Sunday, February 1, 2015

Polymath Now Available At Smashwords! (UPDATED)

(This post will be "sticky" until February 1, 2015. Scroll down for new material. Hey, I'm trying to sell a few books here.)

Even in his high school years, it was clear to all who knew him that Todd Iverson is special. There are no sciences, no technologies, and no arts he cannot master. There is no field of human endeavor he will leave untouched. He has the power to transform human civilization utterly, and he means to do so.

Todd does have a few little problems. For one, his mother crippled him emotionally by artificially orphaning him, abandoning him to become a nun just after his father’s death. For another, he can’t abide the idea that anyone might be better than he is—at anything. For a third, he might just be a sociopath: the most dangerous sociopath ever to be born among men.

The powers of darkness are aware of him, and they don’t plan to let him work unmolested.

But Todd will not go his way unmentored or unprotected. The most powerful creatures on Earth have resolved to complete his upbringing and bring his strength to fullness:
Malcolm Loughlin.
Christine D’Alessandro.
And Louis Redmond.

Todd will find love and deliberately forsake it.
He will know the most terrible kinds and occasions of loss.
He will enter the world of business, first as an employee, later as an entrepreneur.
And his powers will reach their zenith just as a most improbable figure takes the White House.

For Todd Evelyn Iverson has his eyes on the skies. He has resolved that Man shall leave his species’ womb at long last. As Stephen Graham Sumner and the Constitutional movement rise to prominence, Todd prepares to set his foot upon the first rung of a ladder to the stars. It’s a ladder he is uniquely qualified to design and build.

Polymath chronicles the bursting of an Onteora County giant from his chrysalis to spread his wings over the world. It’s the fourth novel of the Realm of Essences series, the beginning of the story of an American Renaissance.

UPDATE: Polymath has become available for the Kindle as well, at Amazon!

FURTHER UPDATE: Do please remember, dear readers, how important reviews are to a book's sales fortunes!

Also remember that no matter where you purchase a book, you can always post a review of it at Amazon!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The Culture War: A Reflection

Well, Polymath has just received its first Amazon review – those of you who purchased your copies at SmashWords can review it at both sites, you know, and I’d consider it a great favor if you’d do that – and I must say, it was far more favorable than the book (or I) deserve. But that review, plus the reactions registered in my email, plus this new emission from Larry Correia have me thinking about that struggle of insuperable viciousness that never seems to abate: the culture war.

It’s a commonplace that fish aren’t aware of water. Humans aren’t fully aware of their cultural matrix for the same reason: it’s omnipresent and unceasing. Yet there’s hardly anything more important to the national spirit or our individual tendencies when confronted by some question of significance.

When we deign to notice the fusillades in the culture war, it’s normally because some noisy interest group has made a stink about the “marginalization” of its mascots. Consider homosexuality as a case for study. Get into your DeLorean, fire up the Flux Capacitor, and go back a mere thirty years. How many openly homosexual characters were featured in prime-time television shows? The number is approximately zero. What accounts for the heavy statistical overrepresentation of homosexuals on TV in our time?

Hint: It’s not heterosexuals’ vast, previously unexpressed desire to see homosexual relationships and homosexuals’ interactions with normal people portrayed on our giant-screen HDTVs.

I could go in a myriad directions from here, but I have a specific one in mind.

Unless you’ve spent the last several weeks immured in a Turkish prison, you’re surely aware of all the Sturm und Drang that’s arisen around Clint Eastwood’s blockbuster movie American Sniper. I hardly need recap the movie for those of you who’ve seen it; it’s too powerful and memorable to need my tender mercies. (For those of you who haven’t seen it, see it. Now.) Those who hate it, and they are far more vociferous than numerous, seldom admit to their true reasons; those who love it aren’t always capable of articulating theirs.

The script does inject a few fictional motifs into this otherwise faithful biopic, drawn from Chris Kyle’s book of the same name. Whether those injections were vitally necessary to the movie’s impact is open to debate. What seems indisputable to me is that what elicits the rage of its detractors isn’t the drama but the depiction of the life of Chris Kyle himself. To the pansified cultural elite that dominates arts criticism in our media, Kyle is a major affront – an embarrassment. His patriotism, dutifulness, commitment to his undertaking, moral clarity, and absolute lack of regret or apology for his deeds – for me the most stirring line of the script was “I’m willing to stand before my Creator and answer for every shot I took” – paint him in the sort of pure masculine colors that the glitterati would prefer not to exist.

