Tuesday, May 23, 2017

“Your Healthcare”

     As one who is serious about the meanings of words and sensitive to their misuse, I got a particular jolt of adrenaline out of the title of this piece...and not just from the neologism “healthcare.”

     Do you own any “healthcare?” Myself, I’m not sure. What does it look like? Is it something I’d keep in the kitchen, or a desk drawer, or perhaps in a bedroom closet? All I’ve found anywhere I’ve looked to date has been recognizable stuff that belongs where I keep it.

     Maybe the C.S.O. has it. If it’s large, it might explain why she’s been encroaching on my closet space again.

     I’m sure my Gentle Readers get the point. “Healthcare” – properly, medical care — is a service provided by others, usually for a fee. It’s not something to which one can lay a property claim. Medical goods such as pills, vaccines, bandages, crutches, and wheelchairs can be property, but of themselves they don’t constitute medical care. They’re merely aids to recovery from disease or injury, which can be used or misused...and if misused, they can set back your actual health as effectively as a shotgun blast.

     None of the above has any effect on such as Congressional Minority “Leader” Nancy Pelosi:

     Pelosi accused the Republicans of trying to jam a repeal-and-replace bill through Congress not for health-related reasons, but to set the stage for a tax reform proposal providing hundreds of billions of dollars in cuts for the rich.

     “They’re in a hurry … because they need this money to give a tax break to the wealthiest people in our country. This bill will have the biggest transfer of wealth in the history of our country — Robin Hood in reverse,” she said.

     “That is the goal of their tax bill, but they need this money from your healthcare in order to do that.” [Emphasis added by FWP.]

     I’m equally sure my Gentle Readers will get what this...person is attempting to do through her phrasing.

     It sometimes seems that the entire Leftist project relies upon verbal obfuscation. Leftist mouthpieces certainly do a lot of it. This business about “your healthcare” is currently the most important battlefield, but it’s not the only one. Note how they transform the World Bank’s Women Entrepreneurs Fund into a personal project of Ivanka Trump’s:

     This weekend, the Wall Street Journal‘s Carole Lee wrote a perfectly accurate story about Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates pledging to donate $100 million to a World Bank fund for women entrepreneurs. The article noted that the fund was Ivanka Trump’s idea and that she was at the event where the pledge was announced.

     When Wall Street Journal reporter Rebecca Ballhaus tweeted out a link to her colleague’s story, she spun it in such a way as to add inaccuracies. First she reclassified a World Bank fund as a fund belonging to Ivanka Trump.

     Then she claimed that the donation from the two countries were therefore akin to what Trump pilloried Hillary Clinton for.

     Please read the whole thing...and feel your blood pressure rise. Through verbal sleight of hand, a World Bank initiative of which merely approves Ivanka Trump has become her personal fund – even though she has no control over the money, neither where it comes from nor how it will be used. And the Left leaps upon it with a tiger’s ferocity, eager for a new flail with which to flog a popular member of the First Family! This is just one of the more recent examples of Leftist deceit through verbal misdirection.

     Was this donation an attempt by the Saudi royal family to curry favor with President Trump? Probably. Neither the Saudis nor Muslims generally look favorably upon independence among women. But neither Trump, nor his daughter Ivanka, nor anyone else in the First Family will benefit materially. It’s merely a donation to an undertaking Ivanka Trump has mentioned favorably.

     Yet virtually the whole of the Punditocracy, including quite a few Establishment-aligned pseudo-conservatives, constantly deride President Trump for his locutions. It is to laugh.

     I can’t resist reposting the following slice of the Analects of Confucius:

     Zi-lu said, "The ruler of Wei has been waiting for you, in order with you to administer the government. What will you consider the first thing to be done?"

     The Master replied, "What is necessary to rectify names."

     "So! indeed!" said Zi-lu. "You are wide of the mark! Why must there be such rectification?"

     The Master said, "How uncultivated you are, Yu! A superior man, in regard to what he does not know, shows a cautious reserve.

     If names be not correct, language is not in accordance with the truth of things.

     If language be not in accordance with the truth of things, affairs cannot be carried on to success.

     When affairs cannot be carried on to success, proprieties and music do not flourish.

     When proprieties and music do not flourish, punishments will not be properly awarded.

     When punishments are not properly awarded, the people do not know how to move hand or foot.

     Therefore a superior man considers it necessary that the names he uses may be spoken appropriately, and also that what he speaks may be carried out appropriately.

     What the superior man requires is just that in his words there may be nothing incorrect."

     Confucius’s remonstrance to Zi-lu is of contemporary relevance and staggering importance. Alternately, we have this critically important essay by George Orwell:

     In our time, political speech and writing are largely the defence of the indefensible....Thus political language has to consist largely of euphemism, question-begging and sheer cloudy vagueness. Defenceless villages are bombarded from the air, the inhabitants driven out into the countryside, the cattle machine-gunned, the huts set on fire with incendiary bullets: this is called pacification. Millions of peasants are robbed of their farms and sent trudging along the roads with no more than they can carry: this is called transfer of population or rectification of frontiers. People are imprisoned for years without trial, or shot in the back of the neck or sent to die of scurvy in Arctic lumber camps: this is called elimination of unreliable elements. Such phraseology is needed if one wants to name things without calling up mental pictures of them. Consider for instance some comfortable English professor defending Russian totalitarianism. He cannot say outright, ‘I believe in killing off your opponents when you can get good results by doing so’. Probably, therefore, he will say something like this:
     ‘While freely conceding that the Soviet regime exhibits certain features which the humanitarian may be inclined to deplore, we must, I think, agree that a certain curtailment of the right to political opposition is an unavoidable concomitant of transitional periods, and that the rigors which the Russian people have been called upon to undergo have been amply justified in the sphere of concrete achievement.’

     As horrifying as is such verbal legerdemain when it’s used to conceal or defend atrocities, it’s even more threatening when it goes on the attack, as our political elite has lately done. And it’s high time that the American people should rebuff it brutally...if they’re still capable of recognizing it when they read or hear it.

Pearls of expression.

"We believe it is highly likely that the attack was carried out by the Assad regime," British Prime Minister Theresa May said in a televised statement. "Apart from anything else, we believe it's only the regime that has the capability to make such an attack."

Not counting, of course, the Trump regime, the Netanyahu regime, the Erdogan regime, the May regime, the Hollande regime, the Al Saud regime, the.....

Comment by Marko on "The White House Report – TTG." By Sic Semper Tyrannis, 4/13/17.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Correcting The Histories

     Who controls the past controls the future.
     Who controls the present controls the past.

     [George Orwell, 1984]

     History is generally taken to mean a record of past events. More often than not in our time, this is not the case.

     Most people, given a moment to reflect on the matter, would easily reach the “trivial solution:” i.e., that the historian is virtually never someone who was personally present at the events he purports to chronicle. He almost always works from other people’s reportage – hopefully, “primary sources” and tangible objective evidence they’ve amassed – and from histories written by other historians. In the latter case, the historian may inadvertently make an easily understood assumption: that his earlier colleagues relied upon tangible evidence that was real and primary sources that were trustworthy. It’s a natural form of “professional courtesy,” and one which persons in all walks of life would be likely to feel.

     However, as you may already have realized, there’s another facet to the story. It inheres in a simple yet seldom asked question: Why is the historian writing this history?

     In earlier times, the correct answer would normally be to create a record for posterity. Over the century immediately behind us, it would more often be to impose his preferred causal model on particular events. I submit that our ability to perceive this is a great part of our contemporary dissatisfaction with history.

     Historians who delve into the distant past have a certain advantage over those who treat with more recent events. As recently as seven centuries ago, the state as we know it was still either nonexistent pitifully weak. Barbara Tuchman made note of this in A Distant Mirror, her engaging and illuminating treatment of Europe in the Fourteenth Century. One consequence is that the historian’s focus must be on far smaller aggregates of persons and regions of territory. Those histories tend to be more intimate with the lives and doings of ordinary men than are histories of more recent times, especially histories of post-Westphalian Europe.

     When the state is weak, the individual is strong; when the state grows strong, it’s necessarily at the expense of individuals and their voluntary organizations and arrangements. Isaac Asimov mentioned this in Foundation and Empire. His fictional Galactic Emperor Cleon II was considered “the last of the strong emperors” specifically because he permitted no great strength to individuals, especially among those who served him.

     Strong states give rise to explicitly political histories. This too is inevitable, as strength correlates with the ability to steer events. A strong state may be under the hand of a strong individual, as is the case in a dictatorship, or a small oligarchy such as the inner circle that ruled the late, unlamented Soviet Union, but what matters to historical treatments thereof is the strength of the state itself: whether it can impose its will on its subjects and bend the policies of other states to its liking.

