Friday, November 29, 2013

Priestesses Now Available As A Trade Paperback

If you've hankered for a paperback copy of my novel of "erotica for good people," it's now available via CreateSpace, and will soon be on display at Amazon. Enjoy!

UPDATE: The paperback is now available on Amazon as well!

Defects Of Memory

I try to remain upbeat. Truly I do, especially on Thanksgiving weekend. But...

That was recorded in the early Sixties. It was one of the biggest hits of its era. Reflect on that...and on this as well: at that time, a Hula Hoop® was priced at $1.98.

    "I am taking trouble with you," O'Brien said, "Because you are worth trouble. You know perfectly well what is the matter with you. You have known it for years, though you have fought against the knowledge. You are mentally deranged. You suffer from a defective memory. You are unable to remember real events, and you persuade yourself that you remember other events that never happened. Fortunately, it is curable."

Do I really need to tell a Gentle Reader of Liberty's Torch where that came from?

The number of times I've had the following exchange:

FWP: You know, in 1960 you could buy a gallon of gas for three dimes...and you still can today.
Miscellaneous Other Person: Huh? Giddouddahere!
FWP: No, seriously, you can -- if they're silver dimes.
MOP: C'mon, that can't be right. (walks away)

...has grown beyond my ability to remember. Except for oldsters like myself, my conversational partners simply reject the information. It's recorded in many places, including government compilations such as the Historical Statistics of the United States. But most persons under the age of sixty are unwilling to accept it.

Few persons under that age are willing to believe that in those days:

  • Pop stars performed fully clothed.
  • Parents spanked their disobedient children.
  • A pound of ground beef cost less than a dollar.
  • A rifle as a Christmas present was nothing to stir controversy.
  • Savings banks paid 3% on deposits and charged 6% on mortgages.
  • Divorce and "single motherhood" were considered marks of personal failure.
  • The Sunday morning talking-head shows were gentlemanly affairs with no shouting.
  • The most vexing public problem in America, according to the airwaves, was littering.
  • Murderers were more likely than not to serve their full sentences...and many were executed.
  • A walk along the Bronx's Grand Concourse at ten P.M. was almost perfectly safe -- for a ten-year-old.
  • Advertising of all sorts -- including ads for liquor and cigarettes -- routinely included the prices of the things advertised.
  • Network TV stations aired "public service" pitches stating that "The family that prays together stays together," and encouraging Americans to "Go to the church of your choice."

I remember it all. All of it is verifiably true. (Oh, and there was no "knockout game," either.) But for how much longer?

    O'Brien smiled faintly. "You are no metaphysician, Winston. Until this moment you had never considered what is meant by existence. I will put it more precisely. Does the past exist concretely, in space? Is there somewhere or other a place, a world of solid objects, where the past is still happening?"
    "Then where does the past exist, if at all?"
    "In records. It is written down.
    "In records. And--?"
    "In the mind. In human memories."
    "In memory. Very well, then. We, the Party, control all records, and we control all memories. Then we control the past, do we not?"
    "But how can you stop people remembering things?" cried Winston, again momentarily forgetting the dial. "It is involuntary. It is outside oneself. How can you control memory? You have not controlled mine!"
    O'Brien's manner grew stern again. He laid his hand on the dial.
    "On the contrary," he said, "you have not controlled it. That is what has brought you here."

The Omnipotent State demands unquestioning submission -- of body and mind. It is heresy to remember things the State does not wish remembered. It is blasphemy against Official Truth to speak of them. Though it has not yet begun to prosecute and punish for the thoughtcrimes that laid low Winston Smith, that day is unlikely to be far off. The foundations of "reality control" -- what Orwell's Newspeak termed doublethink -- are being poured as we speak, by our mass media and our government-run schools.

To remember an adverse datum even as much as one year old is no longer socially acceptable:

At one point during this time, there was a furor raised over the funding of school lunches. So, I looked into it carefully.

After delving into the actual numbers, I was horrified to learn that what I heard from all the big-name news outlets was factually incorrect. Every single one of them got it wrong.

So, I called the newsroom of the biggest and most respected news radio station in Chicago (where I was living.) Amazingly, they put me right through. The conversation went like this:

Me: Listen, I have a problem on this school lunch thing. The numbers you guys are using are wrong.

News writer: What do you mean?

Me: You’re reporting a seven percent cut in school lunch funding, but I checked the real numbers – they are going up three percent. The democrats are saying “seven percent cut,” because they want a ten percent increase. This talk about a cut is false: it’s actually an increase, and you guys have to know that.

News writer: Yeah, well… the democrats gave us stuff to use and the republicans didn’t.

I was horrified, but it was, at least, an honest answer. What shocked me most was the fact that they simply didn’t care. This was the flagship news station in Chicago – the one people went to when they wanted to be sure – and they simply didn’t care about accuracy.

The government-run schools have slighted actual history so completely that the typical high-school graduate when asked what founding American document includes "From each according to his abilities; to each according to his needs," answers "the Declaration of Independence." He's read more about Harriet Tubman than about George Washington and Thomas Jefferson combined. He thinks the "party of slavery" was the Republican Party...and that Abraham Lincoln was a Democrat. He isn't aware that is the U.S. fought Japan in World War II...or who won.

Given all that, how could anyone expect young Mr. John Q. Public to believe that gasoline ever cost $0.30 per gallon -- or that there was so much of it available that gas station chains had to run giveaway programs and strange, raffle-like contests to compete with one another?

Our political class is perfectly happy with that.

I remember too much. As I wrote long ago:

I remember the milk truck, the bakery truck, the dry cleaner's truck, the sharpener truck, and the Charles Chips truck, all of which came to our door, and all of whose drivers were treated like old friends. In some cases, they were old friends.

I remember cap guns, and games of Cowboys and Indians, and huge snowball fights conducted with an innocent ferocity by pugilists from eight to eighty.

I remember thinking that the Palisades Interstate Parkway must surely be one of the Seven Wonders of the World, and that heaven itself could hardly exceed the delights of Palisades Amusement Park.

I remember my father, down on his luck and himself after my mother left him, spending much too much time in a local gin mill. I remember him cashing check after check at that saloon, and the owner, who knew those checks would bounce right over the Moon, accepting them anyway, putting them into his cash register and never saying a word. That saloon owner eventually got every penny my father owed him. I wonder if he'd known that he would.

I remember adults who had standards they weren't afraid to enforce without needing to invoke the authority of the law. I remember lawyers who tried to counsel their prospective clients not to sue. I remember journalists who could be trusted.

I remember loving America wholeheartedly and with no reservations. We were the good guys. I remember fearing nothing and no one, certainly not the government. I remember being confident that the world could only get better, now that the good guys were in charge.

I know I'm not supposed to remember all those things, especially not on Thanksgiving Day. I'm supposed to be grateful for the bounties bestowed on us by Our Leader and his lieutenants. I'm supposed to frown at anyone who voices criticism of His enlightened rule, and make a note not to have that seditionist at my table next year. And I'm supposed to accumulate paper dollars (or magnetic domains that represent them) as if they could really store value, and spurn the precious-metals cranks who shriek, as Milton Friedman once wrote, that "Only government can take perfectly good paper, cover it with perfectly good ink, and make the combination worthless."

I wonder how long it will be before I face my personal Room 101.

    "Tell me," Winston said, "how soon will they shoot me?"
    "It might be a long time," said O'Brien. "You are a difficult case. But don't give up hope. Everything is cured sooner or later. In the end we shall shoot you."

Book Review: Tom Kratman's "Come And Take Them"

Tom Kratman is one of today's premier practitioners of military-oriented fiction. His "CarreraVerse" SF series and his "Countdown" just-barely-future series both display his talents in that genre. Come And Take Them is the latest entry in the "CarreraVerse" line, wherein retired soldier Patrick Hennesey di Carrera returns to the colors in service to his adopted home of Balboa on Terra Nova, against all enemies foreign and domestic, and in so doing reshapes the politics of his world.

Terra Nova is a designed world. The hypothesized race that designed it, conventionally called the Noahs, appear to have intended it for eventual human occupancy. Whether they knew that Man would bring his legacy of strife along with him, no one can say. In any case, the inter-religious and international animosities that gave rise to so much warfare on Old Earth have found their way to the new world, and Carrera has been in the thick of them for five volumes with more to come.

