Tuesday, September 18, 2018

You Don't Know What You've Got 'Til It's Gone

Recognize the lyrics?


Day 4 without Internet. I’m composing this offline, and will be posting later today – whether on a restored home Internet (I hope!), or by using local wifi resources (the always available Micky D’s, library, coffee shop, or other location). Honestly, what DID we do before access became so ubiquitous?
I’m using my offline time productively. I’ll be cleaning house today, in prep for a visit from the Internet tech. I’ve been sidelined, again, with some respiratory issues, so have been slacking off.
I’ve also been reading Sharyl Attkinson’s new book The Smear: How Shady Political Operatives and Fake News Control What You See, What You Think, and How You Vote. Too-long title, but a detailed and riveting book. If you’re not up on the details of how your media feed is manipulated, you need to read this.
Quote from the book:
Pay attention to those stark moments of cognitive dissonance. That’s when a theme, meme, or supposed majority opinion is entirely at odds with what you believe to be true.
Just talked to Internet Tech Support at my provider – I have an appointment this morning. YAY!
7:50 am – am eagerly awaiting the anticipated arrival of the repairman.
9:38 am – Wahoo!!!! I’m back online.
Apparently, when the pole for the electricity was replaced, they didn’t put back the internet stuff. So, it didn’t work.
Now I can do all of the things I've been putting off - financial, mail, etc.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Balm For Troubled Souls

     Just enjoy.

     God bless you, Will. Wherever you are, I hope you're well and happy.

How I Got Where I Am - Update

A non-conforming, semi-professional iconoclast.

It took a long time. Most of my life, I desperately wanted to fit in. I was from a working-class family, with a Catholic stay-at-home mom, and a high school dropout (about 2 months of 9th grade) Fundamentalist-raised father.

What we then called a mixed marriage.

So, I often got the feeling that I was different - which, I was. Never quite fitting into a single culture.

In school, unlike most of the kids of my social class, I was a quick learner. For the first few years, I worked hard, and excelled. By fourth grade, my grades were mostly average. I'd learned to back off to fit in.

Despite my efforts, the school found out my potential. I first caught attention of the administration when I wrote a book report that got passed around among the teachers. It was over 6 hand-written pages of a re-telling of a funny incident in the book.

Then, the Iowa scores came in, and I'd scored in the 99th percentile in all areas. My cover was blown.

The next year, I got taken away from my friends, and put with the kids in the highest track. I REALLY didn't fit in with an upper-class crowd. It was a difficult year.

For the next 6 years, I bounced between the Regular and Accelerated tracks. In both, I'd generally under-perform, spending most of my days goofing around, cutting class, and reading - a lot.

I had no particular goals. I knew college was expensive (my father had dropped out after a few years, due to financial difficulties), so I never planned on attending. I was never told that the PSAT was the test that provided access to scholarship opportunities, so I didn't take it - I didn't have the money for the fees.

My guidance counselor was elderly and frankly incompetent (she later miscalculated my accumulated credits, so I ended up 1/8 of a credit short of graduation - had to attend summer school, and missed the big ceremony). By that chance, I avoided going to college with many of my classmates, until, years later, I enrolled in a community college.

In some respects, this was a good thing. By the time I was in college, I had little time for protests and blathering, and focused on graduation.

After school, I again followed the crowd. They voted Democratic, so my first presidential vote was for McGovern.

And, I waited up until 2 am, waiting for the tide to turn in his favor. Boy, was I an optimist!

I continued on that path through the Nixon years, Watergate, Carter (I voted for Anderson), and Reagan/Bush I years. Always, always, believing in the party line.

I first began having some small doubts during the Clinton

UPDATE: I did NOT mean to end on a cliffhanger - it's just that I was busy with storm prep, and, after losing power, could not access any internet.

Quite a refreshing break, actually. We completely lost electrical power for almost a day (fortunately, we have a generator).

I'm partially back (still no home internet), but will finish this over the next few days.

Meandering Through Monday

     A lot of people do, you know. Why should the Curmudgeon Emeritus to the World Wide Web be left out?


1. #YeahSuuure

     They tried it with Clarence Thomas. It almost worked. As it happened, Justice Thomas was too determined to defend himself and his good name, and he prevailed. Afterward, they attempted to keep Thomas on the plantation by harping on the Anita Hill accusations, as if they’d gained credibility. That didn’t work either. But their memory of how close they came to a successful “borking” of Thomas has remained bright.

     It should come as no surprise, given the Left’s high priority on controlling the federal courts, that they’d try again with Brett Kavanaugh, especially once their disruption tactics had failed them. But the accusation lodged by Christine Blasey Ford – alleging an assault 35 years in the past and never before brought to the attention of any authority! – is being laughed aside by a public that’s become used to these eleventh hour torpedo launches against conservative judicial nominees.

     In part it’s a problem of timing. Had Ford’s accusation been brought to the light six months ago, before the Asia Argento business, it might have gotten more traction. But the #MeToo nonsense has already “jumped the shark,” in the process exposing the motives of its promoters for what they truly are. The process has swung the public-opinion pendulum against such long-delayed, evidence-free allegations of sexual misconduct.

     Successful poker players know what it means to overplay a hand, and what it can cost. It’s an old bit of wisdom among them that the hand you least want is the second-best one at the table. What the Left has in the Blasey Ford accusation isn’t even that good. But the hysteria among Leftists at the thought of losing their fingernail grip on the Supreme Court, for decades the most reliable defense of their many unConstitutional initiatives and demands, has overwhelmed the good sense of their tacticians. Hallelujah!


2. Left Coast Shenanigans

     Kurt Schlichter is always worth one’s time, but today he’s both hotter and funnier than usual:

     Enter the search term “San Francisco feces map” into Google and it comes back with 1,040,000 results. Yeah, it’s a thing. San Francisco was always grungy – back in the 1980s, I believe it was comic Bobby Slayton who called it “the city that makes its own gravy” – but it has gone from merely unwashed to actively unflushed.

     Sure, it’s funny to the rest of us, in a horrifying and disgusting kind of way, just like the fact that the socialist geniuses in Venezuela are forcing the famished locals to gnaw on its zoo’s zebras and gnus for sustenance. You look at these examples of leftism in action and you have to laugh, but what’s not funny is that this is not some sort of aberration. This is the future our liberal elite wants for us, and it’s doing everything it can to make it a reeking reality.

     You see, they could stop this nonsense any time. No one has to live with derelicts choking grumpies in public places. Most places don’t have this problem – yet. Hell, public sanitation was one of the great leaps forward that took the world out of the Dark Ages. It’s not hard to stop. You just don’t tolerate it. Drop a deuce, do a month in jail.

     Simple. You just have to want to stop it, but our liberal overlords don’t want to stop it. They want this.

     It’s awfully hard to refute that statement. California in particular demonstrates how the Left actively encourages the proliferation and amplification of social pathologies, to induce submission from those under its rule. Trouble is, the tactic only works when the pathology is relatively new and still in the “treatable” zone: i.e., when “the neighborhood” has gone from almost entirely clean and civilized to “fouled:” i.e., blighted here and there to a noticeable degree that falls well short of total ruination. Under those conditions, the Left’s media handmaidens can persuade the public to accept a governmental remedial measure that promises to undue the damage at a modest cost.

     But as with the Kavanaugh / Blasey Ford business, the Left has lost its tactical judgment and gone over the edge. San Francisco hasn’t been “fouled;” it’s been destroyed, with the active encouragement of its municipal government. California as a whole is near to being destroyed by the combination of the illegal alien tide, the surrender of its justice system, insane “environmental” laws, and taxes that approach confiscatory levels. The state’s once vibrant middle class is steadily packing up and moving out. What remains are criminals, illegal aliens, the poor, and the very wealthy, who can afford to live in walled enclaves resistant to the crime and filth outside.

     I’ve written before about the “hacienda on the hill.” California is acting it out. San Francisco is the premiere for the future of California – and for the nation, should the Left ever again regain control in Washington.


The “Steady State”

     Angelo Codevilla is one of the few prominent commentators to have systematically and persistently addressed the existence, intentions, and methods of the American political class. Today, in reaction to the recent, anonymous (and infamous) “steady state” column in the New York Times, he zooms in on that egregious eruption:

     Truly revolutionary, as well as false, is the claim that officials who oppose the choice the voters made at the ballot box by acting under a false flag of loyalty thereby bring any sort of stability to American public life. For better or worse, the American people elected a president of the United States according to the Constitution. On their behalf, he acts. To them alone is he responsible, by well-defined constitutional instruments. To acquiesce in that claim is to abet a revolution.

