Saturday, September 21, 2019

Attention: Free Fiction!

     On Saturday, September 21, my compendium volume The Futanari Saga will be free of charge at Amazon:

They are the futanari.
Women, except for one thing.
Despite their two X chromosomes, their genitals are male.
Though excluded by both sexes, they have the needs and yearnings of women.
Surgical alteration would kill them.
Imperiled wherever they’re found.
They cannot reproduce.
They are very few.
This is what their lives are like.

     Don’t miss this opportunity to download a free copy of the series that’s got the world of science fiction in a tumult. (And review it, please!)


     There are two major political parties in these United States: major being used here in the conventional sense of “a party with guaranteed ballot access whose candidates have a non-wishful-thinking chance to win their electoral contests.” As the positions espoused by those parties – not the candidates but the parties themselves, in their “platform” documents – have changed over the years, it’s given me cause to inquire into what’s required of a citizen to declare himself a Democrat, or a Republican, and thereafter to be taken as one by other partisans.

     The matter admits of no simple, policy-centered answer. My first wife, a lovely woman whose heart bled for all, near and far, was of the opinion that to be a Democrat meant “you put the people first.” (In fairness, I must also include that she was unutterably brilliant. That we disagreed politically should not be taken as countervailing evidence.) That requirement elevates one’s intentions to the highest priority.

     Psychologist Peter Breggin once referred to the Democrats as “the party of good intentions,” so at least one other very intelligent person concurred with my first wife. The problems coupled to good intentions are of course those that arise from results. If your results fail to match your intentions, you confront a crossroads: either you must admit that you’ve been wrong, strive to discover why, and correct your course, or your intentions – and your overall honesty – will be compelled to face investigation.

     No one I know has submitted an intentions-based criterion for membership in the Republican Party. That doesn’t mean there isn’t one, of course. I can’t think of one myself, and, as I remain resolutely outside all groups, including all political parties, it would be wrong of me to propose one. Given the great diversity of views to be found inside the Republican tent, no other criterion seems plausible enough for discussion. Certainly the old notion that a Republican must favor small or limited government fails when it confronts the Bushes, the Rockefellers, or any Republican candidate for high office in New York.

     Where, then, should we look for the requirements for being one or the other sort of creature?

     In connection with this topic, two names from the relatively recent past come to mind: Jim Jeffords and Arlen Specter. Both were United States Senators, the highest elective office in the land save for the presidency. Both changed parties – in Specter’s case, more than once – in pursuit of personal advantages. Neither appeared a “good fit” to either the Democrats or the Republicans on policy. In this might lie a strong clue to the true requirement for being a member of either tribe.

     In David Friedman’s book The Machinery of Freedom, he describes the major parties as “vote-maximizing machines.” There’s a glimmer of insight here. The overt function of a political party is to put candidates for office before the public, and to support their campaigns as appropriate. Both major parties do so, of course. Yet there have been occasions when one or the other has advanced a “token” candidate, regarded as having little or no chance to win the contested office. Wendell Willkie in 1940, Adlai Stevenson in 1956, and George McGovern in 1972 are good examples of such candidacies.

     The existence of “token” candidacies suggests that the support of the party’s candidates for public office isn’t the only criterion for party membership. Indeed, it might not matter all that much when compared to other factors. Consider that there are self-styled Republicans, including several with prominent positions in the world of political commentary, who denigrate and oppose the GOP’s current standard-bearer: President Donald Trump. Yet no authoritative voice has been heard to declare that such persons cannot be Republicans. Indeed, the existence of a person or group with that authority is itself doubtful.

     It begins to seem that there are no firm criteria for party membership. So how does John Q. Public, America’s celebrated man in the street, choose one or the other party to join? If he’s at all inclined toward partisanry, that is.

     Have a rather long passage from a book I’ve cited before, concerning the “new political history” of 19th Century America, and the presidential election of 1896:

     Characteristic of both party systems was that each party was committed to a distinctive ideology clashing with the other, and these conflicting worldviews made for fierce and close contests. Elections were particularly hard fought. Interest was high since the parties offered a “choice not an echo,” and so the turnout rate was remarkably high, often reaching 80 to 90 percent of eligible voters. More remarkably, candidates did not, as we are used to in the 20th century, fuzz their ideology during campaigns in order to appeal to a floating, ideologically indifferent, “independent voter.” There were very few independent voters. The way to win elections, therefore, was to bring out your vote, and the way to do that was to intensify and strengthen your ideology during campaigns. Any fuzzing over would lead the Republican or Democratic constituents to stay home in disgust, and the election would be lost. Very rarely would there be a crossover to the other, hated party....
     How did all this relate to the economic issues of the day? Simply that the leaders of each party went to their voting constituents and “raised their consciousness” to get them vitally interested in national economic questions. Thus, the Republican leaders would go to their rank-and-file and say: “Just as we need Big Paternalistic Government on the local and state level to stamp out sin and compel morality, so we need Big Government on the national level to increase everyone’s purchasing power through inflation, keeping out cheap foreign goods (tariffs), or keeping out cheap foreign labor (immigration restrictions).”
     And for their part, the Democratic leaders would go to their constituents and say: “Just as the Republican fanatics are trying to take away your liquor, your beer parlors, and your parochial schools, so the same people are trying to keep out cheap foreign goods (tariffs), and trying to destroy the value of your savings through inflation. Paternalistic government on the federal level is just as evil as it is at home.”...
     In the meanwhile, an upheaval was beginning to occur in the Democratic Party. The South, by now a one-party Democratic region, was having its own pietism transformed by the 1890s. Quiet pietists were now becoming evangelical, and Southern Protestant organizations began to call for prohibition. Then the new, sparsely settled Mountain states, many of them with silver mines, were also largely pietist. Moreover, a power vacuum, which would ordinarily have been temporary, had been created in the national Democratic Party. Poor Grover Cleveland, a hard-money laissez-faire Democrat, was blamed for the Panic of 1893, and many leading Cleveland Democrats lost their gubernatorial and senatorial posts in the 1894 elections. The Cleveland Democrats were temporarily weak, and the Southern-Mountain coalition was ready to hand. Seizing his opportunity, William Jennings Bryan and his pietist coalition seized control of the Democratic Party at the momentous convention of 1896. The Democratic Party was never to be the same again.
     The Catholics, Lutherans, and the laissez-faire Cleveland Democrats were in mortal shock. The “party of our fathers” was lost. The Republicans, who had been moderating their stance anyway, saw the opportunity of a lifetime. At the Republican convention, Rep. Henry Cabot Lodge, representing the Morgans and the pro-gold standard Boston financial interests, told McKinley and Hanna: Pledge yourself to the gold standard-the basic Cleveland economic issue—and drop your silverite and greenback tendencies, and we will all back you. Refuse, and we will support Bryan or a third party. McKinley struck the deal, and from then on, the Republicans, in 19th-century terms, were a centrist party. Their principles were now high tariffs and the gold standard, and prohibition was quietly forgotten.

     [Ron Paul and Lewis Lehrman, The Case For Gold. ]

     With the elections of 1896 through 1928, the transformationaway from ideology would be completed. The last pre-New Deal Republican president, Herbert Hoover, was openly a Big Government / inflationist president. Hoover sought to have Washington’s fingers in everything, for which reason Benjamin M. Anderson has described him as an “early New Dealer.” Needless to say, the Democrats embraced the gospel of “government uber alles” with Woodrow Wilson and have never turned aside from it.

     I am left facing an unpleasant conclusion:

Neither party stands for anything much.
Nor do their typical candidates.

     But if the parties don’t stand for anything in particular, don’t necessarily run candidates to get them elected, and don’t necessarily support their co-partisans in office, then...what?

     In recent years we have seen the GOP caucuses in Congress meekly surrender to the Democrats on various issues. Sometimes they did so when Republicans were in the majority and could easily have blocked initiatives from the left. Republican legislators who dared to castigate their fellow partisans for such betrayals have usually suffered for it. The explanation for such abandonments of their supposed positions is just as unpleasant as the large-font conclusion above. Yet the former stems from the latter and could have been foreseen.

     The implication is simple:

The parties exist for the benefit of those who control them at the moment.

