Friday, February 28, 2014

The new Never Again Mantra.

Fjordman, elsewhere in the comments on the post that is the source of the following quote, observes with considerable frustration that WWII has been over for a very long time, yet there is forever and forever debate about Nazis and anti-Nazis.

Commenter Hesperado lays his finger, a la James Madison, on how the obsession with Nazis and neo-Nazis is central to the current leftist/liberal campaign to make the debate in the West about immigration, ethnic identity, nationalism, IQ, crime, Islam, our "propositional nation," black underclass dysfunction, "diversity," etc. as dishonest as possible:

The New Hitler which we are committed to be ever vigilant to prevent — by among other things ferretting out any signs of symptoms of even the slightest hints of its incipient revival — must be another White Racist Fascist and it is not only unthinkable that it could be an Ethnic Minority but even to begin to think that Unthinkable is to initiate the process leading to a New Hitler — the very thing we are committed to prevent at all cost.

Thus, the machine is rigidly set:

1) Muslims are an Ethnic Minority (or a wonderfully diverse rainbow of Ethnic Minorities)

2) To begin to generalize pejoratively about any Ethnic Minority is to begin to revive a New Nazism

3) Any criticism of Islam and of Muslims, therefore, must be nipped in the bud in our committment to our longstanding Maginot Line of Stopping a New Hitler before it begins.[1]

To emphasize, it's not an honest concern. National Socialism is as dead as Poujadism, the KKK, tulipmania, or the cargo cults. True, there are occasional sightings, such as of AntiFa in Germany and elsewhere, but the taxonomy is usually mysteriously gotten wrong and those modern-day brown shirts get tagged as just concerned youthful idealists. Hesperado captures the putative noble objective brilliantly but it's really all about suppression and malice.

Red and black fascism, a la Max Eastman, are forever with us and Trevor Loudon, Diana West and Bat Ye'or have done excellent work in showing that. But that's another story.

Notes
[1] Comment by Hesperado on "The Screaming Nazi Heeber-Jeebers." By Baron Bodissey, Gates of Vienna, 7/2/11.

Changes At www.franciswporretto.com

For those who take an interest in my fiction and related writings:

  • There's a new article on "indoor" fiction
  • I've added a Disqus discussion facility to the front page.

Enjoy...but please, be nice. All Disqus comments are moderated.

A Day Off

I'm worn right down to the bone and in serious need of a day's rest. Worse, I have a backlog of neglected tasks, every one of which has some claim to urgency, that exceeds my powers of description. So I'm going to make this very short, that I might turn to the obvious and impending business of the day: worrying.

Some writers start off promising and get steadily more impressive over time. Sadly, that's a minority of them. Other writers start off promising, but over time it becomes clear that all they are is "writers" -- i.e., that they have nothing of substance to say. A third group, far smaller than either of the first two, starts off promising and gets steadily better, while displaying a degree of percipience and comprehension that's so large you have to squint to see it.

Whoever the gentleman who styles himself Ace of Spades might be, he's impressed me for a long time with his eloquence and intelligence. That creates the "problem" of a "high bar" he must surmount to get me to rise to a still greater degree of appreciation. Yet he's stunned me with his latest column -- not because of his grace of expression (which I've come to expect), and not because he expresses sentiments new to me (they're embedded at the core of my soul), but because of the immense power he's put behind them in a short, classically simple piece.

You don't have to share Ace's beliefs about first things -- I don't -- to be rocked by the impact of this remarkable essay. It's of a quality that compels me to render the writer's ultimate compliment to a colleague: "I wish I'd written it."

Read it all.
Then live it.

Later, Gentle Reader.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Why They Lie, 2014 Edition

First, please allow me to repost a large part of a piece from Eternity Road, which first appeared there on June 10, 2006:


Have you ever wondered why politicians and their affiliates lie? Why they betray their oaths and scamp their duties by deliberately misinforming the public? Why they strain to seduce -- often quite successfully -- the mainstream media into affirming or substantiating their deceits?

In one sense, the answer is simple. Politicians lie for the same reason anyone lies: to get something that would otherwise be unavailable to them on acceptable terms. If a lie is the lowest-cost / least-risk way of getting it, and their morals don't inhibit them from the approach, they'll lie as volubly as a teenager caught with one hand wrapped around a bottle of Jack Daniels and the other deep in his date's panties.

But politicians do tend to lie more than non-politicians. More effectively, too. They've succeeded in misdirecting millions of people at a time, persuading them that politicians' words, suitably echoed by journalists and approved by tame commentators, are more trustworthy than a mountain of contrary evidence in plain sight. Success in the use of a technique for getting what one wants increases the probability that he'll use it again.

In other words, why they do it might seem obvious, but how they get away with it deserves some investigation.

To borrow an image from Darrell Huff, the author of How To Lie With Statistics, your Curmudgeon's treatment might seem like a course of instruction for the aspiring pirate in the fine points of cutlass work. Nevertheless, one must understand the techniques to detoxify them, and to assist others muddled by them in achieving clarity.

When Smith wishes to deceive Jones, he must contrive to do all the following:

  1. Misdirection: He must avert Jones's attention and credulity from any convincing contrary evidence.
  2. Confidence: He must instill in Jones an adequate degree of confidence in his (Smith's) trustworthiness.
  3. Plausibility: He must frame his deceit in a manner consistent with the applicable context.
  4. Affirmation: He must ensure that the preponderance of voices to which Jones is likely to listen will affirm, or at least not contradict, his deceit.
  5. Neutralization: He must discredit contrary voices which have access to evidence, or channels of persuasion, that are outside his control.

If the subject matter of the deception is significant, which in politics is more often the case than not, the effort must be especially skillful and thorough. A single small tear in the veil thrown over the truth could bring disaster upon the liar. Thus, in the case of imperfectly constructed deceits, such as the 2004 Rather / Mapes "TANG memos," all it took was one sharp-eyed observer, familiar with the properties of typewriter fonts, to destroy what might otherwise have been a successful campaign to slander the president of the United States, who was running for re-election....

But your Curmudgeon has a larger point to make, which underpins all the important aspects of deception already presented: one cannot deceive a knowledgeable man. The precondition for all successful deceits is the target's ignorance of the critical facts. He who already knows the truth is all but impossible to mislead:

  • He'll already have access to reliable evidence.
  • He'll be skeptical of accounts that contradict that evidence.
  • He'll quickly spot incoherencies between mendacious constructions and the facts on hand.
  • He'll demand much more substantiation from those who affirm the deceit.
  • He'll be predisposed to believe those whose accounts accord with what he knows.

To keep the people easily deceived, one must deny them knowledge....

Politicians are unceasing in their attempts to create and perpetuate ignorance. Politicians who seek expanded power and perquisites -- i.e., just about all of them -- will always slant their presentations of "facts" to the public in such a fashion as to imply that only expanded State power, and unquestioning trust in the probity and competence of our "leaders," will save us from disaster. He who suggests that the State is the source of most social and economic problems, rather than the solution to them, is their blood enemy, to be neutralized by any means necessary.

Could it be any clearer why politicians place such emphasis on controlling the mechanisms of education and communications? Could it be any clearer why they strive unceasingly to seduce journalists and commentators to their support, and exclude those who refuse to enlist in their causes? Could it be any clearer why they cultivate the affections of entertainment celebrities and other bellwethers of our society?

Could it be any clearer why the Internet, the freest and most flexible instrument for communications and mutual education ever invented, must be protected from their mercies at all costs?

Inform yourselves.

"Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it -- no matter if I have said it! -- except it agree with your own reason and your own common sense." -- Gautama Boddhisattva (the Buddha)


If you've stayed in touch with recent developments in our nation's capital, you're probably already aware of the Dishonorable Harry Reid's attempt to paint all criticism of ObamaCare as dishonest:

Not a tiny handful. Not even an imagined majority. No, every last person who says they've been harmed by Obamacare is lying, according to the Majority Leader of the United States Senate....He specifically cites the story of a woman we wrote about earlier in the week, whose story...hasn't been debunked.

Senator Reid also claims that the anti-ObamaCare ads produced by the Koch brothers are "virtually all dishonest." No, he doesn't refute any of them; he merely makes that blanket statement, on the floor of the Senate in open session, and moves on.

Guy Benson also pursues the parallel case of Democrat Congressman Gary Peters:

You'll recall that Rep. Gary Peters, Michigan Democrats' presumptive Senate nominee, had his lawyers pressure television stations to refuse to air an anti-Obamacare ad starring a cancer patient who's been hurt by the new law. Julie Boonstra has since explained her situation in some detail and would like to discuss her predicament with the Congressman who's acted to shut down her story. Megyn Kelly followed up on this controversy, telling viewers that Peters has "repeatedly" turned down interview requests.

So we have direct lying by a Senator coordinated with indirect deceit, by suppressing the statements of others, by a Congressman. (And both Democrats! What an incredible surprise.)

Why are they doing it? Clearly, they want something that they believe is best obtained through deceit, but what? ObamaCare is standing law, with no immediate possibility of repeal. Given that no Democrat would dare to vote for his conviction and removal from office, President Obama is safe from impeachment. So what's the point?

What's that you say? There are elections coming up? Well, yes, but so what? Aren't there always elections coming up? What's different about the ones in November?

