Saturday, February 16, 2019

The Border, The National Emergency, And The President

     President Trump has followed through on his promise that, if necessary, he’ll declare a national emergency to get the border wall built. Congress has forced his hand with the spending bill, which he must have felt he could not veto without doing more harm than good. I’m concerned about the bill’s “poison pills,” but perhaps Trump is counting on their blatant infringement of the executive branch’s Constitutionally assigned powers to prevail in the courts.

     However, Mark “Mad Dog” Sherman notes that the screeching from the Left has already begun:

     Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said she will introduce a bill with fellow Democratic Representative Joaquin Castro to stop President Donald Trump’s planned emergency declaration. New York’s Ocasio-Cortez, who was speaking on Instagram, didn’t provide specifics but Castro previously said he’d offer a joint resolution.

     There are several facets to the declaration of emergency and the reactions to it. Not the least of them is this one: A presidential declaration of national emergency cannot make, overturn, or modify an existing law. Neither can it abridge a recognized right, with certain exceptions permitted for “cases of Rebellion or Invasion” (e.g., habeas corpus). What it can legitimately do is (re)allocate federal resources, including personnel, to specific priorities: a perfectly legitimate use of executive power. As it's the president’s Constitutional duty to "take care that the laws be faithfully executed," this is entirely within his purview, and no Congressional emission or court ruling can legally affect it.

     Let the socialists in Congress chatter and whine. They can do nothing except beclown themselves. I hope Trump is aware of that. I hope he's also aware of this: the bill he's just signed is the Republican Congressional caucus's statement that “We want no part of this border security business. If we support you, we lose our Chamber of Commerce supporters. If we oppose you, the conservative base will attack us. So we're throwing it into your lap, Mr. President. Excuse us as we pusillanimously exit stage right.”

     Are there any actual spines available for transplanting into Republican politicians?

Got To Get This Off My Chest Right Away

     Peter Grant is normally a sensible fellow. All right, he’s got a couple of stupid notions, but then, most people do. To be fair, I once thought opening the borders was a good idea. But there’s stupid, and then there’s are you BLEEP!ing kidding me?

     Let's be honest: most companies are out to separate you from as much of your money as possible, as painlessly as possible. It's only because we aren't vigilant, and don't pay enough attention to what's going on, that we continue to tolerate this.

     What's more, many of the prices charged for goods bear no relation whatsoever to the actual cost of production of those goods - another con game.

     I emphasized the arrant idiocy.

     The notion that the “cost of production” should help to determine the price of a good is a Marxist idea. It cannot be found anywhere in reality. The sole participation of the cost of production, however a maker might arrive at it -- and that's a lot harder than you might imagine, Gentle Reader -- is to determine the bottom of the price range for the good: i.e., the lowest imaginable price at which he could continue to make and sell the good without going swiftly bankrupt. Even this relation has exceptions, as some manufacturers deliberately make and sell “loss leaders” to make the other goods in their lines more attractive.

     Just in case you never took high school economics, the price of a good offered in a reasonably free market is set by two factors:

  1. Supply: The immediate and / or projected availability of the good at some proposed price.
  2. Demand: The number of immediate and / or projected persons ready, willing, and able to purchase the good at that price.

     Except for governmental intrusions upon the marketplace, nothing else matters.

     I begin to wonder whether the rampant socialist idiocy being offered us by such...persons as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Kamala Harris – say, what a presidential ticket that would make, eh? With maybe Ilhan Omar as our Secretary of State and Rashida Tlaib as Ambassador to the U.N.? — has become contagious. A mind virus, slowly taking over all our brains through the agency of the Left’s political luminaries and their handmaidens in the major media!

     Stranger things have happened. As I’m stuck here in New York, in uncomfortable proximity with Ocasio-Cortez, Bill de Blasio, and Andrew Cuomo, perhaps I should start to worry.

Friday, February 15, 2019

Ending A Sour Week

     ...on an sweet note can take some effort. Accordingly, have a track from the first October Project album, featuring the most beautiful contralto voice ever employed in popular music, that of Mary Fahl:

     (I just barely missed being able to see Mary Fahl perform this weekend, up in Beacon, NY. That’s part of what soured the week. Oh well. Maybe next time.)

Assorted Thoughts On Character Selection And Design

     When I’m in the middle of writing a novel, I seldom take the time to think about the fundamentals of the enterprise. I’ve done enough of this to have internalized those principles. However, some recent experiences have caused me to revisit a subject a lot of fledgling writers struggle over: what makes a character, particularly a Marquee character, plausible and attractive.


     In my little tome The Storyteller’s Art, I posited a three-tier scheme for characters:

  • Marquee Characters: The persons whom the story is mostly “about.”
  • Supporting Cast: Persons involved with the decisions and actions of the Marquee Characters, but whose fates are of less importance.
  • Spear Shakers: Persons who appear where they do in the story simply because there has to be someone in that slot; unimportant except as human stage dressing.

     Broadly, a good story will pose its Marquee characters with conflicts, non-trivial decisions to make, and above all else tests of their values. By implication, they must have values, arranged in some sort of priority scheme. The story will then compel them to confront those values and ponder what they’re willing to say, do, pay, or sacrifice to uphold them.

     The writer’s decisions from that point forward will center on manifesting and demonstrating the Marquee characters’ values through the events of the story. This makes it fairly “obvious” that character design must come first.

     No plot idea is sufficient to make a story “work” if it isn’t first matched to characters who will act out their values through it.


     I inserted a large number of Marquee characters into Experiences:

  • Neurophysiologist and businesswoman Rachel MacLachlan;
  • College dean Amanda Hallstrom;
  • Novelist Holly Martinowski;
  • Holly’s flatmate Rowenna Walsingham;
  • Holly’s “fangirl” Irene Carroll;
  • Security specialists Larry and Trish Sokoloff;
  • “Star-crossed lovers” Daniel Loring and Ching-nien Chen;
  • And Onteora County’s Catholic pastor, Father Raymond Altomare.

     These interacted with one another and a gaggle of Supporting Cast characters of varying importance.

     Ten Marquee characters is about twice as many as even a large novel normally contains. At one point I found myself wondering whether I’d crafted an unmanageable mess for myself. I spent some time dithering over whether to “thin the herd” in the interests of keeping the story coherent. After a while I decided to tackle the challenge around the waist, as the central theme of the story – the power of the human desire for acceptance — required all of them to be depicted in its fullness. It proved to be a great deal of work, more even than Innocents had cost me, though I was ultimately pleased with the result.

     However, the price of that decision has followed me into the sequel to Experiences, tentatively titled The Wise and the Mad. Seven of the Marquee characters from the former book will appear in the latter one, along with a few new ones whose significance to the story is yet to be fully determined.

     If I weren’t already bald from “natural causes,” this would do it to me for sure.


     It’s a blessing to have your characters “snatch the story from you:” i.e., to dictate what the course of events must be, once the setting and initial conditions have been specified. Strong characters can do that for you. Indeed, the stronger they are, the more likely it is. But you must be ready to accede to their demand for control of the story.

     I’ve mentioned this before, which prompted fantasy and science fiction writer Margaret Ball to comment as follows:

     On moderately bad days the characters storm through the ms informing me that they never said anything like the vapidities I've ascribed to them. On really bad days I'm reduced to begging the characters not to hurt me.

     I got a big chuckle out of that, largely because I’ve often felt the same way. Nor is it a condition restricted only to us two. Indeed, I’ve begun to wonder if it’s a condition that should be striven for...but I must admit that I can think of no way to bring it about, apart from making your Marquee characters as vivid as you can.


     Another blessing, this one a bit more mixed than the one above, is to have a Supporting Cast character grab you by the lapels and shout “I deserve to be Marquee status!” That’s happened to me several times. In one case it caused the complete redesign of a novel, and the reorientation of its sequel. In the others I’ve “promoted” the assertive Supporting Cast member to Marquee status in a subsequent novel.

     Now for the “mixed” part. Apart from the eventual benefits, no writer actually enjoys rewriting. As for a large-scale redesign that forces you to discard your original outline, synopsis, and notes, let’s just say I’d rather have another root canal. But there are few assets of greater value than a character strong enough to carry a novel on his own shoulders, so one must learn to pay the price for it.

     Larry Niven, well known for his way with invented words among other things, has counseled us to “Save your typos!” It’s good advice. To that I will add: Don’t just carelessly toss off your Supporting Cast characters, expecting to use them just once. Be willing to think deeply about them. Some of them could be hiding heroic (or diabolic) stature of which you’re currently unaware.


     If there’s any more important brief maxim than John Brunner’s Two Rules of Fiction:

  1. The raw material of fiction is people.
  2. The essence of story is change.

     ...I’m unacquainted with it. The most fundamental rule of all is therefore:

Story == People Changing.

     If the changes are dramatic, the story will be arresting...but that requires that the people -- the characters -- must be plausible and vividly colored. No plot, however original or convoluted, can save a story populated by pallid or implausible characters. On the occasions when I’ve gotten them right, all else has followed. On other occasions...let’s not go there, shall we?

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Quickies: “Allies”

     I wish it to be known: I am no one’s “ally:”

  • No race;
  • No ethnicity;
  • No non-Christian creed;
  • No sexual orientation or deviation;
  • And great God in heaven, no “indigenous peoples.”