     Who appointed anyone as the guardians of the “steady state?” Among many notions of steadiness, whose do they guard? To whom are they responsible? Since they take care that none but their friends should know what influence they are having on what actions of government, on whom shall Americans displeased with those actions vent their displeasure? And how shall ordinary people vent their displeasure with a “steadiness” of which they disapprove? Pitchforks?

     In short, who rules here? To whom does America belong?

     I’ll wait here while you read the whole thing. Because the matter deserves a deeper look.

     Despite innumerable claims to the contrary, the United States is not a democracy. It’s a Constitutional federated republic. If you’re sixty or older, there’s a chance you learned that in school. If you’re younger, the odds are against you – and the younger you are, the larger those odds will be.

     The Constitutional structure of the Republic was intended to dampen certain kinds of political fluctuations: specifically, the sort brought on by “factions,” in Madison’s term, that seek to ride roughshod over individuals’ rights. Indeed, the entire point of a Supreme Law that’s difficult to amend is to prevent rapid, destabilizing changes. Our Supreme Law was written to confine the federal government to a narrowly defined set of activities, and to prohibit lower governments from undertaking other intrusions into individuals’ liberty to live and work as they please.

     Now, that compact has largely failed of its purpose. Pliable federal judges willing to “reinterpret” the Supreme Law, finding “penumbras” and “emanations” that contradict the intent of its Framers and the plain meanings of its words, have robbed its barriers of their solidity. Nevertheless, that was its purpose: as a stabilization measure against the surges in popular passions and the ambitions of political actors willing to pander to them.

     Once certain conditions are in place, stability in the law is a good thing. The election to the presidency of an aspiring dictator who intends to set the Constitution aside and rule by decree would be a very bad thing. And note that that is the very core of the Left’s more sober objections to the presidency of Donald Trump. They claim that he intends to rule through personal ukase rather than through the existing, Constitutional federal mechanisms. It’s their way of justifying the Deep State, by implying that only the immense, unelected federal bureaucracies can withstand his supposedly dictatorial intentions: i.e., by ignoring him or defying him outright.

     It’s a blatant falsehood of several parts. President Trump has been working to undo the damage done to the Constitutional order by the Deep State...and by the Left’s foremost operator in recent years, Barack Hussein Obama, to whose tune the Deep State was more than willing to dance. Note how, in a stunning departure from the decorum practiced by past presidents over the two centuries behind us, Obama has eagerly taken to the podium to denounce his Oval Office successor for exactly that.

     So Codevilla’s emphasis on the populist thesis is somewhat misconceived. Were Trump and his Administration what the Left has claimed – i.e., a threat to individual rights and civil order – no degree of popular approval would justify him. However, the actual state of affairs is precisely the opposite.

     Let The Curmudgeon’s Carbohydrate Aphorism apply:

Keep thine eye fixed upon the doughnut, lest thou pass unaware through the hole.

     And have a nice day.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Faith And The Familiar: A Sunday Rumination

     Regular attendance at Mass confers a number of benefits on the communicant. Yes, the Church says it’s obligatory to be there on Sunday (or Saturday night, in many parishes), but even were that not the case, I’d still be in “my pew” at 7:30 AM on Sunday morning, at least as long as I’m physically able to get there. I wouldn’t want to go without what it does for both the mind and the spirit.

     Part of what it does is to put me in the same general locale as a lot of familiar faces. In an era when so many developments are prying Americans away from traditional society – “traditional,” in this case, meaning “in the flesh” — that’s a benison that ought not to be dismissed.

     I probably feel this more strongly than most Christians, both because I prefer my own company, and because the work I do has a tendency to isolate me. But I could be wrong about that. There’s evidence to that effect in the church parking lot.

     I seldom get into my car to head home without being buttonholed by another parishioner for a quick conversation. Mass attendees at my parish don’t just run to their cars and race to get home; they mill about exchanging greetings and how-are-yous with one another. The parking lot dribbles empty far more slowly than a non-communicant might guess. This morning it’s given me to reflect on the particular value of the company of others who share one’s convictions.

     Churches aren’t the only manifestation of this effect, of course. Political societies, special-interest clubs, sewing circles, and many other reasons for persons to associate share it, with varying degrees of power. And on balance it appears, at least from my perspective, to be a good thing, especially given the socially atomizing effects of so many other modern trends.

     In his early, wildly popular book Games People Play, Dr. Eric Berne notes the importance to the human animal of “strokes:” broadly, acknowledgement of and acceptance by others as one tends his own affairs. His explanation of this need is particularly striking:

     On that biological side, it is probable that emotional and sensory deprivation tends to bring about or encourage organic changes. If the reticular activating system of the brain stem is not sufficiently stimulated, degenerative changes in the nerve cells may follow, at least indirectly. This may be a secondary effect due to poor nutrition, but the poor nutrition itself may be a product of apathy, as in infants suffering from marasmus. Hence a biological chain may be postulated leading from emotional and sensory deprivation through apathy to degenerative changes and death....What has been said so far may be summarized by the "colloquialism:" "If you are not stroked, your spinal cord will shrivel up." Hence, after the period of close intimacy with the mother is over, the individual for the rest of his life is confronted with a dilemma upon whose horns his destiny and survival are continually being tossed. One born is the social, psychological and biological forces which stand in the way of continued physical intimacy in the infant style; the other is his perpetual striving for its attainment. Under most conditions he will compromise. He learns to do with more subtle, even symbolic, forms of handling, until the merest nod of recognition may serve the purpose to some extent, although his original craving for physical contact may remain unabated.

     This seems unimpeachable. And participation in a faith-based gathering helps to satisfy the need. But of course, there’s more than that going on.


     Most Americans are aware that the traditional nuclear family has fallen on hard times. Few families still function in the fashion that characterized family life before World War II. In truth, the family was already under stress owing to the Great Depression, but the effects of the War and the sort of economy to which it gave birth have caused the pressure to mount to a near-irresistible level.

     I’ve written about this before. While certain countervailing forces have recently reared their heads, the net tendency is still toward routine separation: of spouses from one another, of siblings from one another, and of parents from their children. The separations are overtly physical – two wage earners per family; the collegiate diaspora, and the separation from the childhood home at the arrival of adulthood – but they have a large amount of emotional baggage as well.

     If we genuinely need human connections, as Eric Berne has posited, the forces acting to shatter families are our enemies, and to be feared. Inversely, those things that help to keep families together, if only in an emotional fashion, are our friends. One of those latter things is shared religious convictions.

     However, children no longer routinely follow their parents’ faith. That cement for the family has largely dissolved. But as long as the churchgoer remains a regular participant in his church, he can still get and give “strokes.” That, I think, explains a great deal of what happens in my parish’s parking lot after a Sunday morning Mass. I’d venture to guess that much the same thing happens at many others.

     And of course there’s more going on than that, as well.


     For me, to look out over a sea of familiar Catholic faces is among the greatest comforts of life. It reassures me that if my faith is crazy, at least I’m not alone in my madness. It also tells me that the value that I find in the Mass is not something imaginary – that immersion in the ritual re-enactment of the Last Supper confers a real psychological and spiritual benefit.

     So much of life is spent alone, at least functionally, that togetherness for just about any reason short of a mass murder is itself a blessing to be cherished. And there’s more than one sort of togetherness being practiced at a Catholic Mass. Yes, we’re all in the same building, however briefly. Yes, we all hoof it out to the same parking lot where we renew acquaintances and exchange little bits of news. (And jockey with one another to get out the one and only exit.) But we’re also reaffirming the supra-temporal connection among us: our unity in the Mystical Body of Christ, which is prior and superior to all Earthly rituals and practices.

     “Wherever two or three are gathered together in My name, there I am also.” (Matthew 18:20) The Holy Spirit, the Advocate Christ promised would be with us after He had left this world, is present whenever we who believe are together...and if we renew acquaintances with Him as well as with our fellow communicants, we are stroked twice. We are, however briefly, renewed in what I deem to be the most important of the cardinal virtues: fortitude, that which supports our efforts to persevere in this world and our hope for God’s acceptance in the next.

     It’s excellent refreshment for the spinal cord.

Modern-Day Slavery

We technically no longer have legal slavery in this country.

Technically.

Because, for too many people, their employment is contingent on accepting less-than-market wages, payoffs to contractor-bosses, debt-slavery, hazardous conditions, no benefits, and little legal recourse.

I'm talking about the people lured to the USA with promises of jobs, education and health care, and little fear of being deported. Because, the Left will fight the government tooth-and-nail to prevent it.