Could the Democrats so greatly fear the loss of the Senate as to tell easily detected lies right out in front of God and everybody? Or do they harbor hopes of retaking the House, and believe that suppressing the criticism of ObamaCare will assist them toward that end?

Not being a telepath, I can't be sure. (Besides, if I were a telepath, I'd be a lot more selective in my choice of "reading material" than to probe the minds of Harry Reid and Gary Peters.) My surmise is that the Democrats do fear the loss of the Senate, because they still hope to elevate a Justice or two to the Supreme Court while Obama holds the presidency. However, even if that's not the case, the famously thin-skinned Obama would surely be greatly peeved at the implied rejection of the policies he and his co-partisans have imposed on the United States. No one enjoys being publicly rebuffed, and for the Democrats to lose both Houses of Congress before Obama must vacate the White House would equal or exceed the snub the electorate dealt to the Bush Administration in 2006.

Even if the Supreme Court is on the Democrats' minds -- and to be sure, that's been the site of many unhallowed victories for the Left, this century past -- saving face is surely in there as well. Indeed, preserving the Democrat Party's image as "the party of the little guy" is critical to the party's long-term prospects, not merely those in 2014 and 2016. So they lie.


Lying, of course, is as common among politicians as chlamydia in a cathouse. One must always be alert to it, and ready to debunk or otherwise defuse it. But it's equally important to penetrate to the motivations behind the lie, for both strategic and tactical reasons:

    "Of all the musts and must-nots of warfare, this one is paramount: you must conceal your motives. Unless he is insignificant in comparison to you, once your opponent knows your motives, he'll be able to defeat you. He'll probably even have a choice of ways to do it.
    "You must move heaven and earth, if necessary, to discover your opponent's motives. His tactics will be determined by them. If his motives change, his tactics will follow. There lies your opportunity, if you can get him to adopt tactics unsuitable to the conflict. Of course, he could try to do the same to you."
    "What's the countermeasure?"
    "Constancy. Refusal to let yourself be diverted. Of course, that can be a trap, too. Motive is partly determined by objectives. If your adversary's situation changes but his objectives remain the same, he could find himself committed to paying an exorbitant price for something that's become worthless."
    "And that's the time to stop playing with his head?"
    His grin was ice-cold. "You have a gift."

When an election approaches, the preponderance of the lies politicians and their allies will tell will bear on their electoral prospects and those of their party. This is a particular vulnerability when the politician must somehow paper over previous lies and major policy failures to improve his chance of re-election. That describes twenty-one United States Senators and a great many Congressmen as we stand today.

Stay alert and skeptical.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Are Editors Rational Or Sentient? Or Perhaps Not?

Perhaps before we decide the matter based solely on our writerly prejudices, we should have a peek at a "typical author-editor collaboration:"

(Courtesy of Bayou Renaissance Man.)

Say it isn't so!

It astonishes me that many people who are capable of grasping the fact that gentrification changes neighborhoods nevertheless reject the idea that immigration changes countries.
"Of gentrification and immigration." By Vox Day, 2/26/14.

Assorted

Yes, I'm back to that again.


1. Converts And Heretics.

Via Ed Driscoll, a pithy statement from Utah Senator Mike Lee:

Anger is not an agenda. And outrage, as a habit, is not even conservative. Outrage, resentment, and intolerance are gargoyles of the Left. For us, optimism is not just a message — it’s a principle. American conservatism, at its core, is about gratitude, and cooperation, and trust, and above all hope.

It is also about inclusion. Successful political movements are about identifying converts, not heretics. This, too, is part of the challenge before us.

True...as far as it goes. But heretics matter, too, especially the sort who:

  1. Are innately hostile to the principles of freedom;
  2. Are willing to compromise (and thereby destroy) those principles to look like Nice Guys.

Type 1 heretics constitute a "fifth column" within conservative ranks. They cannot be reformed and must be expunged. Type 2 heretics are potentially salvageable...but excess effort put to salvaging them can undermine other, politically more profitable efforts.


2. Unexpected Candor.

It's possible that the following wasn't meant for American eyes:

In Japan, there is great fear of failure and mistakes in front of other people. It is better to do nothing and avoid being criticized than to taste the humiliation of failure. As a result, there are things we wanted to do, but did not, and often regret.

In America, you can make mistakes, fail, and it doesn’t matter. It is a fundamental feeling that to sometimes be incorrect is natural. In addition, rather than thinking about mistakes and failures, Americans have curiosity and say, "Let’s try anyway!"

That's an unusually candid assessment of the psychological differences between the Japanese and American cultures. It might apply equally well to all Oriental cultures. Though many would point to the relative weighting the relevant cultures give to individuality and freedom, I'd say it derives from a deeper phenomenon, a prioritization of "face" over aggregate accomplishments.

Only individuals can truly have "face," in the Japanese sense. Institutions are "faceless." However, a Japanese institution's choice of persons to represent it to the larger world will take into account those persons' "face:" their aggregate reputations and the respect they receive from others. In other words, the representative's "face" becomes that of the institution, at least temporarily.

To the Japanese, to fail is to "lose face." A failure is exceedingly difficult to outlive or surmount, no matter what one's subsequent accomplishments.

In Richard Hoyt's first-rate thriller Japanese Game, he relates a true story from Japanese baseball, concerning a great pitcher who served up a game-losing "gopher ball" to a great power hitter while the Emperor was in the stands, watching. Though the pitcher went on to achieve mightily, he was unable to overcome the shame of throwing the losing pitch while the Emperor looked on.

Compare that to Tracy Stallard's comments about serving up the pitch that Roger Maris hit for his record-breaking 61st home run in 1961. In a post-game interview, Stallard felt no embarrassment at all:

The contest between the Red Sox and the Yankees was the final game of the season with Stallard, then 2-6, facing off against Yankees right-hander Bill Stafford (12-9). In the first duel between Maris and Stallard in the first inning, Stallard threw a changeup to Maris that ended up being a soft fly to left field. In the fourth inning, Stallard fell behind 2-0 to Maris. Up to that point, Stallard had said that he was probably having the best game he had ever pitched. Stallard threw a fastball, and Maris hit it over the wall for his 61st home run. It was Maris's only hit off Stallard in seven lifetime at bats.

Stallard felt no shame over the ordeal, saying, "I'm glad he did it off me. Otherwise, I would never have been thought of again. That was about all I did, and I've had a good time with it." There has been speculation that Stallard grooved the pitch in an attempt to help Maris hit the home run, of which he has denied these claims. Stallard struck out five and gave up five hits and just the one earned run in seven innings on the outing, but the Red Sox failed to score in a 1-0 loss, dropping him to a final record of 2-7 for the season. [Emphasis added by FWP.]

Stallard's reaction puts the American attitude in the clearest possible light, especially considering the brilliance of the game he pitched.


3. Predators And Prey.

Yesterday brought a freshly disturbing report of public-sector peculation from the Big Apple:

A second wave of retired New York firefighters and police was arrested on Tuesday on disability fraud charges tied to a September 11 pension fraud, said a source involved in the investigation.

A massive ongoing investigation by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance's office had, in January, led to disability fraud charges against 106 suspects - 80 of them retired New York cops and firefighters - with some accused of falsely claiming to have been traumatized by the September 11, 2001 attacks on the city.

On Tuesday, authorities rounded up 28 suspects, including 16 more retired police officers, four former firefighters, and a retired New York City Department of Corrections employee, the source told Reuters.

Vance said the total amount stolen from taxpayers could reach $400 million.

Ace delivered a pessimistic assessment:

In related news, people are just monsters, generally.

I disagree. It's a question of incentives. Recall this passage from Which Art In Hope:

"Now, we know from historical data that predators of all sorts will concentrate where the prey is fattest. The State, which is merely an organized band of predators with a veneer of legitimacy derived either from tradition or from a manufactured appearance of the consent of its subjects, took a huge fraction of its subjects' annual production from them in taxes. A typical State would increase its exactions on its subjects faster than those subjects could increase their own fortunes."

In New York City, the "prey" is the taxpaying public, and the "predators" are those conscienceless types who succeed in getting onto the State's payroll. (To be sure, that doesn't apply to all firemen or policemen, but that's where the incentives tell us to look.) Once inside the circle of tax-consumers, they increase their exactions to whatever amount they believe they can safely steal.

If it weren't for those who overreach, we'd hardly know it was going on. Perhaps we should send them thank-you notes...at their prison addresses, of course.


4. Incomplete But Still Useful.

Freeman's Perspective has some comments on our "addiction" to politics:

The Internet is full of stories about politicians acting badly and doing the opposite of what they promised. Talk radio is full of the same things, all day, every day. Even around office water coolers, almost everyone will admit that politicians are liars and thieves.

Given all of this, it’s rather bizarre that people still believe and obey the bums. If we knew such things about a neighbor, would we continue to take them seriously?

Yet, for some reason, politicians get a permanent pass on anything stupid they do.

The first reason for this is simply that most people have been bamboozled. They were taught that government is necessary and that without it, we’d all be ignorant savages, eating whatever few berries and roots we could scrounge…that without government nothing would be built, nothing invented, and nothing taught.

That’s all propaganda, of course, paid for by the people it praises. But, it’s what we were all taught and it’s hard for people to let it go, no matter how stupid it is.

The second reason is that people are afraid.