     So when I saw the following:

     ...it reaped a belly laugh.

     These losers are attempting to reverse the verdict of history by playing on the consciences of the victors – nay, the descendants of the victors. Were there excesses? Yes. Were there atrocities? Yes. But they occurred on both sides of every confrontation. In any event, the guilt for any of those things that properly attaches to persons born long afterward is zero.

     Fuck the American Indian. His heritage is one of utter savagery, in war and in peace.
     Fuck the black savages of Africa. Their heritage is of superstition, rampant irrationality, slavery, and cannibalism – and those things are still being acted out today.
     Fuck the Arab / Muslim Middle East. Westerners are so greatly their superiors that they should drop to their knees and tug their forelocks when a white European passes them on the street.

     “White Man’s Burden” and “The Congo” express profound and irrefutable truths.

     Yes, I mean every word. Told you I was in a pissy mood.

In A Pissy Mood

     The Gentle Readers of Liberty’s Torch are surely wise enough to know not to stand too close to any American who gets into one of those moods. An angry American is more likely to “act out” than, say, your average Canadian (though perhaps less so than your average Mexican). Moreover, you needn’t have any connection to what pissed him off to catch some of the shrapnel. I was in such a mood only yesterday, for an assortment of reasons. It’s only just attenuating to holding levels as I write this.

     Below are some of the stimuli and consequences.


1. Hint! Hint!

     Despite my fondness for my wife Beth, usually referred to here as the C.S.O., there are times at which I ponder starting a movement to legalize uxoricide. One of those times is when she refuses to say what she really wants.

     Yesterday was Beth’s birthday. It’s become a tradition on that day for me to sally forth and procure her favorite fast food for dinner. As Liberty’s Torch has a no-advertising policy – yes, yes, I did make one exception – I shan’t name the vendor. Suffice it to say that its trademark offering is Kinda Flavorful and Crispy. In recent years its menu has become fairly extensive, so I asked Beth what she would like for her evening repast.

     And asked again. And again. And again.

     Beth refused to be specific. It’s women’s way of setting men up for failure. Don’t let them tell you any differently. After four successive and increasingly pointed queries, all of Beth answered with vagaries, I blew up. I started screaming at my wife that if she refused to tell me exactly what she wanted, I’d bring home franks and beans. (NB: Yes, I know you can’t get franks and beans at that particular restaurant.)

     Wonder of wonders, she relented. She wrote out what she wanted on a sticky note and sent me off with a smile.

     Sometimes blowing your top is the right thing to do. But use good judgment.


2. “Equality.”

     When I arrived, the aforementioned fast-food restaurant was under siege by activists: not, as you would expect, from PETA or any other animal-“rights” organization, but black reparationists! What they expected to achieve there, I have no idea, but it’s not exactly material to this tale. I had to force my way through a gaggle of them to place an order. As you might have expected, a confrontation ensued. One of them started screaming into my face about “white privilege” and demanding “equality.” As nearly as I can recall its exact wording, this was my response:

     “You pitiful animal. I’m smarter than you, stronger than you, richer than you, better looking than you, more moral and ethical than you, and way better armed than you. You want equality? You couldn’t reach equality with me if you lived ten thousand years. So what do you propose to do about it right here and now?

     The idiot backed off. Apparently the word has gotten out that you don’t mess with a crazy white dude, even an elderly one.


3. Interstate Competition, Like Orange Man, Bad!

     I’m a lifelong New Yorker. I’m stuck here for several reasons, not the least of which is that Hercules would get a hernia from moving my library. As I’m a strongly Right-oriented freedom weenie, New York’s legal and political insanity seriously frosts my buns. But one must adjust to circumstances.

     Apparently Andrew Cuomo doesn’t think he should have to adjust his policies according to their consequences:

     New York Governor Andrew Cuomo requested a meeting with President Trump over tax reform that he claims is hurting his state’s revenue. He went whining about New Yorkers leaving for Florida where taxes are cheaper. Cuomo could, of course, lower taxes and stop giving free everything to foreigners in the country illegally. His meeting turned into a lecture on fracking and late-term abortion, and he came back empty-handed.

     The leftist Democrat went to discuss a $10,000 cap on the on federal deduction for state and local taxes (SALT). Cuomo is citing the provision for a drop in over $2 billion in tax revenue.

     THE PRESIDENT TELLS HIM TO LOWER TAXES, FRACK AND STOP KILLING BABIES

     “I told the president myself today: SALT repeal is hurting us. And if you hurt New York, you’re harming the economic engine of the nation,” he bragged after the meeting.

     Typical Cuomo arrogance. New York is no longer critical to the American economy. It retains a degree of prominence in fashion, finance, and commercial data processing, but the outsized impact it once had on the rest of the nation faded long ago. But Cuomo still dreams of becoming president.

     New York’s state income tax is very high and New York property taxes are among the highest in the nation. The SALT limitation on the federal deductibility of state and local taxes does hit New Yorkers pretty hard. So many New Yorkers, especially young adults and those who are already “of means,” are departing for less taxing vistas. The remaining population is aging rapidly, which creates a further drag on Cuomo’s cherished tax revenues.

     New York is clearly well over on the wrong side of the Laffer Curve. But you can’t argue something like basic economics to a left-liberal. They’ve all vowed not to let such trivia impede their “progressivism” – and Cuomo is more “progressive” than most.


4. Another Secularized Holy Day.

     Saint Valentine was a Roman bishop during the reign of Emperor Claudius II. Claudius, who had the imperial ambitions common to Roman Caesars, was having trouble raising enough troops to extend the Empire’s borders. According to what records we have, the emperor, believing that marriage was the reason Roman men were unwilling to serve in the army, banned all marriages and engagements in Rome. (Either the old boy wasn’t very bright, or he regretted waking up next to his wife.)

     Valentine continued to perform marriages in secret. He was found out, arrested, and imprisoned. It hardly slowed him down: while in prison he restored sight to his gaoler’s blind daughter, causing the gaoler and his entire extended household, forty-six people in total, to convert to Christianity. Upon hearing this, Claudius ordered Valentine's execution. St. Valentine left a farewell note for the gaoler’s daughter, whom he had befriended, and signed it "From Your Valentine." He was beheaded on February 14th.

     The secularized version of this commemoration has it that Valentine’s Day is all about romantic love. This is a falsification of the commemorated event: Marriages in that time and place were seldom contracted for romantic reasons. The love we should properly honor is Saint Valentine’s love for his faith and his flock. No man goes willingly to his death except in service of an ideal higher than life itself.

     Men have died and worms have eaten them, but not for [romantic] love. – Robert A. Heinlein


5. Deliberate Destruction.

     I have a number of favorite maxims, among which the following is prominent:

When all the errors are in the bank’s favor, you can be forgiven for thinking there’s more at work than sloppy arithmetic.

     Now have a gander at this article:

     Almost everyone that goes out to visit one of our major cities on the west coast has a similar reaction. Those that must live among the escalating decay are often numb to it, but most of those that are just in town for a visit are absolutely shocked by all of the trash, human defecation, crime and public drug use that they encounter. Once upon a time, our beautiful western cities were the envy of the rest of the world, but now they serve as shining examples of America’s accelerating decline. The worst parts of our major western cities literally look like post-apocalyptic wastelands, and the hordes of zombified homeless people that live in those areas are too drugged-out to care. The ironic thing is that these cities are not poor. In fact, San Francisco and Seattle are among the wealthiest cities in the entire nation. So if things are falling apart this dramatically now, how bad will things get when economic conditions really start to deteriorate?

     Please read it all. It’s a good survey of its kind. But the author resolutely refrains from drawing the only defensible conclusion:

The governments of those cities are destroying them deliberately.

     And yes, those governments are all hard Left, more dramatically so than usual even for Democrats.

     Once again, Gentle Readers: Reason backwards from tactics to objectives and thence to motives. The tactics are out in front of God and everybody: exorbitant taxation, ultra-luxurious welfare systems, business-hostile regulation, the decriminalization of “public nuisance” and “public decency” offenses, generally lax law enforcement, and the harboring of illegal aliens. Given the pattern Michael Snyder and others have delineated, the objective must be to produce exactly the squalor he’s observed.

     So what’s the motive? Whose interests are served by widespread poverty, crime, and filth, coupled to the rapid departure of productive residents? What could those interests possibly be?

     Leave your answer in the comments.


     That’s all for today, I think. I have to get my blood pressure down. I’ll probably spend the day playing with my dogs and cats. It usually works.

     See you tomorrow.

Blind to the end.

U/I German writer:
We are ruled by ideologists, not only in Germany but across the West, and they will not stop chasing paradise on earth as they create hell. [1]
Genrikh Yagoda.
Executed 1937.
The left never notices the killing and torture that follow in the wake of total state power. Nor do the “winners” in any leftist race to the bottom remember that when caprice replaces law the winners eat their own.

The attack now is on free speech. After that's gone, there is just dumb acquiescence. And rule by scum.

