Wednesday, April 30, 2014

A Very Brief Post...

...that I expect will be all for the day.

We have reached a stage of social degeneration in which half of us have designated themselves Inquisitors, and the other half must cower in fear of them.

Yes, Donald Sterling is a racist. So what? So am I. There are objective statistical disparities among the races. One can refuse to believe them, or attempt to shout down those who speak openly of them and demand that the Inquisitors punish them; that is all.

Sterling's opinions about race relations, implied by an intended-to-be-private admonition to his kinda-sorta girlfriend (who had every right to ignore it and him), have been used to dispossess him of $2.5 million and the control of the NBA franchise that's his rightful property.

This is theft and oppression flying a flag of righteousness. And everyone, Left, Right, or Other, who has spoken in approval of this atrocity will someday pay a heavier price than any of them can imagine.

Please excuse me. I'm going to lie down in a nice dark room with a cool cloth on my forehead until the steam has ceased to pour from my ears.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014


I'm in a somewhat odd mood this morning, so today's tirade will be on a somewhat odd topic for Liberty's Torch: units of measure, specifically those for weight, volume, and length.

Let's start with an old one: the cubit. Many a schoolchild, upon his first encounter with the story of Noah's Ark, asks about this unusual unit of measure. The usual explanation the Sunday school teacher offered, at least back in those darkly remembered days of mine own, was "it's about nineteen inches." In fact, a cubit is a nonspecific unit: it refers to the distance between a man's elbow and the tip of his middle finger. Thus, an individual carpenter could measure things in his own personal cubit, but he'd have trouble working with another carpenter with longer or shorter least, if precision were of any great importance to either of them.

A unit more familiar to us, the foot, began life in an equally nonspecific fashion: it referred to the length of an ordinary man's foot, a unit of moderate importance to the Roman legions. (Yes, they had quartermasters, too.) It became important enough to "nail down" as a fixed length, independent of any particular person's foot, only after many bunions and blisters. Similarly, the inch was the colloquial term for the length of the outermost phalange of an ordinary man's thumb. The use of that digit for rough measure in inches is still practiced today, though perhaps not by pianists or basketball players.

Passing now to units of weight and volume, we first meet the pint at the markets along the English seacoast and major rivers. As waterborne trade proliferated and older, less specific units such as the bushel and peck ceased to be adequate, there arose a need for a widely agreed-upon standard in which to trade units of volume. This applied with special force to that quintessential trade good, ale, which for some years functioned as a kind of money among the lower classes of the British Isles. However, ales varied in quality then as now, so the first standard proposed, "enough to get a teenaged virgin drunk," was deemed unacceptable. Eventually, the pint was agreed to be a cube three inches on a side, a definition that has endured to this day.

Units of weight followed from units of volume. The pound, the most important unit of dry measure, was defined as the weight of one pint of seawater. This excellent definition proceeded from the near-universal access to seawater of English markets. The uniformity of seawater ensured that any differences among "standard pounds" used in markets island-wide would be small enough to be tolerable. As balance scales were the standard weight-measuring implements of those days, the pound was swiftly divided into sixteen ounces, facilitating the use of the most convenient fractions of a pound: the reciprocal powers of two.

Note the respect the above units grant to common fractions in weight, volume, and distance measurement. Weight and volume facilitate binary division down to two to the minus-fourth power. Distance measurement's fundamental unit, the foot of twelve inches, facilitates halves, thirds, quarters, sixths, and (of course) twelfths. This is no accident: the persons who were first to use those measurements wanted the ability to easily create those fractional measures. Trade in small quantities demanded it.

The aggregation of small units into larger numbers sometimes followed intuitive rules. Eight pints were stacked into a larger cube -- two by two by two -- to create the gallon, one-quarter of which became the quart. Three feet became a yard, the most important clothier's unit. Far less intuitively, fourteen (!) pounds became a stone, thirty-two pounds became a slug, two thousand pounds became a ton, 220 yards became a furlong, and 1760 yards became the standard mile. These "Imperial system" units proliferated worldwide by the ever-expanding scope of British trade.

As polynomial numeration eclipsed Roman numeration and the metrical sciences advanced, it became ever clearer that computation in large or very small measures would benefit from a decimal system of units. The horror of the French Revolution gave birth to the first such, the metric system, in which each unit was related to others of its kind by some power of ten. The metric units were first standardized in those years, but have been gradually redefined to take account of advances in the understanding of light waves and fundamental particles. A summary of the current "international" metric standard can be found here.

Quite a lot of derision has been spilled upon the United States for "not going metric." This is understandable from both perspectives. Americans, with our large, densely interconnected domestic markets, are reluctant to convert from our familiar units to something to which we have no experiential or emotional attachment. Metric-system countries find it inconvenient to make use of the many thousands of American products made according to our "Imperial system" based unit scheme.