Please read the whole thing. There are more reasons than the two cited above, but they do account for a great part of our acceptance of politics as it's practiced today.


5. Beware! We're Going To Take Over And...Leave You Alone!

I don't read Reason too often these days -- I preferred it when Virginia Postrel was the boss -- but it still produces the occasional item of note:

Salon.com offers near-daily warnings about the libertarian “threat”:

It's corrupting progressivism: “Don't ally with libertarians: Ideologues co-opt an anti-NSA rally.”

It's even infecting your iPhone apps: “The Secret Libertarianism of Uber and Airbnb.”

“Beware of Libertarians Bearing Gifts,” the Center for American Progress admonishes: “a bipartisan move against the NSA could kill the New Deal.”

Anti-libertarian paranoia plagues our elected officials too: “the anarchists have taken over,” Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., wails. “This strain of libertarianism ... is a very dangerous thought," New Jersey Governor Chris Christie warned last summer in the wake of Edward Snowden's exposure ofNational Security Agency spying: “I want [these critics] to come to New Jersey and sit across from the widows and the orphans” (Pro tip: don't take the George Washington Bridge).

“I’m very nervous about the direction this is moving in,” the governor added.

I can only cite Benjamin Franklin's caution to the Constitutional Convention at Philadelphia:

"Gentlemen, you see that in the anarchy in which we live society manages much as before. Take care, if our disputes last too long, that the people do not come to think they can very easily do without us."

Concerning the conceits of politicians and other would-be power-mongers, it would appear that little has changed.


6. An Old Song.

If you're an old fart like me, you might recall this Herman's Hermits tune from the Sixties:

Everyone's life is bittersweet
    It's a door that opens wide
And no man can call himself complete
    Till he's seen it from both sides...

This door swings both ways
    It's marked 'In' and 'Out'
Some days, you'll want to cry
    And some days, you will shout
This door swings both ways
    It goes back and forth
In comes a southern breeze
    Or a cold wind from the north

This door swings both ways
    Lets in joy and pain
In comes the morning sun
    And then the evening rain
This door swings both ways
    Lets in dark and light
Every day you make the choice
    To let in wrong or right

When shadows fall
    You must prepare yourself for sunshine
For everything, there is an end
    And so, my friend, you must be brave

This door swings both ways
    Which one will it be
Will we live in happiness
    Or dwell in misery
This door swings both ways
    Lets in earth and sky
Make the most of livin'
    If you're not prepared to die
Make the most of livin'
    If you're not prepared to die

(Don Thomas and Estelle Levitt)

I stumbled over it yesterday while rummaging through my MP3 files, and it "did a number on me." For some time now, I've lived with chronic, untreatable pain that occasionally rises to a disabling level. It's had a serious darkening effect on my moods (yes, that really is possible), that I've striven hard to combat, albeit only with occasional success. But the lyric above reminded me about the most important counterposition in any individual human life: the freedom of Today as opposed to the tyranny of Tomorrow.

Even when matters beyond one's control are, shall we say, seriously sub-optimal, every day can be filled with discovery, accomplishment, love, and joy. Or as C. S. Lewis put it through his devil-protagonist Screwtape:

He’s [God's] a hedonist at heart. All those fasts and vigils and stakes and crosses are only a facade. Or only like foam on the sea shore. Out at sea, out in His sea, there is pleasure, and more pleasure. He makes no secret of it; at His right hand are “pleasures for evermore”….He’s vulgar, Wormwood. He has a bourgeois mind. He has filled His world with pleasures. There are things for humans to do all day long without His minding in the least- sleeping, washing, eating, drinking, making love, playing, praying, working. Everything has to be twisted before it’s any us to us. We fight under cruel disadvantages. Nothing is naturally on our side.

To attain that perspective requires an effort, to be sure, but it is possible: by mastering one's fears about Tomorrow and making the positive choices available Today. And when I've succeeded in resolving to bear my cross without dwelling on it, such that I could free my mind to concentrate on the attractive possibilities of Today, I've managed to defeat the worst aspect of prolonged pain: the fear, however justified, that it will be with me Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow...forever.

Food for thought.


That's it for today, Gentle Readers. Coffee break's over. Everybody back on their heads!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

What Must Be Earned And Can Be Lost

Interpersonal relations surely aren't my forte -- I'm a grump, a curmudgeon, and a natural isolate -- but certain assertions about human basics, even when clearly and indisputably made from good intentions and with the best will in the world, incite me very nearly to apoplexy.

Take the old canard about "unconditional love." That one's love toward any particular person should be awarded and maintained free of conditions is about as absurd a notion as I've encountered. At least, when the subject is love as I define it -- the elevation of another's well-being and happiness to a priority equal to one's own. -- I can't escape the conviction that there must be conditions. Otherwise, it would be obligatory to love everyone, unreservedly, and despite whatever any particular person might say or do.

Love is not and cannot be causeless. We love, in the sense above, because we recognize in another person something we deem valuable enough to equate to our own happiness, well-being, and survival. I could never have felt that way about Jeffrey Dahmer. (If you think you could, kindly keep your hands where I can see them and move very slowly.)

Consider the following passage from Freedom's Scion:

    “Efthis,” Althea said in a carefully controlled tone, “Vellis is mute, isn’t he?”
    Efthis frowned again. “Of course. Isn’t it obvious?”
    There’s too much obvious stuff going on here. I shouldn’t have relaxed.
    Althea nodded, holding the agitated male firmly away from her. “Is it by accident, or was he born that way?”
    The Loioc’s frown deepened further. “Born that way, of course.” She emitted a whistle of elaborate modulation. Vellis immediately ceased to struggle against Althea’s restraint. She relaxed her grip, and he returned to Efthis’s side reluctantly and with a look of frustration.
    “Well,” Althea said, “you must love him very much.”
    “Love?” Efthis said. “How does one love a nonsentient?”
    “What?”
    “Vellis is incapable of rational thought. He’s been conditioned to be loyal to me. He knows nothing of love, no more than an animal of the field.”
    “But...” Althea groped for words. “Your husband?”
    The Loioc woman nodded. “Yes. He husbands me. He fertilizes my eggs, when and as I permit. He need not be sentient for that.” She leaned forward to peer more closely into Althea’s face. “All our males are nonsentient. Just as yours will be, in time.”

Omit consideration of the evil inherent in the Loioc women's deliberate reduction of their menfolk to nonsentient sexual pets. What quarrel could we offer to Efthis's casual dismissal of the possibility of loving such a creature as Althea loves her own husband Martin?

God's love for Man is deemed unconditional by the Church. I'm willing to accept that, as the meaning of love in this context must diverge from the definition I gave above. God is of an infinitely higher order than Man. To Him, we're ants, every one of us from the lowest to the highest. We cannot win His esteem; we can only gain His acceptance -- and only by humbly admitting our faults and weaknesses and pleading for it.

So "unconditional love," and its companion notion of "universal love," must go into the conceptual trash bin. But they won't be the only fallacies in there.


Matt Walsh, a writer I've only recently encountered but have come to admire, throws a clinker with the following:

Often, people will say that a husband should only be respected if he “earns” it. This attitude is precisely the problem. A wife ought to respect her husband because he is her husband, just as he ought to love and honor her because she is his wife. Your husband might “deserve” it when you mock him, berate him, belittle him, and nag him, but you don’t marry someone in order to give them what they deserve. In marriage, you give them what you’ve promised them, even when they aren’t holding up their end of the bargain.

In one sense, Walsh's error is understandable: husbands and wives are obliged to treat one another with respect, at least for as long as the marriage lasts. But that's not quite the same as feeling respect for one another. Indeed, there are many ways in which one can legitimately forfeit the respect of the other, sometimes permanently.

The emotion of respect bears comparison with love in several ways. To be respected isn't an inherent right of every human being alive. It's awarded by others, on conditions. Should those conditions lapse at a later time, the respect previously awarded should be withdrawn...and usually will be. This is even the case between husbands and wives.

Respect is one of love's preconditions. For example, in the passage from Freedom's Scion above, it's perfectly clear that Efthis could not respect her nonsentient "husband." She might "love" him after the fashion of a normal person loving his dog or cat, but that's obviously a great distance from the love we expect between normal husbands and wives.

Spouses' love and respect for one another are not permanent conditions. They can fail, and when they do, they usually take the marital bond with them. Ironically, even when their mutual respect has failed, spouses can still treat one another with respect...and as long as they stay together, they must do so, for reasons too obvious to require explanation.


There is nothing quite as futile as decreeing that persons must and shall feel certain emotions toward one another. Beyond the fatuity of the demand, the attempt to make oneself feel an emotion alien to one's psyche can have destructive effects both on oneself and the object intended for the false emotion. The same is true for demands that one not feel certain natural emotions toward another.

When emotional control is desirable, it must proceed from an assessment of the facts: the objective conditions that give rise to the emotion to be elicited or suppressed. If the facts are unsuitable, perhaps they can be changed. If the facts cannot be changed, we can do no more than strive to behave morally, ethically, and with restraint appropriate to the circumstances.

All else leads directly to Real Housewives of New Jersey territory.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Leftist blindness to the fascist essence.

Strange that the left seems blind to the core notion of fascism; always imagining that it cannot exist apart from an ethic [ethnic] basis or without torchlight parades and overt militarism.

They miss the entire bundled fates [fasces] bit.