     The party’s kingmakers decide what would best suit the members of the inner circle, and choose a matching course. Orwell’s famous dictum comes to mind once more: “The aim of the High is to remain where they are,” with all the perquisites and prestige that accrue to those of lofty stature.

     One who is of independent mind, or whose policy is “vote the man, not the party,” has no trouble seeing this as a confirmation of his established policy. What it means to an American partisan, already enlisted in one or the other party, each must decide for himself. In that effort, an acquaintance with Public Choice economics and the work of James Buchanan, Gordon Tullock, and Mancur Olson would be a great help.

Punch back, twice as hard

Another savory smackdown.
A woman carrying a Glock pistol appeared at a Beto O’Rourke rally in Colorado on Thursday, challenging him for his comment about taking AR-15s and AK-47s from American gun owners.

“Gun-owning Americans who heard your speech and heard what you had to say regarding ‘Hell yes, we’re going to take your AR-15s and AK-47s’ — Well, I am here to say, ‘Hell no, you’re not,’” Lauren Boebert, owner of Shooters Grill, which encourages staff to carry a firearm at work, challenged.

O’Rourke’s supporters booed her speech, shouting, “Bullshit” as she said it was “not the gun,” but the “heart of the man” that pulled the trigger.

Shoulda shot their asses.
The woman said she lived in Colorado during the Aurora theater shooting and the Columbine shooting. She also said she had four children, was only five feet tall, and could not defend herself from a threat with only her fists.

One man questioned why the woman needed an AR-15.

“I don’t have my AR-15 today. I have my Glock,” she replied.

“Well, you shouldn’t have it,” the man replied.

And just who the hell do you think you are, pray tell? Sorry, fuckface, but you don't get to make those decisions—not for her, not for me, not for anybody. Nor does any legitimate government. Those decisions are ours, and ours alone. That's according to our natural, God-given rights—reinforced, no matter how you pervert, distort, and flagrantly trample the mutilated old thing, by the US Constitution.

But even that is irrelevant. My natural human right to effective means of self-defense is NOT up for debate, is NOT subject to any election or legislation, and is NOT to be fucked with by the likes of you, or any government official you choose to cower behind and send to usurp it. Not without consequences most dire, they ain't. End of fucking story, period fucking dot.

Come and take them, you puling pissant. Better bring help. Meanwhile, nitwit Paddy "Blotto" O'Rourke steps in it again:

Democratic 2020 hopeful Beto O’Rourke participated in an “Ask Me Anything” (AMA) on the popular link-sharing site Reddit Thursday, and his answer on gun confiscation was widely criticized.

In an AMA thread, users are encouraged to ask whatever questions they want in the comment section, and the creator of the thread can then choose what to answer. Reddit users can either up-vote or down-vote comment based on how well they contribute to the discussion.

“How will you confiscate the millions of AR 15s?” one user asked...O’Rourke responded:

“Americans will comply with the law. It will be a mandatory buyback of AR-15 and AK-47s, weapons designed for war. Because we understand that theres no reason for a any of us to own a weapon that was designed to kill people on a battlefield. Especially when that kind of weapon is so often used to kill and terrorize people throughout this country — in their schools, in their grocery stores, in their churches, in their synagogues, at concerts… everywhere. I have met countless AR and AK owners who say they don’t need it to hunt, they don’t need it for self defense, it’s fun to shoot but would give it up. Because they also have kids and grandkids and want them to be safe.”

Unfortunately for poor Blotto, a Redditeer shredded his blah-blah by the numbers:

Ouch. That had to smart a bit.

This week's Scandal Of The Century

What is going on here? Some employee at CIA learned of a phone call between President Trump and some foreign leader. This employee did not like what the president said. And because the conversation involved classified information, he called himself a “whistleblower” and informed “former officials,” who took what is now “Whistleblower-gate” to the Washington Post.

The anonymous CIA employee also informed another like-minded employee, the agency’s inspector general, who promptly took the allegations to the House Intelligence Committee’s Democrats. In turn, they promptly demanded Trump’s conversation be made public.

Since there is zero chance of any president disclosing the contents of private conversations with foreign heads of state, a standoff ensued. That guarantees endless opportunities for the intelligence community to leak ludicrous tales without substance. These are the empty calories that sustain the ruling class’s 2020 campaign.

Ahh, but there's more to it than meets the eye. Or, actually, less.
This new Deep State hit began effervescing last week when House Intel Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) subpoenaed Acting DNI Joseph Maguire and accused him of illegally withholding a whistleblower complaint from Congress that could potentially be ‘covering up the president’s misconduct’ over a phone call he had with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.  

Gregg Jarrett questioned the Deep State snitch’s whistleblower status and suggested he may just be an American spy in our intel agency who is spying on our own President.

“To put this in plain language, a spy who allegedly spied on the president does not have a legitimate whistleblower complaint against that president under the law.  The ICWPA is a mechanism to report alleged misconduct by members within the intelligence community, of which the president is not,” Gregg Jarrett argued.

The identity of the Deep State ‘whistleblower’ still has not been released to the public, however Trump revealed he is a ‘highly partisan’ individual.

The real scandal is that President Trump is being spied on and the legislative branch is trying to access his privileged and private conversations with foreign leaders with the help of a Deep State snitch.

Yep. Back to Codevilla for the bottom line:
The intelligence community’s bureaucrats have no right whatever to try substituting their judgment for that of anyone elected by the American people. Fundamentally, their pretenses of sovereignty are aimed at all Americans.

They consider themselves our superiors. They are not. Ever more openly, they show themselves to be our enemies.

They have no choice; they're in a desperate fight for the survival of a status quo that means absolutely everything to them, which has made it impossible to keep the masks on. Know what's great about this story, though? As things develop further and more information comes to light, it begins to look likely that it's going to end up splashing back all over...Gropey Joe Biden. Sundance notes another business-as-usual aspect to this tempest in an Enemedia teapot:
With more reporting by John Solomon, cited and attributed to on-the-record officials in the State Department and Ukraine, a much more clear picture emerges. In reality, and unfortunately as expected, the fulsome picture is 180° divergent from the media narrative.
Gee, imagine my surprise.

Friday, September 20, 2019

“Down With Facts!”

     The facts of life are conservative – Margaret Thatcher
     A beautiful theory, killed by a nasty, ugly little fact. – Thomas Huxley

     In a sense, the Left’s entire project is to oppose “the facts:” denying them, refusing to report them, deflecting people’s attention from them, and (of course) straining to change them, usually through legislation. For “the facts” are so consistently opposed to the Left that they form an impenetrable barrier to its schemes. No amount of theory can undo a fact, so what remains but to oppose them in every forum available?

     George Packer’s recent article in the Atlantic has received a lot of attention from conservatives for this reason. Packer, a left-liberal, is at least clear-sighted enough not to deny his child the benefits of a quality education, even if it means diverting him from the egalitarian course his politics would advocate. However, those same politics demand that Packer criticize “the system” in some fashion. His method: to rail against “meritocracy:”

     The system that dominates our waking hours, commands our unthinking devotion, and drives us, like orthodox followers of an exacting faith, to extraordinary, even absurd feats of exertion is not democracy, which often seems remote and fragile. It’s meritocracy—the system that claims to reward talent and effort with a top-notch education and a well-paid profession, its code of rigorous practice and generous blessings passed down from generation to generation.

     Note the dismissive “claims to” in the above. In point of fact, rewarding talent and effort is the only way one gets results. The alternative – ignoring talent and effort in favor of...what? – encourages idleness, tolerates scatter-brainedness and dilettantism, and produces aimlessness in society generally. But Packer has a beef. He says “meritocracy” produces anxiety:

     The mood of meritocracy is anxiety—the low-grade panic when you show up a few minutes late and all the seats are taken. New York City, with its dense population, stratified social ladder, and general pushiness, holds a fun-house mirror up to meritocracy. Only New York would force me to wake up early one Saturday morning in February, put on my parka and wool hat, and walk half a mile in the predawn darkness to register our son, then just 17 months old, for nursery school. I arrived to find myself, at best, the 30th person in a line that led from the locked front door of the school up the sidewalk. Registration was still two hours off, and places would be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis. At the front of the line, parents were lying in sleeping bags. They had spent the night outside.