More succinctly, Chris Kyle was a man. His detractors are not.

Perhaps those detractors would have passed over Kyle’s book without comment had Eastwood not picked up the movie rights. Perhaps they would have dismissed the movie had it not shattered every box-office record for a January release. Perhaps the denunciations wouldn’t have been quite so thunderous had Eastwood and his scripting team injected some harsh statements about the “Bush wars” into the movie. We’ll never know.

What we can and do know is that Eastwood’s portrayal of Chris Kyle has upset the cultural applecart, at least for the moment. The glitterati aren’t happy for the rest of us to see fictional portrayals of unabashed patriotism, moral clarity, and courage. They’ve put too much work into their efforts at portraying whining self-nominated victims and moral deviates as the proper heroes for today.

It testifies to the ineradicability of Americans’ native moral sense that a single well-made movie could so dramatically countervail the glitterati’s counter-valorization campaigns.

One of the reasons I write fiction – indeed, perhaps the most imperative of all of them – is my desire to provide readers with heroes of the kind I favor. There aren’t a lot of heroes of that kind in the fiction coming out of Pub World; the reader pretty much has to go to the independent-writers’ movement for fare of that sort. (Back when I was fool enough to think that a conventional publishing house might take an interest in my novels, several of the rejections I received for Chosen One and On Broken Wings specifically criticized my protagonists’ moral standards.) Some does slip through, of course; the military-fiction pioneered by Tom Clancy and the espionage/special-agent-oriented books Vince Flynn wrote have too large a readership for Pub World to dismiss them. However, it’s noteworthy that Clancy couldn’t get a hearing until The Hunt for Red October was picked up by the tiny Naval Institute Press, and Flynn had to sell his books out of the trunk of his car before a Pub World house picked up Term Limits. Only the prior success of those writers as independents persuaded major New York houses to offer them a slot in their catalogs.

The dominance of Pub World by left-leaning editors began in the Sixties: a part of the cultural-colonization effort Antonio Gramsci called “a long march through the institutions.” It was contemporaneous with efforts of the same sort in cinema, the performing arts, education, and journalism. They who undertook that campaign of cultural transformation weren’t merely acting on their personal preferences; they were openly, avowedly promoting the destruction of the prior American cultural norm. The removal of the traditionally masculine, morally straight hero in favor of a variety of anti-heroes and morally ambiguous figures was central to their efforts.

I’m not prepared to say that it was a conspiracy, in the traditional sense of a coordinated effort plotted in secret and orchestrated according to a defined plan...but neither am I prepared to say that it wasn’t. It was probably more of a hive effect, in which subliminal signals and indicators effect a wide-scale coordination whose participants only recognize it consciously a posteriori.

Whatever the case, its effects have included the demonization of every traditional attribute of iconic American masculinity, with patriotism, courage, and moral clarity at the head of the list. And it was terrifyingly effective; ask any American man who came to maturity in the Seventies or afterward.

I am effectively convinced that Andrew Breitbart’s most famous observation – that “culture is upstream from politics” – is the all-important truth in the battle for the soul of these United States. Yet conservatives and libertarians, as the worthy Ace of Spades has noted, talk politics almost to the exclusion of culture. Our attention turns to the cultural matrix only when something either excites us or irritates us out of our ruts.

That inversion might cost us all possibility of success at restoring freedom and justice to America. Have a little C. S. Lewis:

[W]e continue to clamour for those very qualities we are rendering impossible. You can hardly open a periodical without coming across the statement that what our civilization needs is more 'drive', or dynamism, or self-sacrifice, or 'creativity'. In a sort of ghastly simplicity we remove the organ and demand the function. We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honour and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful.

A nation whose cultural institutions make vicious slanderers such as Michael Moore rich while they sneer at Clint Eastwood could hardly have expected any other result.

The Last Graf is exactly what you’ve expected – indeed, what I and others have been telling you all along. Reclaim the culture. If you have a creative bent, use it and push the products thereof. If you consume any of the arts, especially fiction whether in prose on in the movies and on television, aggressively support those that agree with your standards and boycott, at the very least, those that diverge from them. Refuse to back down from those standards. Be aggressive about promoting those works you find most supportive of them.