Comment by DNW on "Free Trade is global fascism." By Vox Populi, 2/24/14.

The Nice-Guy Trap

I was going to take today off from blogging, but perhaps fortunately, I stumbled across an exceptionally important piece from James Delingpole:

In the Spectator recently, my old friend Toby Young described a dilemma which all those of us right-wing persuasion must face up to in the end: should you soften your position in order to find some common ground with people whose stupid political ideology you loathe and despise? Or should you stay true to your principles and risk being marginalised as, at best, unreasonable and, at worst, as a fruitcake, a crank, a dangerous extremist?

Young was talking in particular about his battles with the hard-left educationalists who were trying to sabotage free schools like the one he helped set up in West London. Some parents urged him to take a more emollient line with his attackers. And for a moment Young was tempted:

"Shouldn’t I offer to meet with the school’s opponents, such as the shop steward of the Ealing branch of the NUT [National Union of Teachers], and see if there were any concessions we could make that might secure their support?"

But then he took some advice from Lord Adonis - a fellow warrior in the battle against the progressive educational establishment (aka The Blob). Lord Adonis's view was that with an enemy like this, negotiation was out of the question.

‘They’re not interested in “constructive dialogue”,’ he said. ‘Don’t you get it? If you extend any sort of olive branch to them they’ll see it as a sign of weakness and move in for the kill. I dealt with exactly the same people — the Socialist Workers’ Party, the Anti-Academies Alliance, the National Union of Teachers — for most of my ministerial career and, believe me, they would rather stick pins in their eyes than admit they have common ground with someone like you. Their attitude to free schools is the same as their attitude to academies: they won’t rest until every last one has been razed to the ground.’

This is an insight made all the more striking because Lord Adonis was a member of the Tony Blair government -- a Labourite who, in America's political lexicon, would be termed a centrist-liberal. All the same, the peer recognized something about politics in our time that many American politicians have yet to learn: the difference between clashes over means and clashes over ends.

Delingpole goes on to provide an unpleasant yet colorful and memorable comparison:

So in what way, may I ask, would it be a sensible policy to halve the difference between those two extremes in order to reach some kind of "reasonable" consensus?

It's what I call the 'Dogshit Yoghurt Fallacy'.

On one side of the argument are those of us who think yoghurt works best with a little fruit or maybe just on its own. On the other are those who believe passionately that what yoghurt really needs is the addition of something more earthy, organic, recycled - like maybe a nice scoop of dogshit.

Now you can call me a dangerous extremist if you like, for refusing under any conditions to accommodate the alternative point of view. Or you could call me one of those few remaining brave souls in a cowardly, compromised world still prepared to tell it like it is: that dogshit into yoghurt simply doesn't go, no matter how many expert surveys you cite, nor how eco-friendly it shows you to be, nor how homeopathic the dosage.

Indeed. Or, as I've said on more than one occasion: If you pour a cup of wine into a barrel of sewage, it remains a barrel of sewage, but if you pour a cup of sewage into a barrel of wine, it becomes a barrel of sewage.

The great Marshall Fritz, founder of the Advocates for Self-Government, made that point equally colorfully. In response to those who categorically decried "extremes," he would ask, "How AIDS-free would you like your blood transfusion to be?"

Compromise is potentially constructive only when it's strictly about means: i.e., when the two sides angling toward a compromise sincerely agree on the end to be sought, and are both willing to allow that they might be wrong about what means would best serve that end. Under those conditions, everyone involved will be watching the outcome and judging the means applied by that standard alone. When the ends are opposed to one another, compromise must disserve one or the other. It cannot be any other way.

If your end is political liberty -- the maximum possible freedom from coercion or constraint for peaceable persons -- there's absolutely no reason to "dialogue" with persons whose end is an expansion of State power. Compromising with statists means promoting their end, which is the exact opposite of your end. Yet many a freedom-minded person will feel a tug toward such a "dialogue," and the ideal of compromise, despite the clarity of the above. This is the Nice-Guy Trap in action.

We're indoctrinated practically from birth about the goodness of "sharing," and how Nice Guys should "try to see both sides" -- of everything. Nice Guys mustn't declare others to be The Enemy even when The Enemy has already done so in the plainest possible ways. That's because confrontation is bad, don't y'know. At any rate, it's unpleasant, which in modern "thought" amounts to the same thing.

Hidden beneath the Nice-Guy Trap is a pair of steel jaws that can snap any principle cleanly in half. This is so obvious as to be tautological: He who compromises on principle has surrendered it to some other end.

But then again, most people have no slightest idea what a principle is, either. It's not just something you value. It's not just the way you'd like things to be. It's a fundamental rule about right and wrong. Any given action will stand either on the right side of a principle, or on the wrong side. Even one exception made in favor of a wrong action that's been claimed to produce "desirable" results destroys the principle.

The dark forces of the world -- the collectivists; the power worshippers; the propagandists against all conceptions of natural law -- seek to destroy all principles. Their most effective method is the Nice-Guy Trap: entreating those who stand against them to compromise on principle.

Need I say more than DON'T! -- ? Even at the cost of being declared "not a Nice Guy?"

Food for thought.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

The Circle Of Grace: A Sunday Rumination

These probably won't be as regular as they were at Eternity Road, but...well, if you like them, fine. If you don't, there are plenty of other places on the Web where you can spend your time.


One of the minor practices of the Church that's gone by the wayside -- happily so, in my opinion -- is the old one, which I think dates from pre-Renaissance times, of attaching "values" to various prayers and practices. If that's not clear, or if you're a non-Catholic or a newer one who's never seen this done, many prayers and other pious acts were once associated with a "value" for one's soul in the afterlife. For example, after some prayer in a missal or prayer compendium, one might see something like this:

(30 years indulgence)

The idea was that saying the aforementioned prayer, whether once or repeatedly over some prescribed interval, would relieve your soul of thirty years in Purgatory, where it would otherwise have been required to undergo purification from venial sins (i.e., those not serious enough to merit consignment to Hell) before you could be admitted to Heaven. In other words, whatever time you might have previously been fated to spend in Purgatory would be thirty years less than otherwise.

Does everyone else see how perfectly ludicrous this is? If not, stay after the session and clean the erasers, and I'll do my best to explain it to you.

I can't be sure, but my guess is that the notion was a vestige of the simony-related practices of centuries gone by. For those unfamiliar with that particularly embarrassing practice, Christian prelates once sold forgiveness from sin, at least to the wealthier penitents, for various sums and / or donations of worldly goods. At that time, the Church possessed great yet unhallowed temporal power; thus, local bishops were often able to threaten some accused sinner with death, unless he should fork over a big wad of cash. The penitent who could afford it was usually disposed to pay the ransom and go on living...even though for some, it amounted to being reduced to the most abject poverty.

The extirpation of simony and associated corruptions took the Church a long time to complete...and an even longer time to live down. The Protestant Revolt was in large measure powered by revulsion over simony and "absolution for sale;" it's unclear whether it would have occurred otherwise. But religious organizations of all sorts have a hard time admitting to fault. It often strikes a prelate as easier to transform or disguise the fault than to humbly admit to it and eradicate it. The business of assigning afterlife values to various prayers and practices appears connected to that painfully prolonged process.

However, an associated idea is taking longer still to die: the notion of the quantifiability of grace.


Time was, grace, one of Christianity's most important yet least well understood concepts, was regarded as something with a quantity: a spiritual asset of which one could possess more or less. Do this, and your stock of grace would increase by some amount; do that, and it would diminish by some other amount. The amassing of grace was, naturally, tied to various practices the Church sought to encourage its communicants to undertake.

This treatment of grace as akin to a balance in a heavenly checking account is almost as ridiculous as the indulgence specifications attached to prayers. Though there is no doubt that some prayers and practices are good for us, and ought to be encouraged, the suggestion that grace can be quantified (and totted up by some heavenly bookkeeper) implies a conclusion so absurd that the notion ought to have been laughed away upon first being raised: that some of us stand higher in God's esteem than others.

This is not the case.
It has never been the case.
Indeed, it cannot be the case.
A soul is either in a state of grace, or it isn't.

Grace is God's love and mercy, which He offers uniformly to all that live and think. To enter (and remain within) that circle requires only what Jesus prescribed and proscribed to the "rich young man:"

    And behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?
    And He said unto him, Why callest thou me good? There is none that is good but one, that is God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.
    He saith unto Him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Honor thy father and thy mother, and Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. [Matthew 19:16-19]

Thus, grace is not a quantifiable asset, one's store of which can increase or decrease, but a border one can cross -- in either direction -- by an act of will.


There's no question that some practices will help a Christian to remain within the circle of grace, while others will thrust him beyond its border. Yet that has nothing to do with "how much grace" one happens to "possess." Grace cannot be possessed; it can only be experienced. Practices of the helpful sort are merely reinforcements for a particular act of will, while others constitute a denial or rejection of it.

The critical act of will is the acceptance that God exists, and that what He requires from Man is clear from human nature.

In this regard, a statement by a dear friend -- albeit one I have yet to meet in the flesh -- is especially compelling. After a long and varied life as an atheist, he came to view those earlier years as having been spent at least partially "in the dark." And however it might have happened, he came to accept the transtemporal reality of God, with all that acceptance implies. His statement was, as best I recall, "I think I'll have God, if God will have me."