Fortunately, some years ago the federal government backed away from its attempt to impose the metric system on Americans and our institutions by law. There might not be a revolution over ObamaCare, but you can bet your bottom dollar that we'd get out the torches and pitchforks over having to relabel every product in our stores, reshoot every commercial that ever appears on television, and redo all the signs along our millions upon millions of miles of roads, merely to "metrify" them. And what of the publishing industry? Millions of books already in print are lousy with Imperial units. Consider especially the horror that would be "metrified porn:" "Deftly he slid his twenty-five-centimeter joystick into her welcoming love tunnel, buried his face in her velvety hundred-centimeter bosom, and began to newton away." Unthinkable!

No, we're better off retaining both systems, one for science and technology, the other for common and customary uses. At least for the present, until speeders can get used to hearing cops accuse them of going 145.2 in an 88.7 zone, and grocers can accustom themselves to being asked for 226.8 grams of fresh mozzarella.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Intellectual grandiosity.

So-called capitalism is more like gravity, a set of laws that apply to and describe the behavior of surplus wealth, in particular wealth generated by industrial societies, which is to say unprecedented massive wealth. The human race never saw anything quite like it before. It became both a moral embarrassment and a political inconvenience. So among the intellectual grandiosities of modern times is the idea that this massive wealth can be politically managed to produce an ideal equitable society — with no side effects.

Hence, the bold but hapless 20th century experiment with statist communism, which pretended to abolish wealth but succeeded mainly in converting wealth into industrial waste and pollution, while directing the remainder to a lawless gangster government elite that ruled an expendable mass peasantry with maximum cruelty and injustice.[1]

Mr. Kunstler puts his finger on the fundamental conceit of so-called intellectuals in our time. Nothing but nothing should not be attempted and even the most ludicrous ideas had their legions of grasping dreamers, fools, moral midgets, sycophants, and conniving, lying power seekers.

Welfare for foreigners and parasites, Ponzi-scheme retirement systems, a classless society, world government, the end of the nation state and national borders, the inundation of the white race, the plundering of the productive, multiculturalism, the destruction of the Christian faith, an end to sex differences, the sacramentalization of sodomy, the vagification of the military, world government, and the worship of primitives, among other things – all mad policies pursued with a vengeance by a political class enamored of the powers conferred by the lawless, centralized, tax-glutted, propaganda-soaked state.

“If you can, you must” became the mantra of political leaders who had access to any economic surplus with never a sideways glance at the experience of millions in the Gulag, the laogai camps, and the killing fields.

The Age of the Dumbass had dawned with a vengeance.

[1] "Piketty Dikitty Rikitty." By James Kunstler, Clusterfuck Nation, 4/28/14.

Creeping Darkness

I was going to take today off from blogging, but...well, you know how I can be. It doesn't take much to lodge a burr under my saddle, and "not much" is hardly an adequate description of the items my morning news-and-opinion sweep brought to my attention.

Writers Conrad Black and Mark Steyn are Canadian citizens. Both have been the targets of prosecution for "crimes against the State." In both cases, the most significant element was the prosecution's zeal to punish, despite shoddy evidence of ill-defined offenses against highly ambiguous laws: "crimes" hardly worthy of the name. Black was felled, while Steyn triumphed. In the aftermath, both men have become apostles for absolute freedom of expression, along with Ezra Levant, another writer who became a target for his opinions and his publications.

Black's most recent article in The American Spectator praises Steyn for his resistance to being silenced by duplicitous pseudo-scientist Michael "Hockey Stick" Man through "lawfare:"

Steyn has mocked, as well he might, Mann’s unctuous swaddling of himself in his supposed status as a “Nobel Prize recipient.” This is adding more than a cubit to his earned stature, as the 2007 prize in question was shared by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and Mann is one among the many who have furnished this body with learned papers. One intrepid National Review correspondent called the Nobel Committee and was told emphatically that it would be incorrect to call Mann a laureate—that the IPCC won the Nobel as an organization. Mark Steyn pointed out that he could make a similar claim to Mann’s: Steyn’s mother is Belgian, Belgium is in the European Union, and the EU also won a Nobel Prize for Peace.

But anyone who thinks that facts and the First Amendment trump all here is unfamiliar with the American legal system. Because the defendants’ blogs are disseminated widely over the Internet, Mann was able to shop for a friendly jurisdiction. He launched his suit, unsurprisingly, in the District of Columbia, 90 percent of whose population votes Democratic, where jurors and judges are likely to be unsympathetic to conservatives (as the outrages against Scooter Libby and Ted Stevens demonstrated).