     At this point the political preferences of the historian become a major factor in how he’ll treat with developments.

     Many an important historical question is asked without the explicit inclusion of important qualifications and conditions. Consider as an example this article cited by Ed Driscoll. Please read it all before proceeding here.

     With regard to the importance of whether the Vietnam War was “winnable,” note the following:

     “The administration made a deliberate decision not to create a war psychology in the United States,” Secretary of State Dean Rusk remarked that October, because it was “too dangerous for this country to get worked up.” Johnson, Rusk and other officials had feared that war fever would undermine the domestic programs of the Great Society and heighten tensions with the Soviets. But now, Rusk conceded, “maybe this was a mistake; maybe it would have been better to take steps to build up a sense of a nation at war.”

     As a condition for the prosecution of a war, the national temperament can be important. Indeed, sometimes it’s critical. Add to that the decisions by the administration to refrain from the use of available weapons and to impose unrealistic rules of engagement upon its forces. But the headline of the article:

Was Vietnam Winnable?

     ... understandably doesn’t include that consideration. In raising it, the writer should cause the reader to realize that the real question was:

Was Vietnam Winnable Given The Constraints The Johnson Administration Put On Its War Effort?

     That’s a much different question, which historians tend to answer according to their political preferences.

     Viewed outside all constraints, the answer is “Of course it was winnable.” The United States in the 1960s was the most powerful nation the world had ever seen, capable of annihilating every other nation on Earth without sustaining one percent of the damage it could inflict. The U.S. could have reduced North Vietnam to smoking rubble. Indeed, it could have done so with effectively no loss of life. But the Johnson Administration didn’t want that sort of outcome.

     By suppressing any discussion of the constraints, the “dovish” historian can make the Vietnam War appear unwinnable. By dismissing the constraints or downplaying their importance, the “hawkish” historian can make the Vietnam War appear to be a pure botch, a comedy of errors by inept politicians and commanders more concerned with their images and postwar career prospects than with victory. Both positions are open to serious dispute.

     A political history whose causal model prevails, especially if it prevails among decision makers, will often shape subsequent developments with an astounding force. “Dovish” historians of the Vietnam War exerted a profound influence on the foreign policies of the Nixon, Ford, and Carter Administrations. “Hawkish” historians of Operation Desert Storm exerted an opposite though less powerful influence on the Bush II Administration. Yet it is typical for those historians – indeed, for all who discuss the relevant conflicts – to emphasize or deemphasize important constraints on those wars in a tendentious, politically oriented fashion.

     As ideologies, rise, wax, wane, and fall in popularity, especially among political elites, histories tend to be “corrected” as to the causes of political developments. No history of any period can be so inclusive as to address even the most minor of surrounding conditions and the smallest pockets of sentiment. But even here there’s a lot of leeway for tendentiousness. Who decides what’s important enough to include and evaluate? Why, the historian, of course...with the “assistance,” be it noted, of those who pay for his coffee and cakes while he works.

     Standing above all other considerations is the state itself, which is stronger than ever before, and not just in military might. Today, the majority of the funding for all scholarly studies comes from the federal treasury. It follows that those who control the flow of funds can decree the direction of those studies. As important as that is to the hard sciences and the way the public can be led to regard them, it’s critically determinative for histories written by contemporary historians.

     As our era’s knowledge aggregate transitions away from physical objects with material persistence and toward mutable, erasable electronic records, we face a danger unprecedented in human history: the loss of earlier records of events and viewpoints on them. Of course those records could be mistaken. Of course the causal models favored by earlier historians could be erroneous. That doesn’t matter. All such records are important elements of Man’s historical memory and perspective. They illustrate how easily a writer with an axe to grind can impose his own notions upon the genesis and consequences of a major event. By their diversity they speak of the effects of focus, viewpoint, and historians’ human orneriness. They remind us that the frame is just as important as the photograph – indeed, that the photograph is determined by the choice of frame.

     There will come a time when human lives will depend upon our ability to remember that Oceania hasn’t always been at war with Eastasia...that Oceania was once at war with no one at all.

     Food for thought.

The U.S. continues its support for scum.

As the CIA reopens its rebel supply lines [in Syria], it’s important to note that the entire opposition is dominated by al-Qaeda and other radical Islamists. While pro-regime-changers in the U.S. have repeatedly blame[d] the rise of ISIS on the U.S. not sufficiently sponsoring the “moderate” rebels, in reality the program of supporting the moderates was the major factor that empowered the jihadists. The so-called “moderates” were never separate from the extremists, and often were only called “moderate” to justify U.S.-support.[1]
Read the source of this quote to get the full flavor of U.S. "thinking" on our continued aggressive, unconstitutional war against Syria and the international order.

[1]  "Trump Escalates Syrian Proxy War." By Steven Chovanec, Consortiumnews.com, 5/18/17.

Pearls of expression.

What is the difference, I wonder, between a Russian military satellite's eyesight and that of a commercial satellite and for that matter the American military's eyes in the sky? I got interested in satellite eyesight when I noted that only a Russian satellite was able to see Islamic State oil truck convoys driving from Raqqa in Syria to Turkey's side of the border.

"Uh oh. U.S. sounds hopping mad about de-escalation zones in Syria." By Pundita, 5/16/17.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Sunday Funday

     Well? Just because we’re supposed to keep it holy doesn’t mean it can’t be enjoyable too, does it? God has nothing against fun!

     1. A Cautionary Tale.

     Old Madge had just passed away after eighty years, sixty of those years married to Herb...and not many of those pleasant ones. But there she stood at the Pearly Gates, with Saint Peter smiling broadly as he strode forward to greet her.

     “Welcome, Madge!” Saint Peter cried. “Yes, you are qualified to enter the Heavenly City. But we have a little admissions test we ask all new arrivals to pass. Are you ready?”

     Madge was somewhat nonplussed, but she squared her shoulders and said, “Yes, I’m ready. What’s the test?”

     “It’s a spelling quiz. Just one word,” Saint Peter said. “Can you spell ‘love?’”

     “Why, certainly!” Madge replied. “L–O–V–E.”

     “Excellent!” cried the saint. “And now, a personal request. I’m overdue for my annual vacation. Would you mind spending a few days here at the gates, greeting people just as I’ve greeted you?”

     “Not a problem, Saint Peter,” Madge said. “Go and enjoy yourself.” Which the saint did, leaving Madge there at the gates with her new responsibilities.

     Over the week that came, Madge greeted many fresh souls, and administered to them the same little spelling quiz she had faced. But on the last day of her duties, with Saint Peter’s return less than an hour away, whom should she see approaching but...her husband Herb!

     Herb approached her warily, for his experience of their marriage had been no more pleasant than hers. “Hello, sweetie,” he said. “What are you doing here?”

     “Oh, Saint Peter took a few days off, that’s all,” she said. “In fact, he’ll be back any minute now, but until he returns, I’m the gatekeeper. There’s a little test to get into heaven. Don’t worry, it’s a spelling quiz, but it’s just one word. Are you ready?”

     Herb shrugged and said “Sure, what’s the word?”

     Madge smiled and said, “Schenectady.”

     2. The Nervous Young Priest.

     The following was sent to me by a friend in Virginia:

     A new priest at his first mass was so nervous he could hardly speak. After mass he asked the monsignor how he had done.

     The monsignor replied, "When I am worried about getting nervous on the pulpit, I put a glass of vodka next to the water glass. if I start to get nervous, I take a sip."

     So on the following Sunday he took the monsignor's advice. At the beginning of the sermon, he got nervous and took a drink. He proceeded to talk up a storm.

     Upon his return to his office after mass, he found the following note on the door:

  1. Sip the Vodka, don't gulp.
  2. There are 10 commandments, not 12.
  3. There are 12 apostles, not 10.
  4. Jesus was consecrated, not constipated.
  5. Jacob wagered his donkey, he did not bet his ass.
  6. We do not refer to Jesus Christ as the late J. C.
  7. The Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are not referred to as Daddy, Junior and the Spook.
  8. David slew Goliath, he did not kick the shit out of him.
  9. David was hit by a rock and was knocked off his donkey, he was not stoned off his ass.
  10. We do not refer to the cross as the "Big T."
  11. When Jesus broke the bread at the Last Supper he said, "Take this and eat it for it is my body." He did not say "Eat me"
  12. The Blessed Virgin is not called "Mary with the Cherry,"
  13. The recommended grace before a meal is not: Rub-A-Dub-Dub thanks for the grub, yeah God.
  14. Next Sunday there will be a taffy pulling contest at St. Peter's, not a Peter pulling contest at St. Taffy's.

