Sunday, September 30, 2012

Codes: A Kinda-Sorta Rumination

Lately my Websurfing has taught me more than usual. I survey quite a number of sites every day -- not quite three digits' worth -- including news sites, op-ed sites, and "specialty" sites focused on a specific subject. Just about every day I pick up a tidbit that elicits the reaction "Why have I failed to learn this before?" or "How long has this been going on and why wasn't I told?"

Today's little gem comes from the Silicon Graybeard.It's much too integral to excerpt; please read it before continuing on here.

The events described in that post are at least sixty-seven years distant in time, yet they speak to us of the West in an idiom that approaches sacredness -- the transcendent authority of Holy Writ. Consider the mountains of vilification that have been heaped upon the German people of the World War II years. Then consider how many persons have spoken, seriously or flippantly, about the "warrior's code." What percentage among them would have believed, without extensive substantiation, that a Luftwaffe pilot would have behaved that way toward a wounded American enemy?

Clearly, Franz Steigler was a far better man than those that ruled his nation and had sent him off to war. I have no doubt that he had comrades in arms of equal scruple and military honor. Indeed, in his famous book on the aerial war, The First And The Last, Colonel Adolf Galland writes of informing the fliers in his squadron that they were absolutely forbidden to fire upon a parachutist -- that he would personally shoot down any Luftwaffe plane he caught doing something so dishonorable.

Counterpoised to such moral clarity, Graybeard reminds us about certain of the "warriors" of today:

Most modern mailings of this story end with something like, "This was back in the days when there was honour in being a warrior. They proudly wore uniforms, and they didn't hide behind women and children, nor did they plant bombs amidst innocent crowds. How times have changed.." And this difference in value systems, this willingness to kill innocent bystanders, and the eagerness to wash the world in blood - this is the main difference we face today.

It's those value systems -- those codes -- that are on my mind today.

***
    And John answered him, saying, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name, and he followeth not us: and we forbad him, because he followeth not us.
    But Jesus said, Forbid him not: for there is no man which shall do a miracle in my name, that can lightly speak evil of me.
    For he that is not against us is on our part.
    For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward. [Mark 9:38-41]

This snippet of the Gospel According To St. Mark has been cited for many purposes. Most of them are good, but not all.

This morning, a visiting priest celebrated the Mass I attend. He cited the above in support of the thesis that all religions are equally deserving of our respect and toleration, because they all promote the love of God above all other things. He added to that an exhortation that we not be too disturbed at our fellows who leave the Church in search of "a better religion for themselves." He rambled on in that vein for long enough to make me wonder whether he was being paid by the word.

I have never come so close to lifting a priest by his lapels and straining to shake some sense into him.

All religions, Father Whoever? Including the ones that advocate the use of violence against members of other creeds? Islam does that, you know. It's in the Qur'an, so don't bother to argue with me about it. But let's leave that particular "religion" to the side for a moment. Would you have granted your sanction to the aggressive Shinto of World War II Japan, which taught its adherents to seek out ways to die for the glory of the Emperor?

Of course, Father Whoever is not alone in his opinions. But he's presenting them as Christian doctrine, on the strength of the Gospel snippet above. Yet the words of the Redeemer in that snippet are quite clear: "For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward."

Clarity on the subject of what is acceptable in the name of religion -- of what creeds deserve the respect and protection of decent men -- has never been so urgent.

***

Christianity, like other religions, promulgates two things: amythos, or theology that expresses a relationship among God, Man, and Creation; and an ethos, a code of conduct for Man that expresses God's Will toward us. The mythos is the part that must be accepted or rejected on faith. The ethos proves its superiority, its perfect accord to the laws of Nature, daily, in every interaction between men who strive to conduct themselves by it -- including men who have dismissed the mythos as absurd and incredible.

The Christian ethos is the American ethic. It always has been. It's permeated in all respects by what C.S. Lewis called The Law of General Benevolence, which Christians would more easily recognize as a fusion between the Brazen ("What is hateful to you, do not do unto another" -- Hillel) and Golden ("Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" -- Jesus of Nazareth) Rules.

The Brazen Rule is the older of the two, of course. Confucius promulgated it five centuries before Hillel and Christ. It's the foundation of peaceful society: the most compact possible expression of our penal law. The Golden Rule, which restates the Second Great Commandment, is the foundation of the Brotherhood of Man: the exhortation to look out for one another's well being, within the constraints of justice, as far as is practical.

When the First Amendment was written to protect (among other things) freedom of religion, the Founders could not conceive of a time when a savage, murderous cult, determined to expel all other religions from the world and establish itself as the sole political authority over all things, would gain a foothold in the United States. To them, religion meant Christianity or Judaism; the ancient, bloodthirsty creeds of the pre-Christian era were long gone, and the creeds of the East had no representatives in America. Thus, they felt no obligation to formulate an intensive definition of what constitutes an acceptable religion for First Amendment purposes.

That was then; this is now.

As bad as our political troubles over Islam have grown, the idea that Christian clerics should attempt to browbeat Christians into granting Islam the respect due a benevolent religion such as Judaism is horrifying beyond words. Such willed blindness toward the nature and prescriptions of the Mohammedan madness is unforgivable. On the personal level, matters are even worse. If Father Whoever really meant what he said this morning, a Catholic parent whose teenage daughter tells him that she's leaving the faith to become a Muslim would be morally obliged to bestow his blessing and encouragement upon his daughter's lunacy.

Liberty's Torch is read by more than Christians, of course. However, I have no doubt that even the atheists and agnostics among my Gentle Readers are aware of the vast ethical gulf that separates Islam from Christianity. And I pray, most sincerely, on my knees with my hands clasped before me, that each and every one of you will remain alert to the perversion of the virtue of tolerance involved in treating Islam as "just one more religion," quite as acceptable as Christianity and Judaism. This is most critical as regards the information and attitudes you transmit to your children, for as The Gospel According To Mark continues:

    And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea. [Mark 9:42]

That's the Son of God and the Savior of Mankind speaking. Take him seriously.

May God bless and keep you all.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Muggings

Ann Coulter's new book on left-liberal racial demagoguery is out, and needless to say, The Hive is buzzing angrily. A few snippets from the reviews at Amazon:

"Horrible misrepentation of facts, far-fetched and mendatious, see no purpose or literary value to this hateful pile of words. Anyone with any knowledge realizes this is a completely false fabrication."

"Hateful, racist, lacking many key facts. People need to stop giving Ann Coulter so much attention and having her on tv shows like "The View" and just let her and her horrible, racist/hurtful opinions go away."

"Coulter is a dishonest woman and a bad writer. Her fifteen minutes of fame were up years ago. Can we please find a conservative who will honestly deal with the subject of race and politics?"

"Poor Ann. Attention "seeker" that she is tried to become relevant at this particular time as she does every 4 years. Her and Dick Morris must have a love child."

"More of Coultergeist's "red meat" to stir up the base. Too bad she exposed herself for for corruptocrat that she is with her endorsement of Etch-a-sketch, the author of socialized medicine in this country, and her love for "Big Government" Krispy Kreme."

I suppose I need not mention that not one of the one-star reviews of the book was listed as coming from an "Amazon Verified Purchaser." The immortal words of Eric Cartman come to mind: "Your tears taste delicious."

I haven't done many book reviews here at Liberty's Torch. (I still do the occasional one at SmashWords, where my crap is on sale.) Neither am I in the habit of quoting other writers' "book reviews," as I did above. But the morning brought a bit of cheery news from The Other McCain, in which he cites:

... the liberal’s quick resort to insults when confronted face-to-face by conservative arguments. Merely by disagreeing with liberalism, you see, you are categorized in the liberal mind as inferior, and if you should ever start winning an argument, this provokes the liberal to begin shouting insults: By calling you names, the liberal expects to discredit you, so that the merits of your argument can be ignored.

Even more important, the liberal hopes and expects that his vilifications will induce you to silence yourself -- something he'd do for you if he could, but sadly, the law still lags behind left-liberal "wisdom."

A bit later in his post, McCain provides the text of a reply email he sent to such a left-wing troll:

Who the hell are you, and why are you sending me this e-mail? Do you have nothing better to do with your life than to scour the Internet, looking for people you disagree with, so that you can send them insulting messages?

What manner of foul hatefulness or psychiatric disorder inspires your antisocial habits? Are you addicted to dangerous drugs or in the thrall of some bizarre sexual perversion?

Seek professional help, before it’s too late.

Utterly perfect, but that's no more than I would expect from Stacy McCain.

Yes, there is a lesson here. Indeed, there's more than one.

***

Ann Coulter is reviled by the Left because she's feared by the Left. She's one of the few commentators on the Right who can demonstrate a complete mastery of the facts on any given issue and is willing to whack the Left across the snout with a rhetorical tire iron. Other conservative spokesmen are entirely too courteous toward folks who've defined us as stupid, evil, or both. Ann gives as good as she gets, especially in her dissections of the Left's favored rhetorical gambits. To borrow a line from Robert A. Heinlein: She has courage, that cabbage.

It's critically important that we in the Right learn from Ann Coulter and other, similarly courageous conservatives. Their influence is all out of proportion to their numbers. Yet what they're doing is copying an Alinskyite technique -- "Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, polarize it" -- and improving upon it by adding facts and reasoning. And they're having fun doing it.

To reply to an Internet troll as Stacy McCain did is in that pattern. It's talionic justice -- and it infuriates them no end, because our adoption of their tactic puts them on notice that the jig is up.

They are largely unwilling to reason.
They can't overcome conservatives' command of the facts.
They're unwilling to cite history, because history is always against them.
Best of all, their morals are defective -- and when illuminated for general display, are all too obviously so.

Draw the moral.