Inasmuch as Steyn's case is legally and logically invulnerable under the "truth," "fair comment," and "malice" rules that govern libel suits, Mann's aim can only be to wound Steyn financially, by compelling him to pay for his legal defense. Once again, the process is the punishment -- and the American civil-tort-action "process" is no kinder to those caught in its toils than its criminal-prosecution sibling.

That Steyn should have chosen to resist to the limits of his power, despite the expense and inconvenience, is a testament to his devotion to the principle of freedom of expression. That our courts should facilitate such a blight on freedom of expression is a blot on us all for permitting it.

America isn't alone in this regard, of course. Formerly Great Britain has descended even farther down the slope of censorship:

The colorful Nigel Farage and his UKIP are getting most of the attention as the insurgent party of the populist right in the UK these days, but another fringe party, Liberty GB, is making some headlines. Apparently party leader Paul Weston was arrested recently for reading in public Winston Churchill’s infamous description of Islam from the unabridged edition of The River War.

The quote Weston read to his audience:

How dreadful are the curses which Mohammedanism lays on its votaries! Besides the fanatical frenzy, which is as dangerous in a man as hydrophobia in a dog, there is this fearful fatalistic apathy. The effects are apparent in many countries. Improvident habits, slovenly systems of agriculture, sluggish methods of commerce, and insecurity of property exist wherever the followers of the Prophet rule or live. A degraded sensualism deprives this life of its grace and refinement; the next of its dignity and sanctity. The fact that in Mohammedan law every woman must belong to some man as his absolute property – either as a child, a wife, or a concubine – must delay the final extinction of slavery until the faith of Islam has ceased to be a great power among men. Thousands become the brave and loyal soldiers of the faith: all know how to die but the influence of the religion paralyses the social development of those who follow it. No stronger retrograde force exists in the world. Far from being moribund, Mohammedanism is a militant and proselytizing faith.

Churchill wrote that in 1899. Not one aspect of what he condemned about Islam has changed for the better. But more salient than that is that Winston Churchill is Britain's most revered statesman, higher in popular esteem than Palmerston, Gladstone, Disraeli, Lloyd George, or Margaret Thatcher. Yet to read his opinion of Islam aloud to a willing audience got Paul Weston thrown in the clink for offending against Britain's "hate speech" laws. What will follow from his arrest remains to be seen.

The antipathy to the expression of views someone dislikes seems to be everywhere. It's progressed so far in the U.S. that state governments are criminalizing the criticism of officials,, and state universities have taken to forbidding students to hand out copies of the U.S. Constitution. And of course, anyone who's followed the Bundy vs. BLM contretemps knows how the federal myrmidons tried to enforce "First Amendment Zones" against those who came to protest their quasi-military action against a peaceable rancher.

Allow me, once again, to quote the late Clarence Carson::

[W]e are told that there is no need to fear the concentration of power in government so long as that power is checked by the electoral process. We are urged to believe that so long as we can express our disagreement in words, we have our full rights to disagree. Now both freedom of speech and the electoral process are important to liberty, but alone they are only the desiccated remains of liberty. However vigorously we may argue against foreign aid, our substance is still drained away in never-to-be-repaid loans. Quite often, there is not even a candidate to vote for who holds views remotely like my own. To vent one's spleen against the graduated income tax may be healthy for the psyche, but one must still yield up his freedom of choice as to how his money will be spent when he pays it to the government. The voice of electors in government is not even proportioned to the tax contribution of individuals; thus, those who contribute more lose rather than gain by the "democratic process." A majority of voters may decide that property cannot be used in such and such ways, but the liberty of the individual is diminished just as much as in that regard as if a dictator had decreed it. Those who believe in the redistribution of wealth should be free to redistribute their own, but they are undoubtedly limiting the freedom of others when they vote to redistribute theirs.

Effective disagreement means not doing what one does not want to do as well as saying what he wants to say. What is from one angle the welfare state is from another the compulsory state. Let me submit a bill of particulars. Children are forced to go to school. Americans are forced to pay taxes to support foreign aid, forced to support the Peace Corps, forced to make loans to the United Nations, forced to contribute to the building of hospitals, forced to serve in the armed forces. Employers are forced to submit to arbitration with labor leaders. Laborers are forced to accept the majority decision. Employers are forced to pay minimum wages, or go out of business. But it is not even certain that they will be permitted by the courts to go out of business. Railroads are forced to charge established rates and to continue services which may have become uneconomical. Many Americans are forced to pay Social Security. Farmers are forced to operate according to the restrictions voted by a majority of those involved. The list could be extended, but surely the point has been made.