     3. Bloopers From Church Bulletin Boards.

     These gems actually appeared on church bulletin boards in England and the United States:

  1. Due to the Rector’s illness, Wednesday’s healing services will be discontinued until further notice.
  2. Bertha Belch, a missionary from Africa, will be speaking tonight at Calvary Methodist. Come hear Bertha Belch all the way from Africa.
  3. The Rev. Merriwether spoke briefly, much to the delight of the audience.
  4. On a church bulletin during the minister’s illness: GOD IS GOOD; Dr. Hargreaves is better.
  5. Applications are now being accepted for 2 year-old nursery workers.
  6. The pastor will preach his farewell message, after which the choir will sing, “Break Forth Into Joy.”
  7. If you would like to make a donation, fill out a form, enclose a check, and drip in the collection basket.
  8. Next Sunday Mrs. Vinson will be soloist for the morning service. The pastor will then speak on “It’s a Terrible Experience.”
  9. Don’t miss this Saturday’s exhibit by Christian Martian Arts.
  10. We are grateful for the help of those who cleaned up the grounds around the church building and the rector.
  11. A worm welcome to all who have come today.
  12. Barbara remains in the hospital and needs blood donors for more transfusions. She is also having trouble sleeping and requests tapes of Pastor Nelson’s sermons.
  13. During the absence of our pastor, we enjoyed the rare privilege of hearing a good sermon when J.F. Stubbs supplied our pulpit.
  14. Irving Benson and Jessie Carter were married on October 24 in the church. So ends a friendship that began in their school days.
  15. The ushers will come forward and take our ties and offerings.
  16. The rosebud on the altar this morning is to announce the birth of David Alan Belzer, the sin of Reverend and Mrs. Julius Belzer.
  17. The eighth-graders will be presenting Shakespeare’s Hamlet in the church basement on Friday at 7 p.m. The congregation is invited to attend this tragedy.
  18. Don’t let worry kill you off; let the church help.
  19. Please place your donation in the envelope along with the deceased person(s) you want remembered.
  20. Let us join David and Lisa in the celebration of their wedding and bring their happiness to a conclusion.
  21. Helpers are needed! Please sign up on the information sheep.
  22. Diana and Don request your presents at their wedding.
  23. The concert held in Fellowship Hall was a great success. Special thanks are due to the minister’s daughter, who labored the whole evening at the piano, which as usual fell upon her.
  24. The outreach committee has enlisted 25 visitors to make calls on people who are not afflicted with any church.
  25. Low Self-Esteem Support Group will meet Thursday at 7 to 8:30p.m. Please use the back door.
  26. The 1991 Spring Council Retreat will be hell May 10 and 11.
  27. The audience is asked to remain seated until the end of the recession.
  28. Remember in prayer the many who are sick of our church and community.
  29. 22 members were present at the church meeting held at the home of Mrs. Marsha Crutchfield last evening. Mrs. Crutchfield and Mrs. Rankin sang a duet, The Lord Knows Why.
  30. The choir invites any member of the congregation who enjoys sinning to join the choir.
  31. At the evening service tonight, the sermon topic will be “What is Hell?”. Come early and listen to our choir practice.
  32. The third verse of Blessed Assurance will be sung without musical accomplishment.
  33. The music for today’s service was all composed by George Friedrich Handel in celebration of the 300th anniversary of his birth.
  34. A song fest was hell at the Methodist church Wednesday.
  35. Today’s Sermon: How Much Can a Man Drink? with hymns from a full choir.
  36. Hymn: “I Love Thee My Ford.”
  37. Miss Charlene Mason sang “I will not pass this way again” giving obvious pleasure to the congregation.
  38. Women’s Luncheon: Each member bring a sandwich. Polly Phillips will give the medication.
  39. Announcement in the church bulletin for a National PRAYER & FASTING conference: “The cost for attending the Fasting and Prayer conference includes meals.”
  40. The church will host an evening of fine dining, superb entertainment, and gracious hostility.
  41. Ushers will eat latecomers.
  42. Tuesday at 4PM there will be an ice cream social. All ladies giving milk will please come early.
  43. Weight Watchers will meet at 7 p.m. Please use large double door at the side entrance.
  44. Potluck supper: prayer and medication to follow.

     4. But Seriously, Folks...

     This coming Thursday is the Feast of the Ascension, just before which Christ gave His Apostles the Great Commission:

     Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them. And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted.
     And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen. [Matthew 28:16-20]

     Though it’s prominent in the liturgical calendar, it’s not as widely nor as vividly celebrated as the other feasts. I’ve never understood why. The Son of God had risen from the dead and charged those who had followed him to teach others as He had done, in His name. Surely no greater responsibility has ever been conferred upon mortal men...and just as surely, it was as much an honor as a responsibility.

     The Great Commission has passed down from the Apostles through the generations – and not just upon ordained clerics. Every Christian has a part in it, for each of us known to be of the faith is taken by others to be an example of Christian conduct, most especially in our adherence to Christ’s “new commandment:”

     Little children, yet a little while I am with you. Ye shall seek me: and as I said unto the Jews, Whither I go, ye cannot come; so now I say to you. A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.
     By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. [John 13:33-35]

     This is not just a repetition of the Second Great Commandment, but an unmistakable intensification: for Christ so greatly loved Man that He gave His mortal life for us, for the remission of our sins, and that His Resurrection might stand as evidence of His divine authority.

     I hope you’ve had a joyous Easter season. May God bless and keep you all.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Baksheesh: An Addendum

     With regard to this morning’s essay. Military / SF writer Tom Kratman has graciously supplied the following snippet from his novel Countdown: The Liberators:

     “Oh, God,” moaned Adam, seated between Abdi and Gheddi, “what is this?” The boy covered his mouth and nose with his hands and began to cough and sneeze from the thick dust that swirled around the bus. His kidneys were in agony from the pounding they’d taken from the combination of bad shocks and worse road.
     “I believe this is called ‘foreign aid,’” Labaan answered.
     The captive looked confused, and from more than the aftereffects of the drugs he’d been given.
     “Foreign aid,” Labaan repeated, with a sneer. “You know: When guilty feeling Euros and Americans shell out money, ostensibly to help the people, but the money all ends up in the hands of sundry corrupt rulers and their relatives?”
     “I don’t…”
     “Understand?” Labaan stood up and, using the bus seats to hold himself erect against the bouncing, walked to the rear where Adam sat. Abdi moved over to open a space for Labaan to sit.
     “We are travelling on what is supposed to be an all-weather, asphalt highway. Money was budgeted for it, no doubt by a consortium of Europeans and Americans, governmental and nongovernmental, both. No doubt, too, a generous provision for utterly necessary bribes was built in to every bid…well, except maybe for the Americans. For that matter, probably no American concerns bid on the project, since their government is death on paying bribes if they catch someone at it. Such an unrealistic people.”
     If ever someone wore a smile that was three fourth’s sadness, that someone was Labaan. “Now let me tell you what happened with all the money that was supposed to go for the road. First, some very high ranking people in this country took the twenty or so percent that was factored into the bids for bribery. Then someone important’s first cousin showed up, waved some official looking papers, sprouted something in the local language that the contractor couldn’t understand. Then, in really excellent French, that cousin explained all manner of dire probabilities and suggested he could help. That cousin was then hired as a consultant. He was never seen again, except on payday.
     “An uncle then showed up, in company with four hundred and thirty seven more or less distant family members, every one of which was hired and perhaps a third of which showed up for work on any given day, except for payday.”
     The bus’ right front tire went into a remarkably deep and sharp pothole, causing the metal of the frame to strike asphalt and Labaan to wince with both the nerve-destroying sound and the blow, transmitted from hole to tire to almost shockless suspension to frame to barely padded and falling apart seat to him.
     “A guerilla chieftain,” he continued, once the pain had passed, “perhaps of no particular relationship to the ruling family, then arrived, offering to provide security with his band of armed men. He was, at first, turned down. And then several pieces of heavy construction equipment burned one night. The guerillas were quickly hired. They never showed up either, except for their leader, at payday, but no more equipment was burned.
     “Then came the tranzis, the Transnational Progressives, average age perhaps twenty-one or twenty-two, and knowing absolutely nothing about road construction. Indeed, most of them wouldn’t have even known what it meant to work. Rich boys and girls, trust fund babies, out to feel good about themselves by saving the world. They filled up every hotel room and hired the few competent, and critical, local engineers to do important things like act as chauffeurs and translators.”
     The bus had now arrived at a washboard section of the road. Labaan kept speaking, but the steady thumpkareechsprong of the road and bus made his words warble almost as much as a helicopter pilot’s over a radio.
     “More cousins came, and they, of course, had to be hired as consultants, as well.
     “At about this time, the accountant for the project arrived and explained that it could no longer be done to the standard contracted for. The substrate began to suffer and the thickness of the road to be reduced. The demands for money, for the hiring of spurious workers and spurious services, never ended. With each mile of road, that substrate became less to standard and that surface became thinner.”
     Labaan shook his head. “And then came the first rain…”
     At that moment, both front tires went into a large, more or less linear hole, adding the screech of metal as the fender twisted to all the more usual sounds.
     “As I said: ‘Foreign Aid.’ And it doesn’t matter a whit whether it come from NGOs, quangos, governments, or rock stars; it never does a bit of good. Never. Fifty-seven billion United States dollars come to Black Africa every year in aid, official and unofficial, Adam. Fifty billion is deposited to foreign accounts by our rulers.”