     (There’s a giveaway in that paragraph. Read it a second time. You’ll find it.)

     Anxiety is a human reaction to confronting a need, or a demand, that one is uncertain of meeting. We all feel it at some point in our lives. The cure is performance: meeting the challenge with – drum roll, please – talent and effort, whether one’s own or that of a hireling. Those parents in sleeping bags, faced with the same unpleasant challenge as Packer, performed. They acknowledged the parameters of the situation they faced and rose to the occasion. Packer, somewhat less willing to put himself out, took a place in line behind them.

     The rest of Packer’s article is too dreary for a detailed exploration. Suffice it to say that when the facts – in this case, the unadorned facts about the total failure of “public” education – are at odds with his preferences, he deplores the facts. Indeed, he often denies them. He appears to think “we” could undo them if “we” cared enough.

     Typical left-liberal.

     For a look at some facts you’re unlikely to get from a George Packer, have a gander at this article from John Stossel:

     [T]oday, as life gets better, my profession [journalism] wins clicks and ratings points by hyping whatever makes us afraid. Reporters ignore gradual improvement and, sometimes, miracles.

     "We live in a world of reliable miracles," says [Reason editor-in-chief Katherine] Mangu-Ward. "When I'm having a bad day, I trawl the internet for videos of happy cyborgs ... hearing-impaired people getting cochlear implants turned on for the first time ... paraplegics walking with the help of adaptive prosthetics, infants getting their first pair of coke-bottle glasses ... things that, in another era, would have caused the founding of an entire religion!"

     Even food is better. Meatless meat tastes as good as meat from an animal because "people want to make money by selling you a burger that didn't hurt a cow," says Mangu-Ward.

     I’ll pass on the meatless “burger,” thanks, but otherwise Mangu-Ward has a powerful point. It goes hand-in-hand with this deservedly famous rant from comedian Louis C.K.:

     There’s a lot of good stuff around us – and all of it was made possible by talented folks who put their best efforts to bringing it into reality – YOUR reality. But a ceaselessly complaining zero like George Packer – and pray tell, what has he done other than vent his dissatisfaction with the “meritocracy” that made New York City the world’s greatest city? — will only complain that his “chair in the sky” onboard his five-hour flight to California “doesn’t go back far enough.”

     I had a most gratifying opportunity to celebrate the “good stuff” in The Wise and the Mad:

     “Thank you for this, Miss Holly.” Fountain buckled herself into the passenger seat as Holly started the engine. “I enjoy cooking, but my lord has always reserved the grocery shopping to himself. He’s allowed me to accompany him to the supermarket only once.”
     “Did you enjoy it, dear?” Holly pulled out of the Sokoloffs’ driveway and headed toward the Wegmans at the edge of the city of Onteora.
     “Greatly, Miss Holly. It was a place of wonder. Even now it seems I must have imagined it, that such a dream of abundance could not have been real.”
     Holly chuckled as she turned onto Grand Avenue. “It was no dream, dear. America is a place of fabulous abundance. More than those who abused you dared to let you see or know. Think of all the other wonders you’ve witnessed since Larry found you. The comfortable homes and furniture. All the cars. The beautiful music you’ve heard and the instruments it was played on. All the books, movies, and television shows. All the kitchen gadgets that make cooking easier. The gorgeous clothes and shoes Larry and Trish have bought for you. Those things weren’t produced by miracles, but by men who wanted them to exist and labored to make it happen.” She reached over to caress Fountain’s cheek. “Just as you have labored to create your marvelous dishes. It’s what Americans do.”
     “Am I an American, then, Miss Holly?”
     Holly pulled into the Wegmans parking lot, quickly chose a space, and carefully positioned her car in its exact center. She killed the engine and turned to her companion.
     “You, Fountain, are as American as any of us,” she said. “More than I am, really. Many years ago I left America for another place far away, out of a need to escape from my family. I should have stayed and fought for myself. I’m back now, and may I never again feel the urge to flee my native land, where I have always belonged.” She smiled. “Do you have a list of ingredients in mind yet, dear?”
     “I do, Miss Holly.”
     “Then let’s grab a shopping cart and be about it.”

     Yes, we have some troubles to surmount. We’ll surmount them. It’s what Americans do. But don’t forget to enjoy the good stuff. There’s a lot of it, and that’s a fact.

     The alternative to a proper respect for the facts is to live in a fantasy realm in which abundant calories, warmth in the winter and coolth in the summer, smartphones, cars, and airliners are produced by “good intentions” and an obsession with “social justice.” With George Packer for a neighbor, at that. I won’t speak for anyone else, but I prefer my ranch house on an acre in the suburbs, even if it does have an annoying leak or two and the lawn persists in growing past its optimal length.

     I’ll grant an indulgent exception to the parade of pygmies the Democrats have trotted onto their national stage in pursuit of the opportunity to lose to the most accomplished president in a century. After all, if they were compelled to attend to the facts about the economy, the swelling of the workforce and the reductions in unemployment, the explosion in housing starts, our improved international relations, the reforms in NATO, the steady strengthening of our southern border, and the highest consumer confidence in five decades, they’d all concede and slink quietly away. We wouldn’t want that; the entertainment value is too great. But for the rest of us, facts.

Okay, it's just truly pitiful now

In the beginning, there was this:

Now, though, we have this:
Hillary Clinton has a new excuse for her 2016 loss to now-President Donald Trump: voters in places like Wisconsin, which she notoriously did not visit, were disenfranchised by voter identification laws and prevented from casting ballots in her favor. Clinton specifically blames Republican voter suppression for Stacey Abrams losing the election for Georgia governor, but, for the first time, extrapolated the problem to the 2016 presidential election, claiming that around 200,000 voters in Wisconsin were turned away from the polls because of that state's voter ID requirement (Clinton, of course, lost Wisconsin in a brutal swing state defeat, despite what she claims were internal polls showing her far ahead of Trump).
Poor addlepated old rummy keeps forgetting that there's only ONE poll that counts. It's held on Election Day via the Electoral College, as specifically required by the US Constitution. Means little or nothing to her and her fellow Democrat-Socialists, I know. But still.
"You can run the best campaign, you can have the best plans, you can get the nomination, you can win the popular vote. And you can lose the Electoral College and therefore the election for these four reasons. Number one, voter suppression," Clinton told the crowd of around 300.
Good old HILLARY!™, still just packing 'em in everywhere she goes, eh?
But Stacey Abrams' claim of voter suppression in Georgia is far more solid than Clinton's claim of voter suppression in Wisconsin. Clinton's "200,000" number actually appears to be a misquote of a "300,000" number that originated in a tweet shortly following Clinton's Wisconsin loss. The tweet claimed "300,000 voters were turned away by the states strict Voter ID law," thereby offering proof that the election had been "rigged" for Donald Trump, ostensibly by the Russians.
Even the Lefty "fact checkers" at Snopes debunked that claim, as the article mentions. But even if those voters had been turned away, so what? All that would mean is that as many as 300,000 fraudulent votes would have been undone by the common-sense Voter ID law. Which, y'know, is kinda the whole point of them. No wonder Her Herness—the reigning and unchallengeable Queen Of Corruption—was so upset by them.
“We are witnessing a deliberate and ongoing effort to undermine the integrity of our elections and silence millions of Americans ... particularly women, the elderly and people of color,” Clinton said at the end of her speech. “It’s no accident. It’s in service to their larger goals of obtaining and keeping power.”
Gee, projection much there, Hills? Particularly when it comes to "accepting the results of the election"—clearly something you will never, ever be capable of, you pathetic old soak.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Happy birthday to me

Some of you may have noticed the sudden disappearance of my Cold Fury websty this week, an annual phenomenon that usually occurs when I forget to pay for the domain name registration each year. It's a real mental glitch I have going on with this, I admit. I registered the CF name and started the blog in direct response to the 9/11 attacks, six days after the fact on 9/16. Oughta be easy enough to remember that, right? And we all are. Again.