And seriatim, allow me, once again, to quote myself:

Now, a regular reader of Eternity Road will already be familiar with the long train of abuses and usurpations Dr. Carson enumerates above. And of course, liberals still stoutly maintain that the object is a more perfect Union, and not a design to reduce us under absolute Despotism. But the most trustworthy indicators of evil intent are the suppression of dissent and the invalidation of mechanisms for redress: the "desiccated remains" of which Dr. Carson wrote. And so your Curmudgeon must ask: Just how are freedom of expression and the electoral process faring in the Land of the Formerly Free?

First, freedom of expression:

  • The McCain-Feingold Bipartisan Campaign Finance Reform Act has partly abrogated the right to free expression around election time.
  • Given the new Administration and the enlarged Democrat majorities on Capitol Hill, we stand in immediate danger of the revival of the Fairness Doctrine, which is aimed at quenching conservative talk radio.
  • The use of tax law to silence conservative and libertarian opinion is growing, especially as regards voluntary associations such as churches and charitable groups.
  • Several liberal luminaries, among them both Cass Sunstein and Hillary Clinton, have argued for the censorship of the World Wide Web.
  • Lawsuits attempting to silence a commentator who has merely stated established facts or accurately quoted an adversarial opponent are rife, and are usually allowed to go forward by the courts.
  • Conservative public officials are continuously derided, assailed, and slandered, both by the Mainstream Media and by activist groups.
  • Lectures and presentations by libertarian and conservative figures are heckled, massively protested, and often terminally disrupted by liberal activists. The speakers who dare to appear at such events are at continuous risk of physical assault.

The legal impediments to free expression are bad enough. When one adds the "chilling effect" of the extra-legal mechanisms used to silence pro-freedom views, the pile reaches an alarming height.

Scared yet? If not, check your pulse: you may have died and not noticed.

It can seem that there are too many threats to combat. It can seem that with the darkness creeping upon us from all sides, the sole rational course is to pull in one's horns and hope to die in one's bed before it reaches one's own fortress. God knows I've suffered that sense of things. It can be terrifyingly difficult to repel.

All the same, a commentator's duty is to point to the writing on the wall. Freedom of expression is steadily being eliminated from the very societies that birthed the principle. Governments and activists alike are ever more openly hostile to it. It's become possible to foresee a time when government censors are posted in newsrooms and the offices of hard-copy publications...when anyone who claims to have been "offended" by some pundit's opinions will be allowed to sue him out of his underwear for stating them...when public officials are conceded the power to imprison those who criticize them, the truth of the criticism not being admissible in defense.

What, then, must we do?

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Complete annihilation.

Contrary to the claims of the [German] political establishment, Islam has no intention whatever of integrating peacefully into Western society like other religions. That is one of the lies which has been instilled in us for decades by our politicians, by ignorant journalists, by Islam scholars who have converted to Islam, and by leftist social scientists with the aid of public television broadcasters, state radio and an overwhelmingly left-conformed press. These lies, thanks to the Internet, have been unmasked in our times, and the truth about Islam made accessible to a public of millions.

For the central goal of Islam is world domination. The ENTIRE “religious” life of Islam is subsidiary to this goal, the contents of which the Koran and the Sunnah profess in detail. Jihad is the final means set down for the achievement of this goal. This Islamic jihad is the longest, bloodiest, and most victim-rich imperialistic campaign in human history and has claimed more dead than the Christian crusades, Fascism, National Socialism and Communism combined. Jihad is nothing other than the eternal war of Islam against ALL “unbelievers” through to their complete annihilation; and accordingly, it is the oldest and most destructive crime against humanity on our planet.

Michael Mannheimer quoted in "A Call to Collective Resistance." By Baron Bodissey, Gates of Vienna, 4/26/14.

Faith And Doubt: A Sunday Rumination

On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the disciples had gathered together and locked the doors of the place for fear of the Jewish authorities. Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.So Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. Just as the Father has sent me, I also send you.” And after he said this, he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, they are forgiven; if you retain anyone’s sins, they are retained.”

Now Thomas (called Didymus), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he replied, “Unless I see the wounds from the nails in his hands, and put my finger into the wounds from the nails, and put my hand into his side, I will never believe it!”

Eight days later the disciples were again together in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and examine my hands. Extend your hand and put it into my side. Do not continue in your unbelief, but believe.” Thomas replied to him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are the people who have not seen and yet have believed.”

[The Gospel According to John, 20:19-29]

The story of Doubting Thomas, perhaps the most famous of all the events of the period between the Resurrection and the Ascension, is often – usually? – told as some sort of mild condemnation of doubt of the Resurrection, and therefore of Christ’s divinity. Yet the story itself does not reflect badly on Thomas. He, a skeptic of a sort familiar to many, wanted substantiation of the unprecedented event in which he’d been asked to believe. Moreover, it was substantiation the other disciples had already received. It might be going too far to assert that he had a right to such evidence, but at the very least he could demur on the grounds that the others had witnessed what he had not.

