Wednesday, February 27, 2013

To Serve And Protect

[The following short story was sent to me by F. J. Dagg, the author of the marvelous novel The Lowlands Of Heaven, a book I cannot recommend highly enough. I post it here with his permission. -- FWP]

I’ve never cared much for bagpipe music--perhaps because the only time I hear it, the piper is playing, “Amazing Grace,” and I’m at a colleague’s funeral. Any time now, it will begin, like a recurring nightmare. “...a wretch like me,” indeed...

I’m surprised they still use it, so much else has changed. For instance, the “21-bell salute” to replace the 21-gun salute. Agent Manley’s life partner insisted on bells--not guns--so we had bells today, before the closing remarks and “Amazing Grace.” Probably just as well, given the circumstances. Some things never change, though--like the sanctimonious bullshit the Chief warbles over the caskets every time.

...dangerous times, but these brave agents rose to the occasion, indeed, gave the last full measure...

But then, I suppose the Chief of Homeland Safety is entitled to talk about “dangerous times,” since her agency does so much to make them so.

In the President’s third term, we had gotten very busy with Operation SAURON (Safety and Action United to Redefine Our Nation), a program to address the problem of privately owned firearms, the repeal of the 2nd Amendment--along with most of the old Constitution--having made them illegal.

...and the families, of all kinds, who also care and share and bear the burden of their sacrifice...

You could write that night off to bad luck, I suppose, but the one sure thing about firefights is that nothing is sure. No matter how much you train, no matter how much experience you have, if you’re smart, you expect the unexpected. And the truth is, we weren’t smart that night.

As always with SAURON ops, our objective was a private residence. We went in at 0300--we always did these between 0200 and 0500. We knew two bad guys--“subjects,” we call them--were inside. Again, the usual--Constitutionalists who couldn’t, or wouldn’t, let go of the idea that the Bill of Rights was still the law of the land. FEDREGINTEL said they had at least one black rifle, two, maybe three handguns, and possibly a shotgun. They hadn’t been bad guys a year before, but they were now, according to the law it was our job to enforce.

It started badly when our front side team hit the wrong entrance. But then, it’s funny to think that but for the President’s signature on a piece of paper, it would have been the wrong house--the wrong country, in fact. As it was, they were supposed to pop a flash-bang in the male subject’s bedroom at the same time we entered the female subject’s room in back. They got the den instead, which we in back didn’t know at the time.

My team was hitting the sliding glass door of the female subject’s bedroom. A cakewalk after you’ve done it a few dozen times, as we had since SAURON went live.

But as I said, you never know what will happen. Usually, a flash-bang grenade immobilizes the subject, especially when it goes off in her bedroom at three AM. I guess this one was a sound sleeper--or deaf, maybe, she was no spring chicken--because all our grenade did, apparently, was wake her up and piss her off. Stacey--agent Manley, one of those we’re honoring here today--moved to zip-tie the subject an instant after the grenade went off. But she took one step and dropped like a sack of cement. We barely heard the shot with the noise of the grenade still ringing in our ears.

...though I didn’t know these brave agents personally, I feel as though they were a part of...

Until that night these things had gone down very smoothly: Bang! The subject freezes, the team moves in, the subject’s hogtied on the floor, either cursing you or crying and pissing or just trembling like a free speech nut in FedCourt, then you haul ‘em out, drop ‘em off with the FEMA people and you’re done. The funny thing is how many of them are actually defenseless, their guns locked up as if nothing had changed. I guess old habits die hard.

But this subject was on top of things, and had a little surprise for us--a .380 subcompact--which the geniuses at ‘INTEL had somehow neglected to include in our warrant. She must have slept with the damned thing in her hand. And maybe she did, at that--there had been two SAURON raids in her neighborhood already that month. We’d gotten complacent and had forgotten that not everyone was oblivious to the new realities.

Now, a round as small as a .380 won’t do much against decent body armor, but a visor won’t stop it and if it takes you in the eye it won’t quit ‘til it bounces off the back of the inside of your skull. Which is what happened to agent Manley. It was a lucky shot. No one can hit a moving target that accurately, so says common sense. But luck doesn’t give a damn about common sense and agent Manley was flat out of luck.

...toward a better, more secure future for the people...

Luck. Our female subject had drawn a full measure of it that night, and, it seemed, most of ours, too--because when she fired again, she went low and hit Mohammed just below his Kevlar vest. A couple of inches higher or lower and it wouldn’t have made any difference. As it was, the round snaked between his upper and lower armor, severed his femoral artery, made a quick trip around his pelvis and lodged in his bladder. He dropped beside Stacey’s body and lay howling like a dog.

...for understanding...and for tolerance....

But the subject wasn’t done. You can believe it or not--I know I wouldn’t--but her third shot was a replay of the first--straight through Jamal’s left eye. It’s the kind of thing that could make you believe there is a God--and that maybe He was on her side that night.

All this happened in less than two seconds, and by that time, those of us still alive and uninjured had pulled ourselves together. The woman’s final round missed--at last--then three magazines from as many M-4s “neutralized the subject as a threat,” as it says in the book.

Ninety rounds should have that effect on an old lady. I admit we were “spraying and praying,” shook up as we were with three of our people down right out of the gate, so not every round was on target. In fact only a few of them were, but then our job was always more about terror than marksmanship.

So we shot the shit out of the old lady’s bed and walls and carpet and ceiling, until about a dozen 5.56’s finally trumped her little .380. But they were all body wounds--and I can’t forget her eyes looking into mine as they dimmed and went out.

Back before Homeland Safety, when I was a real cop with a real purpose to serve and protect, I’d seen that in a few real bad guys we’d shot. But I had never seen it in a ninety-two year old woman’s eyes--a woman whose face looked like my grandmother’s--and it’s good to know I’ll never see it again.

...sacrifice for the peoples’ security...

That was when the male subject charged through the bedroom door wearing little more than a tac light and a .45 auto. As I said, the front side team hit the wrong room, so this individual was free to drop in on us. He ran to the sound of the gunfire in his mother’s bedroom and hit us with two hundred lumens from his light and two rounds from his pistol.

From here on, I can only tell you what happened at second hand, because his double tap hit me on either side of the solar plexus. Kevlar is like a seatbelt. If your car hits something solid at forty miles per hour, your seatbelt might save your life, but you’re definitely going to the ER. If not for my vest they’d’ve been ringing those bells for me, too, today. As it was, I got three broken ribs and four cracked ones, the wind knocked out of me, and a gash on the back of my neck when I dropped into the shards of glass that had been the old lady’s bedroom door.

The male subject got off two more rounds. One took Shannon low--like his mother’s hit on Mohammed--and like Mohammed, she bled out in about the same time, though her screaming seemed to last longer than that. But then, a shattered pelvis has to be painful. The man’s last shot caromed off Kung’s helmet--gave him a concussion and a terrific whiplash, besides knocking him on his ass--and by then the last of the team standing neutralized the subject.

...Forward! Toward a safer tomorrow, despite the resistance of the reactionary few who...

The job was done, then, but it had been a bad, bad night for Homeland Safety.

Maybe it was the Demerol--or maybe it was something deeper--but over the next couple of days, I had many unwelcome thoughts, and not for the first time. I thought of how things slip away--your passion, your perspective, your youth, certainly. Your conscience, perhaps.

As I recovered from that shit show of a raid, I remembered--my “youthful idealism,” my hitches in Iraq and Afghanistan, the oaths I took as a soldier, a policeman, and a federal agent. I remembered my grandfather, who had fought in World War II.

And I remembered the ninety-two year old woman we’d murdered in her own home--in her own bed, God help us. For all I knew, she may have been the wife of a man who’d fought with my grandfather--those of “The Greatest Generation,” perhaps the last entirely American generation.

Memories of my grandparents came hard and heavy, then memories of my youth and the passion to bear arms to serve justice. Then the indoctrination, the endless drumbeat of it, and the warning my heart sang out against it, which I shoved aside in my arrogance. God, how it hurt--the pain of my broken ribs vanished next to it--to remember, despite my attempts to deny it, what my grandparents had stood for. And I began to feel dirty--dirty in my soul.

That kind of self-examination moves a man to change, and so I began to draw up my resignation from the Department of Homeland Safety. It should’ve been easy, but I kept seeing the light in the old woman’s eyes going out, like liberty flickering out in what is still called the Land of the Free, but hasn’t been for some time now. More memories, assaulted me, of crimes I’d committed against the people of America--my people--in the name of a rogue State, a government grown like a cancer. And I knew then that they wouldn’t let me quit. It was too late--for me, anyway.

Forward! Guided by the audacious dream of a fundamental transformation...

Finally, I recalled Afghanistan. I remembered we were told that “cultural exchange” would lead to the “winning of hearts and minds,” that we would “learn from each other,” and then peace and equality would come.

But all the Afghanis learned from us was how to hate America more than they already did, and what I learned from them in my days in counter-terror--never mind my learning of the darkest regions of human nature--concerned the local style of dress, and how to make a certain kind of garment, a vest, that was popular there, and often worn to funerals--the funerals of their enemies.

My former comrades here think the bulges that hide the plastic explosives are something for the treatment of my injuries--and in a way, they are.

Ah, now, the piper...

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound...

...and still I see her eyes. May God forgive me, and may God save America.

I press the detonator...