***

You may have heard the Left referred to as "bookless." It's a concise description of an ideology that can no longer defend its positions with facts and logic, and thus has ceased to make use of those tools. Time was, prominent left-liberals tried to do so, and wrote voluminous tracts about the necessity of this or that massive government program or intervention. But their ivory towers have suffered the supreme penalty of political ascendancy: they've come crashing down, their theories refuted by the verdicts of reality. The sole substantial defense any left-liberal can offer for the Leviathan State today is that millions of people have become dependent on it -- a conservative argument for its perpetuation despite the havoc it has wrought.

Contrast that slender reed with the torrent of beautifully written, meticulously researched and reasoned books from such figures as Ann Coulter, Mark Steyn, Mark Levin, Thomas Sowell, Walter Williams, Jonah Goldberg, Tammy Bruce, Bernard Goldberg, and numerous others.

The Left is without a rational response to the Right. So it resorts to non-rational tactics: defamation, vilification, threats of violence, and occasionally violence itself. Conservative luminaries' prevalent response to these things, until recently, has been to attempt to placate the attackers. I have only one question: Why?

We're winning. The Left knows we're winning. Its leading lights are foaming at the mouth from their frustration over it. Their denunciations and demonizations of us are the best imaginable evidence. Any good general will tell you: Reinforce your successes!

The time for treating those who would silence us -- indeed, who would destroy us if they thought they could get away with it -- with the courtesy due decent, respectful adversaries is long past.

***

Hate mail is a fact of life for conservative commentators. I get my share, which is proportional to my infinitesimal influence over the national discourse. I've learned to chuckle over it, and pass the most amusing bits to persons I know will enjoy it as I do. I've come to regard it as my most valuable and reliable indication that I'm having a positive effect because, as has already been said many times in commentaries of this sort, "if you're taking flak, you must be over the target." I'd imagine Ann Coulter enjoys her hate mail just as much. She'd better; she must get a ton of it. But no doubt she already knows what I'm ranting about here. Her columns and books testify to that.

Need a new hobby?

Friday, September 28, 2012

I, Slumlord

Well, I've been hard at it lately, and don't have much to talk about. So, I suppose I'll talk about what I've been hard at.

I never wanted to be a real estate guy, but sometimes these things just happen. I had looked into real estate rather exhaustively for a number of years, and could never see how people made the numbers work. I always supposed that they must be doing some kind of tax maneuvering to make it worth it, and I am not much disposed to that kind of thing, because it is usually just a trap to control your behavior and limit your future options...so that you get to keep the tax benefits which were necessary to make the investment worthwhile in the first place.

Bad idea, and besides, I just don't like real estate.  I don't have the right personality for it.

Well, things have changed, and you'd have to be brain dead not to be in rental houses -- even if you don't like them, at least in my area. So, I'll soon be a landlord.

I'm moving to a larger house to make room for another kid (plus, of course, to make the wife happy). So I was left having to decide what to do with the one I'm in. Let this be a lesson to the wise.

I could have sold it, and basically gotten back out of it what I put in a few years ago. But my realtor advised us to hold it for a bit 'until the market comes back in a couple of years' which no doubt you already know my own views of the prospect of that. But, just because, I looked into the numbers to see how it would work out as a rental.

Holy moly!

First, I guessed that it would generate about 5% rental outcome, just because of the tendency for capital to uniformly return the natural rate of interest, supposing it is a fairly competitive market -- which real estate generally is. Turns out, deducting expenses and maintenance, this was more or less correct (it was actually about 6%, which for most people, after taxes would be 5%).

I do not really want to own real estate making the 5%, as this would be very foolish. It would be paying me some income, yes, but it would be in a slumping market, the market value of my asset unlikely to keep up with inflation, despite the income.

So, I looked into ways of holding it and putting my cash elsewhere in the meantime. Which is to say, borrowing against it and using the money to purchase a different asset, while at the same time using the income it generates to pay off the loan.

Now, theoretically, I should not be able to do this and make it work. If I borrow, say, 80% of the equity, the interest should theoretically eat up 80% of the income the property generates -- because the loan rate should be in equilibrium with the natural rate. So, this strategy should be a useless wash.

As it turns out -- not so! Not at all! The interest rates on loans are so low right now (and prices low, and rents high) that I can effectively give up 80% of the equity and retain 62% of the income! Outrageous!

If you do the math (which will be difficult for you, as I'm suppressing the actual numbers, as I have to have SOME privacy), that works out to a 16% return! And the freedom to invest the balance of my equity any way I want -- i.e. in an actual appreciating asset!

Granted, the majority of the income is in the form of equity in the house, but who cares?  The longer it goes on, the surer my position, until I'm no longer leveraged at all -- at somebody else's expense.

I know that when I went on that whole Veblen tangent, I lost a lot of people. I hope you, gentle reader, sees this for what it is -- free income, an economic abomination, courtesy of somebody out there who is getting fleeced. I will be adding absolutely nothing to the economy except the use of my capital, which should earn me about 5%. I'll be making three times that. I will become a member of the parasitic rent-seeking class, thanks to the crazy money system, laws and policies of this country -- that all too many people want to dismiss people like me for criticizing.

Keep it up. Meanwhile, I'll be sucking you dry, without the slightest remorse. I will explore every opportunity to exploit this situation, while you keep shoveling money in the black hole of your 401K. And when the banks collapse, and the government men inform you that you're broke and have to keep working, because your accounts don't exist anymore, and neither does Social Security, I'll be sitting pretty on physical, income generating assets. My critics may say what they like -- I'm putting my money where my mouth is. Oh, and I'll also be doing my part to help devalue the currency, drive up prices, and hastening the impending financial Armageddon.

And you know what? You're welcome.

Think about this. If you're, say, 50 years old, with $500K to invest, you could put down $100K on $500K worth of house, generate $16K per year of income, and have the other $400K to invest however you want. If you get into trouble, you just cash out the investment and pay off the debt. Or sell the houses.  Or let the bank have them.  Piece of cake.

Like I said, no brainer. Or you could, you know, keep investing in the stock and bond markets, and pray.

In case you hadn't noticed, gold is back on a tear, up about $200 per ounce in a couple of months. In case you hadn't noticed, the Europeans are going all-in for yet another round of inflationary mass-bailout. In case you hadn't noticed, the FED has basically announced an open-ended QE until...who knows?

The money-printing is not going to end anytime soon -- but at some point, the low rates will. Prices are going up. Debts will be devalued.

Think about it.  Anyway, whatever you choose to do, I know what I'm doing.




What You Cannot Have

The oddest things get me thinking about a topic seriously enough to write about it:

Listen. You listen to me. You see that city over there? That’s where I’m supposed to be. Not down here with the dogs, and the garbage, and the fucking last month’s newspapers blowing back and forth. I’ve had it with them, I’ve had it with you, I’ve had it with all this...
I want room service!!
I want the club sandwich. I want the cold Mexican beer!
I want the ten-thousand-dollar-a-night hooker!!
I want my shirts laundered…like they do…at the Imperial Hotel…in Tokyo.

[From Johnny Mnemonic]

If you haven't seen the movie, which features Keanu Reeves's best performance, I recommend it highly. It's not perfect by any means -- its premise is an evolution of capitalism that's not merely unlikely but impossible -- but it possesses the most compelling attribute a piece of fiction can possess: a cast of characters all of whom want something, and want it badly at that...and who are inherently violently opposed to one another because of the conflicts among their desires.

In such a situation, someone has to come out a loser. Maybe a lot of someones.
We find ourselves in such a situation even as you read these words.

***

Have a gander at this instructive bit of video:

It's estimated that 95% of American Negroes will vote to give Barack Hussein Obama a second term as president. We have at least one "on record" in the above.

You might have seen this before. Liberty's Torch isn't the first site to have picked it up; Jammie Wearing Fool has posted this along with two similar segments from earlier in the Obama presidency; I suggest you view all three -- and then come back here and call me a racist.

Free cell phones?
Subsidies for your mortgage payments?
Straight handouts of cash?
Yes, ladies, you can have all these things...today.
But for how much longer?

***

Don't try to kid yourselves that the above...persons are not representative of the attitudes of their race. You certainly can't kid me; I've been around too long.

Over the past five decades, American Negroes have been relentlessly propagandized to believe three things:

  • That they are owed;
  • That racial solidarity should be their highest commitment;
  • That they can have whatever they demand, merely for demanding it.

Do they all believe it? No. But please: Someone present me with a plausible reason why mendacious hucksters such as Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, Louis Farrakhan, and Barack Hussein Obama can command their near-unanimous support without the great majority of them believing it and intimidating the rest into toeing the racial-solidarity line.

Of course, American Negroes aren't the only folks out there practicing "solidarity." There are others:

  • Journalists and their employers;
  • Entertainment celebrities;
  • Single mothers;
  • Government employees.

Each of these demographics has largely been convinced that its fortunes are tied to the ascendancy of the Democrat Party and its leftist / redistributionist ethic. Few among them will dare to vote against the Democrats in November -- and few of those will dare to speak openly of having done so.

These "solidarities" are very helpful to Democrat election campaigns. The Left has put a great deal of effort into nurturing them and fomenting their enthusiasm for an ever-expanding State. Together with the Democrat "base" of ideologically committed welfarists and social-democrats, they come close to 50% of the electorate, which is why Republican candidates have to scramble for every vote to have a chance of prevailing.

In a nation that's grown prosperous under a regime of freedom, a gimme-coalition can have what it demands for a time. But the longer such a coalition gets its way, the closer comes the day of reckoning, when, like Johnny Mnemonic, you can scream at the horizon as loudly as you like, but the goodies will no longer flow. Those from whom they were taken -- stolen -- will have dwindled in number; the few that remain will have deemed it irrational to continue to produce them. Half a century of exponentially expanding redistribution has brought that day terrifyingly near.