Gentle Reader, I can't adequately express the joy I felt upon reading those words. They weren't addressed to me -- far from it -- nor, as far as I'm aware, to any other individual. He was speaking for himself, and perhaps to himself...and in doing so, petitioning God for entry into His circle of grace.

Such petitions are always granted. Conversely, he who demands to be "let out" -- the murderer; the thief; the adulterer; the perjurer or slanderer; he who spurns his duties toward his parents; he who seeks to use others as means to his own ends rather than treat them as having ends of their own -- is granted his "request" upon the instant.

I don't know if my friend prays, or attends any sort of Christian service, whether regularly or irregularly. Whatever the case, as long as he will "have God," and will conform to the simple, clear commandments Jesus laid down in speaking to the "rich young man," God will most certainly have him. He will abide within the circle of grace -- and no other man's will or action can dislodge him from it.


Christian theocosmogony -- basically, the premise that there is a God; that He is benevolently disposed toward Man; and that He will grant eternal bliss to all who abide by His simple rules as Jesus enunciated them -- is the least demanding of all religious conceptions. More, it is perfectly in harmony both with our natures as human beings and with the conditions societies require to survive and flourish. Yet despite the simplicity and lightness of the yoke, the payoff for accepting it is infinite: upon release from the veil of Time, infinite bliss in God's nearness forever and ever. Nor will any other price purchase all that it offers.

The great irony of the contemporary phenomenon of the "militant atheist" -- the sort of atheist who doesn't merely reject the notion of God but derides and defames those who believe -- is that even an atheist can enter the circle of grace, merely by adhering to the commandments Jesus gave to the "rich young man." He need not even accept God to do so! Appropriate charity toward us who believe is usually all he lacks. But charity of that sort demands the most difficult of all forms of humility: intellectual humility, the willingness to accept one's own fallibility and the limits of one's ability to know. In the usual case, this is conspicuously absent from the militant's psyche.

There are still other rewards to Christianity, of course. It comes with several purely temporal blessings: a sense of meaning to one's life and to human life generally; acceptance into the community of belief; rituals rich with the sense of communion; and confidence that regardless of how things run in this life, justice will surely be served in the next one.

Never in all of history has so much been offered to Man at so small a price.

May God bless and keep you all.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Ancient garbage.

The irony of progressivism is that its policies almost always entail a return to the bad ideas and corrupt practices of ancient times. It is old barbarism in a new guise. What exactly is new about euthanizing the elderly, killing babies, celebrating promiscuity, and so forth? Even its more sophisticated notions of a “living Constitution” and a collectivist federal government (ideas which are hallmarks of the American Progressive movement) are simply glorified versions of tyrannies well known to the ancients.[1]
Leftists reject all tradition except where it celebrates tyranny. They paw through what has preceded us and dine on the garbage. The socialist part of national socialism, fine. The red aristocracy of Soviet totalitarianism, fine. The arbitrary justice of the Khmer Rouge, fine. Catastrophic bastardy, freedom. The obscurantism, savagery, clericalism and theocracy of Islam, visas all round.

All just fine, just so long as sweet words can be found to cover up the stink. "Democratic centralism," "fairness," "equality," "community," "progress," "redistribution," "environment," "stewardship," "reform," "diversity," "choice," "liberation," "nation of immigrants," "living constitution," "constitutional law," "citizen of the world."

Notes
[1] "‘Progressivism’: the greatest source of death and terror in the twentieth century." By George Neumayr, LifeSiteNews.com, 2/16/14.

The essence of leftism.

Two comments by jack_gott on an American Thinker piece on a stunning example of leftist "willful naivete":
Leftism destroys everything it touches: the family, commerce, health, environment. It has only two attractive features. First, internally, it allows its adherents to feel pure, 'modern', superior and redeemed. Second, externally, it fulfills the mythological need for a villain on which to blame all the evils of the world. Leftism is very much a religion, a cult. America.... it was a good idea while it lasted. It's over.
And:
Their hate will never end. The Left has successfully converted most Americans to the religion of Leftism. By taking over the educational system, the Left has raised a generation of Americans who will never stop hating freedom, capitalism, and the 'individual liberties' articulated in the US Constitution. My advice: stop wasting your time using logic on these cultists. You cannot 'reason' a person out of something they were never 'reasoned' into. They hate you. They will always hate you.
Comments by jack_gott on "Escape from New York - with a twist." By Andrew Thomas, American Thinker, 2/21/14.

Flawed computer climate models.

The results from the Canadian climate model were used in a U.S. Global Change Research Program report provided to the US Environmental Protection Agency to justify regulating CO2. The authors of that report were told that the Canadian climate model produces only anti-information. They confirmed this fact, but published their report unchanged. The Canadian government has indicated it will follow the lead of the U.S.A. in regulating CO2 emissions.

The Canadian climate model is also used by the IPCC to justify predictions of extreme anthropogenic warming despite the fact that the model bears no resemblance to reality. As does the climate model, the IPCC ignores most natural causes of climate change and misattributes natural climate change to greenhouse gas emissions. Here is a list of 123 peer-reviewed papers published from 2008 to 2012 on the solar influence on climate that were ignored by the IPCC in the fifth assessment report.

Climate alarmism based on climate models that don’t work has so far cost the world $1.6 trillion in a misguided and ineffective effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

"Epic Failure of the Canadian Climate Model." By Ken Gregory, What's Up With That?, 10/24/14.

So Assorted You Won't Believe It

You know, when I first ambled over here from Eternity Road, it was my intention to write shorter pieces than the thousand-word-plus essays that characterized that earlier site. Despite the intention, my natural inclinations have largely proved insuppressible, and the long-form stuff continued to pour out. However, these "Assorted" and "Miscellany" and "Junk Drawer" posts -- hmm, I don't think I've actually used that last one yet -- have had a tempering effect on my garrulity, which strikes me as a good thing. So here's one more to round out the week, in the hope that those of you who come here looking to be bored to sleep won't be too terribly put off.


1. "Perhaps the world’s most fearsome weapon of mass destruction."

From J.P. Travis in Nevada comes this snort of well-earned derision for the Obama regime's revitalized emphasis on "global warming / climate change:"

At the turn of the millennium fourteen years ago, the scientific debate about Global Warming theory was already in full swing. Proponents of the notion did not want a debate, did what they could to stifle any appearance of debate—even to the point of skullduggery and censorship—and constantly announced to the world that scientific opinion was "unanimous." Trouble is, every time they claimed unanimity some skeptical scientist would scream, "How can opinion be unanimous when I am right here in your face announcing that I disagree?"

The Warmists needed some kind of evidence of the consensus they claimed, even if they had to invent it. That invention came in 2004, in the form of a peer-reviewed study of scientific abstracts by historian Naomi Oreskes (from the University of California–San Diego). Oreskes concluded—surprise, surprise—that scientific opinion was "nearly unanimous." Left-wing politicians were delighted. Al Gore trumpeted her "nearly unanimous" claim all the way to a Nobel Peace Prize and an Oscar. What few people outside the scientific community knew was that Ms. Oreskes was later forced to retract her conclusion in the same magazine where it was originally published.

In other words, her study was nonsense.

Granted that the emphasis on "consensus" is anti-scientific -- remember, damned near everyone once knew that the Sun revolves around the Earth -- J.P.'s citations are important ones to have in hand when a warmista starts spouting that "the science is settled." (A uniquely dishonest way of telling us to sit down and shut up.) Atop that, J.P. points out that the regime's choice of focus is maximally bizarre, given the number of actual conflagrations the world around, quite a few of which involve lead and missiles flying, cities burning, and nasty regimes slo-o-o-o-o-wly toppling. But then, those regimes are of the sort that warm the heart of an aspiring tyrant like Barack Hussein Obama.

Apropos of which: Watch the Keystone XL pipeline contretemps closely. Very closely.


2. FCC Shenanigans.

I wouldn't be too relieved about the news that the FCC has backed away from its announced newsroom-"research" plans. There are clouds on the horizon, most visible in the wording of the announcement, which suggests that a "redesigned" form of this obvious attempt to control the broadcast media might, like Tolkien's Shadow, "take another shape and grow again:"

“Your letter and the opportunity for public review surfaced a number of issues and modification of the Research Design may be necessary,” Wheeler wrote. “My staff has engaged in a careful and thorough review of the Research Design with the contractor to ensure that the inquiries closely hew to the mandate of Section 257. While the Research Design is a tool intended to help the Commission consider effective, pro-competitive policies that would encourage new entrants, its direction need not go beyond our responsibilities. We continue to work with the contractor to adapt the study in response to these concerns and expect to complete this work in the next few weeks.” [From FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler's response to Congressman Fred Upton.]

And there's this as well: There are persons on the Right who would favor such a program, as long as they get to control it.

Jonah Goldberg once wrote that everyone is in favor of censoring something. I dislike to think that he could be right...but he could. For my part, I don't detect in myself a desire to censor anyone or anything. There are a goodly number of...persons I'd like to award one of my best right hooks to the mouth -- merely to improve their diction, of course -- but that's an entirely different subject.


3. "Pimping Your Own Work."

(Title shamelessly stolen from a felicitous turn of phrase by military-fiction writer Tom Kratman.)