The Timocratic Republic of Balboa owes its current political structure and much else to Carrera and President Raul Parilla. That structure depends heavily on the Legion del Cid, created by Carrera and Parilla to provide Balboa with a military of high quality. It has also been an instrument for the transformation of their nation, as readers of the first three books -- A Desert Called Peace, Carnifex, and The Lotus Eaters -- will already be aware. The other nations of Terra Nova are not happy about Balboa's acquisition of such a powerful, politically dominant fighting force. To Balboa's west, the Tauran Union, a multinational alliance in the style of today's European Union but with many more soldiers and guns, seeks to impose its will on the small republic. It's an effort in which the Taurans have the support of the orbiting "Peace Fleet" from Old Earth. Nominally there only to suppress warfare below, the Peace Fleet has the additional mission of preventing Terra Nova or any of its nations from becoming capable of threatening the corrupt hereditary oligarchy that bestrides the mother world. To that end, its masters would dearly love to see the threat of Balboa put down for good.

Come And Take Them concerns itself with events before and during the Tauran Union's attempt to evict the Carrera-designed government of Balboa, and to install a puppet regime biddable by the TU's masters. Its timespan is roughly coextensive with that from the end of The Lotus Eaters through the events of The Amazon Legion. As one might expect of a novel from a specialist in military fiction, much of the book is concerned with war and the preparations for it. However, Kratman has another mission alongside that one: to depict the swelling of regret within Carrera himself over having militarized his nation, thus exposing it to the enmity of the Taurans and others.

Carrera has sickened of bloodshed, and is particularly contrite about the all but certain high price his nation will pay when it faces off against the Taurans, as he believes, correctly, it must. However, he's a soldier, bound to his profession as much by its ethic as by his aptitudes and experience. Despite the certainty of mass death, he contrives a plan by which his tiny republic can defeat the far larger Tauran Union, and in so doing create a continent-sized political upheaval that might result in a new birth of freedom for millions beyond Balboa's borders.

Come And Take Them is a big book, replete with plot subthreads and secondary adventures in which Supporting Cast characters rise to local prominence, whether they live and triumph or fail and die. There are splashes of highly colored drama throughout the action. The reader is advised to give it his full attention, perhaps with the aid of a large map of Balboa and a lot of little counters to represent the units fighting over it. A dramatis personae annotated with character sketches and timelines might also be advisable. Though it must be read slowly and with concentration to get the maximum enjoyment from its richness, the effort is amply repaid.

There will be more segments in the "CarreraVerse" series. The best way to prepare for them is to absorb this one in all its bright and gory spectacle, and to reflect on the questions that forever hang over all tests of arms: How high a price ought one to be willing to pay for one's objectives? At what point must a man, a commander, or a nation say, "Enough," and act accordingly?

The thrust of the question may change according to whether the lead is or is not already flying, but its urgency does not.

Come And Take Them is the latest segment in the saga of an army and a nation a-borning, led by a man who holds not just that nation but his whole world in his hands. However badly he wishes he could set them down, Carrera is fated to turn them still further. From the vengeance and bloodshed of A Desert Called Peace and the steady army and nation-building of Carnifex and The Lotus Eaters, Come And Take Them continues the completion of a portrait of patriotism, heroism, and the ultimate price that must be paid in their service. Highly recommended.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Little Bits Of Gratitude

WHEREAS Declaimant hath arisen yet again without pain, nausea, or (excess) disorientation;
And WHEREAS Declaimant's beloved Spouse hath agreed (admittedly, under some duress):

  1. To serve Ocean Spray Jellied Cranberry Sauce (and leave the slices with the rings in them for Declaimant);
  2. Not to serve Pickled Herring, String Bean Casserole a la Campbell's, or Pearl Onions in Cream Sauce;

Declaimant therefore doth agree to give thanks, on this Fourth Thursday of the Month of November in the Year of Our Lord 2013 -- away with that "Common Era" BS, thou heathen prick -- for all the following jointly and severally:

  1. For the love (inferred) and fidelity (imputed) of the aforementioned Spouse;
  2. For the comfort and security afforded by their Long Island, NY Domicile;
  3. For the faithful and affectionate companionship of their Dogs:
    • Rufus the Newfus;
    • Sophie Shepherd;
  4. For the affection and amusement provided by their Cats:
    • April Come She Will;
    • Irving Seymour Creamsicle;
    • Uriel The Great;
    • and Fluffy The Obscure;
  5. For the consideration and generosity of their neighbors Sir Henry the Constant Gardener to the South and Sir Richie the Well-Connected to the North;
  6. For his Readers, who hath provided Declaimant with much Revenue and even more valued Reinforcement:
  7. For God's gift of a Certified Galactic Intellect, which hath enabled Declaimant to earn a decent living without undue exertion lo! these many moons;
  8. For God's gift of a Sense for the Absurd, which hath cushioned Declaimant against the Slings and Arrows of Outrageous Fortune, including many that Hamlet somehow managed to avert;
  9. For God's gift of the Bounteous Patience that hath enabled Declaimant to endure the continued existence of certain Two-Legged Irritations;
  10. For the Good Sense God hath bestowed on the aforementioned Irritations, that they refrain from further inflicting themselves on Declaimant, that he not require an Attorney to defend him against charges of Murder;
  11. For the greatly appreciated Products of numerous Manufacturers and Service Providers, with special thanks this year for:
    • Daimler-Benz Motors;
    • Gibson Guitars;
    • Dell Computers;
    • Echo Landscaping of Miller Place, NY;
    • Soundview HVAC of Port Jefferson, NY;
    • and this year and every year Sterling Home Remodeling and its presiding baron Tony, without whom the aforementioned Domicile would long ago have descended from Hovel status to Dump;
  12. For the unfailing edification and entertainment Declaimant hath daily garnered from the emissions of his Colleagues of the Internet Commentariat, most especially:

IN WITNESS WHEREOF Declaimant doth hereby declare his Gratitude for all the above, and extends wishes for a Happy Thanksgiving to them and unnamed others.

(PSSST! Pass the BLEEP!ing stuffing.)

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Why Bother With The Separation Of Powers?

Former Congressman Allen West reports on a masks-off statement by the scrofulous Charles Rangel:

It appears one Democrat member of Congress has decided to drop the mask and reveal who he really is. Unbelievably, Charlie Rangel told NY1 that “President Obama should drop the charade of democracy and rule directly through executive orders.” I mean, why not? After all, Rep. Rangel’s own relationship with following laws is fuzzy at best, given his problems with tax evasion.

According to Politicker, Rangel said “I’m gonna see why we can’t use executive orders for everything.”

This...person has been censured for tax evasion, has repeatedly accused political opponents of racism and worse, and is famous for ranting, after the 1994 Republican "wave" election that gave the GOP control of Congress, "It's not 'spic' or 'nigger' any more. They say 'let's cut taxes.'" So even a complete Constitutional illiterate would be advised to "consider the source."

However, the Constitution isn't all that hard to read:

The President shall be commander in chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the militia of the several states, when called into the actual service of the United States; he may require the opinion, in writing, of the principal officer in each of the executive departments, upon any subject relating to the duties of their respective offices, and he shall have power to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States, except in cases of impeachment.

He shall have power, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, to make treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, shall appoint ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, judges of the Supreme Court, and all other officers of the United States, whose appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by law: but the Congress may by law vest the appointment of such inferior officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the courts of law, or in the heads of departments.

The President shall have power to fill up all vacancies that may happen during the recess of the Senate, by granting commissions which shall expire at the end of their next session.

He shall from time to time give to the Congress information of the state of the union, and recommend to their consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient; he may, on extraordinary occasions, convene both Houses, or either of them, and in case of disagreement between them, with respect to the time of adjournment, he may adjourn them to such time as he shall think proper; he shall receive ambassadors and other public ministers; he shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed, and shall commission all the officers of the United States.

[Constitution of the United States, Article II, Sections 2 and 3]

Those are the Constitutionally delegated powers of the president of these United States. He has not one iota of legislative or quasi-legislative power. Any orders he emits pertain only to how his subordinates -- i.e., those who work in the various Cabinet departments -- shall do their jobs.

That Rangel blithely dismisses the separation of the legislative from the executive power is typical of least, when there's a Democrat in the White House. But there's no excuse for any American who's attained the reading proficiency of an eighth-grader to put the least amount of stock in his notion.

Of course, the Constitution strikes most liberals as something to be heeded only when it suits their immediate purposes. In this, Rangel is merely displaying the colors of his pack. But what's remarkable is how the notion of executive orders as a Constitutional mechanism has affected even those respectful of that document:

Why not Charlie? Because of our pesky Constitution, which states executive orders are only to be used in case of national emergency, not as a means by which the executive branch circumvents the legislative branch, or our established process of checks and balances.