     I have no doubt that apart from the names of the particular persons and places involved, this is an exact description of the “process.” Israel may be an exception. Reflect on that.

Yet Another Hand Out For Baksheesh

     “Ev'ry one's got something
     And they're out tryin' to get some more.”

     (Randy Newman.)

     Seldom are foreign politicians looking for a handout quite this open about it:

     Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos withheld his approval of President Trump's proposed border wall between the United States and Mexico Thursday evening in an interview with Bret Baier.

     "The best wall that you can build is economic development in Central America and South America," Santos responded when asked for his thoughts on the wall.

     "I urge President Trump and all of the United States to look more to the south," he told Baier. "The strategic interests of the United States are much more important in the south, in Latin America, than many parts of the world."

     It’s not unexpected that the potentate of some other country should wheedle the president of the United States for a bag of American dollars. It’s happened often enough in the past. The irony here is that a huge flood of U.S. cash already flows into Colombia, every day of every year. However, it’s private cash: money Americans freely spend on the drug of their choice: cocaine. At this time, that flow is the lifeblood of Colombia’s economy.

     Perhaps Santos hasn’t caught enough of that river of greenbacks in his personal bucket. Or perhaps he’s been pressured by other Central and South American satraps to use his influence on American federal policy – considerable, given the effort Washington has put into interdicting the flow of cocaine into the U.S. – to get some American bucks for his Latin brothers in corruption, who don’t have a coca money tree to shake. Either way, the thrust of Santos’s statement cannot be denied.

     But the implied request itself must be.

     Quoth Isabel Paterson:

     Loans made by one government to another do not answer to any of the proper conditions of credit. The money lent belongs to the people of the lending nation, not to the officials who grant the loan; and it becomes a charge upon the people of the borrowing nation, not upon the officials who negotiate the loan and spend the money. There is no collateral, and no means of collection by private action. If the debt is not paid, war or the threat of war is the only recourse. Meantime private production is wrecked; the economy of the lending nation has to bear the capital loss; while the economy of the borrowing nation is loaded with the dead weight of government projects (buildings, armies, etc.) for which the money is spent. It is an infallible formula for disaster.

     It cannot be put more clearly than that – and that assumes that Santos and his fellow corruptocrats would “settle” for loans. It’s far more likely that they would ask for (and hope to receive) “grants” through some supposed “development agency.” Add to that the well-documented frequency with which such “loans” and “grants” do nothing but enrich and strengthen the rulers of the recipient nation.

     Yasser Arafat died a billionaire. There is no record of his ever having worked a day in his life. Bear that in mind when your “charitable impulses” toward the denizens of other lands rise to befuddle you.

     Donald Trump is not the sort of man who can be wheedled. Though his charitable impulses are notable and his charitable deeds are well documented, he can be guaranteed to see through an appeal such as that being presented by Santos. Atop that, the border wall is one of his foremost campaign pledges; he knows he must make good on it to validate his presidency.

     Should they try to “work” this president, the gimme-bodies of the so-called developing world, used to extracting American cash from such agencies as AID and the World Bank, are in for a surprise. That opens another possibility: that one or more might try subtle coercion. For example, Santos might hint that Colombia’s openness to American drug interdiction efforts is on the table. Alternately, he might suggest that he would deny the United States his support when the Trump Administration must deal with states such as Nicaragua, Venezuela, and Bolivia, whose regimes are overtly socialist. How Trump, who probably had little need to deal with threats of that sort in his business dealings, would react is hard to predict...especially with the pantywaists of the State Department counseling him to “be diplomatic.”

     My preference is for another approach to that sort of “diplomacy:”

     ...but that is another and much less pleasant subject.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Losing The Thread

     Few institutions, and even fewer nations, can survive the loss of their conceptual core.

     I received a Catholic grammar-school education. While I would never dream of denigrating that education, nor of disparaging the nuns I had as teachers, it is nevertheless the case that the experience is largely the reason I fell away from the Church. The barely concealed authoritarianism my teachers implied to the Church, and to Catholicism itself, repelled me sufficiently that I spent more than thirty years away from them. To be blunt, I wanted no part of a religion that preaches that “Everything not compulsory is forbidden.”

     Many Catholics of my generation have harsh things to say about the Church. Their criticisms often focus on the Second Ecumenical Council, better known as Vatican II. That great conclave was devoted to two principal objectives:

  1. Reducing the authoritarianism of the Church, both in substance and in form;
  2. Renewing the Church’s commitment to the reuniting of all Christians under a single banner.

     Though Vatican II did have some consequences that may be deemed unfortunate, it succeeded to a greater extent than not. The return of the vernacular to Catholic liturgical practice, and the reduction of animosities between the Church and the larger Protestant sects were particularly valuable. Though a large and venerable institution will always have difficulty admitting its errors and changing its ways, the Church has had a goodly measure of success at gentling its manner and reifying G. K. Chesterton’s well known observation:

     The truth is, of course, that the curtness of the Commandments is an evidence, not of the gloom and narrowness of a religion, but, on the contrary, of its liberality and humanity. It is shorter to state the things forbidden than the things permitted; precisely because most things are permitted, and only a few things are forbidden.

     To many Catholics of my generation (and previous ones), the contemporary Church is well nigh unrecognizable. Instead of scolds in cassocks who wave the Baltimore Catechism while threatening eternal damnation, we have priests who listen, counsel, guide, and above all welcome back the straying sheep.

     Catholic allegiance is no longer an “open-air cloister.” It’s a thing of great joy and power. Indeed, the Church has returned to its roots in the Redeemer, especially in these words He spoke to the “rich young man:”

     Now a man came up to him and said, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to gain eternal life?” He said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.” “Which ones?” he asked. Jesus replied, “Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false witness, honor your father and mother and love your neighbor as yourself.” [Matthew 19:16-19]

     But that’s not my main point for today.

     Authority is a heady thing. It intoxicates many who are granted it, to the point that they forget their bounds and lose their way. This story provides a chilling example:

     “It has been frighteningly apparent that we in this city have given our freedoms up in ways that we never really saw coming,” [Columbiana, OH resident Tony] Dolan wrote in the Columbiana for/against Chickens Facebook page.
     Dolan also posted copies of ordinances council was expected to discuss during last week’s meeting. One of those ordinances was to amend section 1260.16 of the planning and zoning code to include language pertaining to the planting and growing of fruits, vegetables and grapevines.
     The other related to the keeping of chickens in town.
     The garden legislation would amend the zoning code to allow gardens on residential property, but Dolan and others at the meeting believed it was just another effort on the city’s part to restrict their rights.
     The proposed amendment originally stated that residential gardens would need to be confined to rear yards, but that wording was later removed by a motion of council during the meeting.
     Municipal Attorney Daniel Blasdell said the garden issue came about as a result of the chicken issue.
     He explained that people were asking why chickens couldn’t be allowed in the community while gardens were.
     The city had no laws pertaining to residential gardens, which means they were technically not allowed.
     According to the city’s laws, if something is not permitted it is prohibited.
     “Right now, if there is not something expressly in this code that says that you can have one, you technically can’t,” Blakeman confirmed.
     He went on to say that the city’s effort to make a law allowing gardens is something that should be seen as a good move by residents.
     “The intention of it is to not to take away, it is to give,” he said.

     Please read it all. Note especially the parts emphasized above. Note the attitude embedded in the statements by Columbiana Mayor Bryan Blakeman. He sees the Columbiana city government’s authority as unbounded, such that Columbiana’s residents have only such latitude of action as the city code expressly provides.

     That’s not quite “Everything not compulsory is forbidden,” but it comes close enough to be lethally chilling. And an elected official of an American city has proclaimed it.