The powers of darkness have all but monopolized our journalism, our entertainment, and our educational institutions. With only those bastions, they’ve managed to “de-Americanize” at least two generations of young Americans. They’ve been at it for a long time, and they aren’t about to stop now. We have a lot of catching-up to do. You have a part to play...possibly a more important part than you imagine.

Get started now.

(PS: Yes, it’s snowing heavily. We’ve already received about ten inches and are likely to get fifteen to twenty-five more. I’ll be going out to start the snowblower in a few minutes. If you pray, please pray for everyone in the Northeastern U.S. We need it.)

Monday, January 26, 2015

Decline And Fall

There’s a lot of talk these days about the decline of America, both domestically and on the world stage. I shan’t disagree too stridently, as the indicators have trended downward ever since the late 2008 mortgage crisis and the Bush the Younger Administration’s wholly incorrect response to it (compelled in part, I will allow, by hostile control of Congress.) Yet there are some hopeful signs. My colleague Dystopic highlights one in a recent essay:

Most of the time I prefer to mock Social Justice Warriors. Yes, I know, it’s probably petty, but they aren’t exactly welcoming of debate (you racist!), and so satire is the only real vehicle left to those of us who oppose them. Today, however, I will endeavor to rationally deconstruct their notion of privilege for the benefit of others.

If you read this little gem, Dear White, Straight, Cisgender, Man People: You Are Privileged, you will see the lunacy in all its obscene glory. This is a site that deliberately invokes a sort of childish air, with its hand-scrabble cartoons, preschool fonts and overall nursery-rhyme appearance appropriate for the infantile generation of coddled Social Justice advocates.

To the headline, I can only say: duh. Of course you are privileged. Anyone who is reading this is privileged. You have a computer or mobile device, you probably live in a First World country and there is a high probability you are in the upper 10% of income-earners worldwide. Your skin color and your sex are both irrelevant to that point.

Please read the whole thing. It’s a jewel of its kind.

The sign, of course, is that Dystopic’s reaction to the cited tirade has become the norm. A hefty majority of Americans have simply had it with the “social justice warriors,” their constant whining, their envy-driven demands, their inability to accept themselves as privileged, and above all their insistence on their moral superiority – a state of grace that entitles them to disrupt the lives and affairs of peaceable Americans in the name of whatever Holy Cause animates them this week.

We can’t know what the backbreaker was. It might have been the Occupy “protests.” Or the riots in Ferguson, Missouri. Maybe the crass behavior of the crowd at the first Obama inauguration had something to do with it. Perhaps there have been a few too many public celebrations of homosexuality and demands that it be viewed as “normal.” Perhaps the new trend of Y-chromosome bearers donning women’s clothes, proclaiming themselves to be women, and demanding to be treated as such – never mind the mutilations some of them accept upon their bodies – has finally opened a sufficient number of eyes. Maybe the horde marching down city streets chanting “What do we want? Dead cops! When do we want them? Now!” was simply too much for the longsuffering public and its badly tried patience. It might never become clear.

Whatever the causal tale, it appears ever more likely that the “social justice warriors” have embarked upon their final voyage: the decline and fall of their Insanity Movement. Please, God, let it be so.

Revulsion is a powerful social force. When a people finds itself appalled by some practice, it will move against it. If the practitioners are themselves peaceable and orderly, they might merely be marginalized or ostracized. If they practice their habits “in your face,” the treatment they receive from the decent public will be proportionately less gentle. If they go to the extent of disrupting the affairs of others, they’ll be lucky to escape with their lives.

The contemporary Left has composed a strategy out of inverting those responses by the invocation of two words to which it has no proper claim: “rights” and “justice.” The more repellent are some group’s actions or demands, the more likely it is that the Left will adopt them as mascots and embrace their “cause.” The next step is the claim that the group’s members are “oppressed,” with a demand for compensatory action by “society.” Once the group’s status as victims, now the most priced of all political currencies, has been accepted by a sufficient fraction of the Main Stream Media, all that remains is the shouting for insane “rights” and social “justice”...and anyone not deafened by previous episodes of this sort surely hears a lot of it.

However, the artificially inculcated guilt upon which this relies has a finite lifetime. The more frequently the “victim” button is pressed, the less powerful and less prompt is the response. In addition, significant events such as the persecutions of George Zimmerman and Darren Wilson can lower the public’s susceptibility to the stimulus in a “step function” fashion.