The executive order is not a Constitutional instrument. Nothing even resembling such a thing is mentioned in that document, nor in the Bill of Rights, nor in any of the Amendments. The notion that it can be used quasi-legislatively "in case of national emergency" -- Really, Colonel West? -- is one to which you'd get a lot of agreement today...but not from the Founding Fathers, the overwhelming majority of whom regarded the presidency as the office most dangerous to Americans' liberty.

Events such as this make plain how important it is that Americans become intimate with their founding documents once again, and with the overarching philosophy that animated them. Among other things, it might reduce the number of Charles Rangels accorded seats in Congress, where no one of such a mind properly belongs.

The Best Sentence Ever To Appear On The Web

Blecch. I hated using “engineering” as a verb in that sentence. But the Intertunnel verbs all sorts of nouns these days, because reasons.
Congratulations to Sippican Cottage.

Comprehensive And Superb

There are days I realize that I don't really have to write anything, because someone else has already "said it all."

Mike Hendrix's tirade does the job for today...and unfortunately, for our foreseeable future. It's too good to excerpt. Read it all.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Big Squeeze

If you've ever lived in a multi-family building, you're already aware of the costs: reduced privacy; contention over shared facilities; limited to no choice of providers for various services; enforced proximity to persons you'd prefer to avoid; and so forth. That sort of "high-density living" does offer a few advantages -- proximity to certain conveniences; centralized maintenance; availability of others to assist with various chores -- to compensate for those things, but whether the pluses outweigh the minuses is very much a matter of individual taste.

That sort of apartment building, whether the units are for rent or for sale, is more common in cities than outside them -- and cities' density-driven characteristics can become very intense. In February 2005 at Eternity Road, I wrote:

Dense environments put great obstacles in the way of individual choice as regards water and septic systems. For practical purposes -- that is, if cost is a bounding factor -- all the residents in an apartment building must have a single water supplier and a single septic service. When apartment buildings are sufficiently close together, as for example in Manhattan, it becomes impossible for neighboring buildings to have different water and septic mains; there simply isn't room enough beneath the streets.

In consequence, when a city of sufficient density has formed, the drive to municipalize the water and waste systems becomes irresistible. More, the city is pressed to take charge of "public health" matters such as vaccinations and the tracking of epidemics. Municipalization inevitably means monopolies enforced by political power and funded by taxation; no amount of theorizing about fanciful alternatives can change that.

To the freedom-minded, this is a case against the city and in favor of the country, or at least the suburbs. But things are not so simple. For density doesn't bring only costs; it also brings benefits, some of which are widely held to be immensely desirable.

Most obviously, density reduces the probable distance between a resident and any particular service he might desire. The vendors of services gravitate to density; there's money to be made there. Less obviously, the proximity of a large market has a depressing effect on the prices of goods, as long as alternative sources for the goods exist. Much less obviously, in the absence of laws that militate to the contrary, cities are far safer environments than less dense areas, because of the greater likelihood that someone will be available to intervene in a crisis at any arbitrary moment.

So not all sensible persons will flee the cities at the approach of public health services, municipal water mains and waste management -- not even all of those, well to the right of your Curmudgeon, who hold that the only good bureaucrat is a dead one. (Fleeing the cities once laws against personal armament are passed, on the other hand, is a matter of survival. Predators, too, gravitate toward density, and disarming its citizenry makes a city into a predator's Disneyland.)

"Predators" should be read to include "government."

The more densely we're packed together, the easier we are to control. Those who seek power over others are aware of this. That's the root of the so-called "New Urbanism" so heavily promoted by "planners" desirous of herding us together. Their antipathy to single-family dwellings, to individual mobility, to the automobile and the population dispersion it makes possible are founded on a general hostility to individual freedom as expressed in the preferences for such things.

And that's all you really need to know to comprehend initiatives such as this one:

A plan to squeeze most residents of the San Francisco Bay Area into multifamily housing offers a test case of whether land-use bureaucracies nationwide, encouraged by the Obama administration, should be allowed to transform American lifestyles under the pretext of combating climate change.

Currently, 56 percent of households in the nine-county Bay Area live in single-family homes. That number would drop to 48 percent by 2030, under a high-density development blueprint called Plan Bay Area, recently enacted by the Association of Bay Area Governments and the region’s Metropolitan Transportation Commission.

Plan Bay Area has already drawn several legal challenges, and the debate could spread nationwide if, as may happen, it becomes a model for regulators in other parts of the country.

Owning a single-family home has long been part of the American dream, but Plan Bay Area embraces a dramatically different vision of the ideal community: crowded rows of high-rises and mass-transit platforms.

Population density in the region’s urban areas would increase by 30 percent during the next two decades under the plan. Nearly 80 percent of all new housing and 62 percent of new jobs would be located in just 5 percent of the region’s surface area.

Planners admit this will make single-family housing in the already high-priced Bay area even less affordable.

To be sure, the plan isn’t the first attempt to herd families into condominiums and apartments. Since at least the 1970s, urban planners around the country have argued that the single-family-home lifestyle results in people driving too much, which supposedly wastes energy and pollutes the air. Thus, 17 years ago, Portland, Ore., adopted a scheme to reduce the share of residents living in single-family homes from 65 percent to 41 percent. In some neighborhoods, if a house burns down, it can be replaced only with an apartment structure.

Even if it’s not without precedent, Plan Bay Area could still be revolutionary because of the rationale behind it. It could help spur a nationwide movement for high-density “transit-oriented” development — in the name of reducing global warming. The federal government has signed on. The Obama administration has told metropolitan areas to include land-use regulations in the transportation plans that federal law requires them to update every five years. Washington is also giving communities “livability grants” aimed at promoting high-density development.

As a result, cities that are far removed from San Francisco in a political sense — Des Moines, Iowa, and Lafayette, La., for example — are considering similar land-use restrictions.

Even if the "global warming / climate change" canard hadn't already been thoroughly debunked, the pseudo-environmentalist rationale behind this offensive scheme would be transparent. There is absolutely no evidence that dense environments are less polluting than sparse ones; indeed, both logic and history would suggest that whatever efficiencies arise from the commonalities are likely to be offset by "tragedy of the commons" effects. However, one effect of "densification" movements is incontrovertible: it makes its subjects easier to monitor and control.

America's cities, like cities around the world, formed as people noted the characteristics of specific locales and decided to settle there to exploit them. With coastal cities, it's usually harbors; with inland cities, it might be river access, or the nearness of some exploitable natural resource, or the confluence of trade routes. Whatever the case, the uncoerced decisions of individuals to move to those locales produced the concentrations of population we call cities; the cities did not form because of political action. When a government decrees that "there shall be a city here," the result is almost inevitably a ghost town.

The one exception to the "political city == ghost town" rule is the capital city, where the political elite have agreed to meet and scheme. However, these, too, fall into an unfortunate pattern:

No less than to parasites and criminals, cities are irresistibly attractive to the politically ambitious: men avid for authority, who seek to scale the walls that defend the citadels of State power. Capital cities, where legislatures deliberate and governors reside, are the worst of the lot. Nearly every capital city in the world is divided into two zones: that dominated by officialdom, and that dominated by those who seek favors from officialdom. In most American capitals, that translates into a zone of marble and alabaster where the political classes work, and a surrounding belt of squalor where the indigent and the miscreant reside. [From Eternity Road.]

Viewed through those lenses, to permit officialdom to herd us into cities we don't freely choose to live in is the plainest madness. But you may rest assured that the coercive densifiers will shower us with every sort of pro-density propaganda: about the "wastefulness" and "inconvenience" of single-family homes; about the "damage to the environment;" about the economy and simplicity that comes of being "car-free;" and about the supposed conviviality of urban living, like a single oversized happy family where it's always "a wonderful day in the neighborhood."

Should the propaganda fail, as I expect it will, we all know what to expect next.

Elite intentions.

No Muslim immigrants in any country in the First World vote for parties of the right. In the last French elections 90% of Muslims voted Socialist. Same story in the USA, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Canada, Australia, Norway, Sweden, Greece, Spain and Italy. That’s the whole reason they are here. All over the advanced world, leftists have supported Muslim immigration because they know that Muslims are a far more reliable and easily defraudable block vote than their former bedrock support, the indigenous working class. Any Tory that does not realise this basic fact about the contemporary world is too stupid to be entrusted with a pair of scissors, let alone a career in politics.

Furthermore, if the Tories wanted to win the Muslim vote, they would have to advance policies Muslims like, policies which would be complete anathema to anyone with the faintest degree of respect for western style liberal democracy.[1]

So naturally our treasonous leftist elites import Muslims by the millions so that the white Western populations can be inundated by a hideous culture and every Western nation can be destroyed.