Copyright 2013, F.J. Dagg

A Place At Another Table

You might not be aware, Gentle Reader, that other Gentle Readers write to me to ask what I think of what other Liberty's Torch contributors post here. (Then again, you might, especially if you've done so yourself.) That should be unsurprising. Though we have our several emphases and our several standpoints, I'm the "ringmaster" here, which makes it natural to wonder whether I approve of and agree with the positions the others take. My well known Catholicism and my oft-demonstrated stridency probably amplify the effect.

The mail becomes particularly voluminous when the subject is homosexuality -- and treble that when it's homosexuality within the Catholic Church.

Mark Butterworth's piece below on the corrupting influence of homosexuals within the Catholic Church is an unusually strong and candid one. If you haven't yet read it, please do so before continuing on here. As you can imagine, my email-box has overflowed with questions about that post: whether I agree with its premises, its conclusions, or both.

Ask and ye shall receive, Gentle Reader.

We already know that not everything we want is good for us. Given the large mass of evidence about the deleteriousness of male homosexual sodomy, it should be unnecessary for me to press that point any further. But Mark's piece is about homosexuality within the Catholic clergy, which is a special subject of special importance, especially to Catholics. As a Catholic and a thinker, it's most especially important to me.

Much that is not good for us is good for others. Consider indenture: If Smith is indentured to Jones's service, Jones may well profit greatly, while Smith is allowed bare subsistence for his labors. The injustice of slavery is obvious, but even voluntary self-indenture is extra-legal -- that is, unenforceable -- in the nations of the West.

Inversely, much that is good for us is not good for others. Consider burglary: the burglar (if not apprehended) profits at the expense of his victim. Again, the obvious injustice of the thing is why we criminalize it and similar acts against the property rights of others.

If we stipulate, solely for the sake of argument, that male homosexuals' consensual sexual conduct with one another is "good for them," nevertheless it does not follow that the Catholic Church should permit homosexual conduct among its clerics. Quite apart from its condemnation of homosexual conduct, the Church has decided that actively homosexual priests and nuns are bad for the Church and its communicants. Whether or not this is objectively true -- for the record, I believe that it is true, and strongly support the Church's position -- the Church, a private, voluntary association of individual communicants and their hierarchy of faith and doctrine, has as much right to its own personnel policies as any other.

A Place at the Table, Bruce Bawer's 1994 book on the acceptance of homosexuals in American society, was rather popular for a while. Bawer's core thesis was that all the American homosexual wants is "a place at the table" -- that he merely wants his rights, and his opinions, respected equally with others. Bawer, a graceful writer, made an eloquent, sometimes touchingly personal case for his position. All the same, he was wrong then and he's wrong now.

  • Some homosexuals merely want to be left alone;
  • Some homosexuals want "gay-Americans" to be a stakeholder group with a formally recognized special place in American politics, much like American Negroes;
  • And some homosexuals demand special "rights" -- really, privileges and subventions -- that heterosexuals have never had.

In this regard, American homosexuals are a lot like American Muslims.

The activist-homosexual thesis rests in part on the assertion that homosexuality is both natural and involuntary. As everything that exists is in some sense "natural," the word has no objective meaning...certainly no meaning pertinent to politics. As for "involuntary," it's possible that some fraction of homosexuals cannot be relieved of the burden of their orientation. However, at least some homosexuals can be reoriented by therapeutic means; the movie I Do Exist testifies to that fact.

But how can it be a matter of uncontrollable reflex for Adam to shove his John Thomas up Steve's Hershey Highway? He might want to do so. Steve might even agree with the desirability thereof. But the behavior itself is a matter of volition.

Nevertheless, neither the "naturalness" nor the "involuntariness" of homosexuality bears on the Church's prerogatives to set its own standards of conduct for its clerics. Substitute any other behavior for "homosexual" and see where the argument leads you.

The question whether a confessed homosexual who vows to stay chaste should be admitted to Holy Orders is a separate one, and not easy for most laymen to answer. Some such applicants for the priesthood will be sincere in making that vow; others will not. Whether the Church should accept the vow as sufficient is a policy decision that must be based upon experience.

The Church's experiences with homosexual clerics here in America have all been very bad. Like it or not, the molestation of male children and teens by male priests -- the only sort the Church accepts -- is homosexual conduct, indicative of a homosexual orientation. The dalliances of homosexual priests with one another aren't nearly as great a scandal. All the same, and all by themselves, they have done the image of the Church a great deal of harm.

The experiences of the post-war decades strongly suggest that the Church should and must bar anyone who confesses a homosexual orientation, or whose past conduct provides persuasive evidence of homosexuality, permanently from Holy Orders. There's no more "right to be ordained" than there is a "right to marry."

Activist homosexuals hate the Church for its stance on their perversion. This is understandable; it's natural -- oops! There's that word again! -- to resent being told that something you want and enjoy is an offense against God and the dignity of Man. That makes it all the more understandable that homosexuals should seek to infiltrate the Catholic clergy and corrupt it from within; it satisfies three lusts simultaneously.

Whether the Church will react appropriately and adequately against this threat is entirely uncertain. The experiences of recent years provide evidence on both sides of the question. All the same, what the Church must do for its own well being -- its persistence as the conservator of the teachings of Christ and the home of those who believe them -- is perfectly clear. Homosexuals who claim that they have a "right" to become Catholic priests -- that the Church has "no right" to protect itself from the danger they represent -- haven't a logical nor a legal leg to stand on.

Concerning homosexuals' yearning for "a place at the table," there are many other tables, including some that are nominally Christian, to which they are welcomed with open arms. The one marked Catholic should be barred to them.

Please, God, make it so.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

A Disquisition No One Should Need

More and more of those around me have been telling me how cranky I sound lately. I'm sure they're correct, though "cranky" is part of a curmudgeon's standard persona. But the most important aspect of their observations is the reason for what they perceive.

There are basic facts about the world that must be accepted as they are. They don't need to be explained. They certainly don't need to be defended. They are elements of objective reality: the stuff that "when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away."

Yet I find myself having to explain, even defend, such basic facts ever more often as time passes. Worse yet, quite a number of intelligent persons claim to find the explanations incomprehensible. Worst of all, they persist in denying the realities at issue even as they observe them in opeation!

Maybe it's something in the water.

Today's incitement to biliousness arises from this magnificently compact and lucid statement by our own, deservedly beloved InstaPundit:

Russ Roberts, Interviewer: We had a recent guest on the program, Louis Michael Seidman, and he suggested that the Constitution’s out of date. It makes us beholden to a group of dead people who lived over two hundred years ago, and we should just ignore it, unless something in it makes sense. He happens to be a defender of the Second Amendment – he wouldn’t get rid of that. Or the First Amendment; he likes that one, too. But, basically [he thinks] we should keep good laws and get rid of bad ones; [keep] good practices, and get rid of bad ones. So you just avoid the Constitutional Convention all together. You just stop using the Constitution! What do you think of his argument?

Glenn Reynolds, InstaPundit: I call this the Raj Koothrappali approach to Constitutional Law. I don’t know if you watch Big Bang Theory, but Raj is Indian of course, and he’s lecturing his sister from India on Hindu rules about modesty and sexual proprietary, and she just looks at him and says, “You’re talking to me about this, as you’re eating a cheeseburger!” He just looks at her and says, “Some of it makes sense; some of it’s crazy – what ta do?!” And that’s basically the Seidman approach to the Constitution, right? The parts he likes make sense, and the others are crazy – what ta do?

Here’s the problem with public officials — because that’s really his [Seidman’s] audience — deciding to ignore the Constitution: If you’re the president, if you’re a member of Congress, if you are a TSA agent, the only reason why somebody should listen to what you say, instead of horsewhipping you out of town for your impertinence, is because you exercise power via the Constitution. If the Constitution doesn’t count, you don’t have any legitimate power. You’re a thief, a brigand, an officious busybody, somebody who should be tarred and feathered and run out of town on a rail for trying to exercise power you don’t possess.

So if we’re going to start ignoring the Constitution, I’m fine with that. The first part I’m going to start ignoring is the part that says, I have to do whatever they say.

Roberts: But his argument is that we already ignore the Constitution; it’s not really much of a binding document.

Reynolds: Oh, well, then I’m free to do whatever I want! And actually, that is a damning admission, because what that really says is: If you believe Seidman’s argument; if you believe that we already ignore the Constitution anyway, then in fact, the government rules by sheer naked force, and nothing else. And if that’s what you believe, then all of this talk of revolution suddenly doesn’t seem so crazy, it seems almost mandatory.

Roberts: Well, he would say – well, I won’t speak for him, but some would say that, well, there’s a social contract, we’ve all agreed to kind of play by these rules…

Reynolds: Oh really?!

Roberts: …of electing officials, and…

Reynolds: Well, the rules I agreed to electing these officials are the Constitution. I thought we were going to ignore that. That’s my social contract.

Gentle Readers, it cannot be put more clearly, nor more succinctly, than that. But it should not need to be said -- not because the Constitution is some form of holy scripture, handed down by God along with the Ten Commandments, but because in the fixed and everlasting nature of things, the sole alternative to having a Supreme Law is no law at all.