So, what Rush says about California's secession-in-all-but-name is correct.
The state of California is in utter defiance of federal law each and every day, much like Southern states during the Confederacy were. In fact, they’re much like the Southern states, when you get right down to it, except the subject is illegal immigration, not slavery.
Illegal immigration is fueled by the cynical exploitation of these foreigners, in a way that approximates slavery (limited freedom of movement, tied to a single employer, dependent on charity for housing and health care, and the refusal of the legal authorities to recognize their grievances or to protect them from abuse).

From the site: https://katelyndehoff.wordpress.com/human-trafficking-in-the-us-popular-audience-web-page/

In short, very much like slavery. So, the modern Democrat is still in the same business as his ancestors - profiting from and facilitating slavery.

Insufferable, untouchable, and smug.

These monopolists, those untouchable Deep Staters, that is.
If we look at the economy as a whole, we find it is dominated by monopolies and cartels, public and private. No wonder overall productivity is declining: there are no feedback loops or mechanisms to enforce transparency, accountability or pressures to improve efficiency and productivity gains on these neofeudal, extortionist structures.[1]
Mr. Smith means “feudal” above. It’s all the rage now to add “neo” to the front of some word as though a new and different version of the non-neo phenomenon is working its magic, its invariably bad, bad magic. “Liberal,” “Nazi,” “classical,” and “feudal” are favorites for this, though “fascism” seems to have no need of modification. But “Nazi” does. We hear plenty about it but never much about “communism” as in “neo-communism.” In fact, actual communism gets no mention at all. Forget “neo” or the original article. Ain’t there.

If “neo” doesn’t git ‘er done then “post” rides to the rescue, as in “post-modern,” for example. I’m not even all that clear what makes now or the recent past “modern” and as for “post-modern” I struggle to get a grip on this phenomenon as there seem to be functioning sewage and water treatment plants, power plants, hospitals, planes, phones, computers, antibiotics, ED remedies, and a host of other technological marvels.

Wonderful machines hardly are the whole story on modernism, of course. Devotion to liberty, the search for truth, limited government, specific laws judiciously adopted, an independent judiciary, rulers not too far out of reach of the ordinary citizen, free markets, and hostility to superstition and privilege seem to be more like it. Modernism seems to be a superior state of mind ruled by rationality and eternal principles of working human groupings extracted from experience and the holy books. Savages can pull the trigger on marvelous weapons but have little individual ability to craft a weapon much better than a club or a spear.

Well, there it is. Some partisans of the “post-modern” persuasion think there’s a new “something” out and about. But I see a fanatical devotion to superstition and pure fantasy, whether climate change, female combat prowess, white male evil, white privilege, institutional racism, multiculturalism, socialist efficiency, American rottenness, a living Constitution, social justice, sexual stupidity, and totalitarian politics. The academy is not longer a bulwark of rationality but a prime mover in the destruction of freedom and white civilization. Rationality has flown that coop some time ago and the press exists not to reveal excess, corruption, and crime but to conceal or gild it. The "post-modern" world is racing past mere feudalism into simple primitivism. Our ways are crap; import real crap!

That's in in a nutshell. What’s new in our time is this strange passion for primitivism and determined regression to it. Zuckerberg looks like a mole person in a B scifi movie but he and his like in the upper reaches of Google and Twitter can effortlessly shut down those engaging in crimespeak with no consequences whatsoever, which is Mr. Smith’s point, of course. New lords of the manor, don't you know.

Post-modernism isn’t anything pretty but an entirely new phenomenon that's recreating the feudalism we thought we had escaped – (1) rule by unaccountable elites according to an unexplained or unjustified divine right to dictate to others what they will read, say, and do with their resources and (2) elite power to enrich themselves ad inf. by manipulating financial, technical, legal, and informational resources unattainable by plain folk.

And, as I say, we want to go even further back than that. We'll see how much savagery the West can stand, fondly though we do embrace its beginnings.

Notes
[1] "Why Is Productivity Dead in the Water? ." By Charles Hugh Smith, Of Two Minds, 8/30/18 (emphasis added).

H/t: Yer Old Woodpile Report.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Perspective

     Sometimes it takes a long time to get the import of what a wise elder was saying.

     It’s been observed, by many other commentators, that the Left is fond of using the law, including the Supreme Law, the Constitution of the United States, to defend its own prerogatives, but is willing to have the law endlessly bent – I believe “reinterpreted” is the current phrase – to advance its initiatives, regardless of the law’s explicit terms. Needless to say (though, as always, I shall say it anyway), this is deplorable and indefensible in a nation that’s supposedly founded on explicit laws.

     I was reading Eugene Volokh’s commentary on NancyMacLean’s book Democracy in Chains, a seemingly tendentious, hyper-politicized treatise on the late James Buchanan – the economist, not the president – when something a high school American history teacher said came back to mind.

     That teacher opened our eleventh-grade American history class by telling us that the approach to American history taken by other teachers is to frame the subject as “good guys versus bad guys” in an ongoing struggle over who would control the U.S.’s federal government. In connection with this proposition, he noted that the typical eleventh-year American history course treats the period from 1921 through 1928, when Warren Harding and Calvin Coolidge were presidents, as a time when “the bad guys were in power.” Of course, they treat Franklin D. Roosevelt’s assumption of the presidency as the return to power of the “good guys.”

     Our teacher’s approach was quite different. He stated that the underlying theme of the course as he intended to teach it would be the eternal question of whether Man is basically good or basically evil. And indeed, he returned to that question on numerous occasions, in connection with the great controversies that animated American political discourse at various times.

     I puzzled over that orientation, being only fourteen years old and barely acquainted with the study of history. But if we note the attitude of the “progressive” Left in our time, and compare it to the “good guys versus bad guys” approach to American history, the parallels become all but overwhelming.

     For the contemporary Left is overt in its claims that it is the possessor of unquestionably superior wisdom and virtue. They’re the “good guys.” Moreover, that virtue entitles the Left to do anything and everything that would conduce to their aims – most especially, getting back into federal hegemony. Slander? Disruptions? Intimidation? Violence? Outright defiance of the law? These things are quite all right, the Left will tell you, in a Leftward cause.

     Needless to say, the tactics the Left allows itself are absolutely forbidden to us in the Right. We’re the “bad guys,” and the bad guys must be fought with every tool at the Left’s disposal, including the strict terms of the law.

     My old teacher’s focus on whether Man is fundamentally good or evil throws a harsh light onto such pretensions. He who claims that no moral constraints apply to him has arrogated the position of the Supreme Lawgiver, God Himself. Correct me if I’m wrong – I am rather old, and my memories of remote events can be a bit cloudy – but wasn’t that what Lucifer wanted?

     How much of the Left’s current self-apotheosis derives from the “good guys versus bad guys” orientation of teachers of high school American history? Of course we can’t answer such a question definitively. Nevertheless, the parents of high school age children should converse with them regularly about what’s being told them in their “Global Studies” classes. You might hear a few things to get your ears prickling.

     I owe that old American history teacher more than I ever knew.

Missing The Dynamic

     Jack Dorsey admits Twitter has a problem:

     Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey admitted that the social media giant’s staffers who have right-leaning political views don’t feel comfortable to speak up because of the company’s ultra-liberal work environment.

     “We have a lot of conservative-leaning folks in the company as well, and to be honest, they don’t feel safe to express their opinions at the company,” Dorsey told New York University journalism professor Jay Rosen in an interview published on Friday by Recode.

     “They do feel silenced by just the general swirl of what they perceive to be the broader percentage of leanings within the company, and I don’t think that’s fair or right,” he added. “We should make sure that everyone feels safe to express themselves within the company, no matter where they come from and what their background is. I mean, my dad was a Republican.”

     Let’s assume, if only for the sake of argument, that Dorsey is expressing a sincere opinion in the above. He’s actually missed the point: the dynamic of large-company sociopolitics at this time favors the Left.

     It doesn’t take a preponderance of Leftist activists to make conservatives feel they must stifle themselves. Indeed, it only takes one, because Human Resources departments automatically favor him who claims to have been victimized. The favor flows in that direction because of corporate risk aversion: specifically, fear of the consequences of confronting the self-nominated victim and compelling him to make an objective case for his complaint. A large company, perpetually fearful of adverse publicity and aware of Leftists’ tendencies in that direction, always finds it easier to placate the “victim.” As the news gets around, “victims” proliferate like toadstools after a rain.