You cannot have prosperity without producers. You certainly cannot have endless streams of "free stuff."

***

There was a term in currency a couple of years ago that I haven't heard in a while: moral hazard. A moral hazard is a temptation to do something morally wrong that arises out of the incentives prevalent in a given situation. For example: In a situation in which theft is not punished by law, the temptation to steal will be considerable. If you think you can get away with it, you are in the grip of a moral hazard. The problem, obviously enough, is that theft ought to be punished when detected; a polity that doesn't do so is seriously deficient.

America is under a staggering weight of moral hazards in this year of Our Lord 2012. Yes, the police still pursue (private) thieves, and the courts still try them, and those that are convicted are punished...most of the time. But I don't have the criminal law in mind at the moment.

Governments at every level now seize half the Gross Domestic Product of the nation.
They redistribute what they've seized according to the dictates of political expediency.
They subsidize their cronies and use legal and regulatory means to hobble competitors.
They offer to free millions of obligors from their freely chosen obligations.
And millions of Americans, of every walk of life, have taken them up on it.

Moral hazards such as these don't merely elicit immoral behavior; they undermine the conception of moral standards altogether. If a thing is wrong unless the government does it, then is it really wrong? Indeed, is the notion of right and wrong as objective qualities sustainable when some persons, armed with the authority of the State, are permitted to dismiss them as they see fit?

We hear a lot about how hard it is these days to raise our kids to be decent, upstanding, law-abiding adults. Do you really think it's just because of what they see on television?

You cannot have a moral society when the largest and most powerful institution in that society is free from all moral constraint.

***

One of my favorite essays from back at Eternity Road addresses a conflict about which many Americans are in the dark, though it rages continually around us all: the war on truth. I've reposted that essay immediately below this one. If you haven't read it yet, please do so before we conclude here.

With an economic day of reckoning approaching at express-train speed, those whose fortunes have relied upon the maintenance of a gimme-coalition have only one arrow left in their quivers: deceit. They must be willing to lie straight-faced. They must do so whenever unpleasant facts are offered for their comments. They must denounce anyone and everyone who dares try to call them on their mendacities, and must vilify their opponents as racists, sexists, scare-mongers, tools of the propertied classes, add your own favorite term of condemnation here.

This is the tenor of political rhetoric in our time. It isn't just our moral standards about theft and meeting one's own obligations that have been undermined. Automatic trust in the statements of politicians, their spokesmen, and the emissions of public-policy interest groups has become impossible. But then, in a regime riven by moral hazards of so many kinds, Americans have largely ceased to trust anyone's statements. These days, "What's his angle?" is the question that rises to our minds upon hearing anyone's opinion about anything.

In a nation that has fostered the sort of "solidarities" and policies we've suffered for decades now, you cannot have trust -- in anyone.

Food for thought.

Dark Gods Part 2: The War On Truth

[This essay is a companion to the previous "Dark Gods" piece. It originally appeared at Eternity Road on January 23, 2006. -- FWP]

I often come to the end of a typical Eternity Road essay thinking that there's more to say on the subject, but that I've already tried my audience's patience to the limit. Probably a lot of opinion writers feel the same. We're well stuffed with words, every one of which screams for release, and the opportunities to vent them are seldom as copious as we'd like.

You're probably a bit bemused by the above, since the essay to which the title refers was a 5500-word monstrosity that took most of your day to digest. How much more could anyone have to say after a tirade of such length?

Judge for yourself.


As you're aware, I have "sidelines" in a number of fields. One of those is strategic and tactical planning. Few persons take up that study, for any number of reasons. Yet its relevance to current conditions can hardly be doubted. Indeed, it's wider than most persons would suspect.

Probably the most important breakthrough in military science this past century was the Germans' strategic / tactical revolution, which they put to its fullest use in World War I. Prior to the Bismarck / Von Schlieffen era of the German General Staff, it was customary to hurl one's main force directly at the main force of the enemy, in a simple trial of strength against strength. If there was a theory behind this practice, it would be that victory requires the defeat of the enemy's main force; therefore, to direct one's attention to anything else is counterproductive.

What this line of thought neglected to consider is that an armed force is a complex vector quantity. It has many components, and at any given time is aimed in a particular direction.

German strategic thinkers who arrived at this insight scuplted strike plans that emphasized pitting strength against weakness. First, they reasoned, one must penetrate the enemy force; second, one must locate the essential supports for that force which are easiest to destroy or disperse; finally, one can "mop up" the nominally stronger elements from behind, as they will be unable to maintain themselves after their arteries have been severed. This gave rise to the Schlieffen Plan, which very nearly won World War I in its first six weeks, and to infiltration tactics by which the German Army held off the combined British, French, and American Armies for more than four years.

Among today's military thinkers, this progression is an "of course" matter. That makes it easy to underestimate the impact it had when introduced on the fields of Belgium and France in 1916. It also underplays the significance such strategy can have in political and ideological combat.


In the ideological clashes of today, the attention of the greater mass of Americans is focused on secondary matters. Arguments over national defense, tax rates, social policy directions, regulatory structures, and so forth continue to rage, but with less prospect of being satisfactorily settled than ever before...because a critical pinion for all argument of any sort has been undermined near to collapse.

The pinion of which I speak is the concept of objective truth.

It's hard for most people to grasp that objective truth is a conception, rather than something self-evident. Yet furious philosophical battles have been fought over it. The negative side has never conceded defeat. They've advanced reason after reason to doubt the existence of objective reality. As each one is destroyed, they shift to another. In a sense, their proposition is its own strongest weapon, for they respond rather frequently to even the most obvious points by saying, "No, that's your truth" -- an implicit claim that it's the not the observation but the observer's willingness to accept it that really matters.

John Q. Public has heard little of this, of course; it's mostly fought in the ivory towers, and in the publications that cater to professional intellectuals. All the same, it matters to him more than he's able to appreciate.

Truth is an evaluation: a judgment that some proposition corresponds to objective reality sufficiently for men to rely upon it. The weakening of the concept of truth cuts an opening through which baldly counterfactual propositions can be thrust into serious discourse. Smith might say that proposition X is disprovable, or that it contradicts common observations of the world; Jones counters that X suits him fine, for he has dismissed the disprovers as "partisan" and prefers his own observations to those of Smith. Unless the two agree on standards for relevant evidence, pertinent reasoning, and common verification -- in other words, standards for what can be accepted as sufficiently true -- their argument over X will never end.

An interest group that has "put its back against the wall" as regards its central interest, and is unwilling to concede the battle regardless of the evidence and logic raised against its claims, will obfuscate, attack the motives of its opponents, and attempt to misdirect their attention with irrelevancies. When all of these have failed, its last-ditch defense is to attack the concept of truth. Once that has been undermined, the group can't be defeated. It can stay on the ideological battlefield indefinitely, preserving the possibility of victory through attrition or fatigue among its opponents.


An argument that cannot be settled, but which has engaged substantial passions, is an impediment to moving on to other issues. This is a peripheral but significant consideration in the threats to the concept of truth. By sustaining a battle that would have been over long ago had assertions of truth or falsity been taken seriously, a group may prevent other matters of equal or greater importance from being addressed. A typical contemporary case is that over corruption-by-lobbyist in Congress.

Let it be said at once that there is no defense for a public official who accepts a lobbyist's quid in exchange for a malfeasance quo. Such men belong in prison, not in Congress; once isolated and their guilt proved, that's the only acceptable destination for them. But Arthur Herzog has noted that political corruption is a constant force over most of American history, made possible by human nature and the existence of opportunities to sell power at a profit; therefore, the only reasonable expectation is that, absent some extraordinary measure to wipe out all such opportunities, corrupt legislators successfully rooted out will be replaced by...other corrupt legislators.

In other words, if we continue to do what we've always done, we'll continue to get what we've always gotten: political venality and systemic deceit. If we create anti-corruption superstructures to keep watch on the other operations of government, we'll merely cause the corruption-minded to change targets: they will seek positions within those new bureaucracies.

Certain political forces want that argument to be kept out of play. They prefer to thunder about corruption, to urge ever more energetic pursuit of the corrupt, and ever more stringent laws "against" it. If we go by their deeds, their primary interest is in the creation of ever more laws and the prosecution of ever more corrupt individuals. But luxuriant law is the source of corruption: every new law creates new opportunities for politicians to sell their influence to willing buyers. Only a condition of public austerity, in which government is small and the laws are few and easily understood, is capable of resisting men of weak conscience.

The very forces that rail most stridently against corruption are also those most ardent for the indefinite multiplication of the laws and the unlimited expansion of the State. Therefore, they reject Herzog's self-evident truth and assert that, despite all the evidence of history, officials can be found on whom the incentives to venality presented by a multi-trillion-dollar government with millions of laws and regulations will not operate. To save the Omnipotent State, angels will govern us.


The rejection of the concept of truth is evident in many venues. Here are a few that come easily to mind.

1: From Mike Adams's reply to an angry feminist assailant:

When I asked another feminist to debate me on abortion she said that she didn’t discuss such personal topics publicly. But then I read her biography. After talking about losing her virginity (including details about how she cleaned the blood off the couch afterwards) she dedicated countless pages to the issue of abortion and how a “lack of choice” adversely affects young women. After reading on, I realized why she didn’t tell me the truth. She revealed that she was a postmodernist who didn’t like to use the word “truth.”

The next time I got into an argument with a feminist – over whether a female student who lied about a rape to get out of a test should be expelled – I understood the postmodern feminist position better. Feminists just can’t help but lie because there really is no such thing as the truth.

Since so many feminists cannot tell the truth - because it doesn’t even really exist - I simply cannot take them seriously.