ANGELO: ‘Tis one thing to be tempted, Escalus,
Another thing to fall. I not deny
The jury, passing on the prisoner’s life,
May in the sworn twelve, have a thief or two
Guiltier than him they try. What’s open made to justice
That justice seizes. What know the laws
That thieves do pass on thieves? ‘Tis very pregnant,
The jewel that we find, we stop and take it,
Because we see it; but what we do not see
We tread upon, and never think of it.
You may not so extenuate his offence
For I have had such faults; but rather tell me, When I, that censure him, do so offend, Let mine own judgment pattern out my death, And nothing come in partial. Sir, he must die.

(“William Shakespeare,” Measure for Measure, Act II, Scene I)

ISABELLA: Could great men thunder
As Jove himself does, Jove would ne’er be quiet,
For every pelting petty officer
Would use his heaven for thunder; nothing but thunder—
Merciful heaven!
Thou rather, with thy sharp and sulphurous bolt
Splitt’st the unwedgeable and gnarled oak
Than the soft myrtle—but man, proud man,
Dressed in a little brief authority,
Most ignorant of what he’s most assured,
His glassy essence, like an angry ape
Plays such fantastic tricks before high heaven
As makes the angels weep; who, with our spleens,
Would all themselves laugh mortal.

(Ibid, Act II, Scene II)

     Earth's population had been stabilized, about the middle of the twenty-first century, at eighteen billion. The Fertility Board, a subsection of the United Nations, made and enforced the birth control laws. For more than half a thousand years those laws had remained the same: two children to a couple, subject to the judgment of the Fertility Board. The Board decided who might be a parent how many times. The Board might award extra children to one couple, deny any children at all to another, all on the basis of desirable or undesirable genes.
     "Incredible," said the kzin.
     "Why? Things were getting pretty tanj crowded, with eighteen billion people trapped in a primitive technology."
     "If the Patriarchy tried to force such a law on kzinti, we would exterminate the Patriarchy for its insolence."

     (Larry Niven, Ringworld)

     The attitude of Angelo, a deputy of Vienna who has argued to a court that Claudio, a Viennese gentleman, must die for the “crime” of fornication, is quite comparable to that of Columbiana Mayor Bryan Blakeman. The attitude upon which this nation was founded is more like that of Speaker to Animals, the kzin in the passage from Ringworld above.

     With which of those attitudes are contemporary Americans more aligned? Have we lost the thread of the Founding so completely that municipal mayors can get away with Blakeman’s incredible arrogance – his bald assertion that the city government can “give” residents the right to garden in their own yards – and inversely, can forbid it merely by choosing not to “give” it?

     It seems incredible yet indisputable. If the Catholic Church, a two thousand year old institution whose Founder was the Son of God, can lose the thread so completely, surely so can American governments, and Americans themselves. Whether we can and will pick it up and defend it as it deserves once again remains to be seen.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Open War On The President

     Scott Adams renders the verdict:

     I saw this quote on CNN.com today: “The episode is the latest woe for Trump, whose administration is engulfed in a series of scandals linked to Russia.”

     A “series of scandals linked to Russia”? Would it be equally accurate to characterize it as a series of stories manufactured by the media, none of which have been confirmed to be a big deal?

     Today’s headline news is that an alleged Comey memo indicates President Trump tried to obstruct justice in the Flynn investigation by saying to Comey in a private meeting, “I hope you can let this go.”...

     I’m no lawyer, but I can’t see any judge or jury in the United States prosecuting someone for expressing a hope that the future turns out well for his friend.

     Watch the headlines and pundits today transmogrify “hope” into “asked to end the Flynn investigation.”

     That isn’t news.

     That is an assassination.

     Bookworm expands with her usual flair:

     Donald Trump is the perfect antidote to Leftism. A Leftist who knows I’m conservative asked me how I could support Donald Trump knowing now what we do about him. I said I supported him more now than I did when I voted for him. Despite the appalling, libelous opposition aimed at him, he’s slowly but surely fulfilling his promises — including building a virtual wall simply by allowing ICE to enforce existing immigration laws. The Leftist was shocked that I was proud, not ashamed.

     Indeed. Though President Trump has conducted himself honorably and according to his campaign promises, the Left and its media allies will have none of it. We must be made ashamed of the man we elected. They’ll fabricate accusations without limit, and treat them as proven despite a complete lack of evidence.

     The entirety of major-media “reporting” these past four months has been dedicated to the Spaghetti Theory of Political Combat: Fling enough at the wall and eventually, some will stick. Nothing they’ve flung has adhered to Trump yet, but they remain dedicated to their strategy. Worse, supposed conservative luminaries are buying into it as well...on the basis of the media hysteria and nothing else.

     I cannot imagine that Trump foresaw this during his campaign. If he had, would he have wanted the job?

     Remember what the Left did to Sarah Palin after the 2008 election? Their mud-flinging made it impossible for her to function as Alaska’s governor. She was literally harassed into resigning her office. Yet Alaska recovered from the episode, largely because of the stability and good sense of its legislators and Alaskans generally. That’s not in the cards should the Left succeed in its comparable campaign against President Trump.

     The Left’s sole desire is for power. It will do anything that it believes will advance it toward political supremacy. Their program to render President Trump impotent by bombarding him with a host of unsubstantiated accusations will have devastating consequences should it succeed...but leftists can’t see that far forward. Once they’ve regained power, they believe they’ll be able to stabilize things – and to ensure that power remains in their hands forever after, of course.

     The street violence we’ve seen from Antifa and Black Bloc is a minor consideration compared to the likely aftermath of a Trump impeachment. Decent people can defeat thugs so cowardly that they must conceal their faces even though the police have largely stood down. A coup against the legitimately elected president is a far more serious matter.

     If there’s a guaranteed-effective countermeasure to a media-Democrat alliance dedicated to ruining a president by a campaign of slander, I can’t think what it might be. Americans can stop patronizing the calumnious media, which would be a good idea in any case. They can resolve not to believe the accusations and imputations of such low creatures as Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, which is even more advisable. But when prominent Republican and conservative spokespersons begin to lean toward the accusations, implying oh-so-gently that “it might be better for the country were Trump to resign,” what then?

     Unless someone comes up with a potent counter-strategy, Trump, his supra-partisan allies, and his supporters will be encircled and isolated. Certain steps are plainly mandatory:

  • Trump must purge the executive branch of all its remaining Obama-era holdovers.
  • He must pursue and prosecute those who’ve leaked against him.
  • He must continue to fulfill his campaign promises.
  • He must ignore the adversary press.

     Even if Trump does everything right and never puts a foot wrong, it will take enormous courage and resolve for him to remain in office. The New York Metro real-estate market, with its accumulation of regulatory, union, and activist excrescences, is certainly trying enough to toughen a man, and no one has negotiated its hazards better than Donald Trump, so perhaps he has the characterological and emotional resources he’ll need. The tragedy is that he should need them at all.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The Strangest Entitlement

     No, not the kind paid out with Treasury Department checks. I have another in mind today – possibly one that’s irked you for a while.

     Start here: “Everyone is entitled to...” Complete the sentence with some tangible good or service. Is the result defensible?

     Note that I didn’t write “Is the result true?” The formulation I used is a circumlocution for one of my favorite words: should. In the state of nature, no one can claim any good or service of any kind by right. Therefore, no one can claim any good or service by right under any other condition, real or imagined. Rights are like that.

     “Is the result defensible?” is quite a different question. It averts the matter of rights in favor of a quite different condition: symmetry. “If Smith can have benefit X, why can’t Jones?” All other things being equal, of course. If we eschew consideration of material things (including money), what’s left?

     Exactly. You’re sharp this morning!

     Nevertheless, in the inexplicable universal votings and debatings of these Ages, an idea or rather a dumb presumption to the contrary has gone idly abroad, and at this day, over extensive tracts of the world, poor human beings are to be found, whose practical belief it is that if we "vote" this or that, so this or that will thenceforth be. Practically men have come to imagine that the Laws of this Universe, like the laws of constitutional countries, are decided by voting. It is an idle fancy. The Laws of this Universe, of which if the Laws of England are not an exact transcript, they should passionately study to become, are fixed by the everlasting congruity of things, and are not fixable or changeable by voting! -- Author unknown

     Men’s opinions and attitudes are beyond the powers of legislation. They cannot be effectively compelled or prohibited. No statute, even if passed unanimously, could make me approve of intoxication, rap “music,” or the Boston Red Sox. (As I’m sure there are drug fans, rap fans, and Red Sox fans who would feel he same about my allegiance to sobriety, actual music, and the New York Yankees, it’s a damned good thing that our laws recognize a right to life.)