     Large companies whose managements are courageous enough to counter the dynamic are rare. Perhaps when H. Ross Perot was running EDS, or when T. J. Rodgers was running Cypress Semiconductor, they might have had the necessary courage. But I’d be hard pressed to name a publicly traded company operating at this time about whose CEO that could be said.

     A prevailing dynamic can overwhelm an individual’s motivations, however wholesome. Dynamics are founded on incentives, which affect large number of people in a consistent fashion. It takes cojones the size of beach balls to stand against them saying “Not here.” Not many CEOs of publicly traded corporations are that well equipped.

Report from the Carolinas on Florence

Except for the coast, and some freak accidents, it's been calm and not all that bad. Even for a Cat 1 hurricane, the amount of storm surge has been devastating to property. I think it's time to change the Flood Insurance practices, which would include rates for new property that discourage further building along the coasts, and only have complete re-building payouts for those owners who will agree to build further inland.

Perhaps some program that provides quick cash from the insurance companies for those agreeing to turn over the rights to the property to a trust that will NOT allow building in the future on that site.

I also think that we need to start looking at higher rates on beachfront and nearby property. Why should the rest of the USA pay for a life of sun and fun for the privileged? At least, if the person won't agree to leave, their rates should be jacked up quite a bit. Pay for the privilege of inhabiting a risky site.

I do believe that many were HOPING - just PRAYING - for this to be the Killer Storm that would take Trump down. That Trump had handled the Puerto Rican hurricane, Maria, which was far more destructive, without a PR disaster, must have been quite disappointing to the Left.

That number you may see pushed at the public (3K+)? Not true. The essence of Fake News.

The good news is - this hurricane was far less destructive than previously feared. I think I can confidently state that in the upper northern SC region (right near Charlotte), we will not even suffer much loss of power or damage. Minimal for both.

Deals With The Devil

     Sarah Hoyt has a plaintive piece today about those who advise us to “go along to get along:”

     [T]he deals with the devil people make — the real ones, which apply whether one believes in the devil or not — are not the kind made at twilight at a crossroads with a being of distinctly evil shape, and imbued with a suspicious smell.

     Instead, they’re made in nice rooms, in meeting rooms, at conferences, with well-dressed people who are so benign, so kind, so full of wish to help us. And also, inevitably, powerful and full of the aroma of success.

     They stand in our way and without quite saying anything political (some of them do. One of them was stupid enough to at least hint at politics to me when I was in the political closet, but most don’t) make it clear that if you want to advance, succeed, or even “just” remain employed, you must say the right words, believe the right things, hang out in the right circles.

     Is this a sin only of the left? I don’t know. For my entire life, the half century or so I’ve been cognizant of such things, the people in control, the people who were rich, famous, well put together, were leftist.

     The thought that we might have been deprived of a multitude of good things because of political differences is enough to wring tears from a stone. But it’s been going on for decades; it’s only recently come out of the closet and strutted boldly before us.

     The espousal (or mute acceptance) of a particular set of convictions -- especially political ones -- to gain entry to a specific circle, or acceptance in one's educational or working environment, is commonplace. Yes, it's insincere. Yes, it's a deal with the devil, in more than one sense. But it is appallingly common.

     A university with which I'm familiar once had the academic equivalent of a purge in its Economics department because the chairman had decided to admit a young Friedmanite as an assistant professor. The sitting professors were heavily to the left, of course, and they didn't want this heretic among them. The chairman didn't just lose her chair; she lost her tenured position. So the disincentives to divergence can be severe.

     Families can be like that too. Especially the sort of family that's geographically compact and whose members frequently gather for holidays or other special events. A friend of mine who has seven siblings is unable to attend his family's holiday get-togethers for that reason: he's a conservative and the rest of them are hard-left. “Conform or be ostracized by your own family” is quite a threat. I admire my friend for his refusal to bend...but there are many who surrender simply for the sake of familial peace and a place at the Thanksgiving table.

     It's evil. Standing firm against it can cost you everything. And it is shredding much of American society.

     It’s largely a sin of the Left – their “the personal is political” mantra requires it of them – but a dilute form of it affects the Right as well. On the Right it’s manifest in a person’s mimicry, often encouraged by his peers, of those whose approval and support he hopes to gain. “Dress like the boss.” “Spend your free time and money on classical music and museums, not rock concerts and saloons.” “Don’t date her; the people who count think she’s vulgar.”

     As usual, C. S. Lewis has an insight for us:

     The deepest likings and impulses of any man are the raw material, the starting-point, with which the Enemy has furnished him. To get him away from those is therefore always a point gained; even in things indifferent it is always desirable substitute the standards of the World, or convention, or fashion, for a human's own real likings and dislikings. I myself would carry this very far. I would make it a rule to eradicate from my patient any strong personal taste which is not actually a sin, even if it is something quite trivial such as a fondness for county cricket or collecting stamps or drinking cocoa. Such things, I grant you, have nothing of virtue them; but there is a sort of innocence and humility and self-forgetfulness about them which I distrust. The man who truly and disinterestedly enjoys any one thing in the world, for its own sake, and without caring twopence what other people say about it, is by that very fact fore-armed against some of our subtlest modes of attack. You should always try to make the patient abandon the people or food or books he really likes in favour of the "best" people, the "right" food, the "important" books. I have known a human defended from strong temptations to social ambition by a still stronger taste for tripe and onions.

     [From The Screwtape Letters.]

     Being true to oneself can seem “obvious,” even “automatic,” to one who has yet to confront the contrary temptations. Today those temptations are all around us, for politics has infiltrated itself into every cranny of human involvement. Nor is any man’s strength of conviction guaranteed to resist them when threatened by poverty, ostracism, and ridicule.

     This is one of the handful of cases where the other Leftist mantra, “if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem,” really does apply. Think about it and how you can be part of the solution – not for yourself, but for others.

Let’s all OD on the breaking “humanitarian disaster” bullshit.

Sorry for the bad language but there is no better word in the English language to express that particular combo of lie, stupidity, manipulation, and contempt. The mother's milk of contemporary leftist, RINO, Dem, neocon, Never Trumper, Deep State, and MSM utterance let it be said. (E.g., "comprehensive immigration reform," "living Constitution," "nation of immigrants," "responsibility to protect," "regime change," etc.)

Here’s a list of Guardian articles[1] playing the “humanitarian crisis” garbage like a mighty Wurlitzer.

  • “The human price of inaction and action in Syria, Turkey and Libya.” (Picture of kids preparing for chemical attack.)
  • ”UN head calls for Idlib to be spared 'humanitarian nightmare.'” (Picture of FSA "rebels" causing said nightmare.)
  • ”The Guardian view on Idlib: nowhere left to go.” (I.e., civilians trapped.)
  • ”UK must take lead to protect the people of Idlib.” (Picture of kids. U.K. role in starting and prolonging this war unmentioned.)
  • ”I have seen the bloodied bodies of Syria’s children. Tell me nothing can be done[.] Samer Attar.” (Photo of surgeons operating. Stop the killing!)
  • ”Thousands of Syrians displaced as threat of Idlib attack grows. UN warns Idlib civilians could be facing worst humanitarian disaster this century.” (Hopefully, thousands of civilians still trapped to satisfy Assad blood lust. Same picture of kids.)
  • ”MPs demand inquiry into consequences of UK's inaction in Syria. Foreign affairs committee report comes as Russia readies assault on rebel-held Idlib.” (You should see what the U.S. did to rebel-held Raqqah. Picture of kids and old lady.)
  • ”As Putin incites more atrocities in Syria, Europe is exposed as craven.” (He’s Russian. What can you expect?)
  • ”Turkey warns Russia an attack on Idlib will turn it into ‘lake of blood’[.] Erdo─čan pleads with Putin not to launch offensive on Syrian opposition enclave.” (And the winner of “Most Lurid Language” award is . . . .)
  • ”Syria: Idlib braces for assault as Russia and Iran dismiss ceasefire calls.” (The killing of innocents must continue. Picture of really cute kids.)
  • ”America last: Trump has brought US to irrelevance in Syria.” (Let me guess. Because of inaction?)
  • ”Millions of us are trapped in Idlib, facing death. The world must save us[.] Anonymous.” (Picture of little boy looking anxious with comforting adult.)
  • ” 'Lots of evidence' Syria preparing chemical weapons in Idlib, says US envoy[.] Special adviser Jim Jeffrey warns any offensive by Russia or Syria would create huge numbers of refugees.” (Yuuge numbers. Picture of urban destruction.)
Assad the "Gas Killing Animal" readies another murderous, irrational assault on the people of Syria. So far as I know there’s a slight jihadi problem in his country that’s the political equivalent of gangrene of the foot, but you’d never know that from reading the absurdities issuing from the mouths of the Guardian, Mike Pompeo, and Nikki Haley, among others.