The indie-writer community struggles with many things -- please, for the sake of the remnant of my sanity, don't spoil my Saturday morning by asking how the Warm Lands novel is coming along, thank you -- but at or near the top of the list is how best to promote one's works to a public that:

  • Remains a mite dubious about independently published fiction, and:
  • Doesn't yet have a reliable way to sort the grain from the chaff.

It's a tough problem. A Certified Galactic Intellect is good for many things, but certain simple challenges, such as how to promote one's own writing without looking desperate or vain, isn't among them. A promotional website appears to be necessary, but we mathematical types will tell you that "necessary" is not the same as "sufficient."

I continue to think that the most potent mechanism is good word-of-mouth, for which reason I exhort other indie writers of ability to engage in "mutually assured pimping." That does require the acquisition of partners in the effort, of course. You must have sincerely complimentary things to say about someone else's fiction to pull this off, and (of course) he must have such things to say about your dreck. It can be quite a challenge, given the state of indie fiction at this time. (Think of a square mile of landfill in which a handful of diamonds have been buried. That's close enough for jazz, anyway.)

Apropos of which, Mark Alger is accelerating his promotional efforts. I can't yet get to his promo website -- it's probably still under construction -- but those of you who are acquainted with his blogging might want to keep an eye peeled.


4. Media Fear.

One of the most important signals the Left provides to the Right about our choice of standard-bearers is in its selection of targets to slander, whether overtly or by imputation. Concerning who the Democrats most fear as the Republican presidential nominee in 2016, the Washington Post might just have given the game away:

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who has had his eye on a 2016 presidential run since his battles with labor unions made him a Republican star, is dealing with the fallout of two criminal investigations at home that could complicate his move to the national stage.

One is ongoing, and although the other is closed and found no wrongdoing by Walker, it has the potential to embarrass him.

Was Walker charged with anything? No, not at all. Moreover, he himself predicted the use of these emails as political embarrassments:

Prosecutors have said Walker was never a target, and he was not charged. Walker said Wednesday that the new disclosures revealed nothing beyond what authorities already had reviewed, and he predicted that Democrats would exaggerate their importance.

Of course the cry of "What did Walker know and when did he know it?" has already risen from the Left. Expect it to get louder as we approach the presidential primaries.

We fear the Main Stream Media because even in these years of their decline, they retain considerable power to sway popular convictions and opinions. The GOP nominated Mitt Romney in 2013 in large part because the media couldn't tag him in any way. That he would fail to inspire the conservative base was, if not perfectly predictable from his record as Governor of Massachusetts, at least understandable a posteriori. But remember how sedulously the media pilloried every other contender for the nod, in a year when just about any moderately conservative Republican would have been the favorite against the record of arrogance, profligacy, and failure compiled by Barack Hussein Obama.

But even greater than our fear of the media is the media's fear of us. Their slander campaigns are the best indication of whom they most fear -- and it comes with the most terrible of rationales:

Cowardice, alone of all the vices, is purely painful—horrible to anticipate, horrible to feel, horrible to remember; Hatred has its pleasures. It is therefore often the compensation by which a frightened man reimburses himself for the miseries of Fear. The more he fears, the more he will hate. And Hatred is also a great anodyne for shame. To make a deep wound in his charity, you should therefore first defeat his courage. [C. S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters]


5. "Subhuman mongrel."

Ted Nugent, like anyone else, has his good days and his bad days:

Rocker Ted Nugent issued an apology of sorts Friday for referring to President Obama as a “subhuman mongrel” in a published interview with Guns.com.

The apology, however, wasn’t a full mea culpa.

“I do apologize — not necessarily to the president — but on behalf of much better men than myself,” he said during an interview with conservative radio host and a CNN political commentator Ben Ferguson. “[I apologize] for using the street fighter terminology of ‘subhuman mongrel,’ instead of just using more understandable language, such as ‘violator of his own — the Constitution.’”

This apology was misconceived and unnecessary, at least in the understanding of one who uses words according to their exact meanings.

One of the defining marks of humanity is conscience. One who possesses no conscience, whether because he's a natural-born sociopath or because he's labored to eliminate it from his psyche, is morally no better than an animal, and therefore subhuman. This is plainly the case with Barack Hussein Obama, who regards his oath of office as meaningless, lies without compunction, and will happily destroy any significant opponent when the means, however scurrilous, are available. So much for that part of the accusation.

A mongrel is the progeny of two distinct subspecies. This is also the case with Obama: his mother was white and his father was black. That makes him a mulatto: a mongrel of the races. Yet he has self-defined as black to the extent of slandering his own grandmother: because he's ashamed of his Caucasian ancestry, because it was politically advantageous to do so, or both. Compare that to the behavior of other, more respectable mongrels: Derek Jeter of the New York Yankees, or (say what you will about his tomcatting): Tiger Woods, who harbors no racial animosities and is perfectly comfortable describing himself as a blend of several peoples ("Cablinasian"). So much for that part of the accusation.

There are insulting connotations to calling someone a mongrel, of course, but insult is a critical element in the American political dialogue as we currently endure it. Besides, one "mongrel" can hardly balance out the many millions of accusations of "racism" and other modern political sins the Left has showered upon us and our spokesmen. At any rate, as one of the Web's foremost "racists," it bothers me not at all. It bothers me far more when a speaker won't stand to his tack and defend his words fearlessly -- regardless of whether I agree with him or not.

Learn to stand your ground rhetorically as well as with a gun in your hand, Ted.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Even More Assorted

I have a confusing day ahead of me (including a mandatory meeting with my specialty supervisor -- BLEEP!ing matrix-management -- about "career development." Moan. Weep.), so please allow me another grab-bag.


1. Resistance To Tyranny.

There are simply too many books that I simply must read and simply haven't been able to get to in good time, owing to the pressure of work and other necessities. Joseph P. Martino's Resistance To Tyranny is one of the more prominent entries on that list.

The author has a most impressive resume:

Dr. Martino is a retired Air Force Colonel. He served in Thailand where he conducted research on counterinsurgency. He later was Chairman of the Counterinsurgency Working Group of the Military Operations Research Society. He teaches a course in Just War Doctrine at Yorktown University. He holds degrees in Physics, Electrical Engineering and Mathematics.

More, his book has been heavily praised by others of my acquaintance. I've moved it to the top of the stack. Given the outlook for the immediate future, you might want to consider doing the same.


2. And Speaking Of Books...

...you might have noticed my leering mug in the right sidebar, next to the words "Be Afraid. Be Very Afraid." That's the link to the site I recently built specifically for the promotion of my fiction, and for the posting of articles on related subjects. I'm nobody's Web guru -- my occupational specialties are about as far removed from Web stuff as you can get and still be in the field of computer software -- but I'll be straining to make it more functional and attractive over time. Suggestions from those of you more skilled in this stuff would be welcome.

(What's that? All this time, and you had no idea I'm "Web challenged?" Why do you think I use Blogger?)


3. Tipping Point.

Have we who yearn to see a restoration of freedom in these United States reached a point of no return? Scott Johnson provides a few ominous numbers:

Americans who were recipients of means-tested government benefits in 2011 outnumbered year-round full-time workers, according to data released this month by the Census Bureau. They also out-numbered the total population of the Philippines.

There were 108,592,000 people in the United States in the fourth quarter of 2011 who were recipients of one or more means-tested government benefit programs, the Census Bureau said in data released this week. Meanwhile, according to the Census Bureau, there were 101,716,000 people who worked full-time year round in 2011. That included both private-sector and government workers.

That means there were about 1.07 people getting some form of means-tested government benefit for every 1 person working full-time year round.

The Census Bureau counted as recipients of means-tested government programs “anyone residing in a household in which one or more people received benefits from the program.” Many of these people lived in households receiving more than one form of means-tested benefit at the same time.

This has been the goal of America's statists, especially the Democrats, and most particularly the Obamunists, for some decades now. The idea is clear: he who receives alms from the State is unlikely to oppose its further expansion, nor will he listen with approval to those who argue for its reduction or limitation. And indeed, the tableau has a rather 1984-ish feel to it, though our "proles" aren't yet 85% of the population of the United States. But then there's that little matter of our nonexistent border control, and the inclination of the Incumbent Party to grant our illegal aliens legalization and a "path to citizenship."

Perhaps we should all recur to the book mentioned in topic 1 of this post for further ideas.


4. A Little More Tyranny, Maestro.

No, the policeman is not your friend. Just ask Phyllis Bear or the widow of Jerry Waller.

Please read the whole thing. For my money, the haymaker of the piece comes here:

[A]ll citizens are incipient slaves, subject to detention, abduction, and other abuse at the whim of uniformed slave-keepers.

A slave is somebody who cannot say “no” – as in, “No, I can’t talk to you right now because I’m on the clock and there are paying customers ahead of you.” This is because the slave doesn’t exercise self-ownership in any sense in the presence of a slave-keeper.

A slave-keeper is somebody who claims the legal right to take ownership of another person at his discretion, and use physical violence to compel submission.

This is the specific definition of the peculiar institution called “law enforcement,” as demonstrated by the following statement from the annual report of an entirely typical sheriff’s office: “A law enforcement officer’s authority and power to take away a citizen’s constitutional rights is unmatched anywhere in our society.”

Refute it if you can. Given recent news about the acceleration of police misconduct, with emphasis on the uniformed offenders' immunity from prosecution by the "justice system" and from redress via lawsuit, I refuse to try.