Notes
[1] "Quoted in Heart of Darkness Germany." By Linh Dinh, By Ron Unz, The Unz Review, 2/13/19.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

It's Really Funny That His Name Has Not Been Released

And, by 'funny', I mean suspicious - as in, was the guy in the MAGA hat a Leftist plant?

There is NOTHING online - can't find an arrest record, news story, or even a social media identification of the guy. He was clearly shown in video and pictures, so I'm wondering why not.

If anyone knows the kind of kid that is adept at tracking down people by their photo, please let them know I would be grateful if they'd forward the results to me here.

The latest report is that the guy may not be charged. Well, duh. If the incident was a fake, they wouldn't want a record that could be investigated. They'd rather bury this, and bleat "Hate Crime against the news!"

I'm going to follow up on this in a few weeks - I have some ideas about how to go about this.

Rangers, Outriders, And Scouts

     In the days before aircraft and satellites made possible the observation of a battlefield from above, the term ranger had a specific military meaning. Rangers were under orders, usually loosely phrased, to move about in the general direction of the expected conflict, well ahead of their main force. This had two purposes:

  1. To gather general information about the enemy force: its size, composition, and orientation;
  2. To probe for weaknesses in the enemy battle array with skirmishing attacks.

     Such information, then as now, was an asset of immense value to each side’s tacticians. Acquiring it was a high-priority objective before such a contest. That was especially the case with any weaknesses the rangers could detect. The main force would strive to exploit such weaknesses before the enemy’s commanders could shore it up.

     The term outrider had a similar, albeit non-military meaning. An outrider’s function was to find travel paths for larger, slower moving bodies of travelers. Some outriders traveled alone; others worked in small groups, often with a cartographer. They would periodically return to the trailing group to present their findings, hopefully to ease the hardships and reduce the dangers of the journey.

     The immense value of the information rangers and outriders gathered “should” be “obvious.” A third occupation, that of the scout, sat somewhere between the other two. A scout might or might not precede the troops or travelers for whose benefit he worked. The scout might be tasked to report on the progress of a battle already joined, rather than to gather information beforehand.

     These three jobs had two commonalities above all others:

  1. Gathering information;
  2. Bringing it back at speed.

     The men who did those jobs had to be very good at them. Moreover, they had to be trustworthy, for reasons I hope will strike my Gentle Readers as “obvious.”

     Contemporary political combat has its rangers, outriders, and scouts, though we seldom call them by those titles.


     The indispensable Mike Hendrix has a must-read piece today:

     “I really don’t like their policy of taking away your car, of taking away your airplane rights, of let’s hop a train to California, of you’re not allowed to own cows anymore,” Trump said in the El Paso speech. White House Bureau Chief at The Washington Post Philip Rucker let his 340,000 followers on Twitter know that this was “false” and that “no one” had proposed any such thing. David Weigel, another well-read political reporter at The Post, who had earlier co-bylined a piece with the misleading headline “Ocasio-Cortez retracts erroneous information about Green New Deal,” retweeted Rucker’s falsehood to his 450,000 followers.

     First of all, even if Ocasio-Cortez did walk back her pitch, it was proposed. This might be inconvenient, but it’s also indisputable. Simply because a politician pulls a proposal that’s been dragged across the entire internet and beaten senseless does not mean its existence has been expunged from the record.

     The authors of the Green New Deal were very clear that their plan was a “massive transformation of our society” with “clear goals and a timeline.” Those goals included eliminating “combustion engines” and air travel and beef. It was the bill’s authors who wrote about “economic security” for those who are “unwilling to work.” They simply hadn’t come up with all the nuts and bolts yet. And, yes, a bunch of presidential candidates endorsed these ideas, while the FAQ was up.

     Please, please read it all. It might be the most illuminating piece you’ll read this year, at least if you’re interested in the dynamics of modern political combat. When you’ve finished, come straight back here; I’ll wait.

     Now let’s assign some function titles:

  • Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is a ranger of the Left. It’s her task to probe the pro-freedom forces for weakness by advancing radical proposals. How conservatives and Republicans respond to her probes is what her masters most want to know.
  • Various commentators on both sides of the political divide work as outriders. They seek to chart reliable courses through the public-policy Sturm und Drang that legislators and executives can trust. Many a legislator has consulted some body of opinion writers before speaking publicly on some subject of interest. Indeed, one can find numerous cases where a legislator has lifted a large portion of some op-ed and made it the basis of a presentation of his own.
  • Media functionaries and pollsters function as scouts, usually by gauging the temper of the electorate after some public-policy battle has been joined. The information they gather is of critical interest to the proposers of particular policies, who might choose to firewall the gas pedal or to slam on the brakes according to what the scouts have to report.

     The Ocasio-Cortez “Green New Deal” document was a ranger’s probe for weakness in the Right’s defenses of the free-market economy. The bayonet was an entirely cosmetic concern for the environment. Note what Kurt Schlichter has to say about it:

     The Green New Deal, which is supposed to be about fighting the pressing threat of slightly different temperatures in the next century, also contains a bunch of other stuff that one might not think play a part in controlling the climate. Odd, but these prescriptions to reach whatever perfect temperature we are supposed to reach (the creepy weather cultists never seem to tell us what the “right” temperature is) correspond exactly to the classic Marxist wish list – redistribution, nationalization, and the central planning of the economy. Strange how that works.

     This is valuable information for us in the Right. Schlichter, of course, is one of our outriders. The Left has its own; tune in to any major-media outlet for a taste. (Keep a big drink handy for afterward.)

     The pollsters who report upon national sentiment toward such things are the scouts of our time. What issues does John Q. Public prioritize most highly? Which legislators stand highest in his esteem? What does he think of the current Administration? Regardless of the allegiances perceived among pollsters – this one is “one of ours;” that other one is “theirs” – you may rest assured that the strategists and tacticians of national politics pay close attention to all of them, whatever they may say in public.

     Never have the parallels between land warfare and political combat been clearer than they are today.


     A final set of observations about the “Green New Deal” contretemps: As mentioned in the first segment, a ranger must be both very good at his job and trustworthy. He must know what risks he man and must not take. The relatively loose envelope of orders he inhabits thus emphasize the importance of good judgment.

     With her “Green New Deal” sally, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez went from being a reliable, useful ranger of the Left to a “loose cannon.” The document’s brashness and unconcern with human well being have done the Left significant harm. As Mike’s piece makes plain, its media scouts have detected the public’s reaction and are now struggling to confuse the issue, in some cases with blatant lies. As the Internet is forever, what will determine the extent and persistence of the damage is how many Americans take the time and trouble to learn the actual course of events.

     It remains to be seen whether Democrat party leaders will make a serious attempt to rein in the wild-eyed, wild-tongued Ocasio-Cortez. She’s exhibited little willingness to listen to anyone’s counsel. Her erratic ways and outsized ego make her valuable to the Right as an exemplar of what the Left really intends for us. If the Democrats’ strategists are willing to credit their scouts’ reports of the general incredulity over her notions, they’ll do their damnedest to haul her back to the main force. We shall see whether she can be kept there.

     It could prove to be an unprecedentedly entertaining – I hesitate to say outrageous — quadrennial campaign season. Stay tuned.

The ongoing coup d’etat in a nutshell.

This below is pretty rich considering how Hillary during the election was so clear that not accepting the results of an election is an attack on our democracy. What a patriot. If someone tearily brings up “our democracy” or “our values” you can be sure they’re hostile to both. Fact.
As the following examples clearly show, the Democratic Party is attempting one of the most brazen power grabs in US history by attempting the overthrow duly elected President Donald Trump.

1. Immediately following the election, Hillary Clinton, the press and the Deep State began to undermine and sabotage Trump’s presidency through a concocted tale of collusion with Russia to win the 2016 election. Using a play out of Joseph Goebbels playbook, accusing others of that which you are doing, and using deep state lackeys in the FBI, CIA, and Department of Justice, the democrats have been able to create an FBI investigation into the non-existent conspiracy. Millions of dollars and thousands of hours of investigation later, the only results so far show that the Russian collusion was done between Russia and Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama along with other democrats, not Donald Trump.[1]

I was in a small city in Iowa in January or February 2017 and a state senator came to town to organize “resistance” to Trump. Within three or four months of the election, there was a well-organized grassroots effort to bring him down.

Notes
[1] "The Democratic Party: A History Of Anarchy, Part 1." By Steven Neill, News with Views, 2/12/19.

H/t: Gates of Vienna.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

A New Target For “So Dumb” Jokes

     We’ve all heard the Polish jokes. Did you know that back during the Iron Curtain years, Poles told “policeman jokes?” Here’s a favorite:

     A Pole who drove an old Volkswagen Beetle came out of his favorite tavern, got in and started her up, and was startled when a policeman knocked on his window. The policeman hauled him out of his car and said, “Open the trunk, I’m here in pursuit of a thief.” The Pole replied “There’s nothing in the trunk,” but the cop insisted on seeing for himself. So our hero went to the front of his car to open the trunk, whereupon the cop grabbed him, said “The trunk, you fool!” and pulled him toward the rear. Thinking nothing of it, the Pole popped the hood over the Beetle’s engine compartment and stood back.

     “Aha! Caught you!” the cop exclaimed. “You have stolen an engine! And you must have just stolen it, because it’s still running!”