Notes
[1] “Syria” category, September 6-13, 2018.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Facebook Blocked the Original Post at the Link

Let's see if this gets it through the Censorship Filter.

They Call Me Mad, But I Am Not Mad Dept.

     Several other bloggers have noted the following emission from Adam Schiff (D, CA):

     “There was one issue we were not allowed to look at and the Senate hasn’t been either that concerns me a great deal and that is the issue of whether Russians were laundering money through the Trump Organization and [if] that is the leverage they have over the president....Someone needs to determine whether those allegations are true or they are not. That certainly would be a priority for me.”

     This is not a man concerned with justice, or evidence. This is a man in the grip of an obsession. It might be an obsession with retaining public attention. It might be an obsession with President Trump himself. Or it might be an obsession with becoming Speaker of the House, as if that were an elevation open to someone who looks as if he’s just wriggled out of a straitjacket. But in Adam Schiff, obsession is present and more than just voting; it’s in unopposed control.

     And being the sort whose memory never fails to amuse him at such times, it’s just tossed this up at me:

     "That's what they called me at Masters and Johnson's clinic, mad. Because I had visions of explorations in sexual areas undreamed of by lesser human beings. It was I who first discovered how to make a man impotent by hiding his hat. I was the first one to explain the connection between excessive masturbation and entering politics. It was I who first said that the clitoral orgasm should not be only for women! They ridiculed me, said I was mad, haha! But I showed them. They threw me out of Masters and Johnson, no severance pay and I had it coming. But I showed them!" [“Dr. Bernardo,” in Woody Allen’s 1972 movie Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex * But Were Afraid to Ask]

     It might not be entirely on point, but...compare and contrast. (And just look at those eyes.)

Every last one.

Every violent death in Syria is the fault of the US and its allies. The narrative that there is a bad guy who that same alliance needs to protect civilians from is the exact opposite of the truth. The Syrian government is trying to restore stability to a region the US-centralized empire is solely responsible for destabilizing. A sovereign nation has every right to undo the damage that was done to it by western imperialism, and western imperialists have no right to stop it.
"Four Reasons Why Interventionism In Syria Is Crazy And Stupid." By Caitlin Johnstone, 9/13/18.

Trust me. I work for the government.

On global warming:
NOAA’s research supposedly contradicted claims of a pause in global warming since 1998, hence the name “Pausebuster Paper.” But [Dr. John] Bates’ evidence shows that the agency knowingly overstated the speed of warming and falsely reported inaccurate high temperatures. Bates says his NOAA superiors ignored his vehement objections to publication of the faulty data.

Bates, a 40-year career meteorologist and climate scientist, explained that NOAA had replaced the readings gleaned from highly accurate Argo ocean buoys with temperature measurements from ships. The latter are notoriously inaccurate and undependable due to variability in measurement depth and because of heat from ships’ propulsion systems. “They had good data from buoys. And they threw it out and ‘corrected it’ with bad data from ships,” complained Bates. “You never change good data to agree with bad, but that’s what they did — so as to make it look as if the sea was warmer.”

* * * *

. . . The U.S. House Science Committee, however, was suspicious of the [“Pausebuster”] paper and issued subpoenas for internal e-mails related to it. Then suddenly, the computer used to store “Pausebuster” suffered a “complete failure,” meaning, says Bates, that no one will ever be able to replicate or verify the data.

"What on Earth Is Happening to Our Temperature?" By Ed Hiserodt and Rebecca Terrell, The New American, 3/27/17.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Fools

     According to the late Barbara Tuchman, folly – the course followed by a fool – consists in knowing better but nevertheless doing worse. While some would dispute Tuchman’s definition, it has applications to several fields of human involvement. One of them, a rather disturbing one, is suggested by this article:

     Why yes, if Jesus Christ was not resurrected from the dead on the third day following His crucifixion, as He repeatedly told His disciples beforehand He would be, then every one of the billions of people who have lived who professed their faith in Him has been a schmuck, a fool, conned, etc.

     This may come as a shock to some, but St. Paul put it rather succinctly at 1 Corinthians 15:14: “And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.”

     That’s the meat and potatoes of the Christian faith: Either He rose from the dead or the whole thing is a pleasant fabrication. But always there are militant atheists who’ll demand proof of the Resurrection – if they stop short there. Some will dispute that Jesus existed at all.

     Trouble is, religion doesn’t deal in proof.

     We have a great deal of evidence that Jesus of Nazareth lived, traveled extensively through Judea and Samaria, was crucified by the Roman authorities, and rose from the dead on the third day of His Passion, fulfilling the prior prophecies and confirming His divinity, but to prove that the event took place, as if it were a mathematical proposition, is beyond our power. There will always be possible explanations for all the phenomena reported in the New Testament that omit the Resurrection — including that the New Testament and all that followed in Church history is pure fiction — and they can’t be disproved either. That, plus its theological assertions, is why Christianity is a faith rather than a mathematical theorem or a scientific hypothesis.

     But that’s not what I’m here to write about.


     In Polymath, I had the young skeptic Todd Iverson approach the Christian proposition this way:

     Much of what Todd had learned about Redmond had remained opaque to him. The engineer’s unassuming carriage contrasted sharply with his nuclear-powered intellect and his colleagues’ unconcealed reverence. His material modesty, particularly his inexplicable attachment to an old pickup truck when he could surely have afforded a newer, more glamorous conveyance, was even more mysterious. But more baffling than all the rest taken together was Redmond’s unconcealed devotion to his religion. It seemed to be fixed at the center of his life.
     How anyone so brilliant could get so attached to an obvious fairy tale is beyond me.
     “Quarter for your thoughts?” Redmond said.
     “Huh? I thought it was ‘penny for your thoughts.’”
     “Time was. I’ve adjusted it for inflation.”
     “Mmph. Okay. Well, I was just wondering about...” His courage failed him.
     Redmond turned a final corner, pulled into the Iversons’ driveway, set the parking brake and turned toward him. “About me and the church, right?”
     Todd blushed and nodded.
     “Because you don’t believe.”
     Another nod.
     “And you’re smart and you know it. But by now you know that I’m at least as smart, and it flummoxes you. Because you just can’t imagine how anyone with half a brain could buy into such a load of total nonsense, much less someone who’s as smart as you.
     Todd remained silent. He fought to keep his expression from revealing his thoughts.
     Redmond smiled gently. “What would you say were the most important words in that little speech, Todd?”
     “Hm?”
     “Would you like me to repeat it?”
     Todd shook his head. “Uh, no, it’s just that...”
     “You’d rather not think about it?”
     Todd’s discomfort deepened further.
     Redmond’s smile turned impish. “Or maybe you’re a wee bit off balance from my having read your mind like a large-print book?”
     Todd started to laugh. He couldn’t help it. In a moment he’d surrendered to a gale of laughter, holding his sides against the spasms from his own guffaws.
     When he’d regained control of himself, he shook his head and caught Redmond’s eyes with his own. The engineer was still smiling gently.
     “Wasn’t it like that for you?” Todd said. “I mean, from everything I’ve heard about you—”
     “From your classmates?”
     Todd nodded. “Sideways, mostly. Some from Rolf and the others in the group. You had to have had the same reaction to...to this stuff that I had. It can’t be true!”

     Later on, Iverson converses with a Catholic priest, and founds his skepticism thus:

     “In the matter of the Christian faith,” the priest continued, “the critical proposition is the Resurrection. If the claim that Jesus’s mortal body died, but that he returned to life three days later, presented himself first to his apostles and then to hundreds of others, and forty days after his Resurrection ascended bodily to heaven can be accepted on any basis whatsoever, then Christianity is acceptable on those grounds.”
     “And that,” Todd said slowly, “is where I’ve always hung up and walked away. Nothing remotely like that has ever happened since then, so why should I believe it happened two thousand years ago?”

     This is exactly the crux Paul of Tarsus delineated in First Corinthians: Either it really happened, or we’ve all been had.

     But that’s not what I’m here to talk about, either.


     In the comments to this Mark Tapscott entry at Instapundit, there are many statements about meaning and value: specifically, the meaning and value of human life. Believers find meaning and value in their lives, premised on their faith. Nonbelievers contend that meaning and value are available even if there is no God. But neither set grapples with the questions those two metaphysical concepts demand that we ask:

  1. Meaning to whom?
  2. Value by what standard?

     For meaning is a consequence of interpretation – and that requires an interpreter. Value is a fundamentally temporal property, arising from our nature as project pursuers; it cannot be usefully applied to supra-temporal and transfinite considerations.