5. An Expatriate On Fire.

There is no one writing today doing more valuable service to America and its ideals than author and commentator Mark Steyn. Among the services Steyn renders us is the critical one of saying what must be said, however unpleasant:

On The Hugh Hewitt Show this week, I said that the Republican Party is "simply not good enough":
MS: Today happens to be Budget Day in Canada. I know you always lose at least 47 affiliates every time I mention Canada, but I will mention it.

HH: I hear people hanging up all over the country. Yes, go ahead.

MS: Well, that's, Jim Flaherty, the Canadian Finance Minister, presented the federal budget in the House of Commons today. They will have - they had a budget deficit all of $18 billion dollars last year. That's a rounding error in just one federal program down here. This year, they will have a surplus of $6 billion dollars. And New Zealand's paying off its national debt. This is the only country among the English-speaking powers around the world, this is the only country where both parties are committed to institutionalized fiscal debauchery until the end of time.

For some time now, I've been convinced that Mark Steyn loves this country above all others, including the one of which he's a nominal citizen. That is, he loves what America was and deplores what it's becoming, as must anyone who understands and loves freedom. And he's put his prodigious talents to the task of attempting to haul it back from the lip of the abyss.

There is no more important service a lone individual of mature years can render to our nation than to remind it about what it's supposed to be in the hope of turning it from the path of self-destruction. And no one does it better than Mark Steyn.


Gahh. It's time to discuss my "career" with a perfectly well-meaning functionary who has no idea what I do or how I do it. I must smile, and nod a lot, and somehow refrain from reminding that poor soul that I've already announced my retirement date.

Later, Gentle Reader.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Apocalypse now.

The blog What Really Happened has a long list of horrific events caused by global warming. A few examples:
Antarctic ice grows, Antarctic ice shrinks, . . . Arab Spring, . . . Atlantic less salty, Atlantic more salty, . . . avalanches reduced, avalanches increased, . . . Bahrain under water, bananas grow, . . . beer shortage, . . . billion homeless, . . . bird strikes, . . . brain eating amoebae, brains shrink, bridge collapse (Minneapolis), . . . brothels struggle, . . . bubonic plague, . . . camel deaths, . . . cannibalism, . . . circumcision in decline, . . . coral reefs dying, coral reefs grow, coral reefs shrink, coral reefs twilight, . . . cougar attacks, crabgrass menace, . . . Dengue hemorrhagic fever, . . . desert advance, desert retreat, . . . Earth dying, . . . Earth to explode,. . . equality threatened, . . . possums, . . . toads, . . . extreme changes to California, . . . fashion disaster, . . . .[1]
This would be funny if it weren't pathetic.

Notes
[1] "A (Not Quite) Complete List Of Things Supposedly Caused By Global Warming." What Really Happened, date unknown.

Assorted

We have an embarrassment of riches today, from a number of DextroSpheric contributors. This is always a welcome development, since it means I get to have an easy day at the keyboard!


1. The Revolution That Fires No Shots

Mike Hendrix comments on Connecticut's overwhelmingly-ignored anti-assault-weapon law:

To the liberal-fascists who still seem to believe that waving the magic legislative wand solves all problems: we defy you. You will never take us all down–NEVER. Some of us will never kneel to you and your goddamned meddling government; some of us will resist you to our dying breath, in as many different fashions as there are individuals among us. Some of us will openly fight you, with all the violence we deem necessary and can bring to bear; some of us will seek to clandestinely and quietly undermine you, or sabotage you and your works and constructs. Some of us will mock you, and scorn you, and pretend to fealty while teaching our children the exact opposite. ALL of us despise you, and will work against you just as hard as we possibly can, by any means available to us and appropriate to our situation.

In the long run: You. Can. Not. Win. We defy you. Try as you like to mow us all down; pat yourselves on the back in smug satisfaction at each and every seeming victory by your hollow Grey Men: in the courts, in the Congress, in the media, in all the places where empty suits gather to spin their webs, make their sordid deals, and dictate to their betters. We will still be there, forever out of your reach. We defy you. We always will.

Count on it. Leave us alone; it’s not too much to ask. Just leave us the hell alone. If you know what’s good for you, if you care about what’s good for this nation, just keep your noses out of our affairs, mind your own business, tend to your own knitting. Some of us don’t wish to be turned into New Progressive Man, and won’t go along with your totalitarian program no matter what you do; some of us don’t want your silken fetters around our necks; some of us don’t want or need your “help.” And some of us aren’t afraid of you, no matter how much illegitimate power you glom onto for yourselves, or how many petty little laws you pass, or how many militarized Gestapo squads you send to our homes to bring us under your heel temporarily.

All such power is, as Tuccille says, illusory, dependent on ratification by our consent and compliance. That compliance is not forthcoming, which simple fact renders you and your henchmen and minions buffoonish and absurd: clowns in jackboots, punks pretending to manhood, usurpers of a throne that not one of you is strong enough to seize on your own.

This is a hopeful, heartening vision of things to come...but it's not guaranteed to work out that way. As I noted yesterday, one consequence of the steady militarization of state and local police forces is a qualitative unbalancing of firepower to the advantage of the police. Yes, private citizens determined to hold onto their weapons will have a numerical advantage...but the Mahdists at Omdurman had a huge numerical advantage over Kitchener's forces, too.


2. All The News That's Allowed, We Print

Via Nice Deb, we have a look at the swelling outrage of the one remaining decent news outlet on American television:

On Wednesday night’s On the Record with Greta Van Susteren, a panel discussed the Obama Regime’s latest power grab – an FCC pilot program that would send “researchers” to newsrooms to grill reporters, editors and station owners about how they decide which stories to run. Former FCC Commissioner AJIT PAI wrote about the plan in his Wall Street Journal piece, The FCC Wades Into the Newsroom.

The purpose of the CIN, according to the FCC, is to ferret out information from television and radio broadcasters about “the process by which stories are selected” and how often stations cover “critical information needs,” along with “perceived station bias” and “perceived responsiveness to underserved populations.”

How does the FCC plan to dig up all that information? First, the agency selected eight categories of “critical information” such as the “environment” and “economic opportunities,” that it believes local newscasters should cover. It plans to ask station managers, news directors, journalists, television anchors and on-air reporters to tell the government about their “news philosophy” and how the station ensures that the community gets critical information.

Susteren is outraged. She had on The Hill’s AB Stoddard, The Washington Post’s Karen Tumulty and the Washington Examiner’s Byron York to discuss the Regime’s stealth attempt to bring back the Fairness Doctrine, and they all agreed that it was a horrible idea that no self-respecting newsroom would tolerate.

But how many "self-respecting newsrooms" are there? How many station owners will tell an FCC "researcher" to "get the hell out and come back with a warrant, or not at all?" How many will risk the wrath of the FCC, which can arbitrarily revoke a station's license to broadcast?

Perhaps FOX News will do so. Perhaps.


3. The Gender War Feminists' Battle Of The Bulge.

Random Nuclear Strikes notes that the "angry ugly-girl" wing of the Left (thank you, Duyen) needs to be slapped down hard:

Yet another reason to send your son to a Trade School. Are nearly all male students at the University of Maryland “potential rapists”?

Women in a feminist art class here apparently believe so. About 10 of them plastered the campus with fliers last week listing the names of virtually every male student under the heading, “NOTICE: THESE MEN ARE POTENTIAL RAPISTS.”

Their decision to walk the murky line between libel and free speech sent the campus into an uproar. Yesterday, reporters, photographers and TV crews flocked to the sprawling campus in search of outraged students on both sides of the issue.

University officials are trying to determine whether some members of the “Current Issues in Feminist Art” class or their teacher violated their codes of conduct, said Roland H. King, the university’s spokesman.

I know that if it were my photo on one of those posters, I would be serving them with papers.

This is why there are no “Masculinism” courses. A smart man would take these women’s photos and put them on posters stating “These women are potential prostitutes”

This isn't the first time gender-war feminists have done exactly this. I cannot recall whether the earlier perpetrators were reprimanded or punished. But note that even after the accused "Duke Lacrosse Case" students were absolutely and incontrovertibly cleared of all possibility of guilt, the 88 Duke professors and instructors who'd carried on a vicious campaign of defamation against them, all but demanding that the accused students be lynched, were utterly unapologetic about their actions.


4. "Professional Organizations."

Not all of them are of positive value to their members...and some are decidedly nasty. Sarah Hoyt narrates her own humorous tale about the Science Fiction Writers of America (SFWA):

So, in the mid eighties, I started writing sf/f, and I was so green that I sent submissions to the subscriptions address. I still managed to get a personal rejection asking for more, but I thought “I need help.” And then I heard about SFWA and how it was supposed to help SF/F writers and as a newby, just arrived in the country, with no contacts or connections, I was like:
Yay, they’ll help me. That’s their whole purpose. Yay.

So I sent them a letter and they were like: You need to have three pro short story sales or one pro novel sale.

Not so fast, bitch

So, I was like “But how do I get that if I don’t know how and no one has invented google, yet?”...

And I finally started selling. And I sold two shorts, and then, before the third I sold the novel, and I was like “Now I qualify for SFWA!”

And then I had some problems with my agent, and some problems with my publisher, and SFWA was like “oh, no. If we get involved in all that type of thing, the publishers will stop publishing us. There’s nothing we can do. And besides your agent and your publisher are members.”