But this year is a little different. For the last couple-three years, I've been pondering shifting the domain name responsibilities over to Hosting Matters, the company upon whose servers the blog has been perched for years now. HM's proprietress and web designer extraordinaire, Stacy Tabb, is an old and highly esteemed chum from the earliest days of the warblogosphere; the whole crew at HM are great folks, and my trust in them is absolute. Besides all that, HM's fee for the domain reg is about half what I've been paying for lo, these many years. The only thing that's kept me from pulling the trigger before now is the several days of downtime required while the mysterious Internet Gnomes see to the propagation and percolation and whatever else goes on in the most secret caverns of the Innarnuts.

But I dunno, seems to me that since I'm down already, due mostly to having been extremely busy the past week, now might just be the time to make the change granting full behind-the-scenes control of CF to Hosting Matters for good. Sorry for any anxiety my disappearance might have caused anybody. The funny thing is, I received several emails toot sweet from CF lifers who already know the drill and wanted to remind me of this year's Senior Moment. I'll keep everyone posted here and at Daily Pundit as to further developments; right now, I'm leaning pretty heavily towards just going ahead and making the HM switch, frankly. There's also going to be some news forthwith about that CF podcast I mentioned a couple months back, too. Many thanks once again to Francis for the posting privileges here. Lastly, happy eighteenth (!) birthday to ye olde Cold Fury blog; long may she wave.

Oh, and what is it I've been so all-fired busy with this week, you ask? Well, on Monday, it was this:

That's me, one of the at-large members of the Gaston County School District, and my young 'un Madeleine, at the presentation ceremony honoring MJ for having won statewide in the Proudest Kid In (insert name of county here) County essay contest. From here, it's on to Raleigh, where she'll be duly recognized in the NC Senate. I told her after all was said and done the other night that it's too bad there isn't a Proudest Dad In Gaston County contest, because I'd win that thing going away. She liked that.

Best news EVAR

What with Civil War v2.0, the growing insanity of the Democrat-Socialist Party, the hidebound self-defeatism of the NeverTrumpTard Vichy GOPe, the obstinate tenacity of the Deep State, and so many other things, the overall picture can look pretty bleak these days, at least when viewed from a certain angle. But suddenly, a ray of real hope shines forth.
Twenty-four years after its end, The Far Side appears set for a surprising return. A just-launched official site for Gary Larson’s often anthropomorphic, always surreal one-panel comic strip was recently updated with a new cartoon showing a man with a blowtorch thawing out various animals and human characters who populated the series. Underneath was the message “Uncommon, unreal, and (soon-to-be) unfrozen. A new online era of The Far Side is coming!”
Be still, my throbbing heart! (Via MisHum)

The Time Has Come, the Walrus Said... talk of many things.

This is one of those potpourri-type posts. It's meant to get random thoughts off my mind, and into the post.

(1) I was put onto this by a Rush Limbaugh transcript (BTW, they're free, and provide an easier way for those of us who have hearing issues to enjoy his show). From the Mainstream Media, NBC News, note the no-so subtle framing of the opposing parties.
"Republican-CONTROLLED, or Democratic-RUN. Run into the ground, that is.

(2) Please, Please, PLEASE - play the video at the link - it's the one at the top - it's the best take-down of Democratic B$ that I've heard since Sen. Lindsey Graham went Hulk in committee.

Another video from the hearing is below - again, WELL worth hearing. Nadler is both exasperated and not in control. Lewandowski deftly outflanks him.

There are other videos online - feel free to put your own favorite's link in the comments.

(3) Did Trump make an "indiscreet" comment to a foreign leader?

Who cares? We all know that he's prone to tossing out ideas, off the cuff (at least, seemingly so). I'll just him on actions, not words.

The positive part of all of the TDS stuff is that most people are reflexively conditioned to respond, Oh, Yeah - Another NewsBoy Crying Wolf. We just automatically think, Consider the Source.

(4) The Queen did NOT scold Lewis Hamilton, the Formula One Racer. She gently pointed out how the conversational rules worked. Hamilton seems less upset than those eager to drum up a Significant Racial Incident.

(5) This is disturbing. Nearly as disturbing as the prospect of warfare being taken over by AI.

The View From Here

     The political Left – i.e., the Democrat Party and its media handmaidens – is suffering badly. The series of blows delivered to it by the success of Trump Administration policies and the failure of Leftist attempts to undermine its principals has staggered it more seriously than any events since Warren Harding ended the depression that followed Woodrow Wilson’s War. (In case you’re unfamiliar with Harding’s method, he simply reduced federal spending by 40%.) At this point President Trump looks likely to repeat Ronald Reagan’s 1984 re-election tally. With things going this well, there’s nothing the Democrats have to hope President Trump “steps on his own crank.” That’s not impossible, mind you, but it’s not very likely.

     Are there still some clouds in the sky? Of course. When haven’t there been? There are still unemployed Americans. There are still zones of urban blight and violence. There are still teens and young adults who have no Playstations.® It’s called to my mind one of Eric Hoffer’s more ominous observations:

     A grievance is most poignant when almost redressed.

     You see, the subject of today’s tirade is political temptation.

     Many years ago, the late Ursula LeGuin wrote an extremely affecting story titled “The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas.” It was, as the authoress said openly, “a variation on a theme by William James.” It described an idyllic city, a place where all the observer can see are peace, prosperity, and safety. Yet there are some who elect to “walk away” from such seeming perfection. Here is LeGuin’s stunningly powerful conclusion:

     The place they go towards is a place even less imaginable to most of us than the city of happiness. I cannot describe it at all. It is possible that it does not exist. But they seem to know where they are going, the ones who walk away from Omelas.

     Why do they walk away from what appears to be a realized Utopia? Because the joy of its residents was purchased at a price: permanent isolation and misery for one innocent child. Each of them must be acquainted with that price upon attaining his majority. Some find it unacceptable. In walking away, they reject the bargain.

     That’s the only thing they can do. Even to speak a kind word to that child would violate the bargain for all of Omelas. The consequences are left to the reader’s imagination, but LeGuin leaves no doubt that they would be harsh.

     I put it to you, Gentle Reader: What is the key characteristic of this scenario, the one that motivates those who walk away?

     No partial credit for near misses.

     The great political temptation is to look at something disliked, to classify it as a “problem,” and to imagine that it can be “solved.” “Problems” ought to be “solved,” right? You don’t just let them sit there. You get to work!

     That temptation has come near to ruining these United States. Do-gooders have classified one social condition after another as a “problem” and demanded that government “solve” it. In nearly every case the political “solution” demanded has made matters worse – usually not just for those afflicted by the “problem.” The ironies peak in noting that in many cases the “problem” had been dissipating all by itself, with a strong implication that the “solution” actually retarded its amelioration.

     I cannot imagine that the forces that propelled these movements are unaware of what they’ve done. Indeed, in some cases the outcome they produced was the one they intended. But for the purposes of this screed, that’s a side issue. The pernicious effects of temptation are the core of the matter.

     Just now, the official unemployment rate is very low. Let’s imagine, entirely for our current purposes, that only the 3.7% “unemployed” are involuntarily without work. That figure has a certain poignancy to it. “Can’t we do something for those poor people?” the meliorist cries. “Surely the power of the federal government can be brought to bear on this!”

     History contradicts the meliorist in the harshest possible tones. There are exactly zero examples of a government program that has reduced involuntary unemployment other than cosmetically – i.e., by making the unemployed into disguised wards of the State. The attempts have been many; the costs have been great; the successes have been none. With the weight of politico-economic history so solidly behind the “can’t do it” verdict, one would reasonably conclude that it can’t be done. Yet the meliorists continue to screech for it...and others continue to listen to them. Why?

     The answer is “justice.” Note the sneer quotes before you read onward.

     The rhetoric of the Social Gospelers was Christian. It was our Christian duty, they proclaimed, to address the plight of the downtrodden. That rhetoric had a massive effect. For as long as the response was private, confined to individuals and their voluntary associations, it did net good at an acceptable cost. The negative consequences of such private charitable action were bearable, as they’ve been throughout history.

     In our time, Social Gospel preachments are less effective than they were. This is especially the case in view of the immense outlays governments at all levels lavish upon “social programs.” A huge fraction of Americans’ taxes go to funding such programs, and the public is fully aware of it. It gives the old rejoinder “I gave at the office” a peculiar force.