     Let’s tackle value first. Consider the following fictional exchange:

Mugger: Gimme your wallet!
Victim: But all my cash is in there! What am I to do?
Mugger: I don’t care. Gimme your wallet or I’ll plug you.
Victim: (complies) But how am I going to buy dinner or get home?
Mugger: Knock it off. Five years from now this won’t matter to you at all.

     Pretty fanciful, eh? But if you’re at all typical, at some point someone who’s disappointed or wounded you has used the mugger’s exact rationale to “console” his victim. In abstract terms, he’s suggested that the victim forsake his short-term standard of value and adopt one that reaches forward five years. (Never mind that the mugger is obviously applying a short-term standard of value by practicing armed robbery.)

     If the possibility of eternal bliss in the nearness of a benevolent God is real, then there can be no useful standard of value that fits it. Its importance is literally infinite, which nothing in our temporal lives can be. No one who takes that possibility seriously can validly be called a fool for conforming his life to what he believes are the requirements for reaching it. In the recent movie The Case For Christ, believing coworker Kenny London makes that point to skeptic Lee Strobel.

     “Here’s where the chili meets the cheese, my friend. One of my heroes was C. S. Lewis, a man who began as a skeptic, much like yourself. At the end of his journey, you know what he said? If Christianity is false, it’s of zero importance. But if it’s true, there’s nothing more important in the entire universe.”

     This is also the essence of Pascal’s Wager.

     As to meaning, the case can be made that a man can find adequate meaning in his own life, as its most intimate and proximate interpreter. However, the great majority of persons who’ve lived and are alive today treat the meaning of their lives as a trans-temporal consideration. Their question is not “What does my life mean to me?” but rather “What does my life mean in the Great Scheme of Things?”

     That’s a question to which no satisfactory answer can be given without a trans-temporal Interpreter. We who pose the question that way find the true meaning of our lives in how God sees them – one of the blessings of Christian conviction that’s rarely well understood even by Christians themselves.


     Proof of supernatural and supra-temporal propositions is simply impossible for creatures trapped beneath the veil of Time. No matter how much we want it, we can’t have it. What we can have are the things that please and fulfill us in this life. Two of those things are meaning and value. Christian belief provides both, along with a not-too-onerous set of rules by which to attain something virtually everyone would like to have.

     The evidence for Christianity is copious, but it can never rise to the level of proof. Ironically, they who demand proof and will be satisfied with nothing less are just as incapable of proving their opposed contention: i.e., that there is no God and Jesus of Nazareth, whether or not He really lived, was not divine. Which is why I smile at the skeptics and reply to them that “You enjoy your religion, and I’ll enjoy mine.”

     Fools? Perhaps. But I’ve made my bet. Have you made yours?

Just How Many Illegal Aliens are There in This Country?

The agreement on the number 12 million may be wrong - DELIBERATELY wrong.

Look at the graph below:


Ask yourself - it it LIKELY that the number of illegal aliens resident in this country began leveling off just as Obama's policies took effect? Right about the time that Obama took office, when the illegals began FLOODING into this country, somehow, inexplicably, the number of illegal aliens not only stopped their trend, but began to decline?

One factor is that the stats collectors are no longer classifying the DREAMERS and not-currently-being-pursued aliens as no longer aliens.

Which, they still are.

The number that the writer of this essay suggests is about double - around 30 million. He makes a persuasive case for that estimation.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

The Day After 9/11

We sometimes talk about the day before - I have referred to myself as a 9/10 Democrat. That's someone who had been a Democrat from family tradition, and continued even after it was evident that the party had irrevocably changed into something not recognizable.

But, what is so special about 9/12?

The Battle of Vienna - the day when the Indigenous Europeans kicked the Muslims out of Europe, and stopped them from further predations upon their people.

And, although the origins of the croissant roll are murky (that type of roll has many roots), having some for dinner would be a great way to celebrate today - tearing into the pastry with sharp teeth, symbolic of destruction of the violent Islamic ideology.


UPDATE:


The Satan Trick

     I forget who originated this notion, but it’s been said for many years that the Devil’s greatest achievement was convincing so many humans that he doesn’t exist. In homage to this insight, I’ve christened the ploy of persuading people to not see evil even when it’s in plain view the Satan trick.

     The Left has been trying to pull off the Satan trick for some time now. Just recently, a Leftist addressed me on Gab with a soliloquy about how the Left “doesn’t exist.” It was a thousand words or so of self-serving, hyper-tendentious (and rather paranoid) nonsense, but he probably figured that was the sort of verbal prestidigitation that would work on a wordy bastard (i.e., me). It didn’t, of course, but you probably didn’t need to be told that.

     The Satan trick also appears in somewhat reduced forms. For example, Barack Hussein Obama, inarguably the most anti-American person ever to take up residence at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, recently gave a speech in which he claimed that the well known story about the disgraceful inaction of the federal government during the Benghazi episode is “a conspiracy theory.” I have no doubt that his most ardent admirers swallowed his proclamation wholesale. But here’s a bit of testimony from Kris “Tanto” Paronto, former Army Ranger and one of the six principal defenders of the Benghazi CIA station on September 11, 2012:

     This is a particularly difficult case of the Satan trick to pull off, as five of those six defenders are still alive and talking. But leave it to Obama, who’s never backed away from a politically useful lie no matter how implausible it might be, to feed such nonsense to those still willing to listen to him.

     On the more immediately political front, we have the “Russian collusion” investigation. This farce has turned up zero evidence that the Trump for President campaign ever had any dealings with the Russian government, much less colluded with Russian agents in an attempt to sway the election or corrupt its results. What it has turned up is tons of evidence that various highly placed officials in the Justice Department and virtually the whole of the office cadre of the FBI did their damnedest to sway the election by a coordinated “leak” strategy and the use of salacious but totally fabricated rumors about supposed Trump misbehavior. Which federal Democrats have admitted that with such results after a year and a half of “investigation,” the thing should be shut down? None of them: from them it’s a constant drumbeat of “Russia” and “impeachment.” This is the Satan trick protracted to the limits of human endurance.

     “What are you going to believe, me or your lying eyes?” has become a tag line of sorts in political discourse. Sadly, there are many Americans who refuse to see evidence laid out plainly before them. Equally sadly, they condemn those who present them with such evidence as “racists” and “Nazis.” The most extreme of them strive to silence anyone who dares to contradict their dogmas. Between those who ponder evidence and those who swallow absurd proclamations as an act of political faith, there lies a gulf nothing can bridge.

     Yet people still ask why they can’t have a calm and reasonable conversation with persons of the other political persuasion. It is to laugh...hollowly, and with many a tear. Except for Satan: his laughter is genuinely jolly and quite sincere.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

The Remora’s Worst Mistake

     Before I attack today’s subject with my leaden rapier, allow me to notify you about a crisis of sorts. Mike Hendrix, the redoubtable master of Cold Fury, is in financial trouble. He’s been hit with a large car repair bill, and as he makes his living with his car – he works for Lyft – that had to come before all else. Unfortunately, Hosting Matters, where his blog is sited, is impatient about his arrears and has suspended his account.

     If you appreciate Mike’s stuff and have the means, please consider sending him a few dollars. His email address is tommygunmike@gmail.com


     A parasitic organism cannot afford to do its host lethal damage. That “should” be “obvious,” but as with many similar propositions, the power of wishful thinking can conceal it from us at the worst possible moments.

     An economic parasite that manages to kill its host will sometimes continue on for a while in seeming independence, but unless it secures a new host in short order, it’s doomed to penury and extinction. This is what appears to be happening in the field of fantasy and science fiction.

     The Phantom sets the stage for us:

     Saw this gem today. Everything wrong with science fiction is John W. Campbell's fault.
     Campbell was basically a racist garbage-person.

     Campbell supported slavery. And segregation. And believed black people were inherently intellectually and culturally inferior to whites. You know that whole, "But how could you possibly expect readers to empathize with a black protagonist?" thing? Something Campbell quite famously told Samuel R. Delany, in quite possibly its first documented incarnation. That whole "I don't care if they're white, black, or polka-dotted" thing white people say when they're trying to pretend they're not being racist? Campbell, while making apologetics for slavery no less, which was something he got up to a lot.

     It goes on and on like that. Campbell was a RAAAACIST!!! Heinlein was a RAAAACIST!!! Asimov, Hubbard, Clarke, all RAAAACISTS!!! Sure, baby. Sure they were.