     However, that doesn’t mean no one’s out there trying to do that very thing.

     It started – of course! – with the “civil rights” laws, which purport to forbid “discrimination.” That so many persons should fail to understand that such a law undercuts a basic human right – the right to choose one’s own associates – is a devastating commentary on the habitual thoughtlessness of men.

     It was a simple progression. First the flacks had to persuade us, mainly by repetition and public disapproval, that “discrimination” is bad. Then they had to persuade us, without explicitly saying so, that what’s bad “should be” illegal. From there it was a single step to legislation that forbids it.

     Each of those three steps was and is irrational in the extreme. Forcing people to “tolerate” one another merely exacerbates the tensions between them. Over time, the reasons they have for disliking one another, if they’re grounded in reality, will advance rather than recede. But no exercise of logic or demonstration from history will persuade someone who wants to believe that legislation is omnipotent. Consider the insistence of the warmistas that we really need a law against bad weather.

     But “discrimination” is a lame turkey, far too easy to shoot. There’s another shibboleth of the Left that’s more on my mind this beautiful spring morning: tolerance.

     “Tolerance,” for the Left, isn’t a well-formed concept but a political club to be used against its adversaries. We’ve been flailed with it repeatedly: over adultery, over illegitimacy, over homosexuality; over race, creed, ethnicity, and “culture;” and so on. At each occasion normal people have been told that we must learn to “tolerate” others...including, most notably, others who have no intention of tolerating us.

     The Ace kicker lies in this: the Left’s notion of “tolerance” includes the requirement that we accept behavior from others that we wouldn’t accept from one of “our own.” That acceptance has recently come to include commercial settings; an employer is required to give equal consideration to all applicants for employment regardless of the foreseeable effect any particular applicant would have on the workplace or his other employees. This is a destructive force of unappreciated power. It commands the unwilling to accept deviancies of varieties that are actively dangerous.

     Consider a hypothetical case: Smith, an applicant for employment at Acme Corp., loves durians. He has one at lunch every day. When pressed, he asserts “a right to eat what I want.” What are the foreseeable effects of Smith’s culinary preference on other employees who must use the same lunch room? Were you in charge of hiring at Acme, would you willingly hire someone like Smith?

     The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission would require you to give Smith an “equal opportunity” to become an Acme employee. Not to do so would be “intolerant.” Smith’s intolerance for his coworkers’ prerogatives and preferences would be summarily dismissed. The same applies to other offensive characteristics or behaviors, for the EEOC is unconcerned with the effects of its “tolerance” mandate upon your business.

     Just now, the worship of the false god of “tolerance” is corrupting Western society in two highly visible ways: Islam and the machinations of the violent Left.

     Islam is staking a claim to a special position under the law: a position that exempts Muslims from conformance to laws and practices their creed opposes. We’ve all read the stories about Muslims in the workplace demanding special privileges. Those privileges have been both “positive” – a “right” to be excused from work several times per day for a prayer interval, and to have a special place set aside for those prayers – and “negative” – a “right” not to be commanded to work with (or be near to) things or practices Islam deems haram. Given those proclivities, a sensible American employer would decline to hire Muslims. The dictum of “tolerance” for others’ “religions” has been used to countervail that rational preference. Note that that dictum is accorded no weight when invoked by a Catholic employer whose religion forbids abortion and homosexuality.

     The reverse of the coin is being portrayed in our streets, as “Antifa” and “Black Bloc” use violence to suppress freedom of expression. Weren’t we supposed to have a right to free expression and freedom of (peaceable) assembly? I think it’s mentioned in some old document or other. But not to the violent Left! Any opinion they dislike is deemed “hate speech” and “intolerant.” Federal legislators are slowly aligning themselves with this madness. The American tradition of freedom for the expression of opposing views gets no shrift whatsoever.

     I could go on, but I think the point has been made.

     To say that A has a right to B’s approval is to say that B has no right to his own opinion. – Thomas Sowell

     Much of the lunacy that afflicts us today descends from the notion that legislation can compel attitudes. It is not so; it has never been so; and it will never be so. That won’t keep activists and the legislators they favor from trying.

     You’d think the madness rampant among:

  • Black racialists who demand reparations,
  • Muslim agitators who demand tolerance of polygamy and sharia courts;
  • Homosexual activists campaigning for the repeal of public-decency and age-of-consent laws;
  • Leftists who claim a “right” to shut down the assemblies of conservatives and speakers with conservative views;

     ...would have taught us something. No nation can withstand such battering from within. It’s a demonstration of the imperative of discrimination, at the national level: the incontestable privilege of a sovereign nation to decree who may enter, who must be denied admittance, and who must be confined or expelled as not compatible with the nation’s laws and norms of public conduct. Yet we ignore the evidence before us.

     Any bets on when the next Catholic church will be constructed in Saudi Arabia?

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

That Bellow

     No, not Saul. Joy! My recently acquired 2009 Chevy Corvette convertible!

     There’s nothing like the bellow of an American V8 engine with a performance-oriented exhaust system behind it. Just starting the engine is enough to increase any red-blooded man’s testosterone to the “Let’s hunt an endangered species to extinction and roast it over a bonfire of old-growth timber” level. And that, more than any other reason, is why I made this entirely unnecessary purchase.

     Yes, it’s frivolous. Yes, it will anger tree huggers from coast to coast – and we do have a few here on the fabled Island of Long. And yes, what I spent on it would feed hundreds of illegal aliens for a whole year. I don’t care. It was my money and my decision.

     If I regret anything about this purchase, it would be the requirement to pay the Vampire State’s Department of Motor Vehicles a king’s ransom in sales tax for the privilege of registering Joy for use on New York roads.

     Once in a while, a man facing the back end of life must do something completely disconnected from his impending future. Something for personal gratification and nothing else. Something to make him feel as if his happiness is his responsibility to nurture and protect. Something that deals a sharp whack across the chops to the legions that demand that We the People of the United States who’ve actually made something of ourselves should feel guilty about it.

     I tell you, people, that you not forget: it’s all right to be happy. And if that’s all right, then it’s all right for anyone, once the necessities are dealt with, to buy a red Corvette convertible, lower the top, and cruise blissfully and for no good reason down the main drag of his burg with the sun on his shoulders and the wind in his hair. A nineteen year old blonde right-seat decoration is not required.

     Some time ago, I wrote about forces, both secular and religious, that strive to make us feel guilty about having done well and having chosen to enjoy it. Today, with Joy’s top down and the sun shining, was a day to remember that God loves us – that He designed the universe as He did to make human happiness possible, though not guaranteed. It was a day to spit in the eyes of the guilt-mongers. To feel certain once more that life, even if it must end someday soon, isn’t just a test of our souls.

     If you’ve been feeling old...
     If you’ve wondered if life has a point...
     If your Significant Other is looking frayed...
     If your own juices have begun to sour in their cask...

     Go for a wholly unnecessary, entirely unjustifiable, gas-wasting, CO2 spewing ride in a Corvette convertible. With the top down. Let the engine’s music resound in your ears. Let the power, and the luxury, and the simple exercise of your freedom to do whatever you damned well please, no matter who says or thinks what about it, remind you just how good it is to be an American.

     May God forever guard and guide these United States of America!

Do You Want More Trump? Because...

     “Another thing that bothers me. Why don’t we ever challenge the spherical earth theory?”
     “Look,” Joe said, “If all the scientists and eggheads and commies and liberals are pushing it in our schools all the time, there must be something fishy about it. Did you ever stop to think that there’s no way—just no way at all—to reconcile a spherical earth with the story of the Flood, or Joshua’s miracle, or Jesus standing on the pinnacle of the temple and seeing all the kingdoms of the earth? And I ask you, man to man, in all your travels have you ever seen the curvature anywhere? Everyplace I’ve been is flat. Are we going to trust the Bible and the evidence of our own senses, or are we going to listen to a bunch of agnostics and atheists in laboratory smocks?”
     “But the earth’s shadow on the moon during an eclipse...”
     Joe took a dime out of his pocket and held it up. “This casts a circular shadow, but it’s flat, not spherical.”
     Cotex stared into space for a long moment, while Joe waited with suppressed excitement. “You know something?” Cotex said finally, “all the Bible miracles and our own travels and the shadow on the moon would make sense if the earth was shaped like a carrot and all the continents were on the flat end—”
     Praise be to Simon’s god, Bugs Bunny, Joe thought elatedly. It’s happening—he’s not only gullible—he’s creative.

     [Shea and Wilson, Illuminatus!]