I would quibble with Professor Adams only in one particular: I would say that his unnamed feminist debating partner, and her "sisters" among gender-war feminists, don't disbelieve in truth; rather, they seek to undermine the concept in service to their agenda. Once their agenda had been achieved, they'd want it treated as true beyond all question.

2: From John Leo's meditations on the James Frey revelations:

Of course Oprah took the side of veracity-challenged author James Frey, author of “A Million Little Pieces. She is in the feelings business, and you don’t succeed in her line of work by favoring facts over deeply felt but untrue stories. The tears that she and her staffers shed while reading Frey’s largely concocted tale of crime and addiction made the book important to her. When Frey appeared on CNN’s Larry King Live, Oprah made things worse by phoning in to say, “the underlying message of redemption in James Frey’s memoir still resonates with me.” Apparently this meant that she was so moved by the book that she doesn’t care that it contains many untruths. Resonance makes lying defensible....

Certainly our culture is awash in lies-politicians, professors, reporters, columnists, scientists, etc., so much so that numbness has set in. ” Emotional truth” seems to take advantage of this numbness over a culture saturated in lies. If you can’t believe the literal truth any more, why not trust your own emotional response to stories?

Press coverage of hurricane Katrina was loaded with stories and claims that turned out to be wildly untrue. But the emotions stirred by TV’s often fanciful coverage were powerful and the most emotional of the media stars-Brian Williams and Anderson Cooper-strongly advanced their careers. If emotional impact keeps advancing at the price of truth, we will all be in trouble.

3: A few years ago, Guatemalan "author" Rigoberta Menchu was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, largely on the strength of her "autobiography" I, Rigoberta Menchu. That fanciful volume told a harrowing story, in which its protagonist was apparently subjected to every sort of hazard and privation, and subsequently involved herself with "social reform" groups that had Communist backing. Of course, Menchu laid the blame for the strife and want in her life, and by extension the lives of thousands upon thousands of other Latin American peasants, on capitalism and American imperialism.

There was one problem with the book: a not-particularly-strenuous investigation proved that every single factual assertion in it was a lie. (A concise summary of the facts of Menchu's life can be read here.) This was apparently not enough to invalidate Menchu's "autobiography" as a valid claim to the Nobel Prize, even in the eyes of investigator David Stoll, who unearthed her fabrications. By his lights, and apparently by those of the Nobel Committee, the Menchu story was an "authentic" chronicle of Central American peasant life even if all its factual details were false-to-fact.

4: Few subjects have excited as much acrimony as Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS). This deadly disease, whose fatality rate is approximately 100%, has given rise to some of the most venomous political rhetoric of our time. Most of that rhetoric has focused on AIDS's link to male homosexual sodomy.

The facts are incontrovertible: nearly 80% of AIDS sufferers are male homosexuals. Most of the rest are users of intravenous drugs. This is because the transmission of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) requires blood contact: it must enter the bloodstream of the victim to be infected within a few seconds of its emission by its host. Moreover, a substantial "charge" of the virus is required. As HIV is powerfully concentrated in semen, semen-to-blood contact is an ideal way for it to spread. Such contact is most commonly a consequence of anal intercourse.

America's homosexual lobby would have none of it. Sensing that AIDS would receive little political attention if it were regarded as a "gay disease," homosexual advocacy groups bent enormous efforts to convincing the general public that "we are all at risk of AIDS." They denounced anyone who differed with their assertions as a hater of homosexuals who would look with favor upon their extinction. Special-interest dynamics, with the backing of the nationwide Old Media, helped them to carry the day: AIDS research receives a large multiple of the funding that goes to several other deadly diseases, even though those other diseases kill many more Americans each year. The truth of the matter -- that AIDS is a disease whose victims nearly all collaborate in its acquisition by their behavior -- was not allowed to interfere.

5: Islamic advocacy groups, both in the U.S. and elsewhere, have maintained a constant barrage upon the media, ceaselessly repeating that:

  1. Islam does not condone terrorism;
  2. There is not and can never be a valid identification of any act of terrorism with Islam;
  3. They owe no one a response for terrorist actions committed by Muslims under an Islamic rationale;
  4. Violence against "enemies of Islam" isn't terrorism anyway;
  5. Islam is under heavy attack by various forces, principally the U.S. and "the Jews," and is entitled to defend itself by any means necessary;
  6. American actions to overthrow Saddam Hussein and Afghanistan's Taliban constitute making war on Islam, regardless of all other considerations.

For a variety of reasons, a number of non-Islamic groups have decided to echo these fallacious, mutually contradictory claims, more or less unmodified. Most such groups are far less concerned with Islam than with doing damage to the United States and the current executive administration. None of the proponents have attempted to substantiate any of their calumnies; they merely shout them at the top of their lungs, at every opportunity.


Many have asked how counterfactual claims such as the above could be accepted by anyone with access to the facts. Unfortunately, there's only a single answer: one can only accept them by first dismissing the importance of truth. But if truth has no importance, does it exist at all? More to the point: if truth exists and is determinable, doesn't it trump all other considerations by its very nature?

It takes only a moment's consideration to realize that the existence of truth -- not as a personal preference, but as an accurate perception of an objective reality -- is incompatible with the use of falsehoods in any sort of contest. The macroscopic universe is governed by strict rules of cause and effect. If the context is sufficiently well known, and the appropriate causes are introduced in the appropriate way, their effects can be foretold. But all of this is predicated on the availability of reliable, observer-independent knowledge: truth.

So for those fighting to advance faulty causes in the face of counter-evidence sufficient to invalidate them, truth simply has to go.


I should mention here that I hold to an unusual thesis: unprovable, but compelling all the same. I believe that if a man concedes even one assertion as an absolute fact independent of all opinion, it will ultimately force him to concede the absolute and objective character of all of existence. (I have discovered a truly remarkable proof of this thesis, but, unfortunately, the pixels at this site are too small to contain it.) If this is true, then the hostility toward the entire concept of objective truth of those who must deny some truths to make room for their positions stands explained.

Innumerable other adventures in thought can be begun from this point, but they're best saved for future essays.


Those still fighting the good fight for American ideals of individual liberty, individual responsibility, limited government, objective standards of justice, and so on are largely unequipped to cope with adversaries that reject the very idea of truth. This is a species of projection: Smith, being rational and decent, cannot believe that Jones really means it when he dismisses the notion of truth. Surely he's speaking metaphorically, though how a metaphor could survive severed from any truth that might give it relevance is open to question. The suggestion that Jones cannot be reasoned with is simply too radical to be contemplated; it must be laid aside until all other possibilities have been exhausted, which somehow never occurs. Even when the stakes couldn't possibly be higher, and Jones's disaffiliation from all concepts of objective truth couldn't possibly be clearer, Smith will tend to give him the benefit of the doubt.

During the Cold War, many a commentator exhorted us to look for "common ground" with the Soviets. Soviet socialism, they claimed, was on a far better footing than the ideologues of free-market economics were willing to admit. Soviet subjects, they averred, were far better off than the lurid tales of endless queues, secret police, and gulags represented; possibly even better off than Americans in some respects. The Soviet military, in any event, was far too formidable a force for us to risk unsettleing the rulers of that state. Surely, these voices of moderation and tolerance said repeatedly, there's a way we can manage to "do business," such that we can coexist without either side having to surrender its peculiar political and economic structures. Far fewer were the voices that cried that totalitarians, who claim the right to wield absolute and unconditional authority over others, who invade and subjugate neighboring countries merely to secure their resources and the Soviet Union's borders, simply cannot be trusted. Those voices were ignored for several decades, despite the steadily mounting evidence for their contentions, until the coming of Ronald Reagan and the end of detente diplomacy.

Even in the aftermath of Reagan's stunning defeat of the Soviet Union, those who claimed we had to learn to get along with the Communists never abandoned their position. Instead, they switched to an alternate set of "underlying causes." Despite nearly two decades' accumulated evidence that the Reaganite strategy really was what undid the Soviet state, socialism's apologists still refuse to accept it. But having lost the argument on the merits of objective fact, all they can do is denigrate the facts themselves. To preserve their overall position, the truth of the matter must be obscured. When they confront an adequately well informed person who can present those objective facts, their usual response is to shout him down, or denounce him as a closed-minded partisan.

Yet it remains the most common reaction among decent men to assume that such behavior is merely a regrettable spike, a sign of frustration over the failure of a "noble experiment." Surely it has no other significance. The possibility that the shouter / slanderer might have determined to win at any cost, regardless of what violence must be done to objective truth and honorable discourse among men, is seldom contemplated.

There's a whole education in that phenomenon alone.

Persons interested in a fuller treatment of this subject should read The Flight From Truth, by Jean-Francois Revel, one of Europe's most forthright and clearest-headed polemicists.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Read This NOW!

Thanks to our beloved InstaPundit, I've just been over to Sarah Hoyt's place to read the most chilling, sobering true story I've ever encountered on the Web.

Sarah, I can't help but wonder if Americans, accustomed to decade after decade of material comfort and peaceful transitions of power, would be as brave and unflinching as your sixteen-year-old self.

I believe it was Robert A. Heinlein who reminded us that true bravery is not the absence of fear, but the resolve to continue on in the face of your fear -- and the greater your fear, the braver you must be to overcome it. Just how brave would we be, who (like a writer from France whose name I've forgotten) have long enjoyed freedom but have never had to fight for it?

Is there a point? Of course. How likely is it that the Obamunists will surrender power peacefully after losing the elections? I'd hesitate to say it's guaranteed; would you?

I suspect there's more in store for us than a few W keys torn from White House keyboards.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Assorted

Some Wednesdays really are whacky. (No, not in the Opie & Anthony sense, concerning which, good riddance to bad rubbish.) Have a gander at some of the stories that have caught my eye these past few hours.