My estimate of current public receptivity to the Social Justice Warriors’ demands and tactics is that it won’t take more than one more provocation from them to topple them into the abyss of overwhelming popular contempt... possibly with much worse consequences for their various causes and mascot-groups.

It’s highly significant that the Social Justice Warriors, sociologically, come mainly from the most privileged stratum of American society. Their economic standing is in the top 5% to 10% of the nation. A high percentage of them have college educations. Those that work are almost unanimously in white-collar trades. They are predominantly without a care for their general well-being...even the ones who’ve never earned their own livings.

Ludwig von Mises would classify them as among “the cousins:” they whose living standards and security stem from their clever, industrious older relatives. The more common term for them today would be “limousine liberals.” However, that term also subsumes many of the “idle rich:” the millionaire stars and moguls of the entertainment class. When they make themselves conspicuous, whether in the guise of an “Occupy”-style riot or a gathering of private jets as in Davos, they elicit contempt from the alert and knowledgeable, incredulity from the undecided...and unease from fellow-travelers who sense the hazards to their Cause.

That sense of unease is quite rational, especially given the already low reputations many of the more prominent individuals among them have earned in their several ways.

Let’s publicize such events to the hilt. It’s the best service we can do for freedom in these United States. Besides, shouldn’t the public be made aware of how deplorable are the conditions black transgender lesbian Marxist enviro-nazis must endure, to say nothing of the execrable accommodations at their semi-annual conferences? Some of them have only one iPad to their name – and no private jet! The horror! I mean, what if that were you?

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have snow to shovel. (Yes, already.)

N. American bantustan.

“The America we thought we knew, ladies and gentlemen, is a mirage. It’s a memory. It’s a foreign country,” Jeff Deist, Ron Paul’s former press secretary and chief of staff, told the group. “And that’s precisely why we should take secession seriously.”

* * * *

“We don’t have true democracy,” [Ron Paul] told the Kremlin-based Russia Today network (although he said that his son was one of the forces for good in Washington). “We have a monopoly of ideas that are controlled by leaders of two parties, and though they call it two parties, it’s really one philosophy.”

"Daddy issues: Are Ron Paul’s hard-core stands a problem for son’s presidential bid? While Rand seeks donors, his father talks secession." By David A. Fahrenthold, Washington Post, 1/25/15. A cheesy title for this article but it's the Washington Post after all.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Summer Soldiers

Now and then, I become unusually irritated by persons who, for whatever reason, have decided to follow the Politician’s Principle:

“Show me which way the crowd is going,
And I will lead them.”

It’s particularly annoying when such a “summer soldier” has a significant public profile and has decided that now is the time to exploit it.

No, I’m not going to name names. This is just to blow off a little steam. After all, why not? I have plenty to spare.

Some of us have been fighting the good fight for freedom, for clarity of speech and thought, and for the fundamentals of reason – especially the concept of an objective reality from which truths can be drawn – for one hell of a long time. It’s galling to see a summer soldier suddenly leap into the fray and posture as commander.

I fight that war on two fronts: opinion-editorial and fiction. All I get for those efforts is a percentage of the purchase price of my novels, which I hope is justified by their entertainment value. I take a lot of abuse from our enemies. That’s probably 99% of why the summer soldiers irritate me so.

Some of the offenders take the institutional approach: they seek to capitalize on a trend among common citizens by creating a “front group” and soliciting donations. No doubt you can think of a couple. But the more common sort is the individual with some notoriety, who’s decided that weighing in on some subject would serve him well now. Many such individuals are contenders for high office or some other form of political access and influence...but not all of them.

There are numerous cases among entertainers. Many of these are desperate to be known for something other than their dramatic or musical skills. The mayfly ephemerality characteristic of popularity in their realm can easily give rise to such a yearning. But that’s an explanation, not a justification.

They offend me. Yes, even the few who agree with me. To borrow a phrase from Laura Ingraham, they should “shut up and sing.”

The very worst rational error one can make is to adopt a good posture for the wrong reason.

If entertainers were without large popular followings whose members are eager to ape them in every conceivable way, I daresay my ire would be an order of magnitude less. Celebritarianism has brought us so much herd-like behavior that such persons are capable of swaying the future of our whole nation. One consequence, perhaps the most deplorable of all, has been conservatives’ enthusiasm for promoting celebrities, including the most minor ones, who proclaim themselves conservatives.