If that seems a stretch consider one common sense legal principle of interpretation as applied to violation of municipal ordinances and laws against speeding, to wit, "People intend the natural consequences of their acts."

Is there evidence that they intend otherwise? No. None. Whenever the elites come to a point of decision, it's full steam ahead against the people who founded and built the nation.

Take border control in the U.S. Reposition troops from the Pakistani border with Afghanistan to seal off the southern border of the U.S.? An absurd idea. Sound the charge, instead, on some utter ******** about needing a "comprehensive" solution to the "immigration problem," necessitating, it seems, not a bleeping fence or high-frequency border patrols, but passing out citizenship to foreigners who self-immigrated and deliberately creating substantial financial incentives for yet more border crossing. Common sense measures get translated into some pathetic obfuscation, which the press then takes up with hosannas and ululations.

Ergo, Western elites intend the destruction of their own countries so that they may enjoy a temporary political ascendancy and consequent access to buckets of pelf.

And if their own people go down under the waves, well, who gives a good *** damn.

[1] Comment by Martin Adamson on "The Tories are failing to connect with Muslim voters. This is not good enough." By Peter Oborne, The Telegraph, 10/4/13.

H/t: Gates of Vienna..

All you need to know about Obamacare.

It is clear that well over 100 million Americans will lose their health insurance in pursuit of a Utopian fantasy that centralizes the entire health care industry into a labyrinth of government agencies. Legions of bureaucrats -- unelected, unaccountable and uncontrollable -- will [metastasize] into the medical analogue of the Department of Motor Vehicles.
Everything else you read about Obamacare after this – all of it -- is just fluff, an endlessly tiresome elaboration, a sure-fire cure for insomnia.

And, this is delicious, it's now forever tagged as "Obamacare" not "the Affordable Care Act." The progressives and their communist and socialist members, sympathizers, enablers, and financiers -- pretty much the whole shootin' match -- are sweating bullets over how this monstrosity has been irrevocably tagged as "Obamacare." Watch them squirm to try to rebrand this memorial to insufferable, reckless leftist intervention to deflect responsibility away from the Democrat brand.

"The Secret Goal of the Obamacare Ruse." By Doug Ross, Doug Ross @ Journal, 11/24/13.

An announcement from Knightsport.


This is Knightsport, from the internet. I will be out of the internet from June 2 and returning on June 11th. In my absence I suggest you pray as there can be only one Knightsport from the internet.

Thank you and God Bless,


H/t: 94eg8..

Monday, November 25, 2013

Pain And Power

It would be understandable for a Gentle Reader to conclude, based on pieces such as this one, that I have some sort of fascination with monarchy and monarchical systems. It would also be accurate, though a guess at my reasons would almost certainly miss the mark.

The origin of all forms of federated systems of government can be found in early European systems of nobility and royalty.

Nobility, like all other notions about distinctions among men, had its origin in an observable difference. That difference is expressed neatly in the Latin root of nobility: nobis, which means "for us."

The earliest men who were conceded noble status earned the title in battle, as did many other wielders of power in times past. However, the original nobles were distinguished from predatory brigands in that they fought, and led other fighters, in defense of people less able to fight for themselves. He who rose to the forefront of a realm's nobility, such that the nobles would call on him to lead them in times of peril to the whole of the realm, was accorded the higher status of king.

In the early instances of such arrangements, the king had very little power, de jure or de facto. Indeed, he usually lacked an army of the sort a contemporary nation-state possesses. The armed power at his disposal comprised those forces he could pay out of his own purse plus those the nobles of his realm were willing to assign temporarily to his command. Lacking such a preponderance of force, the king's ability to coerce any particular noble was questionable, as the English barons demonstrated to King John at Runnymede. Thus, the nobility constituted a check on what aspirations to greater power a king might harbor.

The nobility was also responsible for meting the overwhelming majority of cases of "high, middle, and low justice." The usual practice was to bring disputes to the regional noble's periodic assizes, at which he would adjudicate disputes among his subjects and pronounce sentences upon apprehended felons. The seriousness of an assize was emphasized by the custom of having the noble sit with his sword across his knees. The sword was more than merely a ceremonial instrument; many an assize concluded with an execution, performed by the noble's own hand.

This pre-Enlightenment scheme for the dispersal of power was corrupted by well-known influences, most notably hereditary aristocracy, aristocratic inbreeding, and the rule of primogeniture. However, in its original form, it worked better than any other system of government before it, and most of those that have been tried since then.

Omitting for a moment Lord Acton's observation that power corrupts, the core problem with nobility and royalty is the core problem of all political systems: that positions of power are not guaranteed to be held by men worthy of it:

"It's the general's worst nightmare," he whispered. "Kings used to lead their own armies. They used to lead the cavalry's charge. For a king to send an army to war and remain behind to warm his throne was simply not done. Those that tried it lost their thrones, and some lost their heads -- to their own people. It was a useful check on political and military rashness.

"It hasn't been that way for a long time. Today armies go into the field exclusively at the orders of politicians who remain at home. And politicians are bred to believe that reality is entirely plastic to their wills."

[From On Broken Wings.]

This is especially true in political systems where power is awarded:

  1. According to a majority vote,
  2. To a man who selected himself as a candidate,
  3. And who need not have previously demonstrated any degree of civic virtue.

Where among us is there a county executive, or a state governor, who would willingly play a leading role in the enforcement of the laws of his region? What president, or person imagined as a potential president, would willingly execute a traitor by his own hand, or lead a field army committed to battle?

One of the reasons Americans have preferred executives with military experience is the inchoate sense that a demonstration of the willingness to put oneself at risk for others' benefit is a good indication of the character of the candidate. It might well be that we haven't gone far enough in that regard -- that a state of the variety military SF writer Tom Kratman depicts in his Carreraverse / Terra Nova novels is the only halfway feasible means for selecting power wielders in a fashion that will resist the incentives to pander, plunder, and self-aggrandize.

In one of those happy accidents an opinion writer sometimes enjoys, I've just come across an impassioned condemnation of the worst man ever to reach the pinnacle of executive power in these United States:

The lone rape victim who testified before the Illinois Senate on behalf of a 1999 rape-victim protections bill is speaking out against the lone Illinois state senator who chose not to vote for it: Barack Obama.

“I just couldn’t believe it. How could he do that? Thank God for the other [senators] who voted for it. They had a heart. They had compassion that Obama evidently doesn’t have,” rape survivor Michelle Eppel told The Daily Caller after recently finding out that Obama was the one non-yes vote.

“He doesn’t care,” Eppel said....

Eppel now questions Obama’s manhood.

“How many issues does he push aside as president because he just doesn’t want to deal with it?,” Eppel said. ”The people want someone who will fight for them and protect them from harm. Why does he not do that?”

“I do not believe a leader of our country should be someone who has no compassion for someone else as a human being…he doesn’t care…it’s like he’s giving permission for the perpetrators to keep going. He’s not even man enough to protect us. How heartless,” Eppel said.

But then, Barack Hussein "Above my pay grade" Obama also voted against the Born-Alive Infant Protection Act, written specifically to protect the right to life of a newborn that survives an attempted abortion. He has taken repeated steps to castrate our armed forces, especially our strategic deterrent. He has embarked on a purge of top commanders he deems not "politically reliable." He treats the military as if it were a laboratory for social experimentation...with the outcome of the "experiment" determined beforehand. Most recently, he has given his imprimatur to the UN Treaty on Small Arms, a not-particularly-subtle attempt to disarm anyone not in the pay of a government.

That's the behavior of a man who has never suffered, who has never put himself at any risk or hardship for others' benefit, and to whom pain and loss are abstractions experienced by faceless others. But the worst of it is that Obama isn't all that far below the great majority of those who wield power over the longsuffering private citizens of these United States.

We no longer demand that those who desire power demonstrate even the most minimal civic virtue before they put themselves forward as candidates. On several occasions we've reaped the whirlwind. Indeed, convictions for all sorts of corrupt behavior are more frequent among members of the "political class" than among Americans generally. Whether returning to the moral norm of demanding that a man demonstrate noble character before allowing him to put his hands to the levers of power would improve matters is uncertain...but it seems unlikely to hurt.

There are a lot of "cracies" in the political lexicon. The one we hear most frequently is, of course "democracy," from the Greek rule by the mob. It's time to take some inspiration from the medieval nobilities and royalties of medieval Europe. Why not explore the possibilities of a system in which a candidate for public power must first demonstrate his personal honor and civic virtue in the most explicit way: by voluntarily embracing the pain and sacrifice of serving our nation's most fundamental need:

It is customary in democratic countries to deplore expenditures on armaments as conflicting with the requirements of the social services. There is a tendency to forget that the most important social service that a government can do for its people is to keep them alive and free. -- Sir John Slessor

UPDATE: Tom Kratman has just reminded me that another role of a medieval king, which I had forgotten to mention, is to stand with the commons against the nobility. Commoners subject to a tyrannical or rapacious noble were seldom able to do anything about him without external aid, whereas the king had some capacity to do so, especially in cases where the noble in question could be plausibly represented as posing a threat to neighboring baronies or counties. The check on abuses of power thus ran in more than one direction.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Pearls of expression – XXXVII.