     So those who would once have preached about our “Christian duty” have altered the terms of their outreach. Today they talk about “justice.” They tell us that it’s “unjust” that some should have more than others. It’s “unjust” that some should be involuntarily without jobs. It’s “unjust” that some trades compensate their workers so little. And so forth.

     Conceptually, justice is indivisible from rights. There is no definition of justice that can be separated from the rights of the individual. Americans have a clear conception of individuals’ rights, even those who can’t quite articulate it. That lends its clarity to their conception of justice...which is why the reformers of our time are at pains to muddy the concept by adding the word “social.”

     If we insist on the original conception of justice as a process for preserving, defending, and at need restoring the rights of the individual, the notion that government could properly be involved in the mitigation of individuals’ miseries is sharply limited. For the typical “underprivileged” individual is not in that condition because of injustice. He might not be skilled enough to be employed at a better wage. He might be lazy, or handicapped through no fault of anyone else’s. He might have a history that inclines employers to avoid him. Justice as Americans understand it simply isn't involved.

     Compelling a do-gooder to face those facts deals him a severe blow. He’s likely to call you a racist and scurry away. But he won’t retire from the fray. He’ll simply look for a more susceptible, less critical audience. Those 3.7% unemployed are counting on him!

     There are do-gooders of every stripe pressing for the attention of the Trump Administration. Some of them are President Trump’s relatives, and have his ear. Herein lies the most significant risk to the overall successes of the Administration to date.

     The risk emerges from the interplay of previous successes with “good intentions.”

     President Trump has proved himself to be a winner: one who can do what he’s said he’ll do. He’s wrestled several national afflictions and nuisances into submission, and is addressing further ones as we speak. Even the Reagan Administration can’t claim Trump’s number and degree of successes. It’s a record to be proud of.

     Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. – Proverbs 16:18

     If the do-gooders in Trump’s orbit should persuade him that there’s nothing immune to his golden touch, they could corrupt the most successful federal administration of the century behind us. Their most promising approach would be to tempt him to overreach by playing to his pride in his achievements to date.

     Take this business of mass shootings. There have been a few in recent years, though their frequency is not increasing. (Neither are the annual body counts of lives lost to unjustified homicide.) In a nation in which private persons can acquire firearms, such things will happen now and then. There’s no way to prevent them – and that admission is key to the whole affair: We can’t do anything about them.

     A legislative or executive attempt to prevent mass shootings would be overwhelmingly more likely to increase the body counts. It would do so by depriving law-abiding Americans of the means of self-defense, including their means of reacting constructively to the emergence of a would-be mass shooter. If President Trump remains focused upon what’s possible and what isn’t – i.e., if he keeps in mind the huge number of annual uses of privately owned firearms to prevent crimes or thwart them in progress, and ponders the consequences of prior infringements on the right to keep and bear arms – he’ll resist the importunings of the “we’ve got to do something” crowd.

     But Trump’s pride of achievement will be their target. “You’ve achieved so much already,” they’ll purr. “Surely you can do something about this!

     That’s only an isolated case. There are many others.

     The worst thing you can do to the liberals is take away their grievances. – Bill Moyers

     Almost-redressed grievances are all around us. They’ve been getting smaller since the end of the Obamunist Interregnum. Some are beginning to look pretty damned small...small enough that just a leetle federal intervention might stamp them out for good. That’s what the reformers, meliorists, and do-gooders with access to high Trump Administration officials will chant.

     At this time the Left is in a compromised position. Things are going too well, economically and internationally, for their usual persuasive approaches to gain traction. That’s why the parade of aspirants to the Democrat presidential nomination is composed of socialist fruits and nuts. No one with a dash of sense remaining to him wants to go up against the most successful administration of our time.

     There’s no shortage of cunning among the Left’s strategists and tacticians. They have a sense for where there opportunities lie. Remember how, in the 1930s, they seized upon the Depression as an opportunity to push socialism and communism? In the 1960s, the approach was to point to Michael Harrington’s “pockets of poverty” that only federal action could salve. And in the 1980s, with Reaganomics reviving the American economy, their focus turned sharply toward “environmentalism.” All chimeras – but all subjects on which they could at least pretend there were “problems” to “solve,” and that they cared, whereas the powers in place did not.

     Keep an eye on the Left’s pet think tanks, opinion-mongers, and publicity specialists. Watch what subjects they address. There will be a shift in their emphasis: possibly before the election, but more likely immediately afterward.

     And provide President Trump, along with the electoral support to which his achievements fully entitle him, a service akin to that rendered to kings and emperors of yore: the individual tasked with periodically whispering in the monarch’s ear:

“Remember, O King, that thou art mortal.”

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

In The Annals Of Counterpunching...

     ...yesterday’s “testimony” by Corey Lewandowski before the House of Representatives ought to receive a special prize. Lewandowski did exactly what was required to let the air out of the Democrats’ impeachment gasbag: he behaved like a Democrat being questioned by Republicans! He averted, evaded, provided facetious answers, answered questions that hadn’t been asked, and in the case of the Dishonorable Sheila Jackson Lee, he made explicit note that her five-minute rant at him contained no question to answer. In short, he made the smear peddlers of the Left, desperate to find something with which to defame President Trump, look like what they really are: yapping Pekinese and Chihuahuas dogs, trying vainly to bite the ankles of a far better man.

     (DELIBERATELY OFFENSIVE OBSERVATION AHEAD: Read the following paragraph at your own risk!

     Concerning Sheila Jackson Lee: What is it with these self-important black women and their three-names fetish?[1] Do they harbor some cargo-cultish notion that it can make them members of the political elite? That if they pattern their names after those of Old South plantation mistresses and Beacon Hill blue-bloods, it might elevate them to comparable altitudes? Not bloody likely, La’ShaNee*Qua!

     Thank you for your forbearance. Our normal, normally offensive commentary will now resume.[2])

     It’s not the first time a “witness” from the Right has humiliated a gaggle of Leftist thugs with seats in Congress, but it’s one of the most memorable. Moreover, it illustrates one of the Trump virtues that previous presidents and their aides have failed to exhibit: the willingness to fight back, using the enemy’s own weapons when and as appropriate.

     There are other memorable moments to be savored from this first Trump term, of course. Have a few of my favorites:

     And we have this: When a court forced Jim Acosta back into the White House after his press pass was pulled at President Trump’s order, the president didn’t merely shrug and say, “foiled again;” he took another approach: he canceled presidential briefings to the press:

     It's been six months since the heckling stopped. Six months since the last White House press briefing. Six months devoid of noxious nonsense....

     When any Republican is president, at least one or two reporters become hecklers at the White House press briefings. It’s their ticket to liberal media fame. It started with Dan Rather heckling Richard Nixon. Then Sam Donaldson badgered President Ronald Reagan all the way to national stardom, despite looking like a muppet and acting like a grinch. Who can forget how David Gregory of NBC went after Bush spokesman Ari Fleischer during 43’s first term?...

     CNN’s White House correspondent [Jim Acosta] showboated every day, badgering White House press secretaries Sean Spicer and Sarah Huckabee Sanders with gotchas designed not to illuminate or inform, but to make himself the star of the perverse show. Sanders always handled him with a grace he never deserved. Acosta may have believed he was helping the audience—the American people or, more likely, his fellow anointed scribes sitting around him—but he was only helping himself. He used the justified revocation of his “hard pass” to rally more media hecklers to his side. And then he got a book deal out of it. All while he and his fellows in the anvil chorus pretend that every time President Trump pushes back against their insults and petulant on-air rants it’s somehow a new and unprecedented threat to democracy.

     Try grabbing for that microphone, Acosta!

     Among the things this president will be remembered for, his lessons to other Republicans on how to fight back are the foremost. Yes, President Trump is achieving greatly. Yes, he’s straining to the limit to fulfill his campaign promises, and God bless him for it. But the great failing among Republicans this century past has been an unwilllingness to fight when attacked. Ann Coulter could have told them so; in fact I think she did. President Trump is giving them examples to study – and study they must.

     It’s been a great almost-three years. Please, God, let us have a second Trump term! The exploding heads in the media would make it worthwhile all by themselves!