To those who think that to be a good thing: What would you say should your favored celebrity change his public posture, taking his entire herd of followers with him? Alternately, imagine that those followers should some day grow up and become embarrassed about their earlier mindless adulation of said celebrity. What would be their attitude toward their earlier ethical, religious, and political attachments? Are you willing to bet on it either way?

Caution, Gentle Reader. Here be dragons.

As I said in the opening segment, I needed to blow off a little steam. This particular irritant has been on my mind for decades. It’s not the worst of the batch, merely the one that’s bubbled to the surface this morning.

I try to resist the urge to vent this way, especially on a Sunday morning before Mass. I don’t always succeed.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Assorted Fiction Natterings

1. Polymath.

My cover artist, the esteemed Donna Casey, is at work on the cover. The eBook will be released when we’ve settled on a design.

Once again, my thanks to all of you who volunteered as test readers. Your comments and observations have proved invaluable.

2. Some Urban Fantasy.

In recent months I’ve encountered a few writers previously unknown to me whose works I can heartily recommend:

  • First up is newcomer Lexie Dunne. She’s got only one novel out so far, Superheroes Anonymous, but it’s unique and refreshing.
  • Next we have Richard Roberts. Roberts’ book Please Don’t Tell My Parents I’m a Supervillain (soon to be followed by Please Don’t Tell My Parents I Blew Up The Moon) is apparently targeted at the “YA” audience, but it made delightful reading for this sexagenarian curmudgeon even so. If barely pubescent protagonist Penny, an “evil genius” who can’t quite control her gift, makes superweapons out of sugar, and desperately wants to join the good guys, doesn’t charm you out of your undies, check your pulse: you may have died and not noticed.
  • I tend to avoid anything that reeks of the “standard” motifs of urban fantasy – vampires, werewolves, and the like – but have nevertheless been charmed by Sierra Dean’s “Secret McQueen” series. Secret, Miss Dean’s “tough chick” heroine, is a strange hybrid of the supernaturals with several problems attendant thereto. Among the worst of these is that she’s being pursued by a minimum of two werewolves and one vampire: romantically pursued. And no, it shouldn’t be her worst problem.
  • I must give a qualified recommendation to Morgan Blayde. His stories of Caine Deathwalker, a human who’s been adopted into a demon clan and has become both incredibly powerful and a hopeless alcoholic, are stories. But the man desperately needs a proofreader, or at least someone to crack him over the knuckles several thousand times with a Bolo paddle for publishing his first drafts. If you can stand the plethora of low-level errors in grammar, spelling, punctuation, and homophone confusion for the sake of a good story, these books are for you.
  • Finally and with great applause, I give you Annie Bellet. I first encountered her work at Smashwords, where she’s posted several short stories. More recently I’ve been enthralled by her “Twenty-Sided Sorceress” series, which is compelling throughout, once again despite extensive use of threadbare urban fantasy motifs. Highly recommended.

Show ‘em some love, people. Indie writers need it more than you know.

3. Directions.

My readers often write to me, sometimes to ask questions about why I haven’t done this or that. Recently one asked why I’ve never attempted high (medieval-setting) fantasy, of the sort that made Tolkien and Merritt famous. I had to think extensively about my reply.

High fantasy is a heavily stylized subgenre. It demands a particular style of writing that I haven’t mastered. That’s a part of the reason the novel founded on “The Warm Lands,” a pseudo-high-fantasy, is taking me so long.

Yes, I have a somewhat archaic style. (That’s partly because so many of the books I’ve loved lifelong are old books, and partly because I’m a pompous ass.) Several readers who’ve complimented “The Warm Lands” suggested that the style I adopted for that story would be suitable. Perhaps it would be, but the problem lies in maintaining it for the length of a novel. When I write naturally, I don’t come near to the idiom required to do a convincing novel set in a pre-technological era. In particular, my scene-setting is too sparse for high fantasy, and my dialogue is too contemporary in tone. But perhaps I’ll get there in time...should the myriad of other projects I’ve been exhorted to tackle someday permit me to work on it.

4. More Directions.

Yes, there will be:

Stay tuned.

Friday, January 23, 2015


1. A Multicausal Approach To Over-Legislation

In response to this essay, commenter 0007 writes:

The problem and reality of all those issues is that those who write the rules that the rest of us are forced to live under have no intention of ever having to pay any attention to them as far as their lives are concerned.