Here's the logic:

  1. Law must apply either uniformly or differentially.
  2. But law that applies differently to different persons is not law; it's an exercise of privilege derived from status.
  3. Therefore, legitimate law must apply uniformly to all persons. Americans call this the Rule of Law.
  4. But some attempts to make law will be illegitimate, because the proposed law would be inherently differential: i.e., it would discriminate among persons according to their status rather than their conduct.
  5. Therefore, there must be a set of standards that codify the requirements for legitimate law. Americans call such a set of standards a constitution. It is inherently superior to all lesser legal pronouncements: the Supreme Law to which all other law must conform.

Q. E. BLEEP!ing D. No one who's passed through sixth grade without being incarcerated should have any trouble following that. All the same:

  • There are persons who claim it "makes no sense" to have a fixed Supreme Law;
  • There are persons who claim "changing times" make a Supreme Law impossible;
  • And there are persons who find the constraints of a Supreme Law too chafing to bear.

Most of the above enumerated persons consider themselves superior to the Founding Fathers, both in intellect and in moral standing. Quite frankly, they should hope never to meet me; the encounter would be massively unpleasant for them.

I've written before about the overwhelming importance of constitutionalism as a principle. (See also this continuation of the thesis.) The readers of Liberty's Torch being a rather bright bunch, it's likely that you had no more trouble with the logic then than you've had with it today. But I keep having to repeat myself, when it shouldn't be necessary for me to make the argument at all. No more should Professor Reynolds have had to make it...though I'm glad he did, and hope that his statement travels far and wide.

Really, it's a kindergarten conception. When we're not talking about law and politics, we call it fairness. Fairness as private persons use the term has two components:

  • Evenhandedness;
  • Informed consent.

If fairness absent politics is right and necessary for harmony among men, then how much more necessary is it when the subject is law and government: the pre-indemnified use of lethal force!

Americans want to know why their freedoms are disappearing one by one...while they dismiss all calls to abide by Constitutional constraints. They agitate for special privileges, exemptions, and "protections" for this group or that, for this industry or that...while they rail against others who prefer that the privileges run in a different direction. They complain about rising taxes, rising prices, rising debt...while they demand ever greater subsidies and subventions, to be paid for by "that guy behind the tree."

Perhaps it's all one error, for in reality, there are no "freedoms." Either there is freedom -- the absence of legitimized coercion from all decisions and actions that don't involve force or fraud -- or there is the decree of the strongest power in the neighborhood. There is no third possibility. That's reality: the reality of government.

And thus be it ever, where men, free or otherwise, shall stand.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Herr Doktor Goebbels; Call Your Office

The hue and cry of the usual suspects whose agenda is to achieve the disarmament of the US citizenry subsequent to the Sandy Hook outrage is as predictable as it is disingenuous. Even those who should know better are contributing grist to the mill of the gun grabbers by accepting the premises of the government gun grabbers and their media enablers. This is evidenced by the following exchange between CNN's Piers Morgan and the neocon Ben Shapiro. You, dear readers will note at 2min 43sec into the below video that Mr Shapiro is suckered into accepting the questionable premise/narrative that an "assault" weapon was used by the shooter Adam Lanza in the Sandy Hook massacre:

This humble scribe has noted a lack of evidence that a so called "assault rifle" was in fact used by the shooter to accomplish his evil deed.

"It wasn’t reported until later that the police had discovered an AR-15 assault rifle in the trunk of the [shooters] car. This AR-15 was not used in the shooting, and police did not initially even know about its presence until conducting that further search."

To date, no videos have been released of the actual shooting event at Sandy Hook. These videos would settle finally the nature of the weapons utilized by the shooter. Nevertheless, no time was wasted by various government spokespersons and their media shills in clambering for a ban on firearms exhibiting scary cosmetic characteristics as well as capabilities of extended use between reloading requirements.



With regard to Mark Butterworth's piece immediately below, and the Jonah Goldberg essay he references, both make cogent arguments for their positions...and both largely miss the point. But that's so often the case with even the brightest and most observant commentators on cultural matters that I can hardly fault them for it. Nevertheless, duty calls with an iron voice, and I shall not shirk the summons.

Herewith, a little "Sunday school" for two of the brightest and worthiest writers on the Web.

The home truths about people -- that is, the base facts about our natures, particularly our natures regarding what we'll seek, accept, tolerate, and reject from one another -- are more frequently overlooked or dismissed outright when the subject is "culture" than in most other venues of commentary. This is partly because all such commentators have an agenda they'd like to retrofit to the culture, but far more because of the fallaciousness of all arguments that treat the expressive elements of a society as something that can be dealt with in isolation from other aspects of that culture.

"Culture" isn't just books, music, movies, and popular entertainment; it's the mental gestalt that prevails in the society at issue. Its expressive elements cannot be separated from the rest. Indeed, any attempt to treat with "culture" separately from matters such as the dominant convictions, ambitions, and fears in a society is doomed to miss everything that's significant about it.

I contend thus not merely as a thinker -- a "public intellectual," if you will -- but as a storyteller of some ability who's striven for more than two decades to advance theses that are routinely labeled "countercultural." I have reason to know what's possible and what's not from my own experiences.

The first home truth pertinent to "culture," which shall henceforward lose its quotes and go naked before the Gentle Readers of Liberty's Torch under the assumption that you know what I mean by the word, is a simple one:

Desires, Fears, and Beliefs Are The Motivators:
Respect Them.

In any society at a given point in time, there will be a dominant plateau of assumptions, values, and priorities from which the great majority of that society's members begin all their mental exertions. That plateau is sometimes called "common wisdom," which misconceives it somewhat but will do for our purposes even so. We most often speak of "common wisdom" when we want to discuss contradictions to it or departures from it. There's a tendency among commentators to treat "common wisdom" as the refuge of those who can't or won't think for themselves. That causes us to underestimate its power.

The "common wisdom" of a society at a selected point in time is the aggregate of conclusions formed by past generations and past experience. A great part of it will be accurate enough for practical purposes. Some of it is almost certainly wrong -- wrong, at least, in having been applied beyond the domain to which it is proper. But the "wrong" part is sustained by the authority of the "right" part, just as the "right" part is sustained by the weight of experience and the respect we nominally accord to our progenitors. To argue successfully against some "wrong" aspect of the "common wisdom" is difficult for precisely this reason.

There's this as well: The "common wisdom" of an era reflects not merely the thought processes and experience of past generations; it also expresses their motivators: their desires, fears, and beliefs. If the present's motivators have departed significantly, or within particular demographics, from those of the past, the "common wisdom" will be challenged, -- possibly sotto voce -- along those fault lines. The challengers who dare to raise their heads above the cultural trench lip will be widely recognized: among those who agree with them or are persuaded by them, as innovators; among those who hew to the "common wisdom," as destroyers.

In this lies the second of the home truths that pertain to culture:

You Cannot Tell A Man
Something He Doesn't Want To Hear.

Messaging, in the context of culture, is about planting or nurturing a countercultural seedling -- that is, a strain of thought that jumps off the dominant plateau to advance a thesis that departs from the "common wisdom" in some significant way. This is as true of political messaging as of any other sort.

For example, given a culture in which the dominant plateau includes the following assumptions:

  • Morality is relative;
  • Property is a matter of convention rather than right;
  • Material success is mainly a matter of luck, plus knowing the right people;

...attempts to nurture the conviction that morality is absolute, or that property rights are natural rights, or that material success is the consequence of insight, innovation, courage, and perseverance, are inherently countercultural. The "common wisdom" will resist them; only those who are willing to depart from the "common wisdom" long enough to adopt different assumptions will treat with them even tentatively. He who dares make such an attempt will be assailed by the overwhelming majority and championed only by a minority, perhaps a tiny minority. He must be prepared for it and unsurprised by it.

Consider one of the most forthright and popular attempts to challenge the assumptions above: Ayn Rand's novels, particularly Atlas Shrugged. Rand's magnum opus was attacked viciously from every corner of American culture in the Fifties and Sixties. Indeed, even supposedly conservative organs such as National Review, which might have been assumed to favor Rand's theses, felt compelled to denigrate it. Its departure from "common wisdom" required the reader to abandon some of the most strongly felt assumptions carried forward from the Thirties and Forties. To accept and champion Rand's thesis put one at odds with the great majority of those around him. Such persons incurred moral disapprobation, sometimes to the point of condemnation and ostracism, for doing so.

Rand and those who agree with her were, and are, up against a third home truth:

We Are More Straitly Constrained
By The Opinions Of Others
Than We Like To Think Or Admit.

The most powerful counteragent to the "common wisdom" is always and everywhere the same. It's one that anyone would recognize, though it often embarrasses us to speak of it: the desire to be like our heroes.

The polemicist who can depict a countercultural hero -- that is, a hero who champions a countercultural proposition -- in an attractive and winning fashion will simultaneously win the allegiance of some of those who admire him for that proposition. This is not easy, especially when the proposition at issue requires some mental exercise to grasp. Nevertheless, it can be done. The proof of the pudding is in its counterexamples: the attempts by prominent purveyors of entertainment to identify the ideas they despise with unattractive proponents.

Consider as examples two movies of some years ago: Wall Street and Other People's Money. Both movies identified an important idea -- that investment capitalism and the desire to make money thereby are good and worthy -- with an unattractive proponent. Wall Street's Gordon Gekko was crude, ruthless, and dishonest; Other People's Money's Lawrence Garfield was personally unappealing, not the sort of hero most of us would hope to see in ourselves. (It didn't help that he was portrayed by Danny DeVito, either.) Thus, the first movie was explicitly anti-capitalist, as one would expect from Oliver Stone; the second was implicitly so, despite the value of its overt message.