     If you aren’t familiar with the name John W. Campbell, he was the highly influential editor of the great SF pulps Astounding and Analog for many years. He was personally responsible for mentoring (and bringing to prominence) Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein, and several other greats of the field. He was politically conservative, as far as I can tell from his editorials. Therefore, the SJWs who now dominate traditional F&SF publishing, professional organizations such as the Science Fiction Writers of America (SFWA), and the Hugo Award-granting World Science Fiction convention hate him with a white hot passion and are determined to make him an unperson.

     They’ve already set to work on Asimov, Heinlein, and other luminaries of the Golden Age, and have substantially scrubbed them from the awareness of younger F&SF readers, so why not Campbell? After vaporizing the great writers of the field, taking down an editor shouldn’t be much of an exercise.

     There’s probably no stopping them from carrying on with their pogrom. What will ultimately stop them is the economic consequence of their campaign. You see, they can’t tell a decent story. The lot of them are slowly discovering that no matter who or how indulgent your publisher is, or how many awards your fellow travelers award you, if you can’t or won’t entertain the reader, giving him at least some of what he reads F&SF for, he won’t be back.

     It’s not really about their politics. There’ve been left-wingers in F&SF for half of forever. It’s because along with doing their best to anathematize the old greats, they’ve made political propagandization their one and only aim. Their relentlessness about their politics –especially as regards that contemporary shibboleth “diversity” – has drained the entertainment value from their stories. Were writers in the Right to do likewise, they would be equally unreadable. Heinlein trended that way in his last few years, with the same consequences for the entertainment value of his novels.

     So younger readers are growing ever less inclined to scan the F&SF racks at Barnes & Noble for their entertainment.


     As usual, Sarah Hoyt has a pithy observation about the above:

     The vultures are fighting harder and harder over tinier and tinier scraps. And even they can’t convince themselves that they compare in any way, shape or form to the greats of the genre’s past. Hence the screaming. It’s akin to a child covering his ears and shrieking, so as not to hear the denial of his fantasies.

     Indeed. And you can bet your last dollar that the infighting, the finger pointing, and the recrimination will all get steadily worse as the scraps dwindle in number and size. The SJWs made the parasite's worst possible mistake – they succeeded in capturing SF's traditional publishers, professional groups, and award-granting organizations, and drove out the capable, properly focused writers who kept those organizations worthwhile — and they're paying for it in the most appropriate way.

     The independent writers movement will eventually eclipse traditionally published F&SF. Capable storytellers are available there; these days, I go nowhere else for my entertainment. Yes, it’s necessary to filter out a lot of crap, but indie pricing makes that an endurable undertaking. Moreover, indie writers are gradually adopting practices that make it straightforward to avoid most of the crap without having to pay for it, in particular posting substantial snippets of their books free of charge, just as Amazon has done.

     Meanwhile, the SJWs who’ve colonized and conquered traditional publishing, the Hugo Awards, and the Science Fiction Writers of America have some starving and dying to do. It’s what happens when you kill off your host with your poisonous excretions. They could have learned that by watching the demise of Venezuela, or for that matter the ongoing auto da fe of the Democrat Party, but it appears from here that those examples of their folly were of no interest to them.

The Washington Post plumbs new lows.

In an editorial Friday, the Post goaded Trump, calling his response to Assad’s ruthless recapture of his country "pathetically weak." To stand by and let the Syrian army annihilate the rebels in Idlib, said the Post, would be "another damaging abdication of U.S. leadership."[1]
The Post does in fact weep tears for the actual jihadis (poor souls) but it's part and parcel of the now-official view of Pompeo and Haley who want to broaden the "trigger" for American action to include military operations that involve civilian casualties from any cause, not just supposed Syrian plans to use chemical weapons.

Maybe time has clouded my memory but wasn’t the U.S. ruthlessly attempting to annihilate the “rebels” in South Vietnam? I certainly hope we were, let me just say. To our credit – and contrary to the fond imaginings of the execrable American left – we were, however, acutely sensitive to the possibility of civilian deaths and Johnson inflicted ridiculous rules of engagement on our troops to avoid them, particularly in North Vietnam. In the end, however, we were insufficiently ferocious even under those ROE and stopped just days short of a North Vietnamese capitulation. Thank you congressional Democrats whose like-minded successors infest the Congress of today.

I’ve written of Bruce Catton’s observation on the progressive grimness of the American War of Southern Independence. Writing of the Union Army, Catton noted that the congenial election of leaders at the outset of the war gave way to men being spread eagled on wagon wheels and lashed for disciplinary infractions. No more democratic ordering of affairs. Message: war is serious business. (Lincoln inflicted his own special brand of tyranny on the home front to dampen down mutterings about the war, but that's another story.)

The realities of lining up and facing ranks of the enemy and hails of small arms and artillery fire became well known to the troops. My great grandfather’s Illinois regiment faced Confederate regiments deployed in a solid wall at Stones River and it simply dissolved in the ensuing battle. Same thing at Chickamauga. Swept away by Confederate infantry.

Sherman’s march to the sea more resembled criminal excess than military operation but it was murderously effective in ending Confederate resistance. WWII involved little of the concern for civilian deaths that so exercises the Post now. The Dresden bombings, the Tokyo fire bombings, and our nuclear strikes in Japan were similarly more vengeance than military necessity (not to mention the latter's subtle hints to Stalin about new realities).

So this sudden hand wringing over civilians in one Syrian war zone oozes with hypocrisy. Clearly, the U.S. doesn’t give a fig about civilian casualties in Syria (or Yemen or Mosul or Fallujah or Raqqah) but only about its strategic objectives to (1) destroy Syria and (2) destroy Iran.

Annihilating “rebels” inside national borders is what sovereign governments do. How they do it is especially no concern of the people who have done their utmost to enable “rebel” death, destruction, rape, theft, and torture. We who have facilitated, directly and indirectly, the death of over 500,000 Syrians are not in any position to preach to a leader and an army who are dealing with the Islamic scum involved and who are clearly strongly supported by the Syrian people. A hypocritical daintiness on the part of the Post, Pompeo, and Haley and official ________ coming from the U.S. are demeaning a serious effort to crucify Syrian terrorists whom, SHMG, we are and have been supporting.

Notes
[1] "Is Trump Going Neocon in Syria?" By Patrick J. Buchanan, AntiWar.com, 9/11/18.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Chekhov’s Law

     (No, not that everything was invented in Russia!)

     You’ve seen me discourse about it before:

     “Everything not essential to the story must be ruthlessly cut away. If in Act One you say that a gun hung on the wall, then by Act Two or Act Three at the latest, it must be discharged.” – Anton Chekhov

     Anton Chekhov was principally a writer of short stories and plays. His sense for the constraints that apply to those forms animated his Law. He applied it as ruthlessly as he commanded the rest of us to do, even in his longer works.

     Myself, I prefer Mikhail Bakunin’s two rules for anarchists:
     Rule 1: There are no rules.
     Rule 2: Rule 1 is not binding.

     Nevertheless, I do appreciate the thought behind Chekhov’s Law. It pertains to dramatic unity: the sense that everything the reader has encountered will figure in the ultimate climax of the tale. And in the construction of a short story or novelette, it’s a far, far better thing to abide by it rather than to imagine oneself free of such a requirement.

     But hearken to one of the foremost storytellers of his time, the late, great Roger Zelazny:

     [A]ny story we tell is as much an exercise in omission as inclusion. Our death sentence reflexes normally take care of this, so that we hardly think of the bits of scenery, stray thoughts, passing faces, unimportant physical details we are leaving out.

     Somewhere, sometime early I came to believe in tossing in a bit of gratuitous characterization as I went along. It seemed to add something to the story as a whole if – by means of a few extra sentences – a stock character could be shown to have an existence beyond his walk-on role. I remember doing this with the civil servant Briggs – and showing something of the bureaucracy behind him – in Isle of the Dead. This I suppose to be a corollary of the Hemingway principle – an indication of the presence of things perhaps important in their own right but not essential to the story itself – actually the reverse of cutting an essential item and hoping that its light shines through. But I believe the effect is similar – in making people feel something more than they understand. It works to expand the setting of the entire piece and to provide evidence of the larger reality surrounding the action by giving the reader a momentary, possibly even subliminal, feeling that there is something more there.

     [“The Parts That Are Only Glimpsed,” in Unicorn Variations]

     Today this matter of “giving the reader a feeling that there is something more there” is pursued mainly by crafting interminable series of novels that feature a gaggle of characters the writer can’t seem to stop writing about. You know, like the Onteora Canon.