     Sensible people are beginning to notice...no, strike that: sensible people started noticing a long time ago. What’s relatively fresh is that they’re starting to laugh openly.

     “Notice what,” I hear you cry. Why, what else? The rampant lunacy that passes under the name “progressivism,” of course! Let’s start with Dystopic’s most recent emission:

     Folks, we’ve gone beyond mere doublethink into the Twilight Zone of Social Justice insanity. There is nothing too stupid, too bereft of meaning, to become an SJW headline. It’s getting to the point that a random chat bot could compose headlines that made more objective sense. Turing’s test must now be applied in reverse: when does a human being become so stupid as to approximate an AOL chat bot?

     Please read it all. I guarantee that you’ll laugh or cry. Indeed, you might do both.

     But this is good news: a positive development. Sensible Americans should encourage it in every practical way. Kurt Schlichter elaborates:

     Pity the Democrats, to the extent you can without bursting into hysterical laughter at their agony. America has thoroughly rejected them in every branch of the federal government plus out in the states, and on top of that they were utterly humiliated by the guy they all claimed was a complete moron. Which begs the question – what does that make the sanctimonious harpy he crushed in the Electoral College?

     They still haven’t realized what’s going on. Their ego-driven drive to dominate normal people and shape us into New Socialist Nongendered Beings has blinded them to the bitter reality.

     Read all of that one, too. For anyone on the Right it’s like a Milky Way or Three Musketeers binge, but made entirely out of guaranteed non-fattening pixels.

     It’s nourishment for the soul, I tell you.

     Laughter is the best medicine – old adage

     The devil...the prowde spirit...cannot endure to be mocked. – Thomas More

     “This Terran wrestling is very peculiar.”
     “In what way?”
     Heisham sought around for an easily explainable example, said, “If I were to push you it would be natural for you to oppose my push and to push back. But if you push a Terran he grabs your wrists and pulls the same way. He helps you. It is extremely difficult to fight a willing helper. It means that everything you try to do is immediately taken further than you intended.”
     “The answer is easy,” scoffed Zalumar. “You give up pushing. You pull him instead.”
     “If you change from pushing to pulling, he promptly switches from pulling to pushing,” Heisham answered. “He’s still with you, still helping. There’s no effective way of controlling it except adopting the same tactics.” – Eric Frank Russell, “Basic Right”

     While there’s no denying that things can look very bleak, it’s equally true that the Left’s bizarre interpretation of “tolerance” can be used against it. If there’s a trick to it, it’s knowing when to frown and when to smile.

     Just now, we have people claiming a right to tolerance – often rhetorically transformed into a right to approval and assistance – for all sorts of lunacies. Consider the assertion, made ever more frequently, that women have a right not to be looked at by men: that for a man to judge (especially to take pleasure from) a woman’s appearance is a form of sexism. Couple that to the complementary claim that flattering clothes, cosmetics, and so forth, rather than being choices some women make and others don’t, are really “tools for the objectification of the female body.” Couple them to feminists’ insistence that even though women are men’s “equals,” they’re endangered by men’s proximity—even by our very existence. Imagine how that combination could be used against the Left.

     Alternately, consider the hysterics of “climate change.” All the skeptics have done so far is to disagree and debate. Occasionally, a commentator will ask why Al Gore, if he’s serious about the dread menace of CO2, has chosen to live in an enormous mansion, or why Leonard DiCaprio travels the world in a private jet giving inane speeches his audiences could write for him. Not far enough, Gentle Reader! Alinskify them! Hold them to their own standards – and do so publicly and laughingly!

     (One could go further. As the ultimate source of all “global warming” is the Sun, demand that NASA immediately begin work on an expedition to the Sun...to turn it down! Or perhaps to turn it off at night, when the plants, worn out from a long hard day of photosynthesis, are trying to get some rest.)

     They cannot fight their own allies...so pretend to be their allies, but more so. Up the crazy! Insist that everyone who’s serious about “sexism,” or “trans-racialism,” or “climate change,” or whatever mad notion has recently taken hold on the Left must uphold it and live it to the limit. If there’s a difficulty here, it would be doing so without collapsing into hysterical laughter at the wrong moment.

     Great God in heaven, I’m laughing my slats off just thinking about this. Because this is well and truly “how we get more Trump” — i.e., how decent Americans can both assert their own preferences in confidence and comfort, and have a good laugh as a bonus.

     Is there anyone out there who doesn’t enjoy a good laugh?

New game plan in Syria.

The militant [U.S.] promotion of regime change is no longer in the cards for Syria, and great advances have been made on the anti-terrorist front against Daesh, but that doesn’t mean that the US isn’t still a danger to the Arab Republic.

Channeling the adaptive strategies of Hybrid War, the US changed its premier goal in Syria and is now seeking to geopolitically fragment the country to compensate for the failure of its years-long regime change operation, and it’s using the PYD-YPG Kurds as its battering ram for doing so.

"Carving out 'Kurdistan' is the US’ new end game in Syria." By Andrew Korybko, The Duran, 5/15/17.

Unsayable troof.

There was no way to chalk up these complaints to adolescent theatrics. A February survey of CHS teachers had already revealed a school that resembled Lord of the Flies. Cursing, yelling students roamed the halls, pushing, shoving, ramming each other into walls, sometimes “accidentally” colliding with teachers. Thirty-six out of 79 teachers surveyed believed that they were unsafe in the hallways, and those who didn’t acknowledged either being big enough to stare down students or practiced at minding their own business. . . .

What could not be said out loud was that the problem kids were all black, though the district superintendent did delicately indicate that the school’s trouble is “racialized.” Like many inner suburbs, once predominantly white Cheltenham has become increasingly African-American over the past decades.[1]

The subtitle of Ms. Hymowitz's piece speaks of racial "gaps in education." Nope. It's about racial "gaps in culture," the unwillingness of young blacks African-Americans (choose one) to be a part of the larger community. White community to be exact.

But let's celebrate the joys of diversity. Let's do that. And as mass immigration and demography inexorably work to make white Americans a majority minority in our own country, which tickles Whoopi [cushion] Goldberg no end, let's celebrate the reign of anarchy. Where we, like the school guards in this article, look the other way while primitives take over.

[1] "Unsayable Truths About a Failing High School. A viral student brawl in a once-thriving school highlights public evasions about racial gaps in education." By Kay S. Hymowitz, City Journal, 5/15/17.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Monday Maunderings: The Cheap Psychologizing Edition

     Okay, so Sunday is the “day of rest” for the rest of you. I prefer to rest on Monday. I find the irony delicious.

     Sunday remains an exceptional day for several reasons. One of them is the expense of having something delivered on a Sunday. Yes, it can be done...but you must expect to pay extra.

     Yesterday being Mother’s Day, I decided to arrange for a gift to the C.S.O. to arrive on that day. The price of the gift: $33.98. The shipping charge? $31.98. Oy!

     But that’s only half the story. Beth was out of the house when the box arrived. So I left it where she would see it as she returned. She did...and walked right past it. When I drew her attention to it, she asked me to open it for her. Mega-Oy!

     No, I haven’t yet put the Corvette on the road. Insurance and license plates are required, don’t y’know. That stuff should happen today and tomorrow, at which point I’ll be able to enjoy it as it deserves.

     However, in a gesture of reassurance to my Gentle Readers, allow me to state:

  • I haven’t gone out of my mind;
  • Yes, I am aware that I’m 65 years old;
  • No, I don’t plan to drive Joy – thank you, JWM – like a drunken fool;
  • Neither do I have my eye on a young blonde replacement for the C.S.O.;
  • As Joy is plainly a good-weather-only car, Milla the Mercedes will remain part of my stable of mounts.

     I’m hoping for good weather sometime soon. Long Islanders will know exactly what I mean.

     It’s been said that “A picture is worth a thousand words.” Well, sometimes. Today the Web’s favorite Bookworm presents a juicy collection. Get over there and enjoy!

     I have seldom laughed at another person’s unhappiness or dismay...but I laughed like a hyena at this. Give it a look. I think you’ll enjoy it, too.

     It is notable that:

  • AntiFa promotes itself as “fighting fascism,” but it relies exclusively on fascist methods.
  • The masks its adherents wear suggest that they’re ashamed of their affiliation.
  • When decent persons meet AntiFa’s violence in kind, that’s “unfair;”
  • This Quinn person – any bets on whether that’s her actual name? – cannot accept defeat.
  • Despite the pattern of police noninterference when AntiFa and Black Bloc start roughing people up, they believe that the police are “on the Nazis’ side.”
  • AntiFa takes no actual positions. It exists to suppress the gatherings and speech of non-Leftists. That is its entire raison d’etre.
  • None of the Left’s luminaries have dared to condemn AntiFa’s violence or denounce its methods –afraid of being the next target, perhaps? – but the Dishonorable John Lewis has indirectly expressed encouragement for them.