Movies that promote explicitly pro-freedom, pro-capitalism ideas through the actions of attractive heroes we would largely adjudge as noble and worthy of emulation are rare...from Hollywood. But such movies are occasionally made by little production companies outside Hollywood's orbit; John Aglialoro's movies of Atlas Shrugged and Bill Whittle's Declaration Entertainment are currently attempting exactly that.

What such producers must accept a priori is that their offerings, being countercultural -- slaps in the face of "common wisdom" and the fears of disapproval most of us harbor -- will not be popular. The mass audiences that flock to Hollywood's special-effects-heavy productions will largely spurn them. At best, they will plant a mustard seed; at worst, they will reassure a remnant population that the dream of freedom has not entirely departed from our shores.

That is the lot of the man who makes pro-freedom entertainment.
Or pro-capitalism entertainment.
Or pro-Christian or pro-family entertainment.
But it doesn't suggest that the attempt itself is worthless, as Goldberg imputes.
Neither does it suggest that the Koch brothers should buy Universal Studios, and hire Mark and myself to write scripts for it.
Respect the power of the culture -- the real, gestalten culture.
Accept that in today's milieu, your efforts will be countercultural, and therefore unpopular.
But plant your mustard seeds where, when, and as you may.

Friday, February 22, 2013

From My Cold Dead Hand Part 2: Platooning

After reading yesterday's article, long-time reader pdwalker commented thus:

As for telling the sheriff "no", it's going to come down to one of three things:

1/ The sheriff says "I agree" and goes home.

2/ They won't give you the chance to say no, with a full out assault on your home, killing your dogs and generally shooting the place up in the middle of the night

3/ or if it is just the sheriff alone, they will come back in force.

Who is prepared to make a stand against that? Are you prepared to sacrifice your family for your principles? Most people have too much to lose to make that sacrifice.

Older, single men? Maybe. Men with families to support? Very few, if any.

And that's what the powers that be depend on. Things have to get a whole lot worse before people will be willing to take action. And by the time it does, it may be too late.

Which is, indeed, the threat we would face if Leviathan were to attempt the confiscation of all private arms. In the face of such overwhelming force, an individual resistor would stand little chance of escaping with his life, let alone his liberty or his firearms.

There is a countermeasure. Like most tactics, it's neither perfect nor costless. But it would substantially improve the citizenry's chances of prevailing against the State. However, it will require us to do something many Americans, especially in the high-density population zones along the coasts, have neglected to do and will find somewhat distasteful.

The keys to successfully resisting an assault whose exact timing cannot be known well in advance are:

  1. A continuous state of readiness;
  2. The ability to mobilize swiftly;
  3. The ability to inflict unacceptable punishment on the invader;
  4. The willingness to endure a few "false alarms;"
  5. An adequately broad defensive front.

Most of that should go without saying. Yet it must be said, because of the preparations it implies:

  1. There must be a way to detect the onset of the assault far enough ahead to mobilize;
  2. Mobilization must not incur excessive costs upon the persons involved;
  3. Everyone must come to the front line ready to shoot to kill;
  4. Erroneous mobilizations must not evoke the "boy who cried wolf" effect;
  5. The defense must be a community effort.

None of those conditions are easily met, but in my estimation, the hardest of them will be #5, because of the ongoing atomization of American society.

Do you know your neighbors?
Do you know their capabilities and state of readiness?
Are you and they sufficiently in agreement on the right to keep and bear arms? Would you trust them to "have your back" in the event of an assault by lawless "law enforcement?"
Would they trust you in equal measure?

If the answers to all five questions are satisfactory, you have a chance -- not a guarantee -- of assembling a community defense against such an assault: an ad hoc platoon that would mobilize to protect any one of its members who came under attack.

As I said at the outset, there would be costs. Some members would need to acquire additional firepower or training. A degree of vigilance would be required that many persons on a typical suburban block would resent and resist. The "boy who cried wolf" effect must not be neglected; such a platoon could lose commitment and cohesion by a sufficient number of false alarms -- and "a sufficient number" could be as low as one or two.

More, the enemy, broadly conceived, could not help but be aware of the formation of such platoons. It would marshal its non-violent forces to defame and degrade them. Those involved in such an undertaking would need to anticipate such slanders and be prepared to endure them.

I'm not talking about a militia here, at least not of the sort that's been caricatured in the media. I'm describing a small, geographically concentrated defensive force. Its participants know and trust one another personally, by virtue of proximity. They agree sufficiently about their rights as individuals, the threats looming over them, and the importance of defending them. And they're willing to spend a few bucks, and lose a few hours' sleep now and then, to ensure that they will be defended.

Now we get to the upside to forming such a platoon:

  • It countervails the ongoing tendency toward social atomization and the isolation of individuals from their neighbors;
  • It directly fosters several virtues, including the sense of responsibility to oneself and the comprehension of the need for mutual aid in times of crisis.
  • It puts the political enemies of our rights on notice that we cannot be talked out of them.
  • It puts concern, at the very least, into the myrmidons of the State that their efforts to disarm us might occasion the shedding of blood -- theirs.
  • Each such platoon that forms has an encouraging effect upon others.

Would such a platoon constitute a perfect defense? Of course not. The State might send overwhelming force against such a community. Indeed, though it seems absurd, the possibility of an armored assault, against which small arms of the sort private citizens normally possess would be impotent, cannot be discounted. But at that point there would be open war between the people and the State; factors well beyond the ones that pertain today would come into consideration.

But it's today with which we must be

Such an undertaking is not for the weak-willed or lily-livered. It requires effort and courage. Many Americans lack a sufficiency of both. But not all of us -- and for the rest, there's never been a better time to acquire them.

No man starts out as a paragon of dedication or courage. As Aristotle has told us, we acquire virtue by behaving virtuously: by doing the difficult, expensive, painful things we'd rather not do; by accepting short-term costs and pains for the long-term gains and satisfactions they promise. There's never been a better time, or a more important subject, over which to exert oneself.


Thursday, February 21, 2013

"Come And Take It!"

The ClearChannel network refused to air this advertisement, but we here at Liberty's Torch aren't that lily-livered:

Are you with us?

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Tempus Fugit, Aeternitas Manet (Time flees, eternity dwells)

Bracken: Democide

Spread this latest work by Matt Bracken and friends far and wide, especially the video:

Democide: Socialism, Tyranny, Guns and Freedom
Democide is the elimination of a despised group by a government. It includes genocide, politicide, and other forms of state-sponsored mass murder. The hated minority headed for extermination may be defined by religious, racial, political, class, cultural or other attributes. Between 200 and 260 million people were the victims of democide in the 20th century, several times more than were killed in international wars during that period.

The first widely studied modern democide occurred in Turkey between 1915 and 1923, when the Turkish government decided to eliminate the country’s Christian minority, primarily ethnic Armenians and Greeks who had Turkish roots extending back to before the Islamic conquest. Two million Christians were murdered on forced marches into deserts without water or food. This democide occurred in view of Western reporters, who took photographs and posted contemporary wire reports. The fact that the democide was known outside Turkey did not deter the Turkish leaders.

The Armenian Genocide, as it has become known, was also widely known inside Turkey, where the majority Muslim population either supported or at least passively tolerated the democide. It was impossible to miss the sight of thousands of Christians at a time being rounded up and force-marched through towns and into the burning deserts on one-way trips.

Stalin and Hitler both noticed the lack of world reaction to the democide of Turkish Christians and planned accordingly. In the Soviet Union, Stalin’s henchmen purged millions of “kulaks” (farmers deemed to have too much wealth), intellectuals, businessmen, and anyone who had ever traveled outside the USSR or even had had contact with foreigners.

In Germany and Nazi-occupied Europe, Hitler proceeded with his own “final solution to the Jewish problem.” Where the German national socialists simply eliminated Jews as quickly as possible in mass graves and gas chambers, Stalin’s international socialists deported their “class enemies” to Siberia, where they were put to work in Gulag slave-labor camps, with years of torture through cold, malnutrition and brutal working conditions preceding the release of eventual death.

Stalin also devised another means of democide when he ordered the forced starvation of the Ukrainians, and five million more innocent victims were added to his totals. In Communist China seventy million people were the victims of democide, murdered by overwork in slave-labor camps, by direct execution, and by regional forced starvation. Millions more were victims of democide in Pakistan, Cambodia, Rwanda, North Korea, and many other countries.

Democide, as the name implies, does not happen in the dark of night without any awareness of it in the country where it occurs. The Turks knew the Christians were being mass murdered. Average Germans were fully aware of what was happening to the Jews between 1938 and 1945, and a large majority either actively supported or at least tolerated it. (I strongly recommend reading Hitler’s Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust, by Daniel Goldhagen, to fully appreciate the wholehearted German support for the Jewish democide.)

Today, we sometimes hear that the Second Amendment has outlived its usefulness, that it is a relic of our barbaric past and is no longer needed in the modern era. Horrific mass shootings by deranged individuals are cited as the primary reason for Americans to surrender their most effective firearms and rely solely on a state monopoly of force for their protection. This government-dependent attitude is shortsighted, historically ignorant, and extremely dangerous.