     Every demographic cohort tells “they’re so dumb” jokes about some other cohort. It’s built into our need to feel superior. Most recently, the preferred target of “so dumb” jokes has been blondes. I’m sure you’ve heard a few. But there’s been a development:

     I wonder if she knows...

Diversity is our strength.

A whole lotta people are reading off that script. Destruction of white culture must be a priority for them.

H/t: Bare Naked Islam.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Attention!

     As Linda is currently unavailable, I’ve taken the liberty of reformatting her Who Was Gramsci Part 1 essay for greater readability. We the Co-Conspirators of Liberty’s Torch beg your forgiveness for the earlier difficulties.

Assorted

     No clever title today, Gentle Reader. It was an exhausting weekend.


1. More Than Coincidence?

     This morning, we learn that the state of Oregon has cultivated a whole lot more legal cannabis than it can sell:

     In 2018, Oregon’s legal marijuana producers grew more than twice as much as was legally consumed, leading to an oversupply that has 6.5 years’ worth of cannabis, measured by the psychoactive compound THC, on the shelves at dispensaries and wholesale distributors.

     The latest data from Oregon, which adopted its legal regime in 2014, was released this week (pdf) by researchers working for Oregon’s Liquor Control Commission, which closely regulates cannabis from production to distribution.

     Hm. Well, most surplusage problems are solved by dropping the price of the good until it moves. Oregon’s regulatory regime might stand in the way of that; I haven’t checked. But what’s this?

     A new bill in the Senate Friday would mark a tectonic state in the United States’ drug law by legalizing marijuana nationwide.

     “The federal prohibition of marijuana is wrong, plain and simple,” said Ron Wyden, an Oregon Senator who introduced the bill, in a statement. “Too many lives have been wasted, and too many economic opportunities have been missed.” [Emphasis added by FWP.]

     Well, exporting one’s surplus to less productive regions works, too...


2. Been Getting Any Lately?

     American culture is saturated with sexual messages, all of them in the same direction: “It’s okay. It feels good. It’s fun. Do it!” But it seems that the messages aren’t being heeded:

     We may live amidst what seems a libidinous culture, but oddly also an increasingly sexless time. Of course, the drop in early teen sex - and even more so, teen pregnancies - represents positive developments, but when lack of social interaction leads to celibacy in the twenties, thirties and beyond, the implications are less than wholesome.

     The Atlantic recently described a “sex recession” in the United States and most western countries, with fewer people dating and even those in relationships getting intimate less often than in the past, while fewer enjoy regular bonds of any kind. Even ogling seems out of fashion, as the decline of Hooters suggests. The family may have been stressed by the “sexual revolution,” but the “sex recession” could ultimately erode the very existence of familialism in our time.

     The most extreme cases of libidinous decline are in Asia. In 2005, a third of Japanese single people ages 18 to 34 were virgins; by 2015 this expanded to 43 percent. A quarter of men over 50 never marry. This “sex recession” even impacts places like Hong Kong’s famous Wan Chai “red light” district, now being reinvented as an upscale hipster area as the sex trade plummets. China’s current generation of men are so socially disconnected that the Communist Party, and some private firms, now teach them how to date; similar attempts have been made, with apparently little effect, in Singapore.

     In point of fact this isn’t a new phenomenon. The case of Scandinavia, already far advanced in this syndrome in the Seventies, should have been heeded. Way back then, two reliable observers informed me that the Scandi cultures were awash in sexual messaging – all of it positive – yet young Scandis were becoming ever more reluctant to “do it.” And we all know about the precipitous sexual decline in Japan these past few decades: a nation where businessmen in suits and ties routinely read mangas depicting pedophilia and rape while on the train to work.

     Something that’s all around one becomes banal, even invisible. Fish don’t take much notice of water; we seldom think about air. And one of the major attractions of sex has always been the hint of the forbidden it carries...which might have something to do with the rapid drop-off in a bride’s sexual appetite after the wedding.


3. Image Promotion.

     If you follow the news you’ve probably noticed that there are already a whole lot of Democrats contending for their party’s 2020 presidential nomination. Offhand I can name seven, and I’m sure there are others. That’s a lot for this early in Year 3 of the quadrennium. Given that whoever the Dems might nominate will have one hell of an uphill battle against the extraordinary successes of President Donald Trump, one must wonder what motives power such hopeless pseudo-candidacies as those of Elizabeth “Fauxcahontas” Warren and Peter “Who The BLEEP?” Buttigieg.

     One answer might be the candidates’ desire to promote their own images for other purposes. A national candidacy can bring national attention, and there are only two national elective offices. For example, Bush the Elder was a staunch opponent of Ronald Reagan before Reagan secured the 1980 GOP nomination. It was he who first called Reagan’s economic platform “voodoo economics.” Yet he accepted the vice-presidential nod and became a Reagan supporter, probably in the hope that he could coattail his way into the Oval Office after Reagan’s eight years were done.

     But if the candidate has no hope now or ever of winning the White House, what then? Sometimes it’s about money, or visibility to private-sector firms that might take an interest in the candidate as a “legislative consultant” – i.e., a lobbyist – after his time in public office is over. And sometimes it’s just about stealing campaign contributions; with a Democrat you always have to include that possibility.

     There will be more Democrat candidates, too. Watch for an announcement from Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, whose skull contains the hardest vacuum ever observed on planet Earth, proclaiming that the ridiculous qualifications set down by a bunch of fusty old white guys two centuries ago aren’t going to stop her from claiming her rightful destiny. After all, having been born in Kenya didn’t stop Barack Hussein Obama, now did it?


4. A Crisis Of Life.

     I have a great admiration for Sarah Hoyt’s commentary. She writes both knowledgeably and passionately about subjects a lot of other op-ed writers fear to touch. This recent emission deserves to be read by many. Here’s the merest taste:

     When I was little, my dad told me about Spartan infanticide: How a new baby was brought to the father, who then either accepted/recognized him/her or directed that the child be killed.

     I wasn’t that little, and this was by the way of being a joke on the fact that I was premature, very small and would never have survived. While old enough to understand the joke, I thought it was a barbaric and despicable system, putting the life of a newborn in the hands of a flawed individual who might just not feel really cordial that day, or kill the child for monetary and convenience reasons.

     I was very glad we no longer lived in such a barbarous age.

     Please read it all. Sarah is clear-eyed about both the moral and the practical aspects of the abortion plague. She makes several points that pro-life forces must grapple with if we’re ever to be at all successful in curbing this horror...and curb it we must.


5. Back From Wherever!

     Esteemed Co-Conspirator Patrice Stanton has returned to life with a “killer” short story:

     Ride along with Dev Diller, an off-duty Fed who mistakenly believes finding a missing politician will be a piece of the proverbial cake compared to a full day of team-leading his three young headstrong children.

     It’s free, so go thou forth to download and enjoy. I have!


     That’s all for today, Gentle Reader. I have to get back to work on The Wise and the Mad before I pass out completely. I’ll see you tomorrow.

It's So Hard to Face the Reality

But, it is essential to squarely call Evil what it is.

Sarah Hoyt, of According to Hoyt, has an impressive and thoughtful essay on why the Elite so often seem to promote truly BAD ideas.

I'm going to be relatively quiet over the next several weeks. I have a brother with medical problems, an out-of-town family celebration, a husband who has set up a small house nearer to work, to save on the wear & tear of commuting long distances (it will only last till the end of May, at worst), an insurance license to test for near the end of the month, and a book that is in process.

In short - Too Busy to Blog Much. I hope the world cooperates by slowing down on the stupid and evil, for at least a short time.

The joys of diversity.

52.2 percent of homicides in the USA are attributed to black offenders. Blacks comprise 13 percent of the population. Black males, who commit nearly all the homicides, comprise about 6.5 percent of the population. Those within the age profile range (18 to 49) comprise about four percent of the population. Statistically, then, about four percent of the population — black males — commits nearly half of all homicides.
"4 black males arrested after murder of white man and his dog." By Dailykenn.com, 2/10/19 (emphasis added).

Sunday, February 10, 2019

A Poser For His Holiness

     [As it’s Sunday, and as abortion has been much in the news of late, I thought I’d resurrect this old piece from Eternity Road, which first appeared there on November 7, 2005 -- FWP]

    


     Your Curmudgeon had more or less resolved to take Mondays off from blathering here, but he can't help himself if an item should leap out at him and demand his attention.

     As is generally known, Pope Benedict XVI has taken a very hard line against Catholic politicians who, for whatever reason, vote to uphold laws or court decisions that have legalized abortion. During the 2004 presidential campaign, Cardinal Francis Arinze issued a directive, which lay Catholics supposed to have the authority of the pope behind it, forbidding Catholic priests to offer the sacrament of Communion to recognized pro-abortion-rights Catholic politicians -- a directive that hit presidential candidate John Kerry, a nominal Catholic, right in the kishkas.

     Your Curmudgeon, no friend of Kerry's, wrote in opposition to that order at the time. He's still opposed to it. Today, with the imminent elevation of Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court, which will give it five Catholic Justices for the first time in the nation's history, a number of persons are all but slavering over the prospects for a near-term reversal of the seminal pro-abortion-rights decision, Roe v. Wade. After all, the pope has threatened Catholic politicians who could do something to end legal abortion with excommunication, so they'll either have to bend or leave the Faith. Right?