Yes, indeed. But that’s one tile in a larger mosaic:

  • Exceptions that favor the political elite and their cronies;
  • Ignorance (sometimes willful) of history;
  • Heedlessness about the Law of Unintended Consequences;
  • The “third-party payer” fallacy;
  • Belief in the unbounded applicability of human legislation;
  • Legislators’ and regulators’ sense of personal superiority over the citizens.

I find it difficult to believe that there’s even one elected official who isn’t afflicted by at least one of those failings. That includes all the ones I find most appealing as presidential candidates. The syndrome is sufficiently pervasive to have me thinking favorable thoughts about the Spoonerites’ response yet again.

Somewhere in my vast collection of lapel buttons, I have one that says:

Nobody can fix the economy.
Nobody can be trusted with his finger on the button.

Nobody’s perfect.

I’d say we’re getting close to an airtight justification for exactly that attitude.

2. This Is A “Republican?”

Recent polls that reveal the popular unacceptability of late-term abortion, to say nothing of yesterday’s huge March for Life demonstration, should be telling Congress something it cannot ignore. Unfortunately, at least one member of Congress appears unable to hear:

As hundreds of thousands of members of the pro-life community descend upon Washington D.C. for the March for Life Thursday, the Republican leadership in the House of Representatives has caved to Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-NC) and a group of GOP women who believe passage of a bill that would ban abortions past the fifth month of pregnancy would hurt the Party’s chances with women and millennials....

As CNN reports, the group of female House Republicans “is criticizing abortion legislation that is scheduled for a vote on Thursday, arguing provisions dealing with rape are too harsh, and could threaten the party’s efforts to reach out to women and young people.”

That Republican women should have been the stumbling block is bad enough. But what’s worse is that the above statement of motivation – “[it] could threaten the party’s efforts to reach out to women and young people” – though it would be bad enough as a sacrifice of principle for electoral advantage, is clearly insincere:

A heated, closed-door meeting on Wednesday reportedly led to congressional aides being asked to leave “when the debate turned emotional.”

Why, pray tell, did the “debate” turn “emotional?” Was it because these women are secretly supporters of legal abortion at any and every point in gestation? Or was it that, like so many women in other walks of life, they simply have to have their way and will pitch a hurricane-sized fit when balked?

Erick Erickson comments thus:

Ellmers has succeeded where Davis failed and is now the Republican Party's own "Abortion Barbie." Ellmers first claimed that millennials opposed the legislation. When polling showed otherwise, she pivoted. Ultimately, she caused enough Republican moderates to walk away from the legislation that the Republicans could not get it passed. If that was not audacious enough considering Ellmers had run as a "pro-life" candidate, she then released a statement claiming she would have voted for the legislation she helped scuttle....

This was the climax. Preceding it was the other issue Republicans are known for -- taxes. Not wasting any time after being sworn in, a number of Senate Republicans expressed their interest in raising taxes. Most specifically, the senators said they wanted to raise the gas tax. They are not alone....

If Republicans do not support the pro-life cause and are willing to both reject protections for religious freedom while raising taxes, what do they stand for anymore?

What, indeed?

3. Political Gaslighting.

Many other commentators are in high dudgeon over the recent State of the Union speech delivered to Congress by Barack Obama. They can’t understand how Obama can emit so many lies in one oration and get away with it. It’s got a few of them hopping up and down. Perhaps it has you doing that as well.

It’s no mystery at all, Gentle Reader. Obama is playing the Palestinian Card: the one where you scream “Peace! Peace! We are for peace!” while spray-firing Israelis with your AK-47. The cognitive dissonance it induces has a paralytic effect on a great many minds. It works for the Palestinian savages, at least to the extent of retaining the (grudging) support of most Europeans and a fair fraction of Americans; why shouldn’t Obama, who fancies himself a compelling speaker, think it could be made to work for him?

It’s not enough to contradict the lies. Too many persons want to believe them, and will set aside any evidence that disturbs the fantasy. Add to that the pusillanimity of Congressional Republicans, who quiver in their boots at the thought that the Main Stream Media might say something critical about them, and the sycophants of the Left who dominate those media and take every opportunity to reinforce those Republicans’ fears. The aggregate makes it something of a wonder that the Republicans bothered to produce a response to the SOTU. It would have been more consistent for them to stand mute.