In each of the cases cited above, a necessary preliminary step on the road to democide was the confiscation of privately owned firearms. In Turkey, “reasonable” gun control laws enacted in 1911 permitted the democide of two million Turkish Christians a few years later. In Germany, the “commonsense” 1928 gun control laws of the Weimar Republic preceded Hitler’s Holocaust by a decade.

The Weimar politicians did not intend for their gun control laws to lead to the slaughter of millions of people, but it is an historical fact that those gun control laws permitted the Nazis to carry out their Holocaust. How? By making it economically and militarily feasible to round up and mass murder entire towns without any significant resistance.

In fact, the Nazis quickly learned that they needed only a hundred ordinary military policemen to exterminate towns of a thousand Polish Jews in a single day. Contrast that fact with the Warsaw Ghetto uprising. If the Jews had not first been disarmed, using previous gun registration lists as a map for confiscation, the Holocaust would not have been possible.

Likewise in the Soviet Union and in every other case, democide was preceded by “reasonable and commonsense” firearms registration, followed eventually by gun confiscation and then by the extermination of a despised minority population.

During the past two centuries, while America has avoided tyranny, Turkey, Germany, Russia and the other nations mentioned above have spasmodically lurched between monarchs, democratically elected leaders, and often quite popular dictators, allowing them frequent opportunities to commit democide against their unwanted minorities.

The situation is fundamentally different in America, because we have a centuries-old tradition of private firearms ownership guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the Constitution. The Second Amendment does not “grant” us this right; it puts into writing our God-given natural right to effective self-defense, including armed defense against tyranny.

“Pure democracy” has been described as two wolves and a sheep voting on their dinner plans. The two wolves might see this election as an expression of their highest democratic values, but for the outnumbered sheep, pure democracy is highly problematic. On the other hand, a republic has been described as two wolves and a well-armed sheep voting on dinner plans. The well-armed sheep can veto the outcome of the dinner election simply by brandishing its firearm. The sheep has inherent rights as a sovereign individual, including the right to self-defense, a right that cannot be stripped away by a simple majority vote.

So, when a democratically elected American president speaks of “fundamentally transforming” his country, and of his need to act outside the constitutional framework, the population should be on guard. When that leader begins to push for strict new “commonsense and reasonable” gun control laws, including national firearms registration in the name of “public safety,” the citizenry should be on high alert.

Can any glib politician, pundit or ivory tower academic give us an ironclad guarantee that tyranny will never arise in the United States? Not even a popular tyranny, like those of Ataturk, Stalin, Hitler or Mao? Can anyone assure us that today’s “commonsense” gun registration lists will not be used for future gun confiscation? Of course not.

The future may be unknowable, but history is well understood, and American gun owners know and understand the history of democide in the 20th century. That is why they will never accede to what is currently portrayed in the predominantly left-wing mainstream media as “commonsense and reasonable” new gun control laws.

While American gun owners lament and regret the inescapable fact that deranged individuals in a free country may on rare occasions murder a dozen or a score of unarmed victims, they also understand that government democide murders by the million. And in every case, tyrants can conduct these democides only after disarming their unwanted minorities, rendering them helpless to resist murderous government pogroms.

American gun owners will never permit this historical pattern to be repeated in their country, because they understand that the government’s heavy hand will be kept in check only as long as they are armed. Ask yourself: Were the Armenians, the Jews or the kulaks treated better, or worse, after they were disarmed and rendered helpless by their oppressors, who thereafter held an absolute government monopoly on armed violence? The answer is too obvious to require elaboration.

Naive utopians and other “low-information voters” might not understand the historical pattern, and we don’t expect them to bother to learn it. Cynical and dishonest “progressives” who do understand the historical pattern cannot yet reveal their ultimate goal of creating a disarmed and helpless American citizenry. Nevertheless, millions of Americans understand their hidden aim with crystal clarity, seeing through the false sincerity of power-hungry leftist politicians who are actually Marxist wolves dressed in Democrat sheep’s clothing—for now.

But unless and until these secret Stalinists and sundry other “progressives” can figure out a way to disarm Americans, they cannot execute their historically standard final solution to the “reactionaries-standing-in-the-way-of-utopia” problem. And this is a thorny problem for them, because tens of millions of Americans, disbelieving their deceitful bromides, will stick to their guns no matter what.

Unlike the Armenians, Jews, kulaks and other exterminated peoples, Americans who support the Second Amendment will never be disarmed quietly by government edict prior to meekly boarding a train to a socialist “reeducation” camp. They will not be taken at government gunpoint on a one-way forced march into a desert or a Zyklon-B “delousing shower,” simply because they foolishly agreed to be disarmed by their future oppressors in the dubious name of “public safety.”

If American “progressives” truly intend to disarm the American people, they will have to do it the hard way, by taking their bullets first, one at a time. As the 300 Spartans announced to the vastly larger Persian army at Thermopylae, “Molon Labe!”

1984 And Orwell's Attachment To Socialism

Most people, including most of those who have read Orwell's masterwork and have grasped its overwhelming importance, are unaware of some of the salient facts about it and its author.

George Orwell, whose real name was Eric Blair, began and ended his political journey as a socialist. As a journalist and radio personality he promoted what he called "democratic socialism" as an alternative preferable both to capitalism and communism. Yet he never found a real-world example of the system for which he claimed superiority. The socialist states actualized in reality appalled him one and all. His novels Animal Farm and 1984 are unsparing depictions of the totalitarian natures of such states.

But as I've said so many times in these pages, obvious means overlooked.

Orwell's original title for 1984 was 1948. It was a reaction to English socialism -- "Ingsoc" in Newspeak -- as it had crept upon Orwell's homeland over the nightmare years of the Twentieth Century. The culmination of the trend arrived in 1945, when Clement Attlee succeeded Winston Churchill as England's prime minister, and really went to work fastening the socialist hag onto the Sceptered Isle.

Attlee is little known to Americans of our time. Among the policies his government imposed upon England were widespread nationalizations, rigid wage and price controls, and government oversight of all changes of employment: full-throated socialism of the Hitlerine or Mussolinian variety. Englishmen were torn asunder by Attlee's policies. Many liked his massive expansions of the welfare state, as many always will, but few were happy with the explosion of taxation or the need for government approval for every decision an Englishman might make when he ventured beyond his doorstep.

Academics, both of his time and of ours, celebrated Attlee and his socialist program. But then, academics have always been fans of "rule by the best and the brightest." There's a moral in there, somewhere.

Orwell wrote 1984 out of horror at what he saw arising from Attlee's socialist vision. The outrageous invasions of property and enterprise; the relentless centralization of authority; the reduction of individual autonomy to a farce and individual conscience to an afterthought...these things affected Orwell much as they had C. S. Lewis, another brilliant Englishman who began his political quest as a fan of socialism.

What Orwell never quite grasped, despite his recognition of the horrors of socialism as it manifested in the real world, is that it doesn't scale up.

A family household is -- indeed, must be -- socialist in character, with decision-making reserved to one or two adults and the various other members receiving what they need as they need it, without regard for their ability to contribute materially to the family. A somewhat larger community, on the order of a village of a few hundred souls, can function in a quasi-socialist fashion about a few things, such as mutual aid and recovery from calamities. But as the number of persons involved increases, the scope over which centralized authority can be beneficial and tolerable shrinks in inverse relation. Attempts to impose centralized control over large numbers invariably occasion totalitarian measures: State control of information flow, pervasive State propaganda, massive taxation and expropriation, secret police, "re-education" camps, and psychiatric commitment or outright imprisonment for political dissidents.

There is not and can never be a free and prosperous socialist nation.

Orwell deserves honor for his magnificent novels, and for his forthrightness about the need for clarity and precision in speech and writing. But his refusal to let go of socialism, in light of the nightmare visions he created in Animal Farm and 1984 should sound an ear-splitting siren of warning to those who share that posture:

None so blind
As those
Who will not see.

Tragically, such persons insist routinely and stridently that theirs is the only true vision of a good society...and they are everywhere.

Beware them.

From The Lips Of The Master

It cannot be put more succinctly than it was by George Orwell himself, from his deathbed:

Don't let it happen.

(Applause to WRSA for unearthing this gem.)

Monday, February 18, 2013


Forgive me for that, please. It's not my inner Rene Magritte coming to the fore at last; it's a complete inability to come up with a suitable title for what follows.

I have never been sadder to feel the obligation to write about something in my life to date.

While in the newspapers or on television you will not be informed about it in a form that makes sense, a growing cancer of racially-based violence is metastasizing in our cities. Moreover, unless you were to see these outrages first hand or in media outside the mainstream organs, you would know nothing of it --- for it is being withheld from you. For reasons that we may want to speculate on, the news media have made an overt decision to avert your eyes away from the stone cold reality that a spectrum of young black men and women, motivated by race, rage, or entertainment, are increasingly committing crimes against life and property by the medium of flash mob violence.

From Oregon and Washington to New Jersey, packs of youth are targeting markets, shoe stores, county fairs, beach walks, and city parks in conducting brazen crimes by overwhelming police and security who find themselves increasingly unable to counter the element of surprise and viciousness that goes hand in hand with this phenomenon. As a result of this, brutal beatings of whites and Asians have become commonplace occurrences, resulting in public facilities being closed down to traffic as roving hordes materialize and vanish into the night like specters. And yet, the 900 pound gorilla in the room (that no one will dare look in the eye) is that there is an unassailable racial component involved. Furthermore, in the interest of multicultural harmony, cities which have long been in the clutches of Democratic political machines have lulled themselves to become anxiously oblivious to the mayhem. Because of this, those molders of opinion have taken to calling a serpent a stallion in hopes that the world, in turn, would also close its eyes....