[Liberals] are so rabid about not generalizing they skip right over the fact that generalizations exist, and indeed are hurtful, for the reason that they are largely true. Often bankable. Hence a liberal is a person for whom there is no distinction between a fact that is not nice and a fact that is not true.[1]
And to be nice is the summum bonum for liberals, even if one must lie and be vicious to advance niceness.

Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff, Mark Steyn, and Glenn Beck paid a price for non-niceness.

Sweden is a bad, bad place to be not nice.

[1] Jotun Hunter comment on "Notes on the Pussification of America." By Fred Reed, Taki Magazine, 11/14/13.

A Few Ruminationish Thoughts

Today, as any Catholic will tell you, is the Feast of Christ the King. This has always struck me as an undervalued commemoration. We go to Mass, go home, and forget about the matter. Hey, if it falls on a Sunday, how important could it possibly be?

I’m of a much different opinion.

What is grace? When we speak of it, what do we have in mind? We’re supposed to seek it and value it, but defining it is a considerable challenge.

Just this morning I asked my pastor, Father Charles Papa – no, we don’t call him “Father Papa” – if he could define grace. The question flummoxed him. As we parted, he muttered (albeit not resentfully) about having to “go back to the books.”

He had an easier time with my inquiry about the parish’s renovation fund.

No other aspect of my life bends my thoughts as strongly toward faith and the eternal things as the writing of fiction. My faith is the backdrop to just about everything I write...and sometimes, it’s a good deal more.

The matter is strongly with me today because I’ve chosen to release Priestesses, my novel of “erotica for good people,” in a paperback edition. A reviewer wrote of it as follows:

Porretto has performed a magic trick, a bit of literary legerdemain that looks simple at first but requires a quick eye to see how he has made a deep spiritual message appear in a most surprising context.

To understand the subtlety of Porretto's slight of hand, consider the alternative. The last "Christian" novel that I read was simply a regular science fiction novel with a few religious adornments tacked onto it. A comment here about the sanctity of marriage, a group prayer before a fight there, a visit from a minister somewhere else.

Porretto would have none of that. Instead, he has taken the archetypical non-religious literary form - erotica - and made his spiritual theme integral to his writing. There's no prayers dragged kicking and screaming into the middle of a plot. Instead, his spirituality is a natural, even necessary, element of his stories - even when he deals with assorted kinks and sexual dysfunctions.

And it works. Isn't sensual love the ultimate expression of human spirituality? Porretto makes one wonder if all erotica shouldn't be ultimately spiritual.

I’ve received few compliments that pleased me as much as that one did. But more to the point, I cherish the insight that spirituality, in the sense of appreciation for the gifts of God to Man, is and ought to be an element in our understanding of sex! After all, our loved ones are not in our lives “by right.” They, too, are a gift from God, as is our capacity to love them...and the special person with whom one frequently (I hope) unites oneself physically is the highest of such gifts: “a foretaste of the limitless love of the Father,” with whom Christians hope to be united in the life to come.

Food for thought, especially for persons who regard sex as somehow unworthy and degrading even when enfolded by matrimony.

And a superscription also was written over him in letters of Greek, and Latin, and Hebrew: THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS. And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, “If thou be Christ, save thyself and us.” But the other answering rebuked him, saying, “Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss.” And he said unto Jesus, “Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.” And Jesus said unto him, “Verily I say unto thee, today shalt thou be with me in paradise.” [The Gospel According To Luke, 23:38-43]

Non-canonical sources report the names of the “malefactors” as Hestas and Dismas. For a while, the chapels in American prisons were often named the Chapel of Dismas (the Good Thief). The significance of the episode related by Luke is often missed.

Jesus, Hestas, and Dismas were condemned to die by a secular authority: Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor of Judea. Again according to non-canonical sources, Hestas and Dismas were thieves. But Jesus had been accused of blasphemy: having claimed to be the Son of God. The Sanhedrin, fearing to act against Him on its own, sent Him to Pilate on a charge of encouraging resistance to the Roman state. Pilate was moved to spare him, seeing no fault in him by Roman law and Pilate’s own standards. He acceded to Jesus’s execution to placate the mob the Sanhedrin had stirred up against Him.

That’s not the behavior of a king. A king is expected to uphold a standard of justice. Compare Pilate’s cowardice to Jesus’s pardon of the repentant Dismas. Though Dismas was still condemned to death by Earthly standards, Christ recognized his repentance as sincere and admitted him to heaven.

That’s what we expect from a King of Kings.

May God bless and keep you all.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

The "Knockout Game"

If you haven't yet learned about this...fad in race relations, congratulations on a nice long nap.

Deb Heine has a particularly poignant plaint about it this morning:

Why doesn’t our first black president step up and say something to stem the tide of this violence? For a guy whose approval numbers are sinking at a perilous rate – a guy who most Americans no longer trust – it would be a smart move – not to mention the right thing to do.

Sorry, Deb, my secret love. Neither Barack Hussein "If I had a son, he'd look like Trayvon" Obama nor Attorney-General Eric "A Nation Of Cowards" Holder, both thoroughgoing black racists, will ever say a peep about these long as the victims aren't black.

I wrote some time ago:

Don't kid yourselves. Were American whites ever to conclude that inter-racial peace is impossible, within two years there wouldn't be a black man left alive and free anywhere in this country. We're a numerical majority. We control the preponderance of the land, the wealth, and most important, the weapons. Our targets would wear their affiliation in their flesh. It hasn't happened -- and please God, may it never happen -- because we still believe, despite many disappointments, that inter-racial amity is achievable. Preserving that conviction is the one and only hope American blacks have for their futures, and for those of their children.

What would undermine that conviction?

  1. Clear and convincing evidence that American blacks are irremediably violently hostile toward whites, or:
  2. A groundswell of conviction that such evidence exists, but that our news organs have conspired to deny it to us.

The first condition has not been met. The second condition is being advanced by the Old Media themselves....

When a society makes special provisions for a particular class of persons, such that those persons have a good expectation of not suffering for illegal or antisocial behavior, it has committed the worst imaginable injustice against the persons in that class who honor their society's laws and norms: it has equalized the legal, social, and moral positions of good citizens and thugs. Thus, if ninety percent of such a class is law-abiding and decorous while ten percent is violent, dishonest, or disruptive, the latter category will come to overshadow the former in the perceptions of persons outside the class -- not because ten percent is a majority, but because that anti-social subgroup is identified with the class's special set of privileges....

Success breeds emulation. If there are advantages to be had from the ruthless exploitation of a class privilege, over time more and more members of the class will be drawn into doing so. Thus, the coloration given to the class by its privileges will become stronger and more inclusive over time.

This is not an unbounded progression; as in all other things, a tendency toward equilibrium will ultimately assert itself. However, the mechanisms by which equilibrium is restored are always unpleasant. The deterrents that curb full exploitation of a class privilege, if any exist at all, will be applied by other classes, whether through the law, other social institutions, or "informally." "Informally" usually means lynching: the application of extra-judicial, often unmerited punishment to members of one class by members of another. In the usual case, the lynchers come from a more numerous class than the lynchees, though there are occasional exceptions.

Lynching, if it goes unpunished, is itself a class privilege. There are satisfactions in it that are incomprehensible to moral men who live in ordinary times. As with other activities with innate satisfactions, the popularity of the practice will grow over time. A mob that's tasted the blood of one aristocrat is seldom satisfied with just that one sip.

Lynching writ large is genocide.

The Main Stream Media have only just made mention of the "knockout game" not afflicting American cities. They've been prodded into it by hated rival Fox News, and by the first signs that white America has had enough and is about to retaliate:

On February 26th a man waiting for his six-year-old daughter to be dropped off from school, had no idea he would be the city's first reported victim.

"I saw the van circle twice, and the second time three kids came out. I didn't suspect anything. I hadn't any enemies, or any reason to believe they would be looking to do anything to me."

We are not revealing the victim's identity for his protection.

The victim was attacked by 17-year-old Marvell Weaver. But Weaver did more than try to knock his victim out, he tried to do it with a taser. Luckily for the victim, the taser didn't work and he was able to protect himself with his concealed-carry .40 caliber pistol.