***

1. Yet Another Call For A "New World Order."

Do we really need more reasons to detest Mahmoud Ahmadinejad?

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Tuesday that a new world order needs to emerge, away from years of what he called American bullying and domination.

Ahmadinejad spoke to The Associated Press in a wide-ranging interview on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly -- his last as president of Iran. He was to address the Assembly Wednesday morning....

"God willing, a new order will come together and we'll do away with everything that distances us," Ahmadinejad said, speaking through a translator. "I do believe the system of empires has reached the end of the road. The world can no longer see an emperor commanding it."

"Now even elementary school kids throughout the world have understood that the United States government is following an international policy of bullying," he said.

"An international policy of bullying," eh? Gee, I wonder how American foreign policy compares to Iranian calls for the "elimination" of Israel?

Israel has "no roots" in the Middle East and will be "eliminated." International efforts to stop a bloody civil war in Syria amount to "meddling." And he may even break bread with Occupy Wall Street....

Much of Ahmadinejad's bluster was aimed squarely at Israel, which accuses the Islamic Republic of manufacturing illegal nuclear weapons. IN an interview with CNN's Piers Morgan set to air tonight, Ahmadinejad, whose regime has barred international weapons inspectors from key sites in Iran, said the Israelis are making it up.

"Of course the Zionists are very much, very adventuresome, very much seeking to fabricate things and I think they see themselves at the end of the line," Ahmadinejad said. "I do firmly believe that they seek to create new opportunities for themselves and their adventurous behaviors."

Who'll give me odds that Israel will outlast the theocratic regime that currently controls Iran?

***

2. When A Boddie Meets A Boddie...

...comin' through Salt Lake:

In a conference call with reporters, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said that his fellow Mormon, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, "is not the face of Mormonism." Reid added he agrees with Romney critics who claim Romney has "sullied" the faith of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, the official name of the church....

In the matter of "bearing false witness," Reid claimed that a "source," who he refused to name, told him that Romney had not paid any federal income taxes in a decade. Reid indicated he believed him and challenged Romney to release his tax returns. When Romney finally did, proving he has, indeed, paid millions of dollars in taxes, did Reid apologize and ask Romney to forgive him? He did not. Instead, Reid moved on to another accusation that Romney had "fudged" his charitable donations in order to live up to the percentage of his income he claimed to have given away in recent years.

I shouldn't be surprised when a politician flatly and blatantly lies, even about another politician. Nor am I Mitt Romney's hugest fan, politically. But every available bit of evidence indicates that Romney is a faithful son of his church -- never mind its absurd theology -- and as good a Christian man as one could find anywhere. By contrast, Harry Reid should be relegated to some lesser species, where his many moral defaults wouldn't besmirch the reputation of the human race.

***

3. But We Were Assured That It's All A Lie!

The contentious topic of voter fraud and its power to sway elections is more newsworthy than ever:

A national voter fraud watchdog group announced Tuesday that it has uncovered at least 31 cases of absentee ballot fraud in New York and Florida -- a finding the group claims is "just the tip of the iceberg."

True the Vote, a group that focuses on voter fraud, said it turned over 31 cases to state and federal election authorities in which individuals cast their votes in two states in the same federal election -- which is a felony.

Logan Churchwell, a spokesman for the group, told FoxNews.com that the organization accessed Florida's complete voter registration roll and cross-referenced it against 10 percent of New York's list. It identified more than 1,700 people with voter registrations in both states. Of that number, 31 people allegedly voted in both states during the same federal election cycle.

You'd think that the 2000 presidential election, which turned on 537 votes in a single state, would convince Americans that any degree of voter fraud is a serious threat to the integrity of our elections. But given that vote fraud put Al Franken in the United States Senate, at the very least we can expect some "pushback" from the Unserious Liberals Of High Moral Repute lobby. After all, given their assumption of moral and intellectual superiority to us mean old right-wingers, not only must they know better, but they're morally pre-indemnified against peccadilloes like vote fraud. After all, whatever it takes to put and keep good "progressives" in office is inherently self-justifying, isn't it?

***

4. New Frontiers In "Free Expression."

Pamela Geller first impinged upon my attention with her blog Atlas Shrugs. Ever since her rise to prominence in the DextroSphere, she's pushed for new ways to advance the causes she favors, prominent among them support for Israel against the jihadist madness that threatens the Jewish state.

Apparently, not everyone approves of Pamela's right to free expression:

An Egyptian-born U.S. columnist has been arrested for spray-painting an advertisement equating Muslim radicals with savages at a New York City subway station.

Police say Mona Eltahawy was arrested Tuesday on charges including criminal mischief and making graffiti. Her arrest was captured on video by a New York Post camera crew and posted online.

Eltahawy is a women's rights defender and lecturer on the role of social media in the Arab world. She calls herself a liberal Muslim who's spoken publicly against violent Islamic groups. She's seen in the video spraying pink paint on the ad while another woman tries to block her.

Pamela's group The American Freedom Defense Initiative is the sponsor of those ads. She had to labor like Hercules to get the MTA to accept them in the first place. Miss Eltahawy's response is vivid proof of their importance ("The Fascists cannot argue, so they kill" -- Victor Marguerite). That response also gives the lie to Miss Eltahawy's claim to be a "liberal"... though "liberal Muslim" should be enough of a contradiction in terms to cast doubt on any claim she might make about herself. (Pamela's own comment on this episode is here.)

Oh, by the way, Miss Eltahawy: Muslim radicals are savages. Only savages practice the sort of genocidal response to differences in religion that the attackers of Israel have committed. Indeed, only savages practice a religion that sanctifies conversion by the sword, the enslavement of "infidels," the chattelization of women, or the practice of deceit, dissimulation, and outright fraud for the advancement of that religion.

Hm, it seems I've just consigned all the Muslims of the world to the category of savages, haven't I? You may be assured that it was entirely intentional.

***

5. And Some Don't Even Have Huge...Tracts Of Land.

It has often seemed to me that it takes very little actual talent to become a pop star, especially if you're a female aspirant to that status. If you look good enough, can sing a little, and have good enough promotion, you can make a decent splash without being a world-beater.

Of course, a willingness to be outrageous can be an asset, as well. Outrageousness, as we know, is catnip to the entertainment press; they're completely incapable of resisting it. Indeed, a sufficient degree of outrageous behavior can keep the klieg lights shining on a mediocrity well beyond his sell-by date. Surely Madonna has proved that for us:

Madonna asked everyone in the audience of her Washington, DC performance Monday night to vote for President Obama because he is a "black Muslim."

"Y’all better vote for f**king Obama, OK? For better or for worse, all right?" the shouted from stage while sipping from a bottle of water with a straw. ""We have a black Muslim in the White House! Now that’s some amazing s**t.”

Madonna, 54, also stripped down to her bra to reveal "Obama" stenciled in big letters on her back, before promising (or warning?): “When Obama is in the White House for a second term I'll take it all off.”

Does anyone with a modicum of taste -- no, not musical taste -- need a better reason to vote for Mitt Romney?

***

6. Thanks For Asking.

I've received an overwhelming number emails from Gentle Readers inquiring into my arm ailment and overall health. First and foremost, my sincere thanks for your concern. It's always nice to know that one is appreciated, even if it's just for "handing out free ice cream."

Second: Yes, my arm is improving. Extensive physical therapy has established that I'm a complete wreck with one foot in the grave I have a series of compressed nerves in my left shoulder and trailing partway down my spine. A pair of ruthless gorillas with no sense of mercy or restraint Two excellent physical therapists have worked to ease those compressions, and are gradually attaining some success.

Third, to the correspondent who asked about the Gibson Les Paul: Yes, I have been playing it, albeit not as often as I'd like, and no, you can't have it after I'm dead!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Damage

[This essay first appeared at the old Palace Of Reason, on August 13, 2004. I chose to reprint it today in light of the unusual degree of attention Mark Butterworth's post A Distasteful Subject has been getting. As usual when sexual mores and conduct are the topics, I expect disagreement – but given the facts, I don't expect to be refuted -- FWP]

0. Foreword / Warning

I intend to tackle a contentious topic today. I expect that what I'm about to say will provoke a great deal of passionate disagreement, even though I can't see how there could be an honest argument about it. Even Palace readers who normally find themselves in agreement with me might be offended by much of what they read here -- not because it's factually incorrect, but because of the subject matter and the amount of acrimony that surrounds it.

The subject is male homosexuality, its objective characteristics, its current position in the national psyche, and the consequences of the historically recent changes in our attitudes toward it. The trigger for the essay was the resignation of New Jersey Governor James McGreevey yesterday, and the discussion swirling around it.


1. The McGreevey Announcement.

When Governor McGreevey announced his resignation yesterday, he simultaneously declared himself to be homosexual and an adulterer. His wife and two children were with him as he delivered his statement, which implies that in some sense or another he had their "support" in his decision. Yet it's plain from his statements that his decades as a married man were lived in a sham, and that his wife -- the second of two -- could not expect him to return to normal marital conditions of heterosexuality and fidelity, even if she wanted it.

Why did she choose to give him any support?

Not knowing Mrs. McGreevey or anything about her, it would be unfair for me to speculate. But many a wife in her position would feel an obligation to stand by her husband, not from loyalty to the marital bond he had sundered, but from the inculcated sense that homosexuals are somehow oppressed persons, not responsible for their condition, and are owed an unusual degree of acceptance and support for those two reasons, as a matter of right.

Later we will explore the legal and political usefulness of McGreevey's declaration in his particular circumstances. For the moment, it's enough to note that any woman in Mrs. McGreevey's position would be under a certain pressure to present an appearance of support for her husband, despite the callousness he'd shown her and her children by betraying them in this particular way.