If one looks to the 2011 FBI crime statistics, one notices that whites (Hispanics included) make up 78.1% of the U.S. population while Blacks comprise 13.1%. By race, blacks commit 45% of their crimes against whites while 43% target fellow blacks and 10% of their victims are Hispanic. When Whites commit violent crime, only 3% of their victims are black. By considering these crimes as a percentage of the population at large, blacks are an estimated 39 times more likely to commit a violent crime against whites than vice versa and 136 times more likely to commit robbery.

In light of these numbers, the designation of "hate-crime" is at best a dicey proposition, since many police departments or courts, in conservative or liberal jurisdictions, are loathe to apply the term when designating black on white crime. However, white on black violence often earns this politically charged designation due to heightened cultural sensitivities or the fear of bad press that could bring racial upheaval. It is becoming increasingly evident that the "Hate Crime" designation is a selective arbitrary cudgel for blacks to use against whites only -- a deconstructed justice that fits the prevailing Progressive stereotype of Caucasians as culturally predisposed to minority victimizing and oppression.

[Glenn Fairman, "A Blind Pendulum"]

Frankly, the last two Tales were emotionally and spiritually draining. I found it hard to reconcile myself with having to depict a race of people in such a terrible light since I have had so many wonderful experiences and friendships with black people in the course of my life.

Yet, no one can ignore that the black underclass is something of a scourge in America, and especially infuriating because white liberals exacerbated and increased this dependency class.

[Mark Butterworth, here.]

[P]eople don't like thinking very hard, and this goes quintuple for low-information people. The more you do something, the more skilled you get at it, and the more you like it, which in turn impels you to do more of it. (I'm a champ at self-abuse, for example. When there's a Hall of Fame I'm in on first ballot.)

On the other hand, the less you do of something, the harder it is for you to do it, and the less you wish to do it, which then leads to you becoming, in this context, dumber still.

[Ace of Spades, Unworthy: We're Losing the Battle of Ideas to a Bunch of Low-Information Snarking Hipsters]

Combine the reports and insights in the above three citations. What do they spell?

Given the objective veracity of all the above, can there can be more than one conclusion?

Given the multiple confirmations of rapidly escalating attacks, always by packs of Negro youths, and always against Caucasian or Asian targets, can the implications for personal survival and social cohesion go any but one way?

How could a clear-eyed, unbiased observer reach any conclusion but one?

No, it's not that the Rangers need more scoring punch.

It wasn't always this way.

As Mark Butterworth notes in his piece below, "by 1960, black Americans had made great strides in their education, employment, and family structure." The central mass of the American Negro demographic was moving steadily toward equivalence with the Caucasian one. There were still gaps, some of them important ones, but the trend was positive, and appeared unstoppable. America was on the verge of establishing a rough condition of material and social equality between the races -- not because of some government program, but because of the efforts toward self-betterment of American Negroes and the good will of American Caucasians toward them.

Then the do-gooders got involved.

The American eleemosynary impulse has a rather checkered history. On the one hand, American philanthropists such as Andrew Carnegie brought literacy and cultural enrichment to many millions who would otherwise never have acquired it. That's an example of the best possible outcome of charitable action. There are others, as well known or less so.

But Carnegie himself said that "Those who would administer wisely must, indeed, be wise, for one of the serious obstacles to the improvement of our race is indiscriminate charity." Had he lived to our present era, he would note an even more pernicious influence than "indiscriminate charity:" racial preferences awarded as if they were a matter of reparation for past injustice.

There are any number of trails one might follow from this point forward: the noxious notion of "social justice," the fictitious "legacies of racism," and the frequent assertions by racialist mouthpieces that "America was built by slave labor." All of them deserve attention. But for the moment, the greatest of threats to American social cohesion and the safety and well-being of American Caucasians and Asians is the matter of desert as it derives from race.

Let's imagine that Smith, a member of race X, has come before us with a list of demands. We hear him out, make note of the particulars, ask him, "Why should we grant any of this to you?" and await his reply.

Smith startles us by answering, "You owe me because I'm a member of race X."

Most Americans are sensible enough to dismiss such a claim. Smith, an individual, has baldly claimed that we owe him a debt because of a weak genetic relation to other persons! Would Smith allow that a person not of race X could justly make such demands? On what grounds?

In an abstract case such as that, the absurdity of Smith's "argument" is obvious. No one can possibly be obligated to Smith because of his family relations, weak, strong, or in between. But in the specific case of the American Negro, they receive respectful attention, in some quarters immediate concession. Why?

There are several reasons, which apply in varying degrees according to circumstances:

  • "White guilt;"
  • A misplaced desire to "do good;"
  • The propensity of concentrations of American blacks to violence;
  • Fear of bad public relations;
  • Political strategy.

Of even more interest and ultimate importance is the readiness of many American Negroes to accept, and assert, that they are owed all sorts of preferences, specifically because of their race. Even persons of great accomplishment will occasionally make such claims and defend them passionately. How do we account for this?

It's quite simple, really: Ever since the end of World War II, America's do-gooder class, stiffened by left-wing political tacticians eager to rope the black bloc into their column, has repeatedly told America's Negroes that they're owed, and then used political mechanisms to follow through.

Tell a man something enough times and he's likely to believe it, especially if it implies special privileges for him. Indeed, he's likely to act as if he believes it even if he knows that it's absurd.

A man who believes he's owed, but somehow never manages to collect, will become resentful and restive. Yet, as bad as that is, there's even worse.

Racial solidarity is a real mechanism with real consequences. As I wrote some time ago:

Racial solidarity is a known phenomenon in all the conventionally recognized races. Though the degree varies, persons of race X will feel an inclination to "protect" their anomalous elements, including overt lawbreakers, against prosecution by persons outside race X. Inasmuch as it's as likely as not that an "anomaly" is the child of one who has successfully adapted to the nation's norms, the consequence pits respectable, law-abiding Negroes against respectable, law-abiding Caucasians, in the service of persons who feel contempt for the former and outright hatred for the latter.

Is it any wonder that there should be racial tension? Is it any wonder, given that our major media have made it their policy to suppress news of black-on-white crimes while aggressively promoting white-on-black crimes (and pseudo-crimes), that there should be so much talk about an impending race war?

The pernicious consequences of this phenomenon are difficult to overstate. The worst aspect of it is that the news media have collaborated in it, both actively and passively, and continue to do so. In its destructive power, it dwarfs virtually every mistake we've made in public policy that addresses race.

Until quite recently, a certain Robert S. Oculus reported at intervals on the steadily increasing dangers posed to American Caucasians by American Negroes. Here is the first paragraph of his final post:

The Oculus Report is a blog for those who can See. By this, I mean those who have decided to See reality as it is, rather than as one might wish it to be. Over the past six months, I have done my best to report the world as I see it. I have looked at reality with my eyes wide open, and have tried to describe to you what I See.

Mr. Oculus was never one to shade the truth or qualify his convictions. Read the pieces at his site, which is still available though he has ceased to update it, and see for yourself.

Over the years, I've made many efforts to promote racial amity, despite my recognition of the objective truths encapsulated in John Derbyshire's fictional talk to his children. But with the best will in the world, I am unable to refute Oculus's central contention, at least in America today:

Black people are dangerous to White people.

This wasn't always and everywhere the case. But it's become so today, in these United States. It's becoming ever more so as time passes.

We don't have much longer to redress this problem.
Reflect on the statistics Glenn Fairman presents and decide for yourself.
Remember that the police have no duty to protect you, even in the most public of places.
Remember that your safety, and that of your loved ones, is your responsibility.
Remember that street violence respects neither color nor intentions.
And remember to pray.

Open Letter from Texas

Dear Wealthy Californians --

On behalf of those people of Texas who still retain a modicum of common sense, by which I mean all of us except for Governor Perry, I would like to rescind the offer which he has so graciously but injudiciously extended to you. You see, the whole thing is a really, really bad idea. I'm not sure what my governor is thinking, or even if he is even capable of actual thought in light of his horrendously bad suggestion.

Over the years, I have met many Californians who have moved here to Texas, usually for a job, which they were apparently incapable of finding in their home state. Invariably, they have taken it upon themselves to inform me just how awful Texas is, and how much better it would be if Texas were more like California. In that respect, they have a great deal in common with the Mexicans I meet here. The irony of their position does not seem to dawn on them, but never mind, that is another subject for another time.

Much as it pains me to say this, their complaints are largely correct. Texas is full of very ignorant people. For example, there are still people here who think homosex is wrong, even when done in public, and wouldn't have the slightest clue how to properly accessorize S&M apparel.

We don't, in general, embrace the enlightened ideals of government which you favor, such as enormous tax burdens and deficit spending to fund important public initiatives like sex change operations and massive welfare spending. People here tend to think that spending more than you take in is generally a bad idea anyway, but worse if you happen to be a government. I may know as well as you that, although your present difficulty centers around a few accounting quirks in making this particular strategy work for you, nevertheless I'm confident you'll figure them out at some point. But here in our backwards state, that kind of thing is looked down on, and it is not generally believed that you can get around things like arithmetic.

