centralized empire is solely responsible for destabilizing. A sovereign nation has every right to undo the damage that was done to it by western imperialism, and western imperialists have no right to stop it.
"Four Reasons Why Interventionism In Syria Is Crazy And Stupid." By Caitlin Johnstone, 9/13/18.

Trust me. I work for the government.

On global warming:
NOAA’s research supposedly contradicted claims of a pause in global warming since 1998, hence the name “Pausebuster Paper.” But [Dr. John] Bates’ evidence shows that the agency knowingly overstated the speed of warming and falsely reported inaccurate high temperatures. Bates says his NOAA superiors ignored his vehement objections to publication of the faulty data.

Bates, a 40-year career meteorologist and climate scientist, explained that NOAA had replaced the readings gleaned from highly accurate Argo ocean buoys with temperature measurements from ships. The latter are notoriously inaccurate and undependable due to variability in measurement depth and because of heat from ships’ propulsion systems. “They had good data from buoys. And they threw it out and ‘corrected it’ with bad data from ships,” complained Bates. “You never change good data to agree with bad, but that’s what they did — so as to make it look as if the sea was warmer.”

* * * *

. . . The U.S. House Science Committee, however, was suspicious of the [“Pausebuster”] paper and issued subpoenas for internal e-mails related to it. Then suddenly, the computer used to store “Pausebuster” suffered a “complete failure,” meaning, says Bates, that no one will ever be able to replicate or verify the data.

"What on Earth Is Happening to Our Temperature?" By Ed Hiserodt and Rebecca Terrell, The New American, 3/27/17.