2. Changes From Political Pressure.

Until about fifty years ago, homosexual behavior was absolutely illegal almost everywhere in the world. That had been the case throughout recorded history. It's never been a pleasant subject with heterosexuals. In particular, the practices of male homosexuals -- anal intercouse, sometimes called buggery -- have revulsed countless generations, whether the reasons were analytical, visceral, or religious.

The contrast between those earlier attitudes and today's posture of aseptic deference toward the "gay lifestyle" is almost too great to comprehend. What was once a felony offense is now a protected practice. Indeed, to be a homosexual is to have an array of special legal recourses to various occurrences -- "discriminations" -- that heterosexuals cannot use.

The change speaks eloquently of the tremendous persistence and efficacy of homosexual political activists. Despite a number of developments which, objectively, would have been expected to increase heterosexuals' revulsion toward them, they've achieved a superior, even a dominant position in American society. They exert exceptional influence in entertainment, communications, the arts, fashion, and other areas of enterprise. They also wield a heavy cudgel against anyone who dares to criticize them in any way, despite the pronounced gracelessness their leading lights show toward heterosexuals, their sensitivities, and their concerns.


3. Medical Considerations.

Yet what are the specific consequences of male homosexual sodomy?

Probably the least arguable consequences are the medical ones. Homosexuals suffer from an array of ailments which heterosexuals are largely spared. The most publicized one, AIDS, remains an incurable fatal disease that can be managed to some degree with drugs, but which will eventually claim every sufferer's life. Others range from a propensity toward hepatitis to bowel infections, dangerously delicate hemorrhoids, and anal incontinence.

The result of homosexuals' vulnerability to these maladies is a shortened average lifespan. The average age at death of those whose obituaries appear in homosexual periodicals with significant circulations is age 48 -- a twenty-six year deficit in comparison to the average male heterosexual. (In evaluating this statistic, one must remember that these data might not represent homosexuals in general.) Of course, conditions other than purely medical ones undoubtedly affect that statistic, but there can be little doubt that disease plays a large part.


4. Psychological Considerations.

Several psychologists and psychiatrists of my acquaintance report an over-representation of male homosexuals among their patients. It would appear that homosexuals are far more frequently clinically depressed than heterosexuals. Suicide statistics controlled for sexual orientation are hard to get, but there are indicators that homosexuals are more prone to death by suicide than heterosexuals as well.

Why should this be, given the acceptance homosexuals have attained from society at large, and their relative success in various well remunerated and respected fields of endeavor?

Part of the answer might be low self-regard. Homosexuals appear to deal badly with the knowledge that they're outside the norm, can't reproduce naturally, and are prone to so many unusual ills. This is part of the reason for much outrageous homosexual camping and flaunting -- flamboyant dress and mannerisms, and unusual speech patterns -- which are forms of overcompensation for the sense of deviance. It also helps to explain the scorn and insult many homosexuals heap upon "breeders," a frequently used term for heterosexuals.

This makes for a stunning irony when juxtaposed to homosexual activists' loud, strident demands to be accepted as "normal," but that's a subject for another essay.


5. Identity And Bonding.

Though homosexuals routinely claim that they were "born that way" -- i.e., had no choice about being homosexual -- few would allow that, had they been given a choice, they would have preferred to be heterosexual. The statement would draw charges of "disloyalty" or "self-hatred." More, the suggestion that at least some homosexuals can have their orientations reversed through therapy is universally met with denunciation, and is routinely categorized as "hate speech."

Matters grow still more bizarre when we include the peripheral behavior that's prevalent among male homosexuals, but at least in theory ought to have nothing to do with sexual orientation or bonding. A substantial fraction of avowed homosexuals are obsessed with sex, with sexual promiscuity, and with sexual performance (consider the prevalent use of amyl nitrite "poppers" to boost orgasmic intensity). Bondage, sadomasochism, fisting and scatophilia correlate very strongly with homosexuality. All these things increase the risks associated with the homosexual orientation, and the revulsion felt toward them by heterosexuals.

Yet despite all this, homosexual activists promote the idea that homosexuality is an allegiance like unto an allegiance of nationality, deserving of loyalty beyond such attachments as conventional nationality or political alignment. They've demanded that we all accept that "gay is good."

But it is not good, at least if we judge by the medical and psychological consequences of homosexuality.


6. The Marriage Debate.

At this time, there's probably no more contentious issue in popular political discourse than that of same-sex marriage. The fury of the debate over it seems only to grow greater with each argument advanced, whether for or against...though, given the psychological milieu delineated above, perhaps that ought not to surprise us.

Marriage is the fundamental building block of any civilization. Society is not made up principally of individuals, but of families. The evidence for this proposition is all around us, yet its very ubiquity has somehow caused it to be ignored.

(A quick tangent: Here we see another of the reasons homosexuals are inherently marginal players in the social game. Homosexuality makes it extremely difficult to participate in the extension of one's family's forward influence, entirely because of reproductive considerations. The family tree tends not to extend through a homosexual node. The heterosexual lines always show more dynamism and forward extension. But this is properly the subject of a separate essay.)

The marriage contract is in no way relevant to homosexual relationships, which are formed by presumedly economic equals, involve no possibility of conception, and therefore appear to present no areas for contract enforcement. None of the natural motivators for the marital contract apply to same-sex couples. Despite that, homosexuals are agitating for access to the institution of marriage as if everything about their political movement depended on it. (Perhaps that's really the case; we'll get there shortly.)

Stanley Kurtz and others have gathered evidence to the effect that the legitimization of same-sex marriage does great harm to the institution among heterosexuals. In particular, it correlates strongly with a large increase in illegitimacies. Kurtz's thesis is that same-sex marriage is the final severance between marriage and reproduction; it gives rise to the conviction that child-bearing and child-rearing are entirely irrelevant to marriage. As a result, births out of wedlock, with all the instabilities that pertain thereto, have surged in those countries that have extended marital recognition to same-sex couples. The domestic stability and overall well-being of children has been substantially degraded as a result.

But why do homosexuals want the legal status of marriage? The question is no sooner asked than answered. If society really is assembled from families rather than from individuals, marital recognition for homosexuals would imply full participation of homosexual couples in society, both in its perpetuation and its general enterprise. But don't expect to find those considerations among the arguments of same-sex marriage activists. Their arguments are all about "choosing your family" and access to irrelevancies such as hospital visiting privileges. Not one ever addresses the question of what marriage was really designed for, or why historically recent changes in family planning technology, family law, and social norms have caused it to weaken.

If admission of homosexual couples to marital status would have the consequences Kurtz proposes, we should take a long hard look at the matter before watering down the definition of marriage to admit homosexuals...but this is not generally happening.


7. Cowardice.

Cowardice is the most important single factor in all public discussions of homosexuality. Otherwise fearless people have been intimidated out of giving their sincere opinions of homosexual behavior, its risks, and the costs it imposes on its practitioners. Heterosexuals have been inhibited against expressing their disgust over gay bathhouses, leather bars, fisting, bug chasing, and homosexual sadomasochism. They even fear to say that they find homosexuals threatening to their children, despite the mountains of evidence that homosexuals (NAMBLA, "Butterfly Kisses") actively try to draw the young into their world. This, despite the infinite opprobrium heaped upon heterosexual exploitation of children!

The engine of this fear for the private citizen is disapproval, cloaked in liberal political correctness. For the public citizen or politician, it's the fear of homosexual activists, inarguably the most vicious of all politically active communities.

Yet, despite the frequently heard public pieties and the general reluctance to criticize homosexual behavior for its objective hazards, no heterosexual parent would sincerely be glad to hear his 18 year old son announce that he was homosexual. The hypocrisy is near to smothering.


8. A Gathering Storm.

To return to the McGreevey episode, we have here a public figure, who has risen to high office, who will soon face serious charges of graft motivated by sexual nepotism and sexual blackmail. McGreevey's lover, Golan Cipel, used his personal relationship with the New Jersey Governor to attain a state position worth $110,000 per year in salary, plus numerous perquisites. It's been rumored that Cipel is about to introduce a sexual harassment suit against McGreevey, as well.

Despite all this, McGreevey chose to emphasize his sexual confusions as the reasons for his resignation from public office. Why?

The most plausible reason is exactly the same as the reason for Mrs. McGreevey's show of support for her husband: homosexuality has been granted so thick a blanket of protection from dispassionate analysis and criticism that it might even serve to shield McGreevey from the corruption and sexual nepotism charges he appears certain to face.

We live at a time when a dangerous deviance associated with several other dangerous deviances has become a putative shield against charges of corruption. If that doesn't scare you, quite likely nothing ever will.


9. Conclusions.

Homosexual behavior ought not to be illegal; nothing that involves only competent adults who've given their informed consent is a fit subject for the law. But this does not preclude a sober attitude toward the easily observed consequences of male homosexual behavior. It certainly does not preclude an attempt to protect one's children from the negatives that accompany homosexuality.

No aspect of sexual freedom -- broadly speaking, the separation of Bedroom and State -- need bear on the desirability of speaking frankly about what homosexuality means to its practitioners in practical terms.

Homosexual activists' success at putting the medical, psychological and social outcroppings of their practices beyond all discussion, and their assault on marriage, the fundamental familial institution from which civilization draws the greater part of its stability, suggest that our overall unwillingness to confront them about their claims has been at great cost to society -- a cost that will become greater the longer their claims go unchallenged.