In general, I'm not a big government kind of guy, either, but in this case I do think I could get behind what I see as the only real solution to the 'California conundrum.' I propose that the Army Corps of Engineers dig a large moat around California, and fill it with radioactive waste. And pirannhas. And maybe land-mine the western half of Nevada.

Because, you see, the problem with California as it seems to me is that there is just not enough commitment to its ideals. People embrace these kinds of innovative ideas, but then as soon as things start getting exciting, and the results of all these great plans start coming to fruition, they get all weak-kneed and want to bail out. How can anybody really accomplish anything great if he loses his nerve just when things start to get a little sketchy? No -- California and her people need to ride this train clear to the station, and I and I believe other Texans, and probably people from many other states, are fully committed to helping motivate Californians and steel their jittery nerves at this time of indecision to see things through to the end.

But coming to Texas is just a stupid idea. What, really, does Texas have to offer? It won't accomplish anything. You won't like it here, and we won't like you being here.

Seriously, don't come.

Truly and Sincerely Yours,


P.S.  OK, you're right.  The real reason I don't want you here is that I'm not so keen on the idea of bringing into my state a whole bunch of people who have managed to utterly ruin what otherwise sounds like a really wonderful place.  Texas isn't perfect, it has its own problems certainly, even some major ones, but one thing we sure don't need is a massive influx of foolishness.

And we don't really need your money, either.  Have you considered Florida?  Or maybe Virginia or New Hampshire?  They sound pretty nice.

Sunday, February 17, 2013


The more rarefied topics in the theory of justice in governance seldom get as much attention as they deserve. This is particularly the case when the subject is asymmetry in taxation.

That doesn't mean no one is exercised about them, of course:

Now, for the record, so long as [tax] loopholes exist, I say "Go for it!" No laws are being broken by having a skilled accountant or attorney who can take the best advantage of the opportunity but, really.... doesn't this make you squirm just a little?

Sure, the money they don't spend on taxes will be reinvested in the company or in the community but, don't most of you agree that they should pay something?

Please read the story at the embedded link. If that sort of thing has never flicked you on the raw, Gentle Reader, you are truly among the rarest of men. I, who have long argued that unless taxation is wholly voluntary and unenforced, it merely constitutes legalized robbery, find that I'm rather put out by it myself.

But it does give us a nice window onto a key mechanism for the acquisition and retention of power.

"Government's a dubious glory...You pay for your power and wealth by balancing on the sharp edge of the blade. That great amorphous thing out there -- the people -- has turned and swallowed many governments. They can do it in the flash of an angry uprising. The way you prevent that is by giving good government, not perfect government -- but good. Otherwise, sooner or later, your turn comes." [Frank Herbert, The Godmakers]

Frank Herbert was no great fan of individual freedom. Indeed, he was rather starry-eyed about government and the supposed good it could do. The above quote from one of his less well known novels encapsulates the optimism at the heart of his optimism that has proved misguided far more often than not.

The abstract noun government is itself misleading, as is the blunter quasi-equivalent State. We are encouraged to speak and think in such terms because such "forests" can obscure the reality of the far more important "trees:" the ruling elite whose members, at any given moment, wield the powers of the State.

Granted, some "governmental" policies are made by legislatures rather than individuals. With the exception of the executive order, which has binding force upon executive branch employees only, the Czar's ukase is absent from statecraft in these United States. But a legislature is made up of individuals. We know no other way to do it.

A quick march through the essential truths of the thing is in order:

  1. Premise: The overwhelming majority of persons who seek public office want power above all other things.
  2. Observation: In the quest for political power, the edge goes to the most ruthless and single-minded.
  3. Observation: Every cause has more than one effect, and every effect has more than one cause.
  4. Observation: Tax policy, unless absolutely uniform over all the individuals subject to it, creates a condition of differential privilege.
    1. Implication: All other things being equal, those who possess greater privileges under a particular policy will be more inclined to favor it...and to support the aspirations of those who champion it.
    2. Observation: Supporters with a lot of cash are more effective than the other sort.
    3. Implication: Politicians who garner the favor of wealthy supporters are more likely to gain and retain power than others.
  5. Observation: In the history of non-hereditary governments, power has always concentrated in the hands of the wealthiest and those whom they favor.
  6. Gratuitous (And Possibly Unnecessary) Statement Of Opinion: This is no accident.

Taxation, though overtly a matter of funding the operations of the State, will always have a covert purpose as well: the reinforcement of the positions of the regime's supporters. Tax policy, no matter what justifications are offered for it, will confer privileges upon those who support the promulgators of the policy.

If there are any exceptions to this pattern, I am unaware of them.

When politicians speak of "loopholes" in tax law, they're playing a particularly insidious game with us. What's so frequently called a "loophole," as if it were a seamstress's error in a garment, is almost always a deliberate provision of the law, written into it to favor some group or commercial sector over others. Indeed, it sometimes happens that the provision was openly advanced as "in the national interest," as was the case with the mortgage-interest deduction from the personal income tax. Encouraging the construction of housing makes the nation stronger and more secure, the argument begins; but housing won't be built unless consumers are ready, willing, and able to purchase it; therefore, tax policy should privilege this particular expenditure to keep the housing industry healthy.

(A similar argument was once made for the deductibility of interest paid on private borrowing for any purpose, but you have to be fairly old to remember that one. It succeeded, too; that provision was only struck from the income tax law in the mid-1980s.)

The late Jim Baen once observed that using tax policy for social engineering is among the most seductive of all traps in public policy. There's no logical end to it. After all, once you've persuaded yourself that "the good of the nation" justifies elevating one category of persons or activities over others -- and that you grasp "the good of the nation" more than adequately to make such decisions, of course! -- what aspect of life or commerce can claim immunity from your touch?

Thus, what we naively call "loopholes" in tax law proliferate and mutate, often at a geometric rate, until a cataclysm brings the edifice crashing to the earth.

The shell game of government is unceasing. The power-mongers in office at any time might appear to be divided about what to do and how to do it, but on one thing they are agreed: they deserve their positions, and as much power as they can gather to themselves. To the extent that this puts them in competition with one another, a vigilant citizenry can take measures to curb their excesses. However, the absence of such vigilance -- which can be effectively neutralized by a number of tactics, such as passing unpublished thousand-page bills in the wee hours of the morning -- gives the ruling cadre an enormous edge over those of us who merely want to be left alone.

Money is not power, strictly speaking. Yet money and power have always concentrated in hands friendly to one another. Tax policy has always supported that concentration. It probably always will.

The interests of a ruling elite can never be identical to those of the ruled; the argument approaches tautology, despite Frank Herbert's dreams of "good government" as the sole effective shield against popular revolt. Our ruling class, and its supporters nominally outside the halls of power, are not exceptions. Regardless of what politicians might say as they argue for the "closing of loopholes," they will simultaneously craft new, cleverly concealed or justified "loopholes" to protect the interests of those who have helped them ascend to the levers of the State.

In other words: Don't bet against class incentives. It's a good way to go home in a barrel.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Female Complaints

As a possessor of the fabled Y chromosome, I am not directly privy -- sometimes regardless of my preferences -- to conversations among women. As I don't aspire to superspy status and lack the equipment required to "bug" such conversations, I, like most American men, only hear about such exchanges second-hand.

That's more than enough.

No, I don't believe everything I hear. But I do believe in the reality of the attitudes conveyed by such reports. They're amply confirmed by personal experience.

First up this morning, an atypical rant from Amelia Hamilton, triggered by angry-ugly-girl reactions to Audi's Super Bowl commercial:

It’s Valentine’s Day and romance is in the air. Am I allowed to say that? It would seem that romance is no longer allowed in American society, and I’ve recently figured out why. It’s not because of men, as women like to think. It’s because women ruin everything for women....

Women complain that the available men today are beta males. We want them to man up, we want them to be bold, but what do we do when they are? We accuse them of all manner of wickedness. We can blame the men all we want, but is it really reasonable to do so? Ladies, would we not be better served to blame the true culprit: feminism?

Please read the entire article; it's quite brief and well focused. The part quoted here serves a purpose of mine, to be disclosed a few hundred words later.

My second citation for today comes from longtime favorite Joan of Argghh:

Ladies, here’s what’s bugging me: why do you thirst for failure from your beloved?

You know it’s true, girlfriend. In your dark little selfish places, you want to prove to yourself that you’re better, that he’s lesser and so gain the upper hand. What the hell is it you seek, a relationship with a mortal being, or another opportunity to step on someone in your stupid quest for self-esteem?

That article is mandatory reading, as it goes directly to one of the central problems of the American family. In her candor, Joan has played a bright light on the unadmitted motivation of millions of women for their cruelty toward their husbands and boyfriends: the desire to assert superiority over them.

Combine Joan's insight with that of Amelia Hamilton above, stir briefly, and ponder the resulting emulsion while I fetch more coffee.

An American man between twenty and seventy years of age is likely to have had some personal exposure to attitudes such as Miss Hamilton delineates and treatment such as Joan describes. Such behavior is everywhere. It's a double standard that's...dare I say it? Oh, hell, why not?...divorced from any connection to actual sexual conduct.

The older notion of a double standard -- that young single men were commended for acquiring sexual experience, while young single women were required under threat of censure to remain chaste -- never had true force. As with many other myths about the decades behind us, it was purveyed by cultural elements that depicted particular exceptions to the norm as if they were representative of American society. Those elements portrayed certain segments of our society in a fashion that made their departures from the prevailing moral standard seem attractive...and eventually, predominant.