There are some “firebrands” on Capitol Hill: Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, and a few others. There are a few others in governors’ mansions and state legislatures nationwide. But they haven’t the will, the skill, or the numbers to offset the dynamic in favor of Obama’s comforting lies...especially when so many of their brethren repeatedly tell them “not to rock the boat.”

I don’t know that a third party could solve the problem, but I can’t come up with any other alternatives, apart from self-exile to Antarctica.

4. Another “Republican.”

Yesterday evening, Bret Baier’s Special Report aired a brief exchange between Baier and Ohio Governor John Kasich that raised my blood pressure about fifty points. In the course of the exchange, Kasich, a Republican, defended state welfarism and redistribution by citing the Gospel According To Matthew:

When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:
And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats:
And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.
Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?
When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?
Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:
For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink:
I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.
Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?
Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.
And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

[Matthew 25:31-46]

How is it that Kasich, who’s certainly bright enough to read the Gospels as they’re written, could do such a thing? Does Jesus ask the souls before him, “Did your government feed the hungry – and if it didn’t, did you at least vote for politicians who promised to do so?”

Yet another power-monger who’ll corrupt anything that might help him to advance. Ohio can keep him. How many more such lurk among the GOP’s power brokers – and how much weight do they swing at national conventions and in the deliberations of the party strategists?

Thursday, January 22, 2015

A Thought For Thursday

[This morning’s reading brought me two exceedingly striking articles. I dithered over which one should serve as the launching pad for today’s tirade, but only for a moment. I’ve decided to save the one with wider scope and farther-reaching implications for tomorrow. I promise you: it won’t spoil between now and then. -- FWP]

Hearken to Kevin Williamson:

One of the remarkable aspects of the recent spate of infantile left-wing protests that caught Jim Geraghty’s attention is that they are directed at private life and private spaces rather than at public institutions and public affairs. One expects protests at city hall; in New York, we even endured the unseemly spectacle of one of those shut-down-traffic protests conducted by the city council itself, as though its members did not do enough to inconvenience the residents of that city. Protests in front of the police station or the (hideously fascist-looking) Federal Reserve building are part of the normal course of affairs in a democratic republic with free speech and a strong tradition of lively discourse....

In New York City, protesters invaded the Pershing Square Café across the street from Grand Central Terminal, which is one of the more diverse spots in heavily segregated Manhattan, catering as it does to commuting 53-year-old lawyers from Fairfield County, who check any number of different demographic boxes.

The message these protests send is that there is no private space — and, therefore, no private life — so far as this particular rabble is concerned. It’s the familiar Trotsky conundrum: You may not be interested in politics, but politics is interested in you.

Does this plaint sound at all familiar?

Do you know what the victimists fear above all else? Being ignored. It’s why they put so much time and effort into getting in front of every microphone, every camera, and every so-called journalist in the world. If a sufficient preponderance of us were simply to ignore them, their influence would drop to approximately zero. Indeed, the power of that tactic – what Arthur Herzog called in The B.S. Factor the “mass yawn” – is so staggering that it can even nullify state and federal laws, without recourse to the political process....

The political class and its hangers-on fear exactly the same things as the victimists: being ignored. Were they to become aware that no one is paying any attention to their enactments and decrees, they would soon slink away. Some might even enter productive trades, perhaps as cheap prostitutes.

(Dear Lord, please strengthen me against the rising inclination to post a simple “I told you so” here each and every morning. It’s so wearying to be out in front of the curve all the time. Yours truly, Francis W. Porretto, Curmudgeon Emeritus to the World Wide Web.)

The pole star of the politician is the same as that of the political activist: politicization. Both of them want to destroy any notions the rest of us might have about whatever matter they/re hot and bothered about being a matter for private decision-making, in which politics and government have no place. After all, how could they possibly be significant if we refuse to allow them to coerce us about a matter around which they’ve wrapped their hearts and souls?

Ignoring them is getting harder all the time. But that’s not their fault; it’s ours.

Quite a long time ago, at the late, much lamented Palace of Reason, I penned an article about a friend of a friend – a hairdresser – who reported being at her wits’ end because of customers whose behavior would once have gotten them the “bum’s rush,” with neither apology nor consequences. I mentioned an old sign that once appeared in every commercial establishment, but which one never sees these days:

We Reserve The Right
To Refuse Service To Anyone

The reason those little signs are no longer commonplace is that it’s illegal to refuse service to the members of various state-protected groups. Indeed, the enforcers of that law – the Civil Rights Act of 1964 – are so vicious and so relentless that there’s almost no behavior short of felony assault that the law will concede as a justification for refusing service. Worse, even when the justification is indisputable the shopowner who tries to enforce his will personally will always be on the dirty end of a lawsuit – civil, criminal, or both.