     That’s all for today, Gentle Reader. I have a major dentist’s appointment to prepare for. Back tomorrow...I hope.

And now, in laudatory emulation of my Esteemed Co-Conspirator Col. Bunny, the Notes section:
[1]: Cf. Marian Wright Edelman, Carol Moseley Braun, et alii.
[2]: “If I am offensive, you may take it that I am offended!” – Christopher Plummer as Sherlock Holmes, in Murder By Decree

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

A Possible New Solution to NATO

While reading Bookwormroom today, I had an idea - no idea whether it's a new idea, or one that has been looked at, and found wanting.

She was talking about healthcare, and why Europe had, for a time in the mid-century, had extraordinarily good experiences with socialized medicine. From the late 1940s start of NATO, European nations had been relieved from the burden of defending their countries. As countries joined, they found that a significant part of their budget was no longer their problem, but shared with the 'rich' USA.

Trump is one that wants the EU to pay more for their own defense - which, to me, seems only fair. See the chart below, which displays the portion of moneys spent, as a % of the national GDP (Gross Domestic Product).

That's a relatively reasonable arrangement, that attempts to have richer countries pay more, and those poorer countries pay a percentage of their GDP. However, even with that relative contribution, SOME countries are paying a MUCH higher percentage than others.

NATO has begun trying to level out that shared sacrifice for the good of all in the alliance. Each country is to pay 2% of their GDP.

How's that working?

I found it interesting that Poland is right on target, putting 2% exactly on the line - as she should. Poland is Target ONE in any continental war, and knows that defense is a priority.

The current NATO framework is a Commons - the defense infrastruture being a jointly held asset. Such a structural setup is one that is easily exploited by the unscrupulous, as Garrett Hardin pointed out in his book, The Tragedy of the Commons (VERY hard to find book - a condensed explanation of it is here).

I propose a different method of funding NATO. We should identify those projects/bases near countries that are meeting their funding goals, and prioritize them. For continuing and future defense expenditures, the US should match the spending of a country (perhaps with a multiplier function) of countries that want their defense shored up and improved.

In other words, those countries that have skin in the game are given the most resources.

Here are the countries that would lead the list for priority spending:
Greece, 2.38%. 
Britain, 2.21%. 
Estonia, 2.16%. 
Poland, 2%.
The presence of Greece on the list surprised me. I know of their major debt problems, and I assumed - wrongly - that they had let their guard down, putting defense low on their list of priorities. It would seem that the spirit of Thermopylae still breathes.

Molon Labe!

Conclusion Time

     In every political controversy, one must ask oneself whether a conclusion is possible – conclusion being used in the sense of a firm conviction that one has reached the truth of the matter. Some controversies are not susceptible to conclusions; the motives of those involved are too murky. Others will allow for them, though it might be a while before sufficient evidence can be amassed. And in some, one can make use of “previous work.”

     Concerning the Left’s efforts to defame Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States Brett Kavanaugh as a sexual harasser, considerable evidence has emerged in a very short span. Moreover, “previous work,” specifically the Left’s prior attempt to smear Associate Justice Clarence Thomas as a sexual harasser, points in the same direction as that evidence. On these grounds and others, I maintain that conclusion time is upon us.

     The current Justices of the Supreme Court, with their avowed religious affiliations or backgrounds:

  • Chief Justice John Roberts: Catholic.
  • Associate Justice Clarence Thomas: Catholic.
  • Associate Justice Samuel Alito: Catholic.
  • Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor: Catholic.
  • Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh: Catholic.
  • Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch: Catholic.
  • Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg: Jewish.
  • Associate Justice Stephen Breyer: Jewish.
  • Associate Justice Elena Kagan: Jewish.

     Thus, the Court has six Catholics on it. I can’t recall a previous time when that was the case. Think hard, now: What specific doctrine of the Catholic Church comes at once to mind in reference to hotly debated public-policy issues and the Supreme Court?

     Kyle Smith has one in mind:

     The New York Times on Saturday joined The New Yorker and many other media outlets in upending a dumpster full of garbage on its own reputation in an effort to smear Brett Kavanaugh. After more than a year of digging, the Democrats and their media allies still have no supported allegations of sexual misconduct by Brett Kavanaugh at any point in his entire life.

     Why would the media do this? Call it the asterisk strategy. This is a coordinated, full-on effort to undermine the legitimacy of Brett Kavanaugh’s work on the Supreme Court. The reputations of news outlets are so many eggs that must be broken in pursuit of this omelet....

     The hope of the Democratic party and most of the media is to delegitimize Brett Kavanaugh and hence any Supreme Court decision in which he joins a 5–4 majority. The ground is being laid to make the case that, should Roe v. Wade be overturned in such a manner, that decision would exist under a cloud. It’s a desperation move: The Democrats and their media allies, the Times and the New Yorker very much included, are envisioning some extralegal or extra-constitutional maneuvers to stop Roe from being overturned.

     BRAVO! Clarity at last! A firm conclusion reached on the basis of the evidence before us! That, Gentle Reader, is today’s political benison. Savor it, as we might not get another this week.

     At this time, owing to the election of 2016, the federal government’s executive and judicial branches are in Republican hands, albeit not by fat margins. Moreover, President Trump has openly criticized Roe v. Wade, though he’s avoided uttering a blanket condemnation of the practice of abortion. With the elevation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, for the first time since 1973 there’s an appreciable chance, should a suitable case come before the Court, that the ruling in Roe v. Wade could be overturned.

     (No, there wasn’t much chance before Kavanaugh. Remember how squishy John Roberts has proved to be. The mutterings that the Left “must have something on him” might just have some substance. At any rate, he’d be an unreliable vote on this issue.)

     Yes, there are other aspects to Kavanaugh’s seating on the Court. Jodi Giddings of Victory Girls mentions a few. I trust Miss Giddings will allow me a great deal of snipping to stay within “fair use:”

1. They know they can’t beat Trump.
2. They know their extremist views on abortion are abhorrent to most Americans.
3. They are fearful that Ruth Bader-Ginsburg could be replaced by Trump.
4. They think impeaching Kavanaugh will bolster their goal of impeaching Trump.
5. Removing the focus from themselves (gun grabbing, tax increases, open borders, hatred of America, etc etc etc).
6. Cementing the women’s vote.

     All of these are plausible, but to my mind the lead item is the Left’s secular sacrament: abortion. The Left has gone all-out to protect that practice from having the mildest legal conditions placed on it. Indeed, the Left has agitated for government-funded abortion. Their argument seems to be that if it’s a “right,” then surely the Omnibenevolent State should pay for it. The possibility that a reversal of Roe v. Wade could return the question to the states, where popular sentiment has turned ever more definitely against unrestricted abortion on demand, is abhorrent to them.

     I’ve done this before, but, as the calumnies about my Catholicism and its relation to my politics have never abated, I’m going to do it again:

     "What did you think of the movie?" Celeste pulled Louis's arm against her and walked closely alongside him.
     He shrugged. "I'm not big on tearjerkers. It was pretty decent entertainment, but I have a feeling they distorted the facts of his life a bit."
     "Whose? C. S. Lewis's?"
     He nodded. "I have a hard time matching the character in the movie with the things he wrote."
     "You've read his books?"
     "All of them."
     He unlocked the passenger door of his pickup truck and helped her into it. Even with his assistance, her stiletto heels made it a challenge.
     When they were in motion, she asked, "Do you have any favorite hobbies?"
     "Hm? No, I read a lot, that's about it."
     "So, how do you pass the time when you're not at work? Just reading?"
     He guided the truck through the gate of her townhouse complex, wheeled into a convenient parking place, and killed the engine. "Well, I do a few other things, but nothing you'd call exciting."
     I've got to know before this gets any more serious.
     Trying to sound casual and failing completely, she said, "Any causes?"
     He turned and looked at her without speaking, then let himself out of the truck and went around to her side to help her out. She took his arm again as they began the walk to her door.
     "If you were to take Route 231 through the city, turn south onto Fullerton Boulevard, and stay on it for about half a mile, you'd come to a light industrial area. On the southern edge there's a medical park, just a few one-story buildings that share a parking lot. Most Saturdays when the weather is good, you'd find me standing at the entrance with a sign that says 'Pregnant? Please talk to me first.' "
     Katie was right.
     "Operation Rescue, Louis?"
     He shook his head as they mounted the short flight of concrete steps that stood before her door. "No, I don't much care for that bunch. When they're there, I'm not. This is just me, and sometimes another fellow who feels the way I do."
     Instead of unlocking her door at once, she turned to face him. He stood with his hands clasped before him. She could read nothing from his face in the dim moonlight.
     "And how is that?"
     He looked down briefly. "That abortion is a horrible thing. That it should be a last resort, to save a mother's life, not a first to spare her some inconvenience. That most women who have abortions wouldn't, if they knew how they'd feel afterward." He said it calmly, no strain apparent.
     "Are you a Catholic by any chance, Louis?"
     He stood a little straighter. "Not by chance, Celeste. By mature choice, and by the grace of God."
     Something in the words flicked her on the raw. Scorn poured into her voice. "I see. And of course that 'grace' gives you the right to interfere in the mature choices of women you've never met?"
     His eyes flared wide. "I interfere in no one's choices, Miss Holmgren. I force myself on no one. I present information and alternatives. Sometimes it seems as if the rest of society is practically shoving women into abortion clinics, rushing them in with no chance to check other options or think about what they're doing. I don't block the doors. I stand beside them with an offer of assistance. If that be interference, make the most of it."
     He started away, then faced her again. "By the way, you might have the wrong idea about something else as well. I'm not opposed to abortion because I'm a Catholic. Being opposed to abortion is part of what qualifies me to be a Catholic. Give that a spin on your mental merry-go-round and see where it gets off. Thanks for your company this evening. I'll see you at the office next week."
     He strode off into the darkness before she could reclaim her voice.

[From Chosen One]

     Louis Redmond’s convictions are mine as well.

     Abortion as a public-policy matter has been debated in the most strident tones imaginable, ever since the decision in Roe v. Wade was announced. As a cultural matter, it’s suffered quite a number of setbacks, most prominently the Kermit Gosnell atrocities, the revelation that major abortion provider Planned Parenthood has been selling fetal body parts to order, and the tide of former pro-abortion voices who’ve turned against the procedure out of simple humanity. The recent movie Unplanned dramatizes that last aspect of the thing.

     While the nation is dramatically divided about whether abortion should be legal and under what circumstances, the Democrat Party is not. Its coalition is already shaky. To keep it together, it must “hold the line” on a handful of issues. Abortion, which the Left regards as key to retaining “the women’s vote,” is probably at the top of that list. Thus, it will do whatever it can think of to obstruct any progress, whether legal or judicial, toward limiting abortions.

     The delegitimization of the Supreme Court, now populated by a Catholic majority, is a component in that effort. The attack on Brett Kavanaugh and the revived attacks on Clarence Thomas – remember the “high-tech lynching?” I do – are central elements in that effort.

     Let’s sum up. A political party that respects nothing but power and is determined to have all of it in perpetuity has committed the foulest imaginable libels against good and decent men who stand in its path. It’s degraded the nation, beclowned its media, and disregarded the sanctity of human life to gain its end. Would you say there’s any real surprise to be had here, Gentle Reader? Any uncertainty about the conclusions I've reached?

     Nope. Me neither.

Monday, September 16, 2019

What You Need: A Monday Rumination

     I’m still getting “why did you write this?” emails about the futanari stories and novels. The tone of those missives tends to be baffled. (Yeah, with an occasional sprinkling of outrage from a reader who thinks I’ve just slaughtered, filleted, and barbecued his sacred cow. I’m used to it. A writer who takes chances has to get used to it pretty quickly.) Rather than shuffling them off with a stock answer (e.g., “It struck me funny”), I’ve asked myself whether the inquiries might be aimed somewhere I hadn’t yet pondered. Perhaps the subject will make a refreshing change from the public-affairs news.

     To lead off, allow me to emphasize this: the futanari stories are stories. Generically, they’re near-future science fiction. Yes, they have some Catholic elements, as is the case with pretty much all my fiction. My point is the usual one: my stories are intended to entertain first and foremost, and after that to examine ideas that I find worthy of consideration.

     Let’s leave the entertainment part for my readers’ judgment. The first of the ideas I had in mind concerns the contemporary phenomenon of transgenderism. There have been persons who’ve elected to present as other than the sex of their birth for decades now. In the main, those persons have caused no harm. They’ve embraced their problems as their problems, have done what they deemed appropriate to address them, and have continued on with their lives – both those who have been happy with their transitions and those who have not. The smart ones have lived quietly in the mode they preferred, rather than trumpeting what they did.

     The recent politicization of transgenderism, and the associated fad about it that’s had such deleterious effects on young persons, are the heart of our social problems with it. That’s what happens when a properly private matter is made into political pabulum. Politics is inherently riven with strife – more so today than in previous eras, to be sure – so to politicize a subject is to make it a field for controversy and exchanges of unfriendly fire. Those who seek to degrade and destroy the Republic are quite aware of that, which is why they politicize every topic imaginable: Strife is their source of political profit.

     I dislike strife; it’s a drain on my ammunition stockpile. I do what I can to reduce it. Part of my effort is fictional: in this case, stories that ask this question among others:

Imagine humans genetically excluded from both sexes:
The futanari.
Imagine that they can do nothing about it.
What would their lives be like?

     I laid that at the base of my fictional roasting pan, layered in a criminal enterprise that clones such persons for sexual purposes, added a few heroes from my Onteora Canon, folded in two conventional transwomen for crunch, sprinkled it with Christian ethics, baked it at 350° for three novelettes and three full-length novels, and served it hot. Either it got my readers thinking or it didn’t. (For damn sure it took a toll on me.)

     When I address a politicized subject in fiction, it’s to explore my own opinions about it. In that sense, the futanari tales have a political point. It’s exactly and only this: Transgenderism is not something to be made a fad. The lives of my futanari were intended to dramatize that point. Whether I succeeded at that, I have no idea.

     But a novelist never knows what sort of reactions he’ll elicit with his tales. As I’ve said before, here and elsewhere, every cause has more than one effect. One of the unintended consequences of the futanari series was a group of, shall we say, probes of my own sexual inclinations. For example, the email I received after releasing “A Place Of Our Own,” “One Small Detail,” and “A Daughter Of The County” included:

  1. A proposal of marriage;
  2. Three less formal propositions;
  3. A bunch of URLs to some unusual Websites.

     I declined the marriage proposal on the grounds of a “previous commitment.” (I did so somewhat wistfully, to be sure. It was the first I’d ever received, and the sender is very attractive...assuming the picture she sent was of her, that is.) I deleted the other propositions and filed the URLs away for possible future use. (Fictional use; get your mind out of the gutter.) But it was educational. It served to remind me of the variety of human reactions and human opinions. No writer can brace himself so well that he can’t be surprised by them.

     In a way, those off-axis reactions are the most positive ones I received. None of them were nasty or contemptuous in tone. They suggested that the senders had been affected by the stories and moved to react in their own ways. That I hadn’t expected reactions of that sort didn’t pollute the satisfaction that comes from learning that something I’d written had touched another heart. As the revenues from my fiction are paltry, that sort of feedback provides the fuel I need to continue onward.

     Now for the larger point of this screed: By the implication of his embrace of his faith, a Christian is a servant of God. C. S. Lewis made the point tellingly in The Screwtape Letters:

     [A Christian is], in theory, committed to a total service of the Enemy; and if the Enemy appeared to him in bodily form and demanded that total service for even one day, he would not refuse. He would be greatly relieved if that one day involved nothing harder than listening to the conversation of a foolish woman; and he would be relieved almost to the pitch of disappointment if for one half-hour in that day the Enemy said "Now you may go and amuse yourself."

     And as I wrote in the Foreword to Priestesses, it is my firm conviction that God gives us what we need...whether or not we agree with Him on what that might be. As His servant, I am committed to being part of the mechanism that makes those provisions. When I write, fiction or nonfiction, I have that in mind. (Whether I serve God’s will with my scribblings is for Him to judge. No one else is competent.)