If the McGreevey matter bears on all of this in a substantial way, it's as an exclamation point: a stark depiction of how absurd our cognitive avoidance of the subject has become, when a high public figure can use a dangerous deviance as a partial shield against being found culpable for malfeasance. Bill Clinton's heterosexual affairs were no barrier to his retaining the Oval Office; Barney Frank's scandalous affair -- with a younger man who was running a house of prostitution out of Frank's Massachusetts home -- didn't bar him from office. Clearly, neither adultery nor buggery disqualify a man from high office, at least in the eyes of one major party. Therefore, what we have before us is the most shameless, most cynical use of sexual politics in American history -- sex as protection from legal liability -- and Governor McGreevey and his sexual compatriots expect that we will let him get away with it.

Quickies: Freedom And Its Foes

Have a gander at this rather surprising story:

Small government and free-market capitalism are about to get put to the test in Honduras, where the government has agreed to let an investment group build an experimental city with no taxes on income, capital gains or sales.

Proponents say the tiny, as-yet unnamed town will become a Central American beacon of job creation and investment, by combining secure property rights with minimal government interference.

“Once we provide a sound legal system within which to do business, the whole job creation machine – the miracle of capitalism – will get going,” Michael Strong, CEO of the MKG Group, which will build the city and set its laws, told FoxNews.com.

Strong said that the agreement with the Honduran government states that the only tax will be on property.

“Our goal is to be the most economically free entity on Earth,” Strong said.

Talk about a big development occurring entirely “under the radar,” eh? Who knew the Hondurans were the most politically adventurous people in the Western Hemisphere? Then again, they did eject that scoundrel Zelaya, didn’t they? And against the resistance and disapproval of Barack Hussein Obama, The Won himself!

Of course, not all Hondurans approve:

The bill to allow the creation of such cities passed the Honduran Legislature nearly unanimously, by a vote of 126 to 1. But not everyone is on board with the project. Left-wing Hondurans have filed a complaint before the Honduran Supreme Court, arguing that the free cities project violates their constitution and treats “national territory as a commodity.”...

”I can't help but suspect that the promise of plenty of jobs is nothing but a Trojan horse,” Teofilo Colon Jr., who runs the Garifuna cultural group Being Garifuna, told FoxNews.com.

“The prospect of setting up a charter city, with its own laws, [that] is sovereign to itself and doesn't have to pay taxes, is a dubious one at best. It'd be tantamount to inviting pirates to come in and have free reign to essentially raid the country's resources/riches.”

The model city is to be built on entirely unoccupied, unexploited land. No one in Honduras has a claim on it; it appears to have no “resources” other than beach access. But that wouldn’t daunt the foes of freedom. A demonstration project such as this, which could become a Central American Hong Kong, would endanger the entire Leftist project. It cannot be allowed to begin – and if it begins, it cannot be allowed to succeed.

I predict that there will be assaults on this project from start to finish. Some will be destructive. Some might even be murderous. And doubt not for a moment that the international Left will be involved in all of them.

This is a development to watch closely. Let’s hope the reporting stays close to the project as it proceeds.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Broken Or Whole? A Sunday Rumination

The Christian doctrine of Man the Fallen is one of the most difficult to accept. The concept originates in the story of Adam and Eve, and their weakness before the temptation presented by the Tree of Knowledge. According to that allegory, Man was entirely in God's good graces before that event, and ever since has had to earn his way back.

Yes, the story of Adam and Eve and the Garden of Eden is an allegory. Think about it for a moment. Who was around to record it? Who stood witness? Our oldest written records date from Moses, who included quite a bit of Hebraic oral tradition in his five books of the Old Testament. Though it's a colorful and instructive story, there is no reason to believe it's factually exact.

That goes for the part about the Tree of Knowledge, as well.

***

Yet we are sinful, we human beings. We suffer daily and hourly temptations to depart from the path Christ taught us, and the virtues He commended to us. Few are those among us who never yield to them.

This "fallen" business is the tough part. We generally admit that we're morally vulnerable, that resisting all the temptations we suffer is a chancy undertaking. Most of us are aware of our particular failings, our special weaknesses, and the occasions we must avoid to stay within the circle of grace. What we're uncomfortable with is the notion that the sins of our ancestors somehow taint our present-day souls.

Well, they don't. The thing is impossible, for a just God would not permit it, and God is just. What I take "fallen" to mean, theologically, is that susceptibility to temptation we all suffer. In other words, our "fallenness" is really our moral, ethical, and spiritual fallibility.

In its secular applications, fallibility is about incomplete knowledge or faulty reasoning. That's appropriate to dealings under the veil of Time. Mistakes are not sins; they're actions that proceed from poor premises or errors in logic. But equally, sins are not mistakes: they require what the lawyers call mens rea: the will to transgress that distinguishes a punishable crime from a remediable tort.

Much of the sloppiness that's marred Christian preaching arises from omitting this requirement.

We sin when we will that we shall sin. We must be aware that what we are contemplating is a sinful deed -- that is, either a violation of the rights or well-being of others, or a blasphemy or rejection of God -- and nevertheless resolve to go through with it. Thus, you cannot sin by ignorance or incapacity, as your will is not engaged in these things. However, you can sin by resolving on a sinful course and being thwarted in the deed itself; your conscious intention to transgress is all that's required.

Spiritual fallibility is the failure to discipline one's will.

***

Free will is absolutely essential to sound Christian thought. There's no way it could endure the determinism that corrupts Calvinism and Presbyterianism. Without free will, Man would be no more capable of sin than any of the lower orders of life.

In one of the great ironies of our time, the majority of the secular preachers of determinism have as a high-priority agenda item the quashing of the Christian conception of guilt. Guilt proceeds from the admission that not only has one done wrong, but that one intended to do so. No free will -- no guilt. And so, in an implicit but stunning admission of the utter fatuity of their project, the determinists exhort us to do whatever we please!

Cthulhu, call your office! If you hear in this an echo of the "society is responsible" anti-gospel of the moral relativists, you're not alone. The denial of individual responsibility for our decisions and actions can have only one outcome, regardless of to what alternate source we attempt to shunt that responsibility. It ends in savagery unbounded, the war of each against all, the law of the jungle. Chaos.

Determinism is damnation by default. We must choose. And one of the things we must choose is whether we shall rule our spiritual fallibility, or it shall rule us.

Which brings me to the title dichotomy.

***

One of the contemporary alternate terms for human spiritual fallibility, heard from far too many clerics at far too many pulpits, is brokenness. This, too, is misleading, perhaps even more so than "fallen." A broken thing is flawed, partially or wholly unsuitable for its role, not entirely what its designers and makers intended. If humans are "broken," then there are only two sensible things to be done with us. One of them is unpleasant to contemplate. What of the other one?

He who sets out to fix a broken thing must grasp its purpose and its design, He must contemplate the ways in which its current condition diverges from that purpose and that design, and fix upon a plan by which to restore it to its intended state and function. He must then execute that plan, and test the result against the appropriate "specifications" to determine whether more thought and more work are required.

It is my contention that if Man were broken, in the usual sense of the word, it would not be within our power to do anything much about it. We aren't allowed to know enough about ourselves, or about the purposes for which we're intended by our Designer. We aren't equipped with the necessary capabilities or tools to make trustworthy changes in ourselves, whether individually or as a species. Our episodes of presumptuousness in this matter has given rise to some of the worst of Man's excesses.

But Man is not "broken." Man is exactly what his Maker intended him to be, including the free will that allows him to choose to sin.

In On Broken Wings, I put it thus:

    Schliemann sighed. "Theologians have regretted the use of the word 'omnipotence' since the founding of the Church. A much better term would be 'control over natural law.' That's reasonable, since natural law is only a thought in the mind of God, as is all the rest of the natural world it governs. But it has no relevance to supernatural law, which binds both God and man."
    Louis raised an eyebrow. "Supernatural law?"
    "Yes, Louis, the supreme law, the law that transcends law. The law that says that a statement cannot be both true and false. The law that says that each thing is what it is, and nothing else. Man is free, because God made him so. It is Man's nature to be free. The Almighty Himself could not impose faith upon you, not with all His force. Not without making you something less than a man."

Our free will is part of God's gift of life...the part that makes us whole.

***

Are there creatures we would recognize as human, but whose possession of free will we would dispute? Possibly; there are gray areas around all important categories, including that of Mankind. Categories, after all, are human creations, and Man's creations are necessarily imperfect. But no one capable of reading and understanding the essays here at Liberty's Torch would be a "gray area" specimen.

Free will, as it happens, is one half of a mated pair of human attributes. The other half is conscience. You cannot have one yet lack the other.

Allow me another citation from one of my novels:

     “Christine, I’m a priest. I have to work from certain postulates. According to those postulates, the soul is the seat of conscience, of an individual’s real and unalterable identity. Creatures without souls are also without moral choice. They act strictly from innate drives, motivations built right into their flesh. You can’t have a moral nature, the ability to know right from wrong, unless you have a soul. You can’t love, or be grateful, or understand loyalty or duty or justice. So either those postulates are wrong, or your soul is as real and valuable as mine.”
    An intensity Ray hadn’t felt since his ordination flowed into him and through him. He pressed her hands together between his own and chafed them gently. “A very wise man once said, ‘You do not have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body.’ The soul is the individual, the only part of you that really matters. Let’s imagine for a moment that your maker—Evoy?—didn’t possess God’s power to make souls. Actually, that’s a good assumption: the soul eventually returns to God, so it would make sense that it must be from God, not from any lesser source. All the same, God gave Evoy the power to make you. Can you really believe that once Evoy was done designing your flesh, God wouldn’t step right in and take care of the rest? Would a God Who sent His only begotten Son to suffer and die for our sakes—Who allows us to exist at all—be so cruel?”

We may sin, but we do not "break." Nor do we start out "broken." The soul, the seat of free will and conscience both, is inherently whole. There's nothing broken about it.

May God bless and keep you all.

