Friday, September 19, 2014


A thousand pardons, Gentle Reader. I'm at the end of my rope and the knot is fraying. So please accept a grab-bag of interesting tidbits in place of the usual shrieking tirade.

1. The Scottish Independence Vote.

By now you're probably aware that the Scots voted 55% / 45% to remain united to England and Wales. What you might not know is the reason.

Bret Baier's Special Report conducted some street-level interviews in several Scottish cities to determine the attitudes of ordinary Scots toward independence. A substantial number of Scots opined that Scotland should remain within the United Kingdom because subsidies, national government funding for various programs, and assorted transfer payments from London to Scotland considerably exceed tax payments from Scotland to London -- in other words, so Scots could continue to live at the rest of the U.K.'s expense.

I was immediately reminded of the Quebec separatist movement of the Seventies. You may recall that Quebec was at one point a hotbed of secessionist sentiment. What ultimately derailed that movement was exactly the same influence -- except in that case, Ottawa was willing to see Quebec leave the Canadian union, but the Quebecois insisted that even once separation had occurred and Quebecois were no longer paying taxes to Ottawa, transfer payments from Ottawa must continue to flow into Quebec.

Cheeky, eh? Yet you'd find many persons here in America of a similar mind, which to a great extent explains Washington's determination to federalize every program and every position down to deputy assistant dog catchers.

2. What We Have Lost.

Fred Reed, as he so often does, reminds us that things were not always as they are today:

There was nothing special about the class of 1964, or about King George High, except for those of us who were in it. Our yearbook looked like ten thousand others across America, portraits with acne removed in the photo lab, the basket ball team exactly like everybody else’s, the cheerleaders conventionally glorious, conventional adolescent good-byes in ball-point pen—but without misspelling or bad grammar.

We, largely rural kids of the small-town South, represented without knowing it a culture, an approach to existence, and a devastating principle: You can’t impose decency, honesty, good behavior, or responsibility. They are in the culture, or they are not. If they are, you don't need laws, police, and supervision. If they are not, laws won't much help. And this is why the US is over, at least as the country we knew.

The names in the yearbook are just names: Sonny, Rosie, Butch, Kenny, Joyce, Cecil, Ricky, Kit. Just names. But. But, but, but. With any of these people you could leave your keys in the car—we did—or the front door unlocked—we did. We had one cop in the country, Jay Powell, a state trooper, and he had little to do. The high school did not have metal detectors or police patrolling the halls. We had none of the behavior that now makes these things necessary. It wasn’t in the culture. We could have raped, killed, robbed, fathered countless illegitimate children like barnyard animals. We didn’t.

It wasn’t in the culture.

I cannot do greater justice to this unsparingly incisive and supremely important essay than to say: Please read it all. Please!

3. And When You've Finished Fred's Essay... have this one to read:

A few years ago, when my husband and I lived in the Chicago area, we joined a Bible study group through our church. It was a nice, well-mannered, cordial collection of eight couples who met monthly for dinner and discussion. Upon reflection, our approach was a little unorthodox. After about five to 10 minutes of valiant attempts to stay on topic, we would inevitably drift into wild conversational territory light-years away from the Bible passage at hand. Did I mention we served wine with dinner?

One particularly memorable session, hosted at our house, involved my husband demanding an up-or-down vote on whether or not America was becoming “a fascist police state.” Some people laughed. A few looked horrified. I think I reached for more wine. But as I recall, two voters at that table shot their hands up, ramrod straight, smiles absent, within milliseconds.

I was reminded of the Great Presbyterian Fascist Police State Vote this week when I read the story of Kari Anne Roy, an Austin children’s book author whose recent run-in with Child Protective Services rivals a scene in a George Orwell novel. Roy reports that she let her 6-year-old play outside, by himself, within sight of her house. Within about 10 minutes, her doorbell rang: It was a woman she didn’t know, wearing sunglasses, with Roy’s son in tow. She was “returning” him to safety, served with a side dish of neighborly scorn.

I’ll interrupt this story to admit that I am a bit of a paranoid helicopter parent. I have not yet let my kids play outside alone. However, due to my vigilant training, I would hope that my kids would run screaming from a sunglass-faced stranger getting all up in their business. In this instance, Roy’s son might have been wise to do the same: That “helpful” neighbor ended up calling the police, who visited Roy that same day. Child Protective Services paid a visit the following week.

What unfolded then was a bit of a horror show: A CPS officer interviewed each of Roy’s children, alone. “She asked my 12-year-old if he had ever done drugs or alcohol. She asked my 8-year-old daughter if she had ever seen movies with people’s private parts, so my daughter, who didn’t know that things like that exist, does now,” Roy told Lenore Skenazy, who wrote about the incident at Reason. “Thank you, CPS.”

Read it from beginning to end, people. Reflect on it. Count up the number of things some intrusive neighbor might see you or your progeny doing, and thereby be moved to call Child Protective Services, the local Code Enforcement authorities, or the sheriff's department. Seriously! There'll be a test on many a sad case, to be administered by agents of the Omnipotent State.

And now to other tasks. I'll see you tomorrow, Gentle Reader. (The voices insist that it's time to clean the guns, inspect the deadfall traps, and check the fusing on the claymores. So soon! Amen, amen I say unto you, a paranoid's work is never done.)

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