     Let's postulate for the moment that the Vatican's position will stand henceforward. What did Roe v. Wade really do? Think carefully before you proceed to the next paragraph. Most people don't know. Like as not that includes you.

     The general belief is that the Roe v. Wade decision legalized abortion in these United States. In point of fact, the majority of the states had already legalized abortion within their borders, at least in certain circumstances. What Roe v. Wade did was to strike down states' laws against abortion in the first two trimesters of gestation as unConstitutional. In other words, the decision federalized the subject, withdrawing legislative discretion over the subject from the purview of the states.

     The reversal of Roe v. Wade would return discretion over abortion law to the state legislatures: no more, no less. It is therefore conceivable that, were the decision reversed, many -- perhaps even all -- the states would perpetuate the legality of abortion under all circumstances.

     "Well, so what?" many would say. "If that's all the Supreme Court can do, then let it do that -- and a Catholic Justice could be expected to do at least that much, if he's a sincere Catholic." Right?

     The problem here is lack of vision. For the very same mechanism that moved the Court to grab for unConstitutional power over state law in Roe v. Wade could easily produce the following scenario.

     Imagine that you're one of the Catholic Five. Imagine further that you're a strict constructionist, who insists that the text of the Constitution means what it says and not something else. Well, as it happens, that document does not grant Congress the power to define local crimes -- that is, felonies and misdemeanors whose commission, investigation, and prosecution are confined within a single state. (That's why the Supreme Court struck down the attempt by Congress to enact a federal law against rape a few years ago. Congress tried to fan-dance it as a matter of "interstate commerce," but at the last, the Court decided that that was just too silly for words.) So the reversal of Roe v. Wade could well be followed by the continuation of legal abortion in all fifty states. After all, the earlier laws have been struck down; the state legislatures might well decide not to re-enact them. What then?

     Imagine further that four of your fellow Justices are willing to undertake another anti-Constitutional power grab, but this time in the opposite direction. That is, they're willing to read a federal power to criminalize entirely local acts into the Constitution for the purpose of banning abortion everywhere. They want to know if you'll stand with them.

     What do you do?

     The Constitution hasn't been amended, nor does the Court possess the power to change it by fiat. The state governments have declined to act. But your reading of the matter, which is entirely consistent with 228 years of American history, is that, deplorable as the situation is, the Court lacks jurisdiction over the subject.

     But there's that leeeetle matter of excommunication...

     A Justice caught on the horns of that dilemma would be compelled to choose between his acceptance by the Church and his oath of office, which he swore before God. His personal convictions about the horror of abortion would be entirely irrelevant.

     Don't dismiss the scenario as contrived. Once there are five Catholics on the Court, it will become quite real. After all, what's obligatory for any one of them would be obligatory for all of them, wouldn't it? Nor would abortion be the last subject on which such pressure is felt. The Church has wandered far afield in these latter days, making pronouncements about "social justice" and "environmental stewardship" that could easily be made into levers on Catholic politicians, just as the Church is doing with abortion.

     Does a pope -- does the Church -- have any business putting a man in such a cleft? Granted that, as a private institution, it has the legal right to set whatever rules for membership it pleases. Is this the sort of pressure it wants to put on Catholics in public life? Pressure enough to prevent good Catholics from running for office at all? Pressure enough, given the Church's exhortations to create a "preferential option for the poor," to leave a Catholic voter unable to support either candidate for most positions in most elections?

     Remember how the opponents of John F. Kennedy muttered that, were he elected president, the White House would thereafter be taking orders from the Vatican? Do America's Catholics really want to give America's non-Catholics reason to believe that? Does the Vatican?

     Food for thought.

     "Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and unto God the things that are God's." -- Jesus of Nazareth

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Dark Forebodings Part 2: Cannibals

     My level of disgust with the American political dynamic is getting very near a red line labeled “Unpack the Barrett .50 and the emergency package of Oreo Double-Stufs.” What about yours, Gentle Reader?


     The 1991 movie Guilty By Suspicion, which stars Robert De Niro and Annette Bening, presents a garish picture of the House Un-American Activities committee that pursued allegations of Communist involvement among persons in various fields, including entertainment. As a drama it’s pretty good. Whether it’s a just portrayal of the tenor of politics and the mood of the country at that time, I can’t say, as I had not yet been born. At this point all recollections of those events must be regarded as questionable, possibly tainted by partisanry, particularism, or the depredations of age. However, three things the movie presents do have the ring of truth:

  1. Communist evangelism in the U.S. was high during the postwar decades;
  2. The entertainment industry was one of its preferred targets;
  3. The FBI, flush with power and high repute from its wartime counterintelligence successes, was overzealous in the extreme, and private citizens were sufficiently cowed to kowtow to them.

     All it took was an accusation, which could be lodged anonymously, to put you under the crosshairs of the HUAC and its FBI investigators. And once they’d opened one, their file on you was never closed. It must have been difficult for their targets to conduct ordinary, private lives, regardless of whether the accusations against them had merit.

     Here I must note that an interest in Communism was not and has never been against any of the laws of the United States.


     Certain other “offenses” that have been used to destroy lives have been in the news. For a white man ever to have uttered the word nigger or worn blackface are currently the most newsworthy. The ever-increasing shrillness and hysteria of the “social justice warriors” – as was once said of the “Meal Ready to Eat” (MRE), that’s three lies for the price of one – has made it dangerous to expose oneself to public scrutiny, for accusations of such things can be lodged against anyone, entirely without substantiation. Moreover, as saying nigger and wearing blackface are not and have never been against any law, it’s exceedingly difficult to counterattack against such charges. What, after all, is one to say? Libel and slander suits about such things rarely succeed in winning justice for the plaintiff. Moreover, blacks call one another nigger every day, in every state in the Union. (They also routinely go about in blackface, but I suppose that can’t be helped.)

     Other “offenses” in frequent use involve relations between the sexes: for example, telling a joke to an audience full of semiconscious SJWs, or touching a pissy virago lightly on the shoulder to ask that she permit you to move past her. And it gets better yet! One of the most heinous “offenses” seems to be protecting yourself against SJWs’ unjust accusations. Last year outspoken conservative Christian writer Jon del Arroz, who had purchased admission to the 2018 World Science Fiction Convention, was told he would not be allowed to attend it. Though the organizers of Worldcon never specified a reason, apparently it was because he intended to wear a body-camera so that objective evidence of the attacks he expected from SJWs – any hint of conservatism or Christianity makes them piss their panties – would be available.

     (Have I offended everyone yet? Patience, I’ll get to you by the end of the piece. If I don’t, send me $20.00 and a stamped, self-addressed envelope and I’ll do you personally. Promise!)

     When seemingly everything is justification for taking mortal offense, and a nebulous accusation of some non-criminal, non-violent, non-invasive act is enough to ruin a man’s life, what Keith Weiner has said about the death of good will becomes too substantial to pass over in silence.


     We’re devouring one another.

     I hope that’s clear to you, Gentle Reader. Americans, a people supposedly committed to freedom, especially in the realm of ideas and their expression, are turning on one another with intent to destroy, usually over inanities and trivia. So far most of the aggression has come from the Left, but the imperative of the dynamic strongly implies that that will change dramatically, and soon.

     This is what has raised tensions between the races, the sexes, the ethnicities, and the creeds to the boiling point. This is what has sundered innumerable friendships and imperiled many others. This is what has made it hazardous ever to speak one’s mind – about anything! – in a gathering with unknown participants. This is what has so many commentators musing about the feasibility of partitioning the country.

     Though I nearly choke to say it, I believe America has passed the point of no return. For a modicum of social peace to return, one side must utterly destroy the other. The victory must be so complete that afterward, there will be no place here for the vanquished.

     The prescription “should” be “obvious.” Hearken to the Right’s current Jeremiah-in-Chief, Kurt Schlichter:

     Now yes, I am advocating two different sets of standards, one for Democrats and one for the GOP. That dual-track rule thing is itself a New Rule imposed by the left, and when you see Felonia Milhous von Pantsuit in an orange jumper doing the pokey time we would all do for classified stuff shenanigans we can talk about having one set of rules again.

     If the rule is that “there are no rules,” then there are no rules. The Left has allowed the Right no exemption for entirely private conduct, no “statute of limitations” for juvenilia, and no “it was just a joke” exculpations. Very well: from now on the same goes for you, Lefties. Ralph Northam goes down. Justin Fairfax goes down. And just as soon as the evidence reaches the “not impossible to believe” stage, so do Dianne Feinstein, Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, and many other Leftist icons. Henceforward, when lodged against a Democrat or a Leftist luminary, an accusation, no matter how petty or tendentious, shall be deemed equivalent to conviction. However, except in cases of well-documented felonious conduct, the Right shall protect its own.

     We’ll see which band of cannibals has the more robust appetite.

Friday, February 8, 2019

Dark Forebodings

     If you read Captain’s Journal, as I do, you’ve undoubtedly seen one or more pieces on police misconduct. Cops smashing their way into private homes and taking innocent people’s lives. Cops using force to prevent bystanders from video-recording their actions. Cops shooting dogs for no good reason. Cops seizing cash from travelers, simply because they can. More to the point, cops getting away with all of that, and more.