Quickies: A Radical Turnabout

Turnabout, the saying goes, is fair play:

MILWAUKEE — The Obama campaign is embracing debate over President Obama’s comments this week about changing Washington from the outside, saying the strategy has been “a hallmark of the president’s leadership style” while criticizing rival Mitt Romney for suggesting he could affect change on his own.

“This is a fundamental difference in how they would govern,” Obama campaign spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters today aboard Air Force One. “Mitt Romney seems to believe he can wave a magic wand and tell people what to do within the walls of Washington, and that that’s going to make change happen in this country.”

During the Univision forum Thursday, Obama said the “most important” lesson he learned in his first term is that “you can’t change Washington from the inside.”

“You can only change it from the outside,” he said. “That’s how I got elected, and that’s how the big accomplishments, like health care, got done, was because we mobilized the American people to speak out. That’s how we were able to cut taxes for middle-class families.”

It seems Obama doesn’t want the electorate to remember a few things: the Democrats' overwhelming, un-filibusterable control of both houses of Congress during his first two years in office; the massive popular opposition to ObamaCare and the outrage over his crony-capitalist subsidies and "stimulus" program; his statement early in 2009 that, should he fail to attain his major objectives before standing for re-election, then his presidency would be "a one-term proposition." But for a failed incumbent desperate to retain his office in the face of such massive failure, all this is par for the course.

Then again, so is this:

Romney pounced on the remark, saying that Obama — now on the “inside” in Washington — had thrown in “the white flag of surrender” on his pledge to change politics in the nation’s capital.

“I will change Washington. I will get the job done from the inside,” Romney said, appealing to voters’ bipartisan frustration with legislative gridlock.

This is a typical challenger's charge. And indeed, Obama's record is one of failure. But unfortunately for Romney, "changing Washington" is infinitely easier said than done. The facts of the matter are bitter.

The Constitutional organs headquartered in Washington are principally a facade over a government by unelected bureaucrats and regulators, who possess their own enforcement arms -- were you aware that the agents of the Environmental Protection Agency carry firearms? -- and are protected from dismissal by Civil Service rules. Those unelected rulers make up the law to suit their own preferences and purposes, essentially dismissing the limits on the legal basis for their authority, if any, that issued from Congress. Even the federal courts have proved largely unable to rein them in.

Ronald Reagan faced the same challenge, and was largely defeated by it. Armington and Ellis relate a typical vignette in their book MORE: The Rediscovery of American Common Sense, in which a White House staffer confronts an undersecretary in some alphabet agency:

"You know this is not the president's position."
"Well, sir, we're not in agreement with his position. We'll just study the matter until he leaves office."

Whoever occupies the White House next term will face the same sort of resistance. Overcoming it will be far harder than saying you'll overcome it. The sole remedies are the repeal of those parts of the Civil Service Act that immunize Civil Service employees against dismissal, and the complete dissolution of the offending bureaucracies. I'll give odds against either development.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Killers

Memory is a funny thing. At least, mine is. I can seldom explain why it's tossed some particular bit from the sub-basements of my life at me for a fresh perusal.

Today it's an old episode of Star Trek: "A Taste Of Armageddon." First season, I believe. The episode was about two worlds that had been at war for many generations, and had "civilized" the war by ceasing to use real weapons. Instead, the attacker would use some sort of detectable simulation of an attack; computers on both worlds would assess the effectiveness of the "attack;" and some number of citizens of the defender would be hustled into disintegration chambers -- real ones. Thus, "war" was made neat and non-destructive. At the conclusion of an "attack," all the buildings on both sides were still standing, and all the real estate unmarred. Only people were lost: men and women selected by the tactical computers to be the casualties of the "attack."

The intrepid Captain Kirk puts an end to this madness, of course; never mind his means. Councilman Anan, the leading figure of Eminar, the world the Enterprise has visited, pleads with him to let them continue, arguing that the arrangement is surely better than the horror and destruction of a real war. "We're killers," he says, implying that Mankind's destiny is to take lives, making an antiseptic arrangement like the one he and his enemies have established the best anyone could hope for. "Yes, we're killers," Kirk replies. "We're human beings with the blood of a million savage years on our hands, but we can stop it. We can admit that we're killers, but we're not going to kill, today. That's all it takes. Knowing that we won't kill, today."

Yes, we're killers. For a race of killers, the path of maturation can only be this: to learn, by painful trial and devastating error, when it's time to kill, and when to stay our hands...and when it's time to kill, on whom we should train our sights.

***

Few incidents have illustrated the irredeemable nature of the Islamic world half as well as the recent attacks on American embassies in Cairo and Benghazi. The Obama Administration's nonsense about it having nothing to do with America or American policies has no bearing on the essential savagery displayed. Only savages react to one man's words with violence against others. Only savages drag the dead bodies of murdered innocents through the streets, capering and crowing about their "triumph." Only savages are "governed," if the word applies, by men who implicitly excuse such behavior by calling for the punishment of the uninvolved.

Nor were these events unprecedented. Recall that the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, whose regime had displaced that of Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, endorsed the seizure of our embassy and our personnel, and injected his "government" into the "negotiations" for their release. (That release finally occurred on the day Ronald Reagan was inaugurated president. I wonder why?)

Wherever they've possessed the means and the opportunity, Muslims have behaved as savages against whatever "infidels" were ready to hand. Indeed, there's no place on Earth that "boasts" a non-trivial concentration of Muslims where non-Muslims can feel entirely safe. That includes the various Muslim concentration points in this country and the other nations of the West.

If you think this is merely a coincidence, I have a bridge I'd like to sell you.

The pseudo-religion of Islam literally exhorts Muslims to this sort of behavior. There are dozens of verses in the Qur'an, the Sunnah, and the ahadith that teach Muslims to distrust the "infidel," to wield deceit and dissimulation against him, and to make use of "the sword" in advancing Islam wherever and whenever it's practical. The only serious differences Muslim authorities have over these doctrines are about when the conditions are right for their implementation. Consider these statements of the matter:

"Islam says: Whatever good there is exists thanks to the sword and in the shadow of the sword! People cannot be made obedient except with the sword! The sword is the key to Paradise, which can be opened only for Holy Warriors! These are hundreds of other psalms and Hadiths urging Muslims to value war and to fight. Does all that mean that Islam is a religion that prevents men from waging war? I spit upon those foolish souls who make such a claim." -- Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini
"The minarets are our bayonets; the domes are our helmets. Mosques are our barracks, the believers are soldiers. This holy army guards my religion. Almighty Our journey is our destiny, the end is martyrdom." -- Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Qur'an, Sura 9:73: "O Prophet! Struggle against the unbelievers and hypocrites and be harsh with them."
Qur'an, Sura 9:5: "But when the forbidden months are past, then fight and slay the Pagans wherever ye find them, and seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem..."
Qur'an, Sura 9:29: "Fight those who do not believe in Allah, nor in the latter day, nor do they prohibit what Allah and His Apostle have prohibited, nor follow the religion of truth, of the people of the Book, until they pay the jizya with willing submission and feel themselves subdued."

Savage dictates well tuned to the impulses and inclinations of a savage people.

***

Our political "leadership" has gone from foolishness to treason:

The Obama administration is weighing the release of blind Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman — the spiritual adviser to the 1993 World Trade Center bombers — in a stunning goodwill gesture toward Egypt that has touched off a political firestorm, officials said yesterday.

The Egyptian government “asked for his release,” an administration source told The Post — and Rep. Peter King (R-LI) confirmed the request is being considered.

The White House, State Department and Justice Department each issued statements denying any deal is in the works, but, “There’s no way to believe anything they say,” said Andrew McCarthy, the former assistant US attorney who prosecuted Abdel-Rahman. “I believe there may already be a nod-and-wink agreement in place.”

This is another step in the direction, not of peace, but of all-out war. Obama and his lieutenants will not command the federal government or American foreign policy forever. The release of Abdel-Rahman would both inflame domestic opinion and invigorate the jihadist movement in the Middle East. The tempo and savagery of Islamic violence would intensify, and American targets would be among the most prominent. More and more Americans would reflect on what it's in our power to do, and would ask one another why we haven't done it.

"You cannot do wrong without suffering wrong," wrote Ralph Waldo Emerson. Wrongdoing evokes demands for justice. Justice denied evokes cries for vengeance. The miracle of the moment is that those cries haven't become deafening already.

***

This morning, the esteemed Mark Alger declaims thus:

ONE OF THE MOST WITLESS questions asked of we who urge a quick ripping off of the bandage, a short, sharp shock, a decisive, sudden, and — one might say — final solution to the problem of What do We Do About Islam is, “Do you want to kill a billion Muslims?”

Well, no. But the point should be made in response that it probably won’t take that many.

Possibly it wouldn't. Probably? I hesitate to use the word, especially given the ferocity Islam has demonstrated since September 11, 2001. Of only one thing am I certain: If all the Muslims on Earth were simultaneously put to death, Islamic violence against "the infidel" would come to a halt.

This is not a nice direction in which to send one's thoughts. But recent events have more and more people thinking along these lines.

Civilized people. Americans.

The world has allowed itself to forget just how bloody-handed we can be. Indeed, so much attention has gone to pissant little hellholes like Iran and North Korea that the recognition of our own arsenal of mass destruction has almost disappeared. Yes, that celebrated Muslim apologist Barack Hussein Obama has argued for its elimination, but for the moment he's being held at bay. The American nuclear arsenal could eliminate every major Islamic population center on Earth in a single day. Were the president to give the order, four-fifths of the world's Muslims would vanish in bursts of nuclear fire.

We're killers. We, the human race. Featherless bipeds. Trousered apes. Mankind.

It's extremely bad policy to get the most powerful 300 million of us, who've repeatedly demonstrated our skills at the bloodiest pastime, thinking that we should kill today -- that it might be time to kill en masse.

Food for thought.