In all candor, certain sectors of our nation have always "held themselves above the rules." No doubt it's been true in every society known to Man. Every society, no matter how notionally egalitarian, has its elites. With admission to an elite comes a sense of privilege. Such is human nature that those so deluded will routinely decide that fruit forbidden to lowly others is both available and agreeable to themselves and their peers.

Today's myth of a double standard is much like the older one:

  • It bears little relation to reality;
  • It rests on a false supposition about the natures of the sexes;
  • If accepted and acted upon, its consequences are long-lasting and utterly destructive.

Let's be explicit about the terms of the myth:

  • American women are supposedly victims of "patriarchal oppression."
  • The condition arose from the innate "war between the sexes."
  • It justifies women's unceasing suspicion of men, and belligerence toward men which, were the roles reversed, would be considered grounds for ostracism at the very least, a prison term at the worst.

Not one word of this even approximates reality.

In the era before this set of notions took hold, American women were the most privileged, most pampered creatures in all the world. As I wrote some years ago, "Men treated women with courtesy, respect, and a certain protective affection." Yes, there were exceptions, but for the benefit of the slow of comprehension, exceptions are exceptional: i.e., noteworthy by reason of their infrequency.

The popular entertainment of that era tended to reflect its reality rather better than does that of today.

Allow me a brief, not entirely tangential digression upon the Two Feminisms before I return to my central point.

Equity feminism -- i.e., the thesis that men and women should be equals before the law -- has a long and honorable history. The major figures of the women's suffrage movement were equity feminists. Their labors were instrumental in sweeping away laws that regarded men and women unequally. But equity feminism, today ably promoted by such writers as Christina Hoff Sommers and Wendy McElroy, is a special case of a larger principle: a recognition of our common humanity. Just as the abolition of Jim Crow laws proceeded from the belated admission of the humanity of Negroes, the elimination of laws forbidding women to own real property, or to work in certain trades, proceeded from the admission that women are quite as human as men, and therefore possess the same rights and responsibilities.

The gender-war feminism from which we suffer today is sharply at odds with equity feminism. It views the sexes as innately hostile to one another, each doomed to strive forever for dominance over the other. In such a contest, there are no rules, no forbidden weapons, and no tactics deemed out of bounds. The Catharine MacKinnons, Andrea Dworkins, and Naomi Wolfs who promote it aren't theorists of rights and responsibilities but strategists in a global war. In that war there are no noncombatants and no uncontested soil.

It's pointless for a man to open a conversation with a gender-war feminist, for there is no truth in such. She regards him as the enemy ab initio, whose statements are merely tactical strokes aimed at reducing her to subjugation. Accordingly, she selects her strokes for precisely the reverse effect.

Gender-war feminism isn't popular in its pure form; American women who accept it unedited are probably very few. Men needn't worry about interacting with them, as they have no use for us, restrict themselves to one another's society, and in any event are easily recognized and avoided.

However, a woman needn't subscribe wholly to the "war between the sexes" to be infected by the attitudes that it promulgates: a subconscious conviction of having been "kept down," a continuous suspicion of men's motives, and a certain tendency to react belligerently toward us. Those attitudes are powerfully reinforced by much of contemporary popular culture...and they have evoked a reaction from which women are suffering and will continue to suffer until they admit to and shed all such notions:

  • Men have become quite as suspicious of women's motives as women are of men's motives;
  • We tend to deny women things they have eternally valued and striven for, because of that suspicion;
  • Though women are more likely than men to complain about the consequences, both sexes suffer from them. However, neither can renounce its posture until the other agrees to do so.

Once again: Yes, there are exceptions. However, the trend, best reflected in the swelling male aversion to marriage, the burgeoning numbers of spinsters, and the decline in live births of children to married couples, is unambiguous.

I could go on at length about any number of associated subjects, but I believe the point has been made.

Unfortunately, there is no "last graf." Even a Certified Galactic Intellect can't solve a problem based on mistaken premises. Women who hold such premises must surrender them before healing can occur.

Yes, I said women, not men, must surrender such premises. Men never adopted the notion of a "war between the sexes," nor any of the concomitant attitudes. We have merely reacted to the growth of such attitudes among women, and to the behavior they've engendered. To the extent that there is such a "war," we are playing pure defense. Women's unhappiness about the matter arises from our natural inclination to protect ourselves: our self-concepts, our earnings, and our dignity in a world where dignity is becoming an ever rarer commodity.

The matter, as sad as it is, is just one more special case of a trustworthy old principle:

In the absence of
Tidal waves,
Serious diseases,
And flying ordnance,
What's making you unhappy is all but certain to be you.
"'Obvious' means 'overlooked.'" -- Michael Emerling

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Mask Slippages Dept.

Even reading widely and with attention doesn't guarantee that nothing will get past you.

Via Maetenloch over at Ace of Spades HQ comes this bit of agita, which I apparently missed when InstaPundit first covered it:

To "The Precious Metal Purchasing Act" From Executive Order 6102 - Santelli's Take

"Ever heard of SB3341?" is Rick Santelli's opening salvo in today's rantless discussion of the concerns he has with Illinois' 'Precious Metal Purchasing Act'. While passed in the Illinois Senate last year, and moth-balled in the House since, Rick notes that "the long and short of it is they want an audit trail to any precious metals, whether you're talking coins or bullion." It does not seem too much of a stretch to this Chicagoan to the 1933 Executive Order #6102 that confiscated gold and cleared the way eventually for Nixon's 1971 disconnect of the dollar from gold. As Liberty Blitzkrieg's Mike Krieger notes: "So let me get this straight. First they want gun registration and now precious metal registration? I’m sure the government would only use such information in our best interests, because as we all know: Your Government Loves You. Sounds reasonable, after all, only 'terrorists' buy guns and gold anyway."

The text of the bill:

...Provides that a person who is in the business of purchasing precious metal shall obtain a proof of ownership, create a record of the sale, and verify the identity of the seller.

Provides that a person who is in the business of purchasing precious metal shall not pay for the precious metal in cash and shall record the method of payment.

Requires the purchaser to keep a record of the sale for one year or, if the purchase amount is over $500, for 5 years.

Fascinating. I can see it now: a crazed domestic terrorist -- a right-winger, of course -- forces his way into the Sears Tower at Noon and holds everyone in the building hostage...with a gold brick for his only weapon. Thousands of lunch breaks imperiled! No one in Chicago is safe! Clearly we have to be prepared to thwart such a schemer before he can strike. Otherwise, the terrorists will have won!

Go ahead and laugh, It's good for what ails you. But there's a serious point to it, too.

As I wrote some time ago at Eternity Road:

Money is a medium of exchange and a store of value. The significance of the first property should be obvious: not everyone can be persuaded to accept a chicken in exchange for a loaf of pumpernickel, and besides, barter of that sort makes it difficult to "make change." But the importance of the second property has always been at least as great. Today, it's near to overpowering.

The State's ability to tax us relies on our use of legal tender: the dollar. But the dollar is not money; it's a politically managed currency with no intrinsic value. In the absence of the legal tender laws, it would be worthless.

That wasn't always the case. Time was, the dollar had a statutory definition as a fixed amount of gold or silver. By presenting a dollar bill to any bank in the country, the bearer could demand the equivalent weight of precious metal in exchange. (If you've ever seen a Silver Certificate, that's what that was about.) That property of hard (redeemable) money is what stabilized the dollar until 1913, since no bank that wanted to remain solvent would issue more banknotes -- the origin of the paper dollar -- than it could redeem in precious metal.

(Yes, some banks did so; the famous bank runs of the Nineteenth and early Twentieth Centuries testified to the variable trustworthiness of financial institutions in those days. But the banks that did so either fell, or were wildcats protected by corruption at the state and territorial levels. One could always protect oneself from such perfidy by dealing exclusively in gold or silver.)

The most salient point about money in our current situation is this: legal tender, which a merchant is required by law to accept "for all debts, public and private," is not money. It cannot store value; the Federal Reserve, no longer required by law to redeem a dollar in precious metal, can therefore inflate the supply of dollars without limit.

That article continued on to exhort its readers to preserve their purchasing power by storing it in gold or silver.

The precious metals cannot be inflated. More, the value we place upon them is intrinsic to their nature; it doesn't depend upon a "legal tender" designation, nor upon how many zeroes are printed on them.

But as I observed in the snippet above, the State dislikes gold and silver, precisely because it cannot track their use as a medium of exchange, and cannot steal their value via the printing press. They are not proxies for money but money itself: the best materials ever used for commerce among free men.

It appears from the ZeroHedge article that the Illinois state government wants to scotch any thoughts among residents of the Land of Lincoln about recurring to gold and silver as the dollar deteriorates and tax rates explode.

That this should come at a time when various states are contemplating the minting of their own currencies -- so what if that's expressly forbidden by Article I of the Constitution? -- only adds to the irony.

When I posted the original "Defending Your Money" article at Eternity Road, a fair number of readers chose to quibble with it about the need for gold and silver specifically to secure our wealth. Based on the recent proliferation of gold-accumulation and storage services, and the surge of interest in barter societies, I dare say there are fewer quibblers today.

Illinois's Assembly has apparently not voted on that noxious bill. That doesn't mean, as state tax revenues crash and wealthy residents flee for more rational locales, that it never will.

Verbum sat sapienti.