Pope Benedict XVI himself has told us that faith is inseparable from doubt. Indeed, it could not be any other way. Faith is the acceptance of a proposition for which there is inconclusive evidence at best, and against which no conclusive disproof is possible. He whose faith is utterly undisturbed by those conditions is a rare creature indeed, perhaps to the point of never having existed.

We have reason to believe that the Apostles alone were granted conclusive proof that Jesus had returned bodily from death. If others who saw Him in the days before the Ascension received the same sort of indisputable proof that it was definitely Jesus of Nazareth who stood before them, the Gospels do not record it. The Apostles also witnessed His Ascension, and at the Pentecost received the Gift of Tongues to facilitate the Great Commission. No one else, not even Paul of Tarsus, is recorded as having been granted those boons.

All of us who came after must make do with faith.

Doubt is inseparable from faith because we are aware of our fallibility and the variable trustworthiness of human testimony. Indeed, it’s quite possible that were we incapable of doubt, we would be equally incapable of faith and of all that follows from it. That doesn’t make it a pleasant thing, of course. Christians are expected to struggle with their doubts. We’re expected to cope with them as we cope with any other trial of human life. It’s part of the test of temporal life: one of the quintessential barriers we must surmount to win to eternal bliss.

There is no “answer” to doubt. It cannot be defeated once and for all, but must be endured stoically. If we have reasons to believe – again, not conclusive reasons but evidence “good enough” when mated to the urgings of our hearts and consciences – then we have reasons to resist doubt. All the same, there’s a question of tactics to be faced.

Which is why I’ve chosen to reprint the following story from my collection For The Love Of God.

The Vampire And The Caretaker

    Gavin's alarm clock buzzed with its usual peevish insistence. He cracked an eyelid, noted the hour and the pervading darkness, and pulled the covers over his head, hoping against hope that it wasn't really his least favorite morning of the week yet again.

    It was not to be. Within seconds came his father's usual sharp knock.

    "Come on, son." Even at three-thirty in the morning, Evan Conklin always sounded as relaxed and jovial as a man who's just finished a fine meal in the company of his best friends. "We've got work to do."

    Gavin grumbled an obscenity and flung back the bedcovers with a sweep of his arm. The winter chill was upon him at once, singing along his spine loudly enough to make his teeth chatter. He slapped at the alarm clock with one hand while he groped for his robe with the other and hurried off to the bathroom for a shower and shave.

    Gavin couldn't linger over his toilet if he was to set out at the appointed hour. Evan allowed him to sleep half an hour later than he allowed himself. It was hurry, hurry, hurry from the moment his feet touched his bedroom floor to the moment he buckled himself into the passenger seat of their car. The work, his father explained more than once, would not permit it.

    Their destination was only a few miles away, but in the wee-hour blackness of a continental New York winter it seemed like an hour's ride. It was long enough for Gavin to fall back to sleep, but he didn't permit himself. One awakening per morning was more than enough. He forced himself to full alertness, stretching out his lower back, loosening the muscles in his arms, hips, and legs, and working his lungs open by steadily deepening his breathing. His father merely drove and said nothing.

    Our Lady of the Pines was completely dark. Evan pulled a ring of keys from his coat pocket, thrust one into the lock that had only last spring been installed in the tall oaken doors, and shepherded them inside, flipping light switches as he went. The nave of the church blossomed into brightness. Evan headed directly for the mop closet, while Gavin went to fetch the vacuum cleaner.

    Gavin had almost finished vacuuming the little church in preparation for the early Mass when the vampire fell upon him.

* * *

    The creature was tall and evil of aspect. Its grip was cruelly tight. Its breath upon Gavin's neck stank of ordure and rotting flesh. Despite its form, it was hard to believe that something so foul could once have been a man.

    It had him at its mercy, yet it did not strike. Its attention was fastened upon his father, who stared from the altar steps, mop dangling from his hand.

    "Well?" the creature snarled. "Aren't you going to plead for mercy? Aren't you going to offer me your blood in place of your son's? It's customary, you know."

    Evan smiled slightly. "No need."

    "Oh? You'll concede me your son's life if I agree to spare yours, then?"

    Gavin squirmed in terror, but the vampire's grip was inescapable. Evan shook his head. "Not at all. You won't be killing anyone this morning."

    The vampire cackled. "Really? How do you plan to stop me?"

    "I don't." With his eyes, Evan indicated the crucifix suspended above him. It evoked a snort of derision.