     When the “justice system” systematically protects “law enforcement” from any penalty for such actions, people become fearful of the cops. That’s not a stretch of logic beyond the capacity of any Gentle Reader of Liberty’s Torch. However, it seems to have eluded those in the “justice system” and “law enforcement,” who have exhibited not one groat of interest in correcting it.

     Economist Keith Weiner has delineated the deadly process of devolution by which “law enforcement” becomes an organ of tyranny roundly hated by private citizens. It’s a perfect dissection of the most important undiscussed phenomenon of our time. Weiner lays the thing’s vital organs out on butcher paper for ease of identification. (Applause to Rurik at Knuckledraggin’ for the citation.)

     What Weiner doesn’t say explicitly, though given his penetration I’m certain he’s thinking it, is that there are people who want this process to go to its terminus. As he says early in the piece, “The end of that trip is a third-world dictatorship.” Does anyone doubt that in our political elite (a.k.a. “the ruling class”) there are many fans of third-world dictatorships? Must I name names?

     I didn’t think so.


     Our moment is one of great potential for large changes. However, the direction of the change cannot be foreseen. Hearken to Kevin Williamson’s essay of February 5 for the reasons:

     As he stands to address the nation tonight, President Donald Trump represents a genuine crisis in the American political order, but it is not the crisis we hear about from rage-addled Democratic hyper-partisans and their media cheerleaders. The fundamental cause of our current convulsion — studiously ignored by almost all concerned — is this: In the United States, the ruling class does not rule. At least, it does not rule right now.

     Please read it all. It’s the most worthwhile thing I’ve seen at National Review Online in at least three years. It would be well for Williamson’s colleagues to absorb and comprehend its insights. Those insights hint at the central facts about a ruling class – the characteristics all ruling classes share.

     There’s a picture that’s made the rounds on the world Wide Web that’s powerfully apposite to Williamson’s thesis:

     Donald Trump – forgive me, please, for ever doubting that he would be a good president! – is more than just our current chief executive. He’s a barrier to the ambitions of the ruling class and its beneficiaries. Over the century behind us those groups have seized ever more of our wealth and freedom. Before the election of 2016 they were well on their way to criminalizing dissent: making it impossible, de jure if not de facto, to express opposition to their schemes. Can anyone doubt that were the First Amendment gutted, the Second, our sole bulwark against a Chavez or Maduro of our own, would swiftly follow?

     Don’t imagine that the extra-legal doings of cops, who are not federal but state and local government employees, are disconnected from the machinations taking place at the federal level. And don’t imagine that the total subjugation of America is purely a drive of the Left. There are plenty of Republicans aligned with it, and their hatred of President Trump is quite as volcanic as that of Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer.

     If President Trump succeeds, they will fail – and vice-versa.


     One man standing against a horde faces long odds. Horatius pulled it off because he only needed to stand off the invaders until the bridge he defended was pulled down behind him. Popular support is valuable, but it is not sufficient. The president needs allies within the corridors of power. He also needs to expel his enemies, to the greatest extent possible.

     But the president cannot “fire” a legislator. Neither can he set the law aside by decree and flush out the bureaucracies that oppose his agenda. Neither can he silence the courts, which have played an important role in impeding him despite their lack of jurisdiction over the president’s Constitutionally assigned executive authority. And of course there are the media to deal with, as well.

     The members of our political elite know all that. They’ve marshaled their forces to prevent any further incursions upon their bastions. To this point their defensive operations have succeeded. The plaints of pro-freedom intellectuals have failed to weaken them. Moreover, their counteroffensive, in the guise of unending “investigations” of the president and his private-life activities, has succeeded in deflecting attention from their ploys toward wholly imaginary Trumpian misdeeds.

     It’s enough to wear many a good man down.


     The question is, as always, “What, then, must we do?”

     I have no answer. The media could help by reporting candidly on the crimes of the powerful and their armed minions, if some fraction of the media remains uncorrupted by “access.” Private companies could help by fighting back vigorously against the demands of activists and the political powers that promote them, if any of its barons retain the backbone appropriate to captains of industry. Pro-freedom organizations, especially those that defend the rights guaranteed by the Bill of Rights, could help by never compromising with the powers of darkness, if their spokesmen are unfazed by the prospect of “bad press” from the media handmaidens of the ruling class.

     Far too many ifs. Whether any of that will materialize in time is uncertain. What We the People can do as individuals, beyond striving to be informed, voting only for pro-freedom candidates, and supporting one another in need, is unclear.

     The struggle over the future of the Republic, however it is resolved, won’t be over quickly.

     The aim of the High is to remain where they are. -- George Orwell

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Day Off

     For the past few days I’ve been having an unusual degree of trouble sleeping. In consequence, what I’ve been able to concoct for Liberty’s Torch has struck me as sub-par, barely coherent. As I feel that I’m likely to be similarly afflicted today, I think I’ll step away from the keyboard before the wurdz stert murphng twurd totl gibbrdumphz...

     Xrwt? Xrwt?

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

NeoVictoriana

     At one time, National Review Online was a worthwhile publication that had writers who were American in sentiment, temperament, and outlook. Those days are past and gone:

     I remember thinking that out of the lot of the younger NRO crowd, Jonah Goldberg, at least, might be a worthy successor to William F. Buckley. I will forever remember how wrong I was.

     The title of this piece stems from a recollection of a couple of the unwritten rules of Victorian society:

  1. Be loyal to your class; keep interlopers out.
  2. Never take pleasure visibly in anything; that’s for the proles.

     Bill Buckley had a tinge of that, but his better angels usually guided him in the direction of reason. We are the poorer for his loss, and poorer yet for having to endure the twits that have taken his mantle upon themselves.

This Must Be Viewed

     Don’t give me any “I don’t do videos” BS. This is three and a half minutes long and vitally important:

     It is incomprehensible to me that there are Americans – non-Muslims – who fail to appreciate the evil and savagery of Islam.

     Any woman who sees this and remains persuaded that “Islam respects women’s rights” is too far gone into lunacy to be helped – or trusted.

Concerning The State Of The Union Speech

     It was a brilliant speech. President Trump hit all the right notes. But it must be remembered that the opposition does not share his attitude; it is entirely partisan and focused on power for itself. These are people, owing to the steady devolution of our political class over the century past, who are interested in nothing but their own power and perquisites. The good of the country doesn't even blip their radars.

     They must go, one and all. Let there be no "safe districts." No matter how many years a district has been dominated by Democrats, they can be ousted — and they must be. (The same goes for the Establishment Republicans who give the president lip service while maneuvering in secret to thwart him.) The successful continuation of the greatest experiment in freedom in all of human history demands it.

A Model For Aspiring Tough Chicks

     I don’t know many men of any age or size who’d have the balls to attempt this:

     A woman saved her dog from a cat-astrophe.

     A 30-year-old Idaho woman thought she was breaking up a fight between two dogs, but it turns out one of the opponents wasn’t even a dog at all — it was a cougar, according to a press release from the Idaho Department of Fish and Game.

     The woman witnessed her dog fighting with another animal outside of her home in Mackay. Initially she suspected it was another dog, but when she pulled the two apart, she realized one was a young male mountain lion.

     She restrained both her dog and the wildcat as she called for her husband to come outside with his gun. Her husband quickly killed the mountain lion as she held him.

     Lara Croft, eat your heart out. Yeah, Hubby did okay, but he had a gun. The Mrs. had her bare hands plus enough brass to make 1,000,000 rounds of .223 Remington and a big honkin’ cannon for the courthouse lawn. I’d look her up and propose to her, but luckily for her, we’re both married.

Cheese!

     I am an unabashed cheese-aholic. Cheese, of all foods, is my favorite thing in the world. Damned near any variety, too. I’m not a “cheese snob” in the French fashion; I’ll subsist on Kraft Singles if nothing else is available. Why, there was this one time back in Africa that I was alone in my trench, facing a tide of ululating savages with nothing to hand but a pointed stick and a wedge of Romano...but I digress. Were cheese to be denied me – and let me tell you, Gentle Reader: it’s been tried by some very tough M.D.s wielding bludgeons forged in the flames of Cholesterol Hell – life would no longer be worth living. If I must die an early death due to my various dissolutions, let it be with an uncorked bottle of Chateau Lafayette Reneau's Dry Riesling before me, a full wineglass in one hand, a hunk of cheese in the other – for such an auspicious occasion, preferably Cream Havarti with Dill – and a mouthful to be savored as I depart this vale of tears.

     But hark! What have we here?

     A big dzięki to our friends in Poland: namely Professor Maciej Banach of the University of Łódź. For Banach and his plucky team of researchers have just completed a thrilling meta-analysis of 29 cohort studies that confirm what we’ve always chosen to believe: cheese can help you not die.

     Thus spake the scientists: ‘cheese and yogurt were found to protect against both total mortality — death from any cause — and mortality from cerebrovascular causes.’...

     Studying over 20,000 adults over 11 years, consumption of cheese was associated with an 8% lower total mortality risk. Not bad, cheese, not bad at all.