     So we have two great writers, separated by many years, on opposite sides of a critical “rule.” One tells us to abide by it; the other says it can be broken to good effect. Where, then, is Truth?

     I’d say it's here, in Uber-Rule Zero:

Carry yourself with enough brass,
And you can get away with anything.

     Note that this rule is far wider of application than Chekhov’s Law.

     I’ve been dancing around the edges of Uber-Rule Zero ever since I started writing fiction. I’ve played with implausibilities of many kinds. I’ve used themes that nearly never appear in contemporary fiction written for a general audience. I’ve contrived plots to which Rube Goldberg would say “Aw, c’mon!” I’ve crafted characters that will strain any reader’s willingness to suspend disbelief: immortal supermen, great geniuses, priests of great wisdom and benevolence, and politicians with consciences to which they actually pay attention. And I’ve done my best to act as if it’s utterly natural, “all in a day’s work.”

     Because the one and only true requirement of fiction is that the reader buy it and derive entertainment from it. That requires that the writer maintain a seamless pretense of auctorial nonchalance, as if his decisions are so swift and unstressed that he need say nothing about them...except for the story, of course.

     A caveat about the above: It’s not a prescription for the novice fictioneer to discard all the wise precepts successful writers have set down for him. Craftsmanship matters. So does a keen sense for the way people really act and speak. A coherent plot requires respect for the motivations of your characters. And of course, you must have a story to tell.

     Still, once you’ve mastered a certain degree of craftsmanship and have learned enough about people to be able to construct plausible stories about them, there’s a sense of liberation about it all. After all, fiction writing, as Lawrence Block has told us, is about “telling lies for fun and profit.” It’s very much like that greatest of all characterological assets for real – i.e., non-fictional – people, sincerity: if you can fake that, you can get away with anything. Really!

Feel the love.

Osaka explained to The New York Times that even though she’s lived in Florida since she was three years old, she made the decision to play tennis for Japan primarily because of funding opportunities: Japan had more money to sponsor her.

Of growing up in a multi-cultural heritage household, Osaka has said, “I don’t necessarily feel like I’m American. I wouldn’t know what that feels like.”

Of her Japanese culture, Osaka said, “Japanese culture? I love everything about it. . . . America, I live here. I train in Florida. . . . And Haiti, if you’ve ever met a Haitian person, they are really positive, and literally if you’re friends with them, then they will do anything for you. That’s something that is a really good trait, and I’m really happy that my grandparents and my dad’s side of the family is like that.”

"Naomi Osaka’s Family: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know." By Caroline Burke, Heavy, 9/8/18 (emphasis added).

Never forget.

Black Panther Mark Essex burst into a New Orleans hotel, shouting, “I want the whites!” He murdered a young honeymooning couple, hotel guests and staff members, and a number of police officers. Stokely Carmichael praised Essex, saying, “We should study and learn from the actions of Brother Essex. We should understand that Brother Essex carried our struggle to its next quantitative level, the level of science.”
"Senator Booker Quotes Violent Racist Who Urged Murder of Jews, White People." By Daniel Greenfield, Front Page Magazine, 9/10/18.

Pearls of expression.

Everyone I don't like is a Russian-backed NeoNazi, and everyone to the right of Chairman Mao is a far right extremist.
"What's Next For Sweden After Election Nailbiter." By Tyler Durden, ZeroHedge, 9/10/18.

Pearls of expression.

Spokeswoman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia, Maria Zakharova:

We have killed, we are killing and we will kill terrorists…whether that be in Aleppo, Idlib or other parts of Syria. Peace must return to Syria …

Commenter Gary Sellars:

The US version is “We have funded, we are funding and we will fund terrorists"

"Russia: We Have Killed, Will Kill Terrorists In Syria." By South Front, 9/6/18.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

State of the art M.E. strategic analysis.

Israel REALLY wants Iranian forces and rocket bases out of Syria.

The Saudi's REALLY want that Syrian pipeline route to deny it to Iran.

The US REALLY wants the Russians out of their naval facilities in Tartus.

...So, another "False Flag" by CIA controlled FSA/ISIS forces is coming up.

Comment by Charlie Seattle on "US Says Assad Has Approved Gas Attack In Idlib, Setting Stage For Major Military Conflict." By Tyler Durden, ZeroHedge, 9/9/18.

Reductio ad Trumpum.

Future history:

"Assad was on the verge of victory, but being pure evil that he was he just really wanted to gas people, no matter how irrational, or counter-productive his generals kept telling him it would be. If it wasn't for that fatal flaw, maybe Syria could have won against the last few brave freedom fighters selflessly guarding the people of Idlib. Assad gassed a hospital of extreme strategic importance full of orphan children, young women and babies killing 47. Twenty five brave white helmets happened to be close by and caught the whole thing on camera. The white helmets then risked their lives trying to save the women and children but were too late. Luckily none of the white helmets were injured. The world would not stand for this outrage from such a man of pure evil. 137,000 evil Assad supporters died in the invasion that followed."

Comment by Quesnay on "US Says Assad Has Approved Gas Attack In Idlib, Setting Stage For Major Military Conflict." By Tyler Durden, ZeroHedge, 9/9/18.

American political vengeance.

No one suggests Richard Nixon was without sin in trying to cover up the Watergate break-in. But no one should delude himself into believing that the overthrow of that president, not two years after he won the greatest landslide in U.S. history, was not an act of vengeance by a hate-filled city that ran a sword through Nixon for offenses it had covered up or brushed under the rug in the Roosevelt, Kennedy and Johnson years.[1]
As the anti-Trump coup attempt is showing, viciousness is part and parcel of American politics and Nixon was as hated as Trump is now for having taken on Alger Hiss. Joe McCarthy was also crucified for merely asking, reasonably enough, why so many communists were employed by the federal government.[2]

FDR made no mention of his ultra-revolutionary intentions in his first campaign and, in fact, campaigned on a platform that was the polar opposite of what he dumped on America afterwards. He did his utmost to provoke the Japanese attack and the suspicious lingers on that he knew the attack on Pearl Harbor was coming. Saint Franklin. Kennedy liked to pick up prostitutes on 13th Street, NW, in his presidential limousine and screw young women in the White House pool, but he was presented to America as the dernier cri of elegance and class. Camelot indeed. His father’s purchase of critical votes in Chicago is well known but perturbed no known Democrat. Nixon, the patriot and statesman, chose not to put the country through the turmoil of an election challenge but his subsequent common sense “Southern Strategy” made beautiful people apoplectic. How dare that brute appeal to people who thought they were being sold a bill of goods!

Note amazing similarity.
Johnson too rose to the Senate with the help of vote fraud and, while president, did nothing about the deliberate Israeli air and naval attack on the USS Liberty. His disgusting habits in dealing with subordinates in the WH are well known. No incessant outcry about Johnson’s crassness was heard but Trump’s private conversation with some slime ball was splashed across the air waves and a salacious, manufactured “dossier” has been used to portray him as a lowlife caricature of a man. The fires of Hell are not hot enough for a man like him who has called attention the elites' sellout out of the back bone of America!

So what crimes and scandals bubble to the surface in our national politics are the result of a highly partisan and selective process, the spear point being leftist media hyenas crying about contrived garbage like (1) Russian collusion, aggressive expansion, and inhuman military tactics, (2) the Iranian threat to Lubbock, Texas, and (3) Trump obstruction and mental instability. As ever, the real story is in what isn’t demonized. Think open borders, Living Constitution, Propositional Nation, Nation of Immigrants, AntiFa, queer agenda, black dysfunction and crime, legal discrimination against whites, media monopoly, tech giant manipulation and suppression, H1-B visa abuse, vote fraud, feminist lunacy, university capitulation to mob idiocy and malice, illegal and unconstitutional wars, Islamic subversion and savagery, and the gargantuan federal government. Yes, pilgrims. It's "the Russians."

And looking at the process as a whole, as Buchanan does, is instructive in understanding the outrageous, selective attack on our political system that is underway at this moment. Not against any real threat to the Republic but only against threats to the ultra-left, sell-out Deep State.

Notes
[1] "Regime Change—American Style." By Pat Buchanan, Chronicles, 9/7/18.
[2]  Jack Cashill describes the uneven application of federal criminal law for smaller fry. Sandy Berger stole as many classified 9/11 documents as he could stuff into his underwear but got a slap on the wrist but Martha Stewart and Scooter Libby took it in the neck for far less serious conduct. People whose names are very familiar to us today were involved back then as well.