    "Yet you see that I am here, in the heart of your imaginary God's house where I'm not even supposed to be able to enter, doing as I will with your boy." Gavin shuddered as the creature's talons ruffled his hair. "He looks a tasty morsel. I expect I will enjoy breaking fast more than usual this morning."

    His father's gaze remained perfectly serene. "Go ahead, then. Feed on him."

    A stillness forged of cold iron descended upon the church. Nothing moved nor stirred.

    "Well?" Evan said. "What are you waiting for?"

    The vampire did not respond.

    "You have your victim," Evan pressed. "He's helpless in your grip. You know I can't stop you. Why haven't you struck him?"

    "What makes you so sure I won't?" the vampire snarled. It crushed Gavin to itself with lung-emptying force, and he gasped in pain.

    "It's perfectly simple," Evan said. "You won't because you can't. You don't really exist."

    "What?" the vampire roared. "I stand here in your holy place, your son my helpless captive, mocking your Savior as the phantasm you take me to be. I hold your boy's life in my arms, and you deny my existence with such ease?"

    "Of course," Evan said. "If God is real, then you are not. A just God would not permit the existence of a creature that could suck the soul out of a man's body and subject him to eternal torment, he having done no wrong of his own free will. And God exists. Therefore, you do not."

    The vampire's grip loosened, and Gavin's fear was tinted with puzzlement.

    "You see me before you," the creature said slowly. "You hear my voice and smell my odor. Your son feels my claws upon his flesh. Yet you refuse to believe in me, preferring your faith in a being you cannot see, hear, smell, taste, or touch. What gives you such confidence in your delusion, in the face of mortal peril?"

    "It's quite simple," Evan said. "The characteristics assigned to your kind contradict all right and reason. Such creatures could not exist without destroying themselves. In a word, you are implausible. No, wait," he said. "Not implausible; impossible. A creature of supernatural strength and speed that feeds on human blood, yet cannot endure the light of day? A creature that converts its prey into competitors, ensuring both a geometrically increasing number of predators and a dwindling supply of fodder? The laws of nature as God wrote them literally forbid you to exist."

    Gavin twisted again, and broke free of the creature's grip. He stumbled back and gazed upon the thing. But he could not reconcile what his eyes saw with the superhuman monster that had held him helpless a moment before. It seemed to have become insubstantial, ghostly, a mere appearance projected on the screen of reality by some unseen mechanism.

    "You truly believe this?" The vampire's voice had fallen to a whisper.

    Evan Conklin said, "I do so believe."

    And the thing faded from sight.

* * *

    Gavin awoke in a tumult of fright. He could not remember every detail of the dream that had catapulted him from slumber, but the overpowering sense of helplessness and terror, of being at the mercy of something merciless that no human strength could oppose, still pulsed within him. He sat up, switched on his bedside lamp, and breathed as slowly and deeply as he could manage, struggling to calm himself.

    His door opened slowly. His father's head poked out from behind it.

    "Everything all right, son?"

    Gavin nodded, unwilling to trust his voice. Evan entered and sat beside him on his bed.

    "Bad dream?"

    Gavin nodded again, and Evan grinned.

    "I know how rugged they can be. I used to have some pretty vivid ones, at your age." He rose and made for the door. "A shower will help. We'll hit the diner after Mass."

    Gavin extracted himself from his bed and plunged into his Sunday morning ritual. When he'd buckled himself into the passenger seat of his father's car, and Evan had backed them out of the driveway and onto Kettle Knoll Way, he said, "Dad? Do you ever...doubt?"

    "Hm? Our faith in God, you mean?" Evan kept his eyes on the dark ribbon of road unwinding before them.

    "Yeah." Gavin braced himself for the answer. What he got was not what he expected.

    "Now and then," his father said. "It's hard not to doubt something you can't see or touch. But faith isn't about certainty. It's about will."

    "So you...will away your doubts?"

    Evan chuckled. "That would be a neat trick, wouldn't it?" He pulled the Mercedes Maybach into the small side parking lot of Our Lady of the Pines, parked and killed the engine. "No, I simply command myself to do as I know I should do. Faith is expressed just as much by our deeds as by our words. As long as I can consistently act from faith, I can keep my grip on it, regardless of my doubts." He nodded toward the unlit church, barely visible in the darkness. "You might say that's why we're here."

    Gavin marveled. "And all this time I thought it was because the parish was too poor to pay for professional cleaning staff."

    That brought a snort and a guffaw. "Get serious. Though the way you vacuum, I don't wonder that Father Ray would rather have our money than your labor. No, it's that hiring your chores done distances you from them. You can't afford to do too much of that if you want to remain connected to life. I pay a cleaning lady to look after our house, but doing this for the parish keeps us involved in parish life, and mindful of...well, of a lot of things." He cuffed his son affectionately. "Let's get moving. We're already behind schedule."