     Glory Hallelujah! I’ve always known it at some level, but the confirmation simply makes my year! 2019 shall henceforth be known as The Curmudgeon’s Cheese Year.

     Cheese is essential to my grand plan. It’s been verified that if you live to 120 years of age, your risk of death drops to zero! (What, you don’t believe me? Who have you known that died after reaching 120 years of age? Go ahead, ask around; I’ll wait.) My sainted father advocated the consumption of raw clams washed down with Schaefer, but I detest raw clams, Schaefer appears to be out of business, and anyway, Dad’s dead. So thank You, Professor Maciej Banach – and thank You, God, for the blessing of cheese.

     (For a further reflection on this most hallowed of all non-transubstantiable foods, read this old chestnut. It’s a longtime favorite.)

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

We Have Been Given a Gift

We have been presented with a wonderful opportunity to reach people. It has come in the form of the VA "Pro-Choice" bill that the governor, "Blacky" Ralph Northam (D) just commented on. The bill was tabled, but - can be brought back at any time.

[UPDATE[

That bill was designed to be similar to the NY one, just signed into law, with cheers!

Nearly everyone I have talked to is revolted by it, IF they have bothered to learn about it. Most of the Left/Progressive adherents are doing their best to pretend that it doesn't say what it so clearly does, and that the Gov. did not say what he was clearly recorded as saying.



I have little doubt that the surfacing of the Blackface and Whitehooded pictures are a direct result of that Leftist error in judgement - accidentally speaking the truth. Trust me on this, if he had not been caught stating the facts that were NOT intended to get out, his activities while in med school would have continued to remain buried.

The Left would like to shove the governor off the stage, so they can get back the bill, and pretend that the plain facts of the contents do not support Infanticide - which, they do.

Better Days


I'm doing better today - less stress, more time getting all of those little, nagging things done. I also decided to just commit to taking a few days off from subbing, as I have way too much on my plate.

This graphic actually cheered me up. It's from Raconteur Report. You might think it perverse to be given a lift from its truth, but there is something about hearing the God's Own Honest Truth, Without Apology, that makes me feel better.

I guess it's because I can sense people are starting to get it. Little indications like positive comments on these memes, give me hope.

What Makes A Novel Rereadable?

     As I’ve mentioned before, here and elsewhere, I own a lot of books: physical volumes, not eBooks, though my collection of those is growing too. At last count I found over 13,000 of the little buggers on shelves, in boxes, and stacked precipitously on assorted surfaces throughout the Fortress of Crankitude...and that was a lot of years ago.

     You could easily get the idea that I like books. And I do. Not only do I read a great deal, I find it next to impossible to give one away, even if I found it inane, insulting, or otherwise offensive. So they accumulate.

     Yet I read so much, and so swiftly, that I often lack anything to read that I haven’t yet read. Most contemporary fiction bores or otherwise displeases me. I can’t abide unoriginality, bad grammar, lack of fundamental storytelling skills, or a story that lacks moral and ethical standards. (Sarah Hoyt has called that last fault “grey goo.”) I also draw the line at “SJW preaching.” That category comprises all “stories” intended to make the reader feel bad for not being a wholly “converged” social-justice asshole warrior to whom the sole worthy purpose of a life is to harangue other people for not being equally assholian virtuous. So even though the independent-writers movement is producing fiction at a rate to boggle the imagination of a Manhattan publishing magnate, I often find myself rereading.

     Mind you, not all of those 13,000 physical volumes get reread. For one thing, a lot of them are textbooks or reference materials. You can only spend so much time on the 2018 Statistical Abstract of the United States before it’s superseded by the all-new, all-thrilling 2019 edition. The same goes for the Handbook of Chemistry and Physics. So my rereading is almost entirely of novels.

     Not all novels, however much I may have enjoyed them at first acquaintance, are rereadable. I could reel off hundreds of titles of books I enjoyed – and still own – that I wouldn’t reread. So there must be some characteristic that divides the rereadable books from the ones that lack that grace. Indeed, I’d hesitate to say that there’s only one such characteristic. So let’s have a go at it.


     The major elements of a worthy bit of fiction are:

  • Plot,
  • Characterization,
  • Style,
  • Theme.

     Those four elements are the power cells of all worthwhile fiction. There are other aspects to a novel, of course: premises, setting, its balance between narration and dialogue, dark-light pairings, and still others. But those are less likely to install a book inextricably in the reader’s memory.

     I don’t think a novel must have a complex plot to be rereadable. I’ve certainly read enough such fiction – I’ve enjoyed many a Tom Clancy-style techno-thriller, and such a novel normally has a complex plot – but I can’t think of a book I’ve reread specifically to re-experience its plot convolutions. Similarly, a striking character or set of characters isn’t by itself a reason to reread a book. Many books are animated by important themes (“eternal verities,” as Tom Kratman styles them), but once I’ve encountered them they aren’t enough by themselves to move me to reread them.

     However, there are synergies possible among a book’s plot, characterization, and themes, which strike me as evidences of exceptional auctorial insight and skill, that do cause me to come back to it. These might best be summed up under the heading of drama.

     Not many people could give you a definition of drama. Indeed, the dictionary definition raises more questions than it answers:

     drama noun: any situation or series of events having vivid, emotional, conflicting, or striking interest or results.

     But what sort of “situation or series of events” produces “vivid, emotional, conflicting, or striking interest or results” — ?

     For me this is the question that separates the truly great stories, the ones that can be reread many times over the course of one’s life, from those that are mere transient diversions and entertainments.


     For me, drama has always emerged from a combination of the following:

  1. A well-characterized protagonist with quite definite values;
  2. A morally or ethically challenging situation involving events that clash with the protagonist’s values, whether or not those events were brought about deliberately by a conscious agent;
  3. A high price for the resolution of that clash, which only the protagonist can pay.

     There’s conflict. There’s an emotional coupling between the protagonist and the challenge he faces. And there’s the price to be paid, which should be almost as high as the value the protagonist seeks to defend, on the grounds that nothing valuable can be cheaply purchased.

     Mind you, there’s an under-layer of necessities that shouldn’t be neglected here. They fall into the category of a fiction writer’s tools: valid methods of characterization, viewpoint management, proper use of time and place, and the effective exploitation of Supporting Cast characters. The writer must be proficient with these tools, or his fiction, no matter how potentially dramatic his conception, won’t come off. But that’s a subject for another screed.

     As I type this I’ve been thinking about the stories I’ve found most rereadable. All of them follow the outline I sketched above. Some embellish on it, for example by embedding distinct plot threads that take a whole novel to converge, or by having multiple protagonists who are all good guys but have conflicts with one another. One way or another, the elements I’ve cited are present in all of them – and I’ve returned to them several times each over the years, usually when I was in a “how on Earth can I bring this off?” quandary about one of my own stories.

     I once wrote that drama only exists when men must suffer for being good. It strikes me as a compact encapsulation of the ideas expressed above. It’s also consistent with the books to which I return repeatedly, whether for technical instruction, for characterological insight, or simply for the moral uplift from the stories they tell.

     Such books are the exact opposite of “grey goo.” In a world in which the hero is becoming an endangered species and moral and ethical distinctions are all too often blurred – sometimes by the deliberate action of persons with evil intentions – they make enduring, valued companions. Especially for a writer who repeatedly asks himself “how could I imagine that I might ever equal that achievement?”

Monday, February 4, 2019

How's my Week Going?

Eh.

I went to work to assist my husband with tech support - going well until after 2nd block class. I was preparing my food for lunch, when I noticed a jagged edge in a molar. NOT a good sign.

I called my dentist, she squeezed me in. I had to leave early, drive almost an hour away for her to get a look and an x-ray, and she said, Yep, I needed a crown. The good news is that she can get me in Wed. morning. The bad news is - almost a thousand dollar (that's with a 15% discount for members of the practice's special group.

I had just been looking at my bank account and thinking, I'm doing all right - a sweet balance in reserve.

#$%^&*(*&^%$#

BTW, if you want a look at the first chapter in a pdf format, here it is.

Sorry for the Funky Formatting and Strange Colors...

For some reason I've yet to determine, every now and then, a post will show up with long, unbroken text, refusal to display, and other assorted garbage. I used the brute force method, as I am soon heading to a dental appointment to fix a badly chipped tooth.

I just put in hard returns, and made the text that God-awful purple, which is hideous, but shows up against the background. Next time I do a similar long post, I may just link to a pdf of it, and save myself a lot of grief.

Thanks for letting me know - I was out of computer reach for a while.

Who Was Gramsci? - Part 1

From Wikipedia:

     The man pictured above is Antonio Gramsci, an Italian Marxist, who died at age 46, in 1937. His influence on current Leftist thought cannot be underestimated. His central concepts, however important to the Left that they are, are a complex and mind-boggling twisted mass that resists untangling.

     OK, this next part will seem baffling and obtuse (Seem? Hell, it IS), so don’t bog down in it. FWIW, I’ve asked every Leftist I’ve ever met (and, that is a LOT) to explain Gramsci. NONE of them were able to - the central tenets of their Leftist Prophet were a Hot Mess, even to them.