     Draw your own conclusions.

     A number of people have written to ask “what you had in mind” when I wrote this little story. In fact, it’s based on someone I once knew well. He liked to attend left-liberal events specifically for the sexual opportunities. He got quite a lot of action that way, which makes it hard to criticize his methods. I merely brought that variety of behavior “up to date.”

     It’s not exclusively a young man’s behavior pattern, either. Quite a number of plain-looking young women do much the same, though they normally avoid gatherings expected to eventuate in violence. As long as they can “do their part” without getting hurt or arrested, they’re susceptible to the same motivations.

     I’ve never heard anything comparable said about a right- leaning conference or other event. Perhaps I’ve been listening to the wrong people.

     As many of my old favorites in Blogdom seem to be slowly running out of steam, I’d like to make special mention of two blogs I recently added to the blogroll: Double Plus Undead and Never Yet Melted. These sites have provided me with a surprising amount of information and entertainment. If you haven’t yet done so, give them a look.

     I can’t leave off without revisiting one of my favorite subjects: our propensity toward wishful thinking. Wishful thinking isn’t just about achieving things we find desirable. It’s also about things we claim to dread.

     The Marquis de la Fontaine once said that “We believe easily what we fear or what we desire.” How true. Humans are especially vulnerable to that failing when “what we fear or what we desire” has a direct bearing on our personal worth – in contemporary jargon, our “self-esteem.” Much of the hysteria about this or that Cause isn’t genuinely about the Cause itself, but about the hysterics’ need to believe they’re engaged in something important. Something that, having involved themselves in it, will imply a greater significance to their own wretched existences. After all, if you’re engaged in “saving the world,” how important is it that you’re thirty years old, unemployed, unmarried, and living in your parents’ basement?

     Economic explanations, like philosophical ones, are always partial and unverifiable. Correlation is not cause. However, I’ll be watching as the Trump Economic Resurgence takes hold, both regionally and nationally. Add a little tough love from some longsuffering parents who’ve tired of doing Junior’s laundry and want their basements back, and who knows what might happen?

     That’s all for today, Gentle Reader. I have a lot of errands and chores before me today. Once again, the pileup has me thinking that I had more free time and got more rest when I was still working for a salary. So stay cool, calm, and collected, until either the morrow or Colonel Bunny’s next emission.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Mediatrices: A Mothers’ Day Rumination

     Many who disparage the Catholic Church for a wholly imaginary misogyny would do well to study the immense importance of Catholic women to the work of the Church. This is especially so as regards Catholic mothers. Mothers have always been essential to the transmission of Christianity through the generations. Fathers, while important as examples of Christian manhood and upholders of moral and ethical standards, normally have a lesser role in the religious upbringing of their kids.

     Among the supreme idiocies of our time is the contempt so many persons, especially numerous on the political Left, exhibit toward the most important of all womanly occupations: wife, mother, and homemaker. It is the mother who makes the home a Christian dwelling. It is the mother who stands as her children’s first educators and the first barrier between them and moral divergence. Not to be omitted, it is the mother who points toward the father as the moral authority of the family...and indirectly, toward the Father as well.

     Woe to them who shower contempt upon these womanly roles in preference for income-earning labor! Whether or not they do so consciously, they denigrate the work that unites families, communities, and nations. It were better that he/she/it/xe should have a millstone tied around his/her/its/xis neck and be cast into the deeps...regardless of his/her/its/xis chromosomes and genital configuration.

     It is inexpressibly fitting that yesterday, May 13, should have been the hundredth anniversary of the Blessed Mother’s apparition to three shepherd children at Fatima in Portugal. That, too, was a time of troubles: a time when the West, afflicted by the burgeoning of nihilism, embroiled in the most terrible of wars, and shortly to be hagridden by the rise of Communism, was steadily losing confidence in the faith, the convictions, and the standards that had once made Europe – called Christendom for centuries – the powerhouse of the world.

     Mary of Nazareth, the Blessed Virgin Mother to the Son of God, is often called the Mediatrix: she to whom we address our most fervent petitions, in the belief that her Son will not refuse her advocacy in a mortal’s cause. Though Mary is not divine — knock it off with the propaganda, Protestants – she is frequently called Queen of Heaven, in keeping with a vision experienced by Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich, a 19th Century nun and mystic of Westphalian Germany. Mary’s indispensability to the Incarnation, her submission to Gabriel’s message at the Annunciation, and her lifelong faithfulness to her divine Son’s mission are why Catholics treat her as the highest of the saints, supreme in grace among mortals.

     Mary is especially honored in the Rosary, the prayer most beloved of Catholics worldwide. Yet too few of us honor Mary’s exhortation to the shepherd children of Fatima that we should pray the Rosary daily as the path to peace.

     Praying five decades of the Rosary:

  • Monday: The Joyful Mysteries;
  • Tuesday: The Sorrowful Mysteries;
  • Wednesday: The Glorious Mysteries;
  • Thursday: The Joyful or the Luminous Mysteries;
  • Friday: The Sorrowful Mysteries;
  • Saturday: The Joyful Mysteries;
  • Sunday: The Glorious Mysteries;

     ...requires about fifteen minutes of one’s time. In return for that investment of a quarter hour, the Rosary bestows an interval of peace whose serenity can last for hours, averting many an occasion of irritation and dampening many an explosion of temper. Mothers are exhorted to pray the Rosary aloud, with their children beside them. Indeed, a mother secure in her Catholic faith will do so as the first event after the end of the school day.

     In composing these rants, I often circle around my ultimate point, in an attempt to draw the reader in with a little mystery. “Where’s that moron going this time?” he might wonder. “Have I deduced it correctly, or is he winding up to throw another of his legendary curve balls?” Not this time, Gentle Reader. The hour is too late and its extremity is too pronounced.

     The world is in crisis. Possibly this will be its final crisis, though no one can know that beforehand. I’ve written about a world in crisis, saved from a peril it didn’t even perceive by the selflessness of a single man. Yet that was a secular crisis: a threat to the body rather than the soul. Today’s crisis is far deeper. It partakes of every malady of the spirit for which the English language has a name. The aggregate of those maladies has a name with which we are all familiar, against which Christians are warned to be particularly vigilant: despair.

     Mary knew her virgin conception would expose her personally to odium from her neighbors. She knew her divine Son would undergo the most terrible of fates. Many a mother would have shied back from the assignment – and don’t doubt for an instant that had Mary done so, God would have honored her decision and looked for another. He would not override a mortal’s free choice. Yet she did not: rather, she embraced her role as the handmaiden of the Lord.

     Women of our time don’t bear the burdens Mary knew. Yet many of them quail at the relatively light burdens of bearing and raising ordinary mortal children in our wealthy, well-upholstered culture. Some abdicate the responsibilities of motherhood even after having chosen to bear children. If anything could make the Mother of God weep, that would be it.

     I propose that much of the world’s temporal grief can be ascribed to the unwillingness of many to honor motherhood even a fraction as highly as did Mary. For a dedicated mother, much like the Mother of God, is the mediatrix of all that is eternally good to her children. Whether or not they admit it, it’s she who furnishes their souls with the values and standards they’ll need for a life well lived under the veil of Time.

The sea is calm tonight.
The tide is full, the moon lies fair
Upon the straits; on the French coast the light
Gleams and is gone; the cliffs of England stand,
Glimmering and vast, out in the tranquil bay.
Come to the window, sweet is the night-air!
Only, from the long line of spray
Where the sea meets the moon-blanched land,
Listen! you hear the grating roar
Of pebbles which the waves draw back, and fling,
At their return, up the high strand,
Begin, and cease, and then again begin,
With tremulous cadence slow, and bring
The eternal note of sadness in.

Sophocles long ago
Heard it on the Ægean, and it brought
Into his mind the turbid ebb and flow
Of human misery; we
Find also in the sound a thought,
Hearing it by this distant northern sea.

The Sea of Faith
Was once, too, at the full, and round earth’s shore
Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furled.
But now I only hear
Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar,
Retreating, to the breath
Of the night-wind, down the vast edges drear
And naked shingles of the world.

Ah, love, let us be true
To one another! for the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.

[Matthew Arnold]

     Happy Mothers’ Day. Pray the Rosary daily. Today, devote it to the soul of your mother, whether she’s still among the living or has gone to her reward. And fathers: don’t forget the roses or the chocolate.

     May God bless and keep you all.