May God bless and keep you all.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

The New Paradigm

[Up for a little more Freedom Fiction, Gentle Reader? This one is mine. -- FWP.]

    Less than half a second after the alarm light flashed on his intercom panel, Integral Security Services commander and CEO Kevin Conway surged out from behind his desk, plucked his life vest from his coat tree, and sprinted down the stairs toward the monitoring room.

    He donned the vest as he ran. People were scurrying and red lights flashing throughout the building. As he passed through the ready room, he distributed quick shoulder pats and murmurs of encouragement to the officers garbing for battle, then moved as swiftly as was politic to the large, dark chamber that housed Integral’s twenty-four-hour audio / video monitoring operation.

    The officers on duty at the monitoring stations were unusually quiet even for them. The overhead screen tuned to the feed from Integral’s drone aircraft displayed the reason: a SWAT team of considerable size assembling in the staging area behind Onteora County's First Precinct.

    This one could get ugly.

    He stooped to whisper to the young woman attending to that data stream.

    “Do we have a target yet, Phyllis?”

    She shook her head, eliciting a faint rattle from her headgear. “Still quiet, Boss. Orders should be coming down...wait one.”

    Conway held his breath. On the screen, a police lieutenant was unfolding a stapled sheaf of papers.

    “2317 Kettle Knoll in Foxwood, Boss,” the young woman murmured.

    That’s Art Giordano’s place. Shit.

    “Scream it out, Phyl. All hands. We’re going to need the whole standby force for this one.”

    He clapped her on the shoulder and headed toward Integral’s own staging area as she called out the all hands alert on the PA and the company’s breakthrough frequency.


    Integral’s four heavily modified H1-Alphas roared down the streets of Foxwood hamlet at top speed. Conway was determined to get his forces to the target address before the SWAT team could get there. Though they’d executed such a lightning mobilization and deployment several times before, an all hands alert never failed to raise blood pressures throughout the force. There’d been no live fire or other violence on any of the previous sorties, but no one could be sure that it would always be thus.

    At the targeted address Conway leaped out of the lead vehicle, trotted for the house’s porch, and took up station immediately before its front door. The commotion brought Art Giordano to the door, coffee mug in hand, wearing a bathrobe and a puzzled frown. Conway waved him back authoritatively and bade him close the inside door. Giordano complied at once.

    As Integral’s troopers debarked from the other Humvees, Conway directed them into their various positions with quick, crisp hand gestures. Sixty seconds after his arrival, he stood at his ease, the Humvees had roared off to concealment, and his men were locked, loaded, poised and ready for whatever might come next.

    They were quick enough by less than two minutes.

    Onteora SWAT’s armored car, a legacy of the infantry drawdown of the decade before, pulled to a stop before the residence of Arthur Giordano, retired engineer and shooting sports enthusiast. The lieutenant Conway had seen via the drone feed debarked from the shotgun seat, papers in hand, and strode toward the porch. When his gaze landed on Conway’s face, his lips contorted into a snarl.

    Conway smiled. “Good morning, Lieutenant Reynolds. Lovely day for a SWAT raid. May I ask the purpose of your visit?”

     SWAT team commander Lieutenant Ellis Reynolds kept his voice under tight control. “We’re here in pursuit of some illegal firearms.” He glanced down at his papers. “Our investigators reported an unregistered AK-47 and AR-15 in the possession of the owner of this residence.”

    “There is no such thing,” Conway said, “as an illegal firearm.”

    “New York state law—”

    “Does not trump the Second Amendment to the Constitution, Lieutenant.”

    “That’s a matter for the courts,” Reynolds growled. The rest of the SWAT team had debarked from their vehicle and gathered close behind him, weapons in a variety of postures.

    Tactically unwise, but I’d rather not teach them the hard way.

    Conway shook his head. “I disagree.” He raised his voice. “And I brought a few friends who feel the same.”

    It was the signal the Integral troopers awaited. They moved out of concealment and converged on the front of the Giordano home, rifles trained on the SWAT personnel.

    The cops behind Ellis Reynolds exchanged uneasy looks and shrugs of a most un-SWAT-like variety. The dark crimson of the lieutenant’s face suggested that he was edging toward a stroke.

    “How did you know—”

    “I have investigators of my own, Lieutenant. Good ones. And Arthur Giordano is a client of Integral Security. I protect my clients—from public as well as private threats.”

    Hope Art’s got his ear to the door.

    It wasn’t a standoff in the usual sense. The Integral personnel outnumbered the SWAT team members, were exquisitely well placed, and toted rifles that overmatched any known body armor. The excellence of Integral’s forces, an order of magnitude beyond the capabilities of the county police, was well known. Should matters come to a head, their standing orders were to gun down the entire SWAT detachment...even if it should cost Conway his life.