"He shoved something into my side. I wasn't sure what it was. It had some force to it. I wasn't sure if it was a knife or a gun," said the victim.

Weaver was shot twice, in the leg and an inch away from his spine. He's been sentenced to a year in jail for the attack, but he admits he's getting off easy.

"It was just a lesson learned. I wish I hadn't played the game at all," said Weaver.

But Weaver say's this wasn't the first time he'd played it. Before he was caught, he and his friends had attacked random people on several occasions.

"Not many, six or seven. It wouldn't be an every day game, just a certain game to be played on certain days. You don't even try to rob them or anything. That's the game," said Weaver.

And Marvell Weaver? What of him?

You're looking at the first casualty of a flying-lead race war...and the "flying lead" part is no longer a metaphor.

It's been a while since I could look forward with optimism. Developments have made that impossible. There's already been bloodshed. There's going to be more. Black "leaders" have disdained to address any of the trends pointing in that direction; they're too busy shouting about "white racism."

Would you like to see the faces of the persons most responsible for whatever amount of "white racism" there is? The folks who've undone all the progress America made on race relations from 1865 to 1964? The folks who regard interracial tensions as the nourishment for their bank accounts?

Have a sample on me:

And let's not forget these two:

Have a nice day.

Friday, November 22, 2013


I'm not going to call the following brief collection of thoughts and rants "assorted." They're just the products of random rambles of thought. Perhaps one of them will punch one of your buttons as well.

The change to Senate rules is just one more step in the severing of the Senate from its original mission: slowing things down. The Seventeenth Amendment began this journey; it will continue on until the Senate is merely a differently-apportioned House. The Founders, who at one point contemplated denying the Senate the power to initiate legislation, are reportedly whirling in their graves.

To allege "racism" when one doesn't get what one wants is a form of bullying. Granted that it can only work with the target's co-operation, it's still just an invocation of undeserved guilt -- and no one who genuinely believes he's earned what he demands would do so.

To allege "racism" as a stroke in a political argument is an act of cowardice. Its sole intention is to preclude argument -- and no one who believes his argument is sound would do so. Take that, Eric Holder.

Data mining has become a wee bit absurd. Recently I started receiving a magazine I never asked for -- indeed, a magazine I didn't know existed -- whose mission is to solicit funding for operatic productions. It developed that its publisher sends it gratis to persons above a certain net worth. But the calculation of "net worth" includes the presumptive market value of one's house. So I'm supposed to sell my house and blow the proceeds funding an opera? Someone needs to get serious.

Inflationists habitually deny that Federal Reserve creation of money to fund the federal deficit really causes prices to rise. But it's well known -- among rational economists, at least -- that as newly created currency and credit penetrates the economy, among the first signs of deterioration is the stretching-out of maintenance schedules and the deferral of "optional" repairs. So how have the supermarket parking lots in your neck of the woods been looking?

I feel a certain sympathy for the website engineers. The visible part of the site is the least of its complexities. Non-technologists have no idea of the immense amount of work that goes into the "back end" of such a site: the processing that takes place on the web server to support operations contingent on user input. This is understandable from general observations of the American milieu. Things have gotten too easy for most of us. Most people think potatoes are dug out of large paddies flooded with gravy.

My preferred measure of a nation's degree of freedom is at how many moments in the course of an average citizen's day he's involved with The State, whether consciously or unconsciously. How often is his behavior affected by The State? How often is he breaking a "law," knowingly or not? How much attention does he give to political matters defensively: that is, because not doing so would endanger him, his loved ones, or his interests?

Find an old copy of Herbert Spencer's early opus Social Statics and ponder the chapter on "The Right to Ignore the State." It will reorient your thoughts as no other book I know except Hayek's The Road to Serfdom.

As winter approaches, an old debate has resurfaced here at the Fortress of Crankitude: generator or no generator? Virtually everything in a modern home depends on the availability of electricity, and Long Island's overhead power lines are easily disrupted by our characteristic winter disaster, the "nor'easter." But the cost, plus the lack of natural gas lines on our street, has held us back for several years. The clincher against the idea has been "But how often would we actually use it?"

Just a weekend ago, my wife was drooling over a Tesla. That might tip the argument to the pro-generator side. However, she hasn't yet figured out how she'd get Rufus the Newfus into it:

Rufus is the capping stroke in many a discussion around here.

Do other fiction writers dream about having an affair with a female protagonist? And when it happens, do they admit it to their wives?

If just one more customer representative says "But why don't you write it in [insert language or toolkit of preference here]?" to me just one more time, I'm going to punch him out. I'm the engineer, asshole! I determine the methodology. Your job is writing checks!

The Year of Our Lord 2014 will be my last year as anyone's salaried employee. I've made no secret of it. For at least three years, I've told management above my head that grooming a replacement for me should start immediately. I've repeatedly announced my unavailability-to-come, and have been ignored. Now, with new projects on the horizon that will require several years of highly sophisticated design and group supervision, management has begun to ask "Is your retirement date really firm, Fran? Do you plan to relocate? Or might we be able to get you back as a consultant?"

If you want the true measure of a man, count his enemies. Gauge as best you can the depth of their venom toward him. This is merely an old law of human nature in operation: No one attacks the inconsequential.

No storyteller has come in for more derision than Stephen King. He's shrugged it off lifelong, producing one emotionally evocative, gracefully written novel after another, and in multiple genres, at that. If his work has become a bit patterned in these latter years, one must expect that of a writer as he grows old. We don't get to keep our freshness or inventiveness lifelong. When I hear someone deride King, my rejoinder is usually, "So what have you written lately?"

The most hated columnist in America is the relentlessly genteel and witty Mark Steyn. It boggles the mind that he doesn't have an armed guard around him at all times. It says even more about Mark Steyn, especially given his extraordinary productivity and the unflagging quality of his work. None of his detractors can approach him in either dimension.

To be half as effective a storyteller as King is all I could hope for as a writer of fiction. To be half as effective a commentator as Steyn is the outer limit of my aspirations as a commentator. That having been said, I'd greatly prefer it if I could get to those levels without accumulating the enemies. Are You listening, God? Christmas is coming, You know!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Engines And Fuels

Forgive me, Gentle Reader. I dared to don my metaphysician's hat for yesterday’s tirade, and I'm having trouble prying it off.

(A metaphysician is not a metaphysicist. A metaphysicist studies metareality: that which gives rise to the reality we observe and experience. A metaphysician diagnoses and treats mental diseases that arise from trying to deny or defeat the laws of metareality as they're expressed in observable reality. The consulting fees are meager, but the jargon is lots of fun. Is your patient still obsessed with defying gravity, Doctor?)

Some time ago, when I was still maintaining Musings Of An Indie Writer, I wrote:

For many a writer, the why of a project never enters his consciousness. A plot idea occurs to him; it bonds subconsciously with some theme he holds dear; he adds setting and characters, and some time later a story is born. But there's a why even if he never allows it space in his conscious thoughts....It's what the writer cares about most passionately, whether he realizes it or not, that will power his best fiction.

Indeed, I would say that the core distinction between the "serious" writer and the "hack" is that the former makes use of his personal passion, consciously or otherwise, while the latter is concerned solely with "what will sell."

Atop that, I've come to believe that the books and dramas I've loved best are those which eloquently express a powerful passion solidly rooted in what the late Clarence Carson called "the moral order of the universe," and that that is exactly why I hold them in such high regard.

And with that we come to Sons of Anarchy.

If you're not familiar with this extraordinary F/X television series, repent of your sins, cruise over to Half.Com, and pick up the DVDs for the previous seasons. It's come in for some criticism because of its sporadic violence and other "adult content," but these things were and are inevitable in its writers' struggle to dramatize the moral themes that have run continuously through the series.

A dominant thread, developed from the very beginning of the series, has been the clash between group loyalty and the individual conscience. The major characters of the series, especially protagonist Jax Teller, are intensely loyal to the Sons of Anarchy Motorcycle Club / Redwood Original chapter, commonly referred to as "SAMCRO." That loyalty has caused each of them, at some time, to commit acts from which a normal man's conscience would recoil, including murder. Nearly always, the perpetrators were aware of the wrongness of their actions. Indeed, in several cases, the doer has struggled to find a way to make amends.

The sense of obligation to the interests of SAMCRO is how the perpetrator rationalizes his act. He has a conception of a "higher good" that trumps whatver moral standards he might otherwise observe. The rationale is seldom bulletproof, which is why the perpetrator so often tries to atone later on.