     But whom do I manage to serve in that function? It’s not always obvious. The op-eds are aimed at clarifying particular political, social, and cultural subjects. I’d hope that they serve the Gentle Readers of Liberty’s Torch, where they appear. I get enough feedback about them to be reasonably confident that they serve someone, at least from time to time.

     My fiction is another subject altogether. Do my stories serve my readers as God would have it? Am I providing them with some fraction of what they need? Unless one writes to express himself about one of my tales, I cannot know.

     But just this morning another possibility occurred to me. When I elect to address some subject, is it possible God is providing me what I need? Would He do so through my own mind and fingers?

     The answer “should” be “obvious:” Why not? How could any mortal be certain of what mechanisms He would choose to employ? No mortal can forbid Him to use evolution, or economics, or any other phenomenon to advance His ends. Indeed, if He has a Plan – and He does! – it includes everything under the Sun, regardless of whether the connections are clear to us.

     (Go ahead and call me dense for not thinking of it before. Even a Certified Galactic Intellect can have a blind spot or two.)

     And so I have a new speculation to address: whether the communication pathway by which God speaks to us individually – i.e., the conscience — does more than “merely” chide us about our failings while reminding us to be charitable and humble. What important thing(s) have I learned in the process of conceiving and writing my stories? Might He have chosen that means to teach me things I badly needed to know?

     May God bless and keep you all!

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Kamikaze Politics

The Bookworm is on a roll - explaining how the Constitution is already in shreds.

The very Foundational Document of our Republic - the Constitution - has already been fed through the shredder, and is on Life Support. Only a long-term and dedicated effort can resuscitate America.

The problem stems from the clueless and illogical mindset of the - God Help Us! - voting public. They seem to think that Wishes are Reality, and that anything that stands in the way of a Alleged Sense of Unfairness must be addressed with legislation (if they are in the majority in Congress), and The Dreaded Mark of The Official White House Pen (if they hold the office of President).

Now, many of the Progressive Followers are Fine People (as a much-maligned politician would say). The only truly Evil People are the Leftists at the top. Sort of like only the Top Nazis were actually Bad; most of their followers were as clueless about the not-so hidden agenda of the Nazi Party, as their ideological descendants are about the Agenda of the Woke.

This foot-dragging opposition to the Will of the People isn't unique to America - Britain is also experiencing an all-out effort to Thwart Democracy, and Kill Brexit. All that, not at all coincidentally, by the very same Elite that oppose the American Public from actually getting their hands on their country - 'Journalists', Leftist and Leftist-appeasing politicians, the bureaucracy - both governmental and NGO, the largest corporations, banking, the educational establishment, from pre-K through university, 'Woke', and VERY privileged women, and, basically, anyone wanting to curry favor with the Vindictive Left (as well as the sizable subset of those not wanting to suffer Arkanicide).

And, against them, are Us.

Most of us are not photogenic, polished, and backed up by a Publicity Monster. We don't have intimidating academic credentials, nor powerful connections. We will not receive a fair break, nor anything more than Elitist Disdain for the commoners that DARE to question the powerful.

So, fighting back against the well-entrenched minority that believes themselves uniquely qualified to tell the rest of us how to live, and what we will be PERMITTED to do, can seem hopeless. But it is not.

Frankly, the massively excessive pushback we've gotten appears to be evidence that they are going all-in in a last-ditch effort to keep their power.

In short, Kamikaze Politics.

Not that the Elite will put THEIR bodies on the line - that's for the Lesser Ones. But, yeah, they're prepared to sacrifice ALL the troops on this last, desperate, fight to the death.

A Selection Of Salubrious Segments For Your Sunday

     Titles for these assorted pieces are getting harder to compose. Bear with me.

1. So You Think There’s No Danger?

     A young German girl would beg to differ:

     Believe it or not, when that young girl posted on Facebook about an even worse encounter, she was castigated for it:

     Two years ago, at the age of 15, I was almost raped. I have already been spit on, kicked, pushed against the elevator, in my own building. I live in a tower block. My dogs have been spit on and kicked when I wasn’t looking.

     Two weeks ago I was sitting in the tram, and a foreigner was standing next to me, pressing his thing against me constantly. The first time I thought to myself, OK, he did it accidentally maybe, but he did it three more times. Then, of course, I told him my opinion.

     Here’s the saddest thing: I published a video about it and what kind of reaction did I get? “You’ve started a smear campaign”, “It’s disgusting how you just lump them all together”, “JUST because you’ve had a bad encounter ONCE doesn’t mean every foreigner is like that.”

     Despite having clearly stated my point of view in my post, most of the people who commented just twisted my words any which way they wanted.

     That’s what its defenders keep saying is no danger to us.

2. Orange Is The New...Rose?

     Mostly I disregard the colors of the things I eat and drink. Mostly. But I’ve never encountered an orange wine. Apparently the wine snobs don’t approve of such things:

     Over the weekend, the New Yorker published a weird story that attempts to, once and for all, stop Big Orange Wine. In it, the author talks about visiting the land where this strange beverage has become de rigueur: an Italian restaurant in Brooklyn, where (gasp!) the children’s menu has cheese older than some of its audience and all the wines are natural. And what was learned on this journey? That, uh, orange wine is not really about tasting good so much as it is about challenging your taste buds....He finds “undertones of acid reflux” in one, saying drinking it was “a test of stamina.” He identifies what might’ve been “a hint of Goodyear rubber” in a Sicilian wine.

     I haven’t had any orange wines, so I mustn’t comment on them. But I will note that wine snobs tend to dismiss anything that actually pleases one’s taste buds, as the cited article goes on to note:

     In talking about an orange wine he actually likes, the 2017 Domaine Glinavos Paleokerisio, he notes that some orange wine geeks actually don’t like it because of “its extreme pleasantness”...

     Excuse me while I top off my glass of White Zinfandel.

3. Democrats Versus The Constitution.

     We’ve known for quite some time that the Left has no regard for the Constitution and generally treats it as a “paper barrier” to Leftist schemes: not to be respected but to be torn through at will. With the issue of firearms in private hands front and center, John Hinderaker notes that this is now utterly unconcealed:

     Democrats regard the Constitution as an illegitimate product of white supremacy, written by a bunch of dead white males who were racists. Why should it command any respect? In their eyes, it doesn’t. Once they achieve power, it will be a dead letter.

     Democrats have adopted the Erdogan philosophy: democracy is a streetcar. When you get to your stop, you get off. Let them win one more election, and the Constitution will protect no one.

     Time was, the standard-bearers of the Evil Party would at least pretend to respect the Supreme Law. Today they no longer bother themselves about it. Questioning one of them on the subject is likely to evoke vituperation of a sort politicians once disallowed themselves. There’s information in there.

4. Ignorant, or Unconcerned?

     You decide:

     AOC really and I mean REALLY doesn’t like the New Faces GOP ad that shows the brutality of socialism. Why? Because it points out her own ignorance of how evil it is. Furthermore, her reaction to the ad says a great deal about today’s politically correct society and the socialism she and too many others embrace.

     Here’s the ad:

     Needless to say, Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez doesn’t like the ad. Indeed, she considers its existence an affront – because she’s “a woman of color!” My, my.

     Authoress Nina Bookout continues:

     So, let me get this straight. An ad showing a historical montage of Cambodians brutalized, dead, and dying because of socialism’s evil is supposedly a love letter to the closeted white supremacist conservatives? My mind can’t stretch her ‘logic’ that far. Makes my brain hurt.

     The Left knows its mask has slipped, and it’s desperate to put it back on. But an open, avowed socialist wearing a (D) after its name – e.g., an Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez – makes that very difficult. Doesn’t the solution seem clear to you, Gentle Reader?

     I’d say Miss Ocasio-Cortez should start taking special care traversing parking lots and dim hallways. Mr. “Beto” O’Rourke might be advised to do likewise. And in neither case will the threat be coming from the Right. They’re assets to us!

5. A Bit Of Fun.

     Having had occasion to open a fresh bottle of Smuckers® raspberry jam this morning, I was put in mind of this old favorite:

     Does anyone else remember when Saturday Night Live was actually funny? Well, way back in the Early Obscene, it genuinely was. The above is the proof.

     Have a nice day.