     It’s as though a Lutheran tried to explain Sola Scriptura to you, but fumbled around with the idea, before simply repeating the initial jargon. That’s what Leftists do with Cultural and Political Hegemony. So, don’t expect this to make sense in the Real World.

     Ready?

     From Wikipedia:

     Gramsci is best known for his theory of cultural hegemony, which describes how the state and ruling capitalist class – the bourgeoisie – use cultural institutions to maintain power in capitalist societies. The bourgeoisie, in Gramsci's view, develops a hegemonic culture using ideology rather than violence, economic force, or coercion. Hegemonic culture propagates its own values and norms so that they become the "common sense" values of all and thus maintain the status quo. Hegemonic power is therefore used to maintain consent to the capitalist order, rather than coercive power using force to maintain order. This cultural hegemony is produced and reproduced by the dominant class through the institutions that form the superstructure.

     I’ve been around those who toss off that term - hegemony - for decades, and it still seems a lot like mumbo-jumbo to me. However, here’s MY understanding - hegemony encompasses the various mechanisms by which a social class is said to make other classes conform to their norms; the point of their doing so is to keep themselves in power. It is because of that belief that the Leftists are so over-the-top about assimilation. They think accommodation to a standard is horrible, because it will naturally keep other classes from gaining power.

     Because those other classes will have to give up an essential piece of their soul (well, they don’t believe in souls, but…) to gain power. The idea that someone can work with the standard, and yet retain facets of their original culture/class is impossible, according to the Leftists.

     I guess they haven’t known many actual immigrants or class-changers. Which I have. It can be done, and, no, you are still you. You can even keep using the “Old Language”, if you want. You just have to agree that the standard for communication with any NOT of your language group will be the New Language.

     The same with customs, foods, and family structure. Life being what it is, over time, the unique features begin to blend with other cultures/classes, and we eventually arrive at what one of those old Sci-Fi guys called the Galactic Standard language and culture.

     I have to wonder whether Gramsci resisted that blending, in part, as he was Italian-born to an ethnically Albanian father. His mother was Sardinian.

     He was sickly, with a deformed spine from TB (Potts Disease) - it afflicts those who have it with something that looks like a hunchback. His studies were in linguistics, a field that, for some unknown reason, later attracted other Leftists, such as Noam Chomsky. During those years, the Trade Union movement was active, as were Socialists. He joined the Italian Socialist Party.

     He left school at 24, for lack of money. He wrote for Socialist newspapers, and eventually, after the Italian government cracked down on Socialists in August 1917, held leadership positions when other leaders were arrested. Keep in mind that ALL international Socialist societies/parties were following the same script.

     By 1919, the Italian Socialists had affiliated with the Bolsheviks Third Internationale, headed by Lenin. In other words, Moscow and the Soviets controlled them. Gramsci advocated for workers councils, which he’d had experience with in the Turin workers strikes. However, he was in the minority in that support, and in 1921, he worked with his rival for power, Bordiga, to move to Lenin-style Communism in the Communist Party of Italy (Partito Comunista d'Italia – PCI).

     Hang in there. This is background, and it will later be important for understanding the development of Gramsci’s philosophy.

     Gramsci traveled to Russia as a representative of the PCI, where he met his wife, Julia Schucht, a violinist. He had two sons with her. He left before seeing his 2nd child, when the Soviet government sent him back to Italy with instructions to form an alliance of Leftists against Fascism. From 1922 through 1923, Mussolini fought against the Communists, and eventually, most of the leadership of the PCI was arrested. But not Gramsci - not at that point.

     Gramsci traveled back and forth to Moscow. When in Italy, he worked to get the PCI growing, and its newspaper stabilized. By 1926, he was arrested, despite being a member of the government; there may have been an attempt on Mussolini’s life, and that was used to justify jailing rival parties.

     He was in jail for 11 years, and, as he was crippled and sick, became desperately ill. He died just 6 days after he was to have been released, on April 27, 1937.

     His Prison Notebooks extensively laid out his philosophy, and form the basis for much of modern Leftist thought. I’ve been in MANY college classes where they STILL refer to Cultural Hegemony, with that rapt look that Muslims get when they refer to The Prophet (PBUH, as they say). His writings are treated in nearly that same way as is Holy Writ.

     Some of the concepts below were developed from his study of Marxist philosophy. Some of them were based on his own conceptual thinking. All of them form the basis for understanding Gramsci. This part comes from The Sources for Gramsci’s Concept of Hegemony Derek Boothman, in Rethinking Marxism, and I will use short quotes from it to explain hegemony.

     Major Concepts, with Brief Descriptions

     Cultural Hegemony:

     Hegemony was a term quite popular in Turin Socialist circles. It referred, at that time, to the linguistic differences in Venice, compared to nearby kingdoms with which they traded. Venice was a hotly sought property, and the many nearby cultures vied to gain some control over nearby islands. At that time, Italian dialects were highly regional, and Italians from one part of Italy could barely understand another.

     Due, in large part, to Venice’s dominance in trade, a kind of pan-Italian language and culture had spread through the Adriatic. The Venetian dialect functioned as a lingua franca for the region. Naturally, this caused competing dialects to become furiously angry at the Venetians, and vow to find a way to put their language dialect on top.

     From the paper cited above:

     “This concept, stemming from ancient Greece, of hegemony as the system of power relations between competing*/or between dominant and vassal*/states is found in the Notebooks in sections, for example, on how U.S. power was created (Q2§16; Gramsci 1992, 260!/5) and on the history of subaltern states explained by that of hegemonic ones (Q15§5; Gramsci 1995, 222!/3).”

     This concept was not unique to Gramsci - it had been floating around for a while. Again, another quote makes that clear:

     “ Lenin who, as a theoretician, had on ‘‘the terrain of political organization and struggle, and with political terminology ... reappraised the front of cultural struggle and constructed the doctrine of hegemony as a complement to the theory of the State-as-force and as a contemporary form of the 1848 doctrine of ‘permanent revolution’’ (Q10I§12; Gramsci 1995, 357). In other words, the leadership of the proletarian forces had to be developed independently on all fronts ‘‘in opposition to the various tendencies of ‘economism.’’

     Bold-face is mine. In other words, it is not enough to rule over you (State-as-force), nor to impose Permanent Revolution. According to the doctrine of hegemony, the Leftists have to stamp out every trace of you that is NOT revolutionary, or revolution-approved. You are being formed into New Man, if necessary, against your will.

     And, lastly, hegemony must be understood as a deliberate elimination of a culture - in effect, cultural genocide. The children of that culture must be forcibly educated to look upon the mores and values of their parents and family as, not just old-fashioned, but actually abhorrent and disgusting.

     “ The peasantry was therefore simultaneously both the object of struggle and an essential ally; the two aspects*/dominance and leadership, involving force and consent, respectively*/that for Gramsci were to characterize hegemony are thus present.”

     Civil Society:

     This is the society that operates on a consensus model. Here is a further analysis of it - actually explained fairly well, although with the usual murky handwavium (That’s when you fudge the details, blithely waving your hands and saying, “Well, this will all be explained in detail later.”).

     It does help if you think of this as neighborhoods/communities, where emphasis is placed on ‘getting along’. I’ll discuss the seamy underside of the Consensus Model later - and how it is being put into practice in schools and community organizations.

     Structure/Superstructure Complex:

     Marx wrote about the Superstructure, what we would call the entertwined aspects of properties, communities, businesses, and political framework that form Western Capitalism. That physical and legal structure, along with the culture that supported it, form the Superstructure.

     The State:

     The part of the structure that uses coercion to get their way. This is bad, if they are Pre-Revolutionary. This is good if they are Post-Revolutionary.

     Intellectuals:

     These are the people, properly trained to reflect the “right” ideology, who will, with the proletariat, rule over this New Society.

     That’s the major part of the background of Gramscian Thinking. It’s foundational to all Leftist thought - they can all parrot the right phrases, echo the right concepts, based on this. I leave you with one last quote, from Marxist.org:

     According to Gramsci, hegemony (“predominance by consent”) is a condition in which a fundamental class exercises a political, intellectual, and moral role of leadership within a hegemonic system cemented by a common world-view or “organic ideology.” The exercise of this role on the ethico-political as well as on the economic plane involves the execution of a process of intellectual and moral reform through which there is a “transformation” of the previous ideological terrain and a “redefinition” of hegemonic structures and institutions into a new form. This transformation and redefinition is achieved through a rearticulation of ideological elements into a new world-view which then serves as the unifying principle for a new “collective will.” Indeed, it is this new world view, which unifies classes into a new hegemonic bloc, which constitutes the new organic ideology of the new hegemonic class and system. Yet it is not a world-view imposed, as a class ideology (in the reductionist sense,) by the new hegemonic class upon the subaltern group. Moreover, in the transformation of the ideological terrain there is no complete replacement of the previously dominant world view. Rather, the “new” world view is “created” or “moulded” by the aspiring hegemonic class and its consensual subalterns out of the existing ideological elements held by the latter in their discourses.

     Translation: We are GOING TO indoctrinate your children, and they WILL view the world through our distorted lenses.

     This is by no means a complete examination of Gramsci. I am posting it merely to get the initial document out there, and - through revisions - improve and refine it. There will be a Part 2, although that may have to wait another couple of weeks.