However, the starkest clashes occur when a character elevates his own interests above both conventional moral precepts and the interests of SAMCRO. We see this in several instances, but most frequently and strikingly in the behavior of Clay Morrow, SAMCRO's president through the first four seasons who is eventually displaced by Jax Teller. The clash between them has more than one root -- Jax discovers in mid-series that Clay murdered Jax's father John, both to take control of SAMCRO and to reserve Jax's mother Gemma to himself -- but the essential evil of Clay's behavior is never in doubt, nor is the sense that by some standard, Jax's eventual campaign to depose and dispose of Clay is righteously animated.

Yet Jax mutates throughout the series as well: toward Clay's degree of amorality, though at least partly in service to SAMCRO as well as his own ends. The progression is unmistakable. Nor is Jax unaware of it; shortly after he assumes the presidency of the club, he tells another member that "You have to be a savage to sit in this chair." The pole of evil to which Jax's leadership draws him also draws his wife Tara, who descends to fraud, the perversion of justice, and miscellaneous subversions in her effort to get away from Jax, SAMCRO, and the northern California town of Charming they dominate.

As SF/military writer Tom Kratman has made plain in his "CarreraVerse" series, we tend to become what we oppose. Indeed, in a postscript to A Desert Called Peace, he steps forward and makes it explicit:

[I]t has been said more than once that you should choose enemies wisely, because you are going to become just, or at least, much like them. The corollary to this is that your enemies are also going to become very like you....

If I could speak now to our enemies, I would say: Do you kill innocent civilians for shock value? So will we learn to do, in time. Do you torture and murder prisoners? So will we. Are you composed of religious fanatics? Well, since humanistic secularism seems ill-suited to deal with you, don't be surprised if we turn to our churches and temples for the strength to defeat and destroy you. Do you randomly kill our loved ones to send us a message? Don't be surprised, then, when we begin to target your families, specifically, to send the message that our loved ones are not stationery.

This seems lost on the current enemy, but then, he's insane. It's very sad. Yes, it's very sad for us, too.

There's a universe of moral instruction in that remark.

Jonah Goldberg, in commenting on Sons of Anarchy, called SAMCRO's members' affliction tribal loyalty. And indeed, there is a powerful parallel between the bonding of primitive tribes, which causes them to regard anyone outside the tribe as rightless at best, an enemy at worst, and the ethical cement of SAMCRO. But even more to the point is the reaction of the tribe to one viewed as a betrayer, as Clay was eventually viewed by the rest of the club.

We frequently see examples of that in the political sphere. We might be about to see a world-shaking example in the case of Barack Hussein Obama.

In the eyes of many of his co-partisans in Congress, Obama has betrayed the Democrat Party. Specifically, his "signature achievement," the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, is coming apart so badly that it makes him, his Administration, and any legislator who voted for the Act to look like an incompetent idiot. Yet Obama continues to press them to support this massive "train wreck" (Max Baucus). Some have done so...mainly those not facing the electorate in 2014 . Those up for re-election are painfully aware that being seen as a supporter of the PPACA is likely to cost them their seats on Capitol Hill.

The PPACA, now more commonly known as ObamaCare, is likely to cost the Democrat Party its majority in the Senate. That, of course, would doom the remainder of Obama's agenda. More than that, it would have a significant influence on the 2016 Presidential campaign. A credible Democrat candidate would have to run against ObamaCare to have a chance at the White House. Even that might not be enough to get him there.

Obama is aware of this. But he faces a cruel choice. If he presses his co-partisans too hard for their support of ObamaCare, they might react against him with maximum animus. If he doesn't press them hard enough, his "signature achievement" is likely to be repealed, or so compromised that its inherent flaws cause it to collapse. He must choose between a Carteresque legacy and being publicly "cast out" by the rest of his party.

By the choice he makes, we should learn the dimensions of his self-absorption and his moral sphere: in other words, exactly what sort of man he really is. We'll also learn how vicious Democrats, whether in federal office or in high positions within their party, can be toward "one of our own." They'll be useful lessons to those who reacted against George W. Bush's missteps by handing control of Congress to the Democrats, and who twice voted Barack Hussein Obama into the Oval Office.

Ayn Rand wrote in Atlas Shrugged that "A man's motor is his moral code." That nicely captures the centrality of one's moral vision to one's self-command. But if one's moral code is the engine, it is also his brakes. His desires are his fuel. Where they stand in relation to his moral code constrains his steering.

The sociopath has fuel but no brakes.
We suffer under a State dominated by persons of sociopathic bent.
They will not stop themselves; they have neither the inclination nor the equipment.
After all that's come to pass, I'm tempted to say that the moral is obvious.
I shan't.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Without God

Here's the recording:

Did anyone really doubt that it happened?

"Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past." -- George Orwell, 1984

It's time for the evasions and dissimulations to end.

Barack Hussein "America is not a Christian nation" Obama has edited God out of his rendition of the core passage of the Declaration of Independence. He has repeatedly refused to recite the Pledge of Allegiance as Americans have learned it: with the phrase "under God" included. On at least one well-recorded occasion, he refused to salute the flag at all, his (and his wife's) hands held conspicuously over their crotches instead of their hearts. And anyone who remembers the 2008 campaign must remember Obama's flag-pinless-lapel, in contrast to every other candidate for any federal position in that year.

As president of these United States, Obama commands the "bully pulpit" afforded that position. It's a post of immense influence: over the attitudes of Americans and non-Americans alike. Inasmuch as he must be aware that the Gettysburg Address as Lincoln delivered it was reported to have included the phrase "one nation, under God," just as he must be aware that the Declaration attributes men's rights to having been "endowed by their Creator," and just as he must be aware that the Pledge has included the phrase "under God" since 1954, this cannot be either coincidence or a repetitious lapse of memory.

I've written before -- forgive me for not being able to produce the link; my Google Fu is a bit weak this morning -- that Obama cannot be either a Christian or a Muslim: either religion would require him to concede the existence of an Authority higher than himself. But while that might apply specifically to this business of always omitting references to God from traditional documents and oaths, there's a still deeper layer to the thing that Obama's recent indictment for having lied bald-facedly and repeatedly to the American people has starkly illuminated:

Obama resists the concept of objective truth.

Consider: If there is objective truth, there are objective facts: assertions about the universe, and the events that have occurred in it, that are independent of anyone's opinion. Leftists resent that notion terribly, as it obstructs their efforts to rewrite history. That's an imperative for the Left: to make their preferred brand of totalitarianism -- and all forms of totalitarianism are Leftist -- appear successful and benign, they must efface its real history and replace it with rosy fantasies. When a particular historical tragedy or atrocity is too well and widely known to be flensed from people's memories, Leftists will strive to alter, or at least becloud, the common understanding of its geneses, so as to avert the odium from their totalitarian creed.

Barack Hussein "When you spread the wealth around, it's good for everybody" Obama is most certainly a man of the Left.

In the Nazi leadership’s view, Rauschning (a one-time friend of Hitler’s) reports, “the more inconsistent and irrational is their doctrine, the better….[E]verything that might have gone to the making up of a systematic, logically conceived doctrine is dismissed as a trifle, with sovereign contempt.” “To all doubts and questions,” writes Rosenberg, “the new man of the first German empire has only one answer: Nevertheless, I will!” [Leonard Peikoff, The Ominous Parallels]

Beneath all convictions about cause and effect lies a postulate that few rational men have ever thought to question:

Reality has laws that cannot be broken.

The scientist struggles to learn what those laws are, in the greatest possible breadth and precision. The engineer wields the laws that are known to produce advances in human prosperity and well-being. The philosopher ponders why the laws are as they are, and what sort of worlds and peoples different ones might produce. And of course, the legislator strives to modify or repeal the laws by exertions of rhetoric.

The tyrant refuses to accept that there are any laws he cannot override by his omnipotent will: "Make it so!"

No, the tyrant seldom thinks about the nature of reality and the persistence of its properties. He has other things on his mind. However, to achieve his ends he will repeatedly act in a fashion that presupposes the superiority of his will to the laws of Nature, particularly those graven into the nature of Man. When those laws prove superior to his will, as they always have and always will, he is forced by his supreme arrogance to decree them removed from history: "Make it not so!" To the tyrant, the ultimate obstacle is the immutability of the past: that what has happened cannot be made to un-happen retroactively.

Barack Hussein "Yes We Can" Obama is a tyrant.

"Without God, all things are possible." -- Fyodor Dostoevsky

The theist believes that the laws of reality are as they are because God has ordained that they shall be thus. In a sense, God is Nature's enforcer, though of a sort different from any enforcer who labors within the veil of Time. Nature's laws cannot be broken; hence, there is no need to punish anyone for breaking them. The temporal enforcer has a more difficult and persistent task.