Please read the whole thing. Not only is it a cautionary tale about the difference between an organization's veneer of purpose and what it actually stands for and does, with the embedded pictures it's a BLEEP!ing laugh riot.

Bravo, Sarah. I hereby forgive you for Darkship Renegades.


5. Potential Retirement Destinations.

Most of us approaching our, ah, leisure years don't seriously entertain the possibility of retiring off-planet. Myself, I see it as a very attractive option, at least if someone would put a decent habitat at Lagrange 5 and forget the artificial-gravity nonsense. Sigh. All things in their appointed time, I suppose.

However, Mars is starting to look really good:

A Fatwa has been issued against living on Mars by clerics who say that trying to set up home there would be un-Islamic.

The fatwa – or ruling – was issued by the General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowment (GAIAE) in the UAE after the Mars One organisation announced that it would try and establish a permanent human settlement on Mars.

The committee argued that an attempt to dwell on the planet would be so hazardous as to be suicidal and killing oneself is not permitted by Islam.

According to Khaleejtimes.com it said: ‘Such a one-way journey poses a real risk to life, and that can never be justified in Islam. There is a possibility that an individual who travels to planet Mars may not be able to remain alive there, and is more vulnerable to death.’

Just think of it:

  • No Muslims on Mars, ever.
  • Therefore, no risk of Islam-powered terrorism, which is the only significant sort.
  • Therefore, no "security state" BS, at least until nations start to form...
  • ...and who says nations will form?

And with that, I'm off. Have a nice day.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Fjordman on open borders.

It’s nice to be kind and humanitarian, but the enormous migration waves we are currently facing are unprecedented in recorded human history, both in speed and in sheer numbers. At some point, the issue will no longer be about our humanitarian ideals or feeling good about ourselves. It will be about a fundamental question: Do we want something recognizable as European civilization to exist and flourish a century from now? If so, then the Utopian and dangerously na├»ve ideal of open borders simply cannot be sustained for much longer.
"The Folly of Open Borders." By Fjordman, Frontpage Mag, 2/19/14.

GOP-Bangladeshi policy congruence.

Bangladeshi position:
In 2000, the then Bangladeshi Prime Minister, Sheikh Hasina, was asked by the Los Angeles Times how the country was going to feed, house and employ the expected doubling of its population by 2050. She replied: "We’ll send them to America. Globalisation will take that problem away, as you free up all factors of production, also labour. There’ll be free movement, country to country. Globalisation in its purest form should not have any boundaries, so small countries with big populations should be able to send population to countries with big boundaries and small populations.”

Sheikh Hasina was again Prime Minister of Bangladesh in early 2014. Coincidentally, both of her children live in North America.

Hasina is essentially arguing that her nation needs more Lebensraum, and that other countries should accept this.[1]

GOP position:

No Bangladeshi should be forced to live in Bangladesh and none deserves to live a life in the shadows of Minnesota. Foreign aid for Bangladesh and immediate citizenship for Bangladeshi border crossers and visa jumpers.

Notes
[1] "The Folly of Open Borders." By Fjordman, Frontpage Mag, 2/19/14.

Whose Side Are You On, Boys Part 2: Correlation Of Forces

If, as I concluded in the previous essay, voting will do us little or no good, it would behoove us to prepare for the seemingly inevitable outcome of the tightening of the State's grip: insurrection.

There's already a significant preparationist community. It benefits from a support network composed of suppliers, strategists, tacticians, advisors on personal readiness, and counselors of other kinds. That's what you'd expect among free people...at least, from the fraction determined to remain free. The question of greatest import at this time is whether to be openly associated with it, a decision that could entail either pleasant or unpleasant consequences.

The need to answer the question drives us automatically toward other questions that bear on it:

  1. How visible is "openly associated," and to whom?
  2. Has the political elite already begun to act against those who openly oppose it?
  3. What sorts of preparations would benefit from open involvement in the prepper community?
  4. Would those preparations, if made openly, be likely to draw the ire of the State?
  5. Are those preparations of the more vital or less vital sort?
  6. Are there alternatives that deserve consideration?
  7. Is there a point to any of this?

Some of those questions can be answered unambiguously for the general setting; others will depend on the personal circumstances of him who asks. The picture that needs to be drawn is that of the overall correlation of forces: the aggregate of all positive and negative factors that bear on one's decision to stand against the political elite.


Many commentators have spoken with alarm of the progressive militarization of local and state police forces. The Department of Homeland Security has "generously" provided military-grade equipment to many, perhaps most, police forces. That equipment has become ever more visible on the streets of American neighborhoods. That, plus the sharp increase in SWAT-style and "no-knock" raids on private residences, in many of which private citizens are killed or badly injured, or suffer severe property damage, suggests that even local police forces are moving toward a mindset in which the private citizen is regarded as an enemy, rather than someone to be "protected and served." The vision of the local policeman as Andy Griffith from Mayberry R.F.D. has ceased to bear any relation to reality.

It might not be perfectly obvious why this is happening. It derives from several motivational tributaries: the dynamic of the power-seeker most likely to become a policeman; the emphasis on the possibility of terrorism, which brings with it automatic suspicion of everyone; the unionization of the police; swelling mutual resentment between private citizens and all government employees, owing to the differences in security, status, and legal privileges; and to some extent the mere possession of the military-grade equipment itself.

That's undoubtedly a partial list. Indeed, there might be other factors of even greater import. What cannot be denied is the expanding gulf between law enforcers and private parties. It implies that in any outright confrontation between We the People and our ever more dictatorial political masters, law enforcement will not be on our side.

If, in the event of a citizen uprising, even our local police will be against us, and if they will be equipped to a military standard that no ordinary citizen could equal, whether there's any point at all to openly taking up arms against the ruling class is open to question. However, not all uprisings are open. Some of the most effective ones in recorded history "flew below the radar" so perfectly that the rulers were unsure they were at any risk at all.


There are "quiet rebellions" in progress as we speak. Two such are ongoing in New York and Connecticut, where thousands of private citizens are determinedly resisting draconian laws intended to nullify the Second Amendment.

It's clear that the ruling elites in those states are not pleased. The most recent indication comes from the editorial page of the uber-statist newspaper of Connecticut's capital city, the Hartford Courant:

Connecticut has a gun problem.

It's estimated that perhaps scores of thousands of Connecticut residents failed to register their military-style assault weapons with state police by Dec. 31....

Although willful noncompliance with the law is doubtless a major issue, it's possible that many gun owners are unaware of their obligation to register military-style assault weapons and would do so if given another chance.

But the bottom line is that the state must try to enforce the law. Authorities should use the background check database as a way to find assault weapon purchasers who might not have registered those guns in compliance with the new law.

A Class D felony calls for a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $5,000 fine. Even much lesser penalties or probation would mar a heretofore clean record and could adversely affect, say, the ability to have a pistol permit.

If you want to disobey the law, you should be prepared to face the consequences.

We will pass swiftly over the fatuitous notion that Connecticut has "a gun problem." Connecticut's real problems are of a political genesis; they have nothing to do with the possession of firearms by Connecticut residents. Connecticut's homicide rate of 3.7 homicides per 100,000 residents puts it squarely in the middle of the fifty states. Considering that Connecticut's firearms laws are relatively restrictive, which correlates strongly with an elevated homicide rate, the state is doing fairly well.

However, the enactment of Connecticut's "anti assault weapon" law has prompted citizen resistance. The owners of such firearms are unwilling to register them, seeing registration as a precursor to confiscation. Given the sentiments expressed in the editorial above, the logic of the thing is clearly with them. The same phenomenon can be observed in New York, which has enacted a similar law.

Citizens who own rifles with significant power, range, and capacity are very seldom involved in crimes. However, they're the force most feared by America's would-be tyrants. If there were an uprising -- say, the descent of thousands of armed Connecticutians upon Hartford's capitol district, with an eye to hauling the governor and legislators out of their offices, then tarring, feathering, and running them out of town on a rail -- those with "assault weapons" would be the most potent part of the force.

Have our political masters begun to fear that such a development is drawing closer? Is it that possibility that has prompted the militarization of our state and local police forces and the legislative attempts to disarm us of the best weapons in our possession?


A visible, angry, and well armed resistance to tyranny is the very best deterrent to power-mongers' ambitions. It always has been and always will be. Tyrants already in power fear nothing else, which is why their highest priority is to disarm their subjects. Failing that, they'll do their best to out-arm those subjects: equipping their law enforcers with the most and best firepower possible. Orienting those forces toward "regime protection" and away from any bond with the private citizen is also part of the formula.

At this time, the correlation of forces is such that whether to join the open resistance is a question that can only be answered individual by individual. There's no question that the State is "better" armed than the citizenry, regardless of which locale we assess. However, the citizenry is more numerous, and more copiously armed. Quantity, as they say, as a quality all its own. In the event of open rebellion, it might well be sufficient.

But we who oppose the predations of the ever-encroaching State have something else on our side: the Supreme Law of the Land:

A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. [Amendment II, Constitution of the United States]

And as the editors of the Hartford Courant have already stated, when you decide to disobey the law, you should be prepared to face the consequences.

The ideal form of government is democracy tempered with assassination. -- Francois-Marie Arouet (Voltaire)

Keep your powder dry.