It’s often been said that “Hard cases make bad law.” There is some truth in the concept, but at least as often it’s the attempt to make law to redress some condition that’s generally deemed undesirable that elicits the hard cases. That’s given rise to an alternative maxim: “Bad law makes for hard cases.”

What constitutes a “bad law” is the question before us.

Let’s return to Kevin Williamson’s article for a moment:

During the Civil Rights Movement — the real one, not the ersatz one led today by Jesse Jackson et al. — politics did genuinely intersect with brunch. On one side of the issue were people who argued that the social situation of African Americans at the time was so dire and so oppressive that invasive federal action was necessary. On the other side were well-intentioned conservatives such as Barry Goldwater and any number of writers for this magazine, who argued that if the reach of Washington were extended into every mom-and-pop diner in the country, it would constitute a step toward the abolition of private life, that the natural and inevitable extension of the principle at work would ensure that rather than being treated as private property, businesses reclassified as “public accommodations” would be treated more like public property, that the greasy snout of politics eventually would stick itself into every last precinct of what had been considered the sphere of privacy beyond the public sector.

As it turns out, both sides were right.

That last sentence undermines an otherwise near-perfect exercise in punditry. It’s impossible that both sides could be right, by the very nature of things. Either a “mom-and-pop diner” is private property or it isn’t; you can’t have it both ways. Williamson’s desire to find some way of accommodating two inherently contradictory positions is untenable. It expresses a desire not to offend that the conflicting demands of the “two sides” have made impossible.

The politicization of commerce didn’t start with the Civil Rights Act of 1964, of course. It has much deeper roots than that. But every stroke in that direction has weakened the most important protection of individual rights this country possesses: the principle of unfettered private discretion over one’s private property.

And every last speck of it was deliberate.

”Bad law” is an envelope that subsumes many more specific sub-categories. However, laws that should not have been made in the first place because they infringe on private rights are surely included therein. The problem here is twofold:

  • A strong consensus among the citizens that “something must be done” about some situation;
  • Politicians’ eagerness to politicize whatever they can get their claws around.

When I wrote about the importance of the black market a few days ago, I thought principally in terms of specific goods and services that political forces had chosen to ban, control, or restrict by regulation. Yet there’s a form of “black market” that’s arisen in response to supposedly well intentioned “anti-discrimination” statutes. It poses the greatest of frustrations to the politicizers, because it’s inherently beyond their reach. It’s the exercise of “consumer discrimination:” individuals’ personal decisions to live here rather than there, to work at this firm rather than that one, and to patronize or not to patronize a commercial establishment according to the personalities and characters of the frequenters thereof.

Is there a racial correlation? Of course. Is that deplorable? Not necessarily. Think about it:

  • Would you willingly drink in a tavern whose other patrons habitually view you as hostile?
  • Would you willingly work among persons who consistently treat you with contempt?
  • Would you choose to live in a neighborhood overwhelmingly populated with such persons?
  • Had you the means to avert all those conditions, wouldn’t you use them?
  • Would the skin colors or ethnic heritages of those hostile, contemptuous persons matter to you?

Only a completely totalitarianized nation can overcome “consumer discrimination.” It must dictate every decision made by every one of its subjects. It must leave them no power to resist. It must punish attempts to deviate so surely, swiftly, and harshly that the very thought of nonconformity is all but erased from the nation.

I doubt there are any left-liberals among the regular readers of my screeds, but if there are, tell us all, please: What do you, whose political allies are constantly screaming that “the personal is the political,” propose to do about any of that? And what will you say when the goring of oxen gets around to yours?

Think it over.

Turning over the rock.

The black underclass in Fergudishu weighs in on contemporary issues.

Here: "SHOCKING on the street interview on racism in America." By Kevin Jackson, The Black Sphere, 1/22/15.

Spoiler alert: White people are the devil. America is "built on racism." If you are black you are a victim of racism. Darren Wilson should be killed, given "expedited justice" [like, um, lynching?]. Michael Brown wasn't a thug, he was a "good dude." Black people are the real Jews.

One moment of clarity:

Q. What has Barack Obama done for black people?

A. "We don't know."