The atheist, though he rejects belief in God, is usually willing to concede that reality has laws he cannot break. Such an atheist won't be a practical problem for the theist, as long as he doesn't turn militantly hostile to theistic faiths. He and his theist friend might argue good-naturedly about religious conviction and its supports, but they're unlikely to come to blows over it. In short, despite their differences they can live and let live.

But there is a variety of atheist to whom the suggestion that there are immutable and unbreakable laws is inherently, irremediably offensive: the solipsist. A man who denies the laws of reality denies by implication that there can be any fact to which he refuses his assent, including reality itself.

But if all of reality is contingent upon his permission to exist, the solipsist has usurped the throne of God -- a Being in whom he refuses to believe and of whose existence he refuses to speak.

Barack Hussein "I Won" Obama is a solipsist.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013


1. An Often Overlooked Point.

The defense of Barack Hussein Obama's recent unilateral "fix" to ObamaCare offered by his (remaining) defenders is that he's not altering the law by ukase; he's merely refusing to enforce one of its terms for a stated interval. Therefore, what he's doing is "constitutional." (That little clause in Article II about faithfully enforcing the laws? Don't bother us with trifles; we've got a war to conduct!)

But if the law remains as it was, then for any insurance company to trust the Obama "fix" and offer a "substandard" plan for the coming year is a penalizable offense under the terms of the Affordable Care Act. That the president will deign to ignore such offenses for the next calendar year doesn't wipe them out of history. Therefore, the company would remain prosecutable and penalizable in subsequent years all the way up to the statute of limitations on such offenses...if there is one.

Any insurance company CEO that buys into that bargain should be replaced at once.

2. An Excellent Article With A Wee Oversight.

The following is excerpted from Richard Larson's fine guest article for Doug Ross @ Journal:

An autocrat is one who has absolute power. And that is how our president is acting. The Constitution was written brilliantly with inherent checks and balances on the power of any one of the branches of government. But apparently, when you’re Barack Obama, there’s no perceived limit to your power; you can do as you please, when you please, and when you mess up, claim you never knew about it until you “read it in the press,” like the rest of us. Outside of the fantasy world of the Washington Beltway, such an egocentric and narcissistic attitude would be considered delusional. But that’s what we got when we elected, and then reelected, someone with a messiah complex....

I have long maintained that our republic can only survive if people elected to office honor their oath to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States of America.” Every time Obama spuriously and capriciously changes a law, chooses which he will execute and not execute, he is definitionally acting outside of the law, and he breaks his oath of office anew.

Several years ago Ayn Rand said, “We are fast approaching the stage of ultimate inversion: the stage where government is free to do as it pleases, while the citizens may act only by permission.” It seems obvious that we’ve now achieved that state of ultimate inversion of our founding principles. And the inversion is exacerbated by the fact that it’s the arbitrary actions of an autocrat at the helm of the nation that declares that government can do as it pleases, while we paean citizens have our liberty eroded further with every stroke of his pen, and utterance from his lips.

There’s nothing we can do to rein in the autocratic hubris at the head of the country. We can only hope that in three years we may choose someone who respects the law, follows it, and will fervently keep the oath to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution.

[Emphasis added by FWP.]

"Nothing we can do" -- ? I can think of several things. The one I'd most like to see remains somewhat unlikely, but others -- court challenges on Tenth Amendment grounds; widespread civil disobedience; a wave of recall petitions and counter-candidates -- remain entirely feasible. Moreover, if taken up in concert, they would topple the regime completely.

Unfortunately, to make it all work requires a degree of coordination beyond what currently exists in the patriotic resistance to The Won and his lieutenants. Whence such coordination is to come, I cannot say.

3. Categories And Consensus.

To one who has not studied logic as such, certain aspects of organized reasoning can seem dubious, even opaque. Nevertheless, if you want to think in an organized fashion and produce conclusions you can trust to endure over time, you must master certain distinctions. The inability to grasp such distinctions lies at the base of several of the objections I've received to this screed.

The entire point of that post was to emphasize a bit of understanding that most persons grasp murkily at best: that though we speak of categories in the abstract with great ease, we seldom bother to ponder how so many of them are entirely matters of consensus.

Consider: There are only three ways to define a category:

  1. Intensively: That is, by providing it with a genus and a differentia;
  2. Authoritatively: By nominating a person or agency with absolute authority to decree what is and what is not a member of the category;
  3. Extensively: Also called by tabulation, this method proceeds by gathering examples and amassing a consensus of interested persons about which ones are and are not members of the category.

If you can't formulate an intensive definition of the category in which you're interested, you're compelled to use one of the other methods. In the usual case, we employ the third one: the amassing of a consensus about what is and is not in category X. This is the case with the categories applied to works of fiction.

Science fiction, a category of the third sort, is by some criteria "under attack" by writers who seek to blend "alien" motifs into it -- motifs taken from other categories of the third sort, such as horror and romance. However, as others have pointed out, those motifs are not unknown in SF of a sort that the existing consensus category already accepts. Rather, the argument is about how much horror, or romance, or magic, or what-have-you "should" appear in a novel the consensus "should" accept as SF. Once again, the usual approach is by tabulation: this book, all right; that one, never; this other one...well, maybe.

The key point here is that consensus categories can (and sometimes do) move away from their origins as time passes. That doesn't make anyone "right" or "wrong" about the "definition" of SF; it merely means that while some accept the consensus and would prefer that it not be disturbed, others are attempting to change it.

This is the root of the acrimony that's been stirred up over the influx of SF / romance hybrids -- where the SF motifs and the romantic elements might be balanced in any arbitrary proportion -- that have proliferated in recent years. Some of the folks determined to maintain the previous consensus are unhappy that anyone should dare to try to change it, and have reacted vituperatively toward them.

Few adults react well to being vilified. Still fewer are likely to abandon their positions under such a barrage. And oftentimes, those who thunder maledictions as if they had been granted authority over the subject are eventually sorry they did so.

Verbum sat sapienti.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Last Amen

She returned to me on Friday. She looked less agitated than she had a few days before. I put down my work, composed myself for a serious exchange, and turned to face her.

"I can't make up my mind," she said.

I nodded. "I can only imagine how hard it must be."

"I want to know something," she said. "Did you always hold your current opinions?"

"About abortion, you mean? No, I didn't. They started to change about twenty years ago."

"Why?" she said.

I thought about it for a moment.

"If I were to say that it was a conclusion logically arrived at, I'd be lying to you. I think my current convictions are logically defensible, but only on the strength of a premise a lot of people reject."

She frowned. "What premise?"

"That conception produces a unique human being with a right to life."

"Oh." She smirked. "That's really the issue, isn't it?"

"Of course. People don't get worked up over demonstrable facts. They quarrel over things that can't be proved or disproved. When was the last time you saw a public demonstration about the Sun rising in the East?"

Her mouth fell open. I got that little thrill that says you've opened a new avenue of thought for someone else.

"Well," she said, "what about clones?"

I chuckled. "Let's wait until someone succeeds in cloning a human being to tackle that one."

"Okay," she said. "But I still can't make up my mind. Wait." She held up a hand. "You said you didn't arrive at your opinions that way."

I nodded.

"Well? How did you get there?"

I shrugged. "Conscience. The still, small voice."

"Oh." She sat back, looking satisfied. "Religion."

I shook my head. "No, conscience. Everyone has one. Perhaps our ability to hear them differs. But I imagine that you're thinking that my Catholicism has more to do with it."

"Doesn't it?" she said.

"Only in this sense," I said. "When I came to believe that abortion is morally wrong was when I first became qualified to become a Catholic. The order is important."

"Oh." She grimaced. "I'm not religious."

I did not reply.

Presently she said, "What's the point of it, anyway?"

"Of religion, or being a Catholic?"

"Either or both."

"That's a very long conversation, dear. If you're really interested, we should have it outside of work. Care to join me for lunch? My treat."

"Uh, not today. Next week sometime, maybe?"

I smiled. "Just let me know."

We are not given to know all the ripples our words and deeds might produce. In this as in all things, God is good. What man could bear to live with the knowledge that his lightest utterances would disrupt the entire future of Man? It's for the best that we deem ourselves, and our effects, finite. I wouldn't want to be able to see too far ahead; it would distract me from what I must do today.

But in reflecting on the above exchange, and the one before it, it occurs to me that the one and only predictable thing in life is its end: we shall all die. At the Particular Judgment, when I must answer to God for my deeds in life, a verdict will be rendered from which there is no appeal. It will be clear to me from the absolute self-knowledge conferred by one's entrance to eternity that it could be no other way, and all I will be able to say is So it is.

May God bless and keep you all.