    Probably be for the best if it did.

    He did his best to appear utterly unconcerned.

    Reynolds turned to his men, growled “Mount up,” and waited as they complied. Before he departed, he awarded Conway a final scowl.

    “We’ll be back,” he said.

    Conway nodded. “We’ll be here.”


    Conway watched the last of his Humvees pull away, turned to Giordano, and shrugged expressively.

    “Hell of a start for your Saturday, eh?”

    Giordano was still visibly adjusting to what had occurred on his front porch.

    “Kevin, what was that—”

    “About you being an Integral client?”

    Giordano nodded, eyes wary.

    “Call it a conversation filler. A moment, please.” Conway pulled out his cell phone and hit a speed-dial button. “Larry? All secure. You’re in command until I get back. Send a car, would you please? Thanks.” He closed and pocketed the phone and glanced at Giordano’s mug. “Might I impose on you for a cuppa? It’s been a difficult morning.”

    Giordano gestured him inside. Presently they were seated at the dinette table in Giordano’s modest kitchen, each with a mug and a doughnut.

    “Look,” the retiree said, “I appreciate what you did, but you know very well I can’t afford—”

    Conway waved it aside. “Very well indeed, Art. But you know just as well that my sort of operation costs serious money. I have to keep a sizable standby force, a drone in the air around the clock and people to monitor the feed from it, and a police informant on the payroll. The county could bankrupt me simply by staging these raids continuously, two or three at a time, such that all my forces had to go to stopping them.” He grimaced and sipped from his mug. “Integral doesn’t have the taxing power. Not that I want it.”

    Giordano said nothing.

    “Have you given any thought to what I suggested at the civic association meeting?”

    “Kevin,” Giordano said, “there aren’t enough of us willing to buy in just yet. We’re already paying some of the highest property taxes in New York. We can’t afford you. Not if what you charge your condo clients is any indication.”

    “I understand, Art. Believe me, I do. But there are ways to lower the cost quite a bit, if you and your neighbors would be willing to help.”

    “No one,” the retiree ground out, “is ready for the sort of surveillance setup you proposed. Cameras all over the place. Hard lines to your office. Rotating foot patrols with walkie-talkies. For God’s sake, Kevin, we’re a bunch of private citizens who just want to be left alone, and we’re already dealing with a sense of being watched wherever we go!”

    A car pulled audibly into the driveway. Conway nodded, finished his coffee, and gently set the mug down before him.

    “That’s the heart of the problem,” he said. “Not only are you being watched—that raid was because an Onteora cop spotted you at the range in Hamilton you visited a week ago—you’re paying through the nose for it. And here I am, desperate to protect you from those watchers, pleading that you pay me for the privilege.” He grinned humorlessly. “You’d have every right to suspect that the cops and I are in it together.”

    Giordano shook his head. “Never.”

    “Well, that’s a comfort, at least.” Conway rose, and his host did the same. “But please, Art, think about what would have happened if my guys hadn’t been here. The standby forces and support personnel that made that mobilization possible cost me about a million dollars a year. That halves Integral’s annual pre-tax profits. Imagine if the county were to get really aggressive about the firearms laws, and I had to double or triple those forces. How long do you suppose I could stay in business?

    “The state police aren’t willing to get involved with the firearms laws...for now, at least, and thank God for that. But that could change. I doubt I could deter them with nothing but Integral’s forces and resources. There’d be blood spilled. Likely some of it would be mine. The only way to avert that beforehand is to turn communities like Foxwood into self-protecting bastions, places where only the newest, dumbest rookie would dare to throw his weight around.”

    Conway put out his hand, and Giordano took it.

    “My ride is here. Think about it some more? Please?”

    The retiree nodded.


    Conway returned to find Larry Sokoloff waiting at his office door. Integral’s second in command noted the expression on his commander’s face and smirked.

    “No change?”

    Conway chuckled. “Why, as a matter of fact, Larry, I have a security contract for the whole of Onteora County in my back pocket. Two hundred mil a year. Monthly payments in Spanish doubloons. Get on the horn and start hiring now. Anyone who can fog a mirror!”


    Conway seated himself at his desk. Sokoloff slipped into a guest chair.


    “I know, I know. It’s just money, Larry.”

    “It’s money,” Sokoloff intoned, “that would pay for new guns and armor, a new firing range, improved gym facilities, and raises that would put smiles on quite a few faces.”

    “Including yours.”

    Sokoloff nodded.

    “I’m not going to let the cops trample our neighbors’ rights, Larry. It might break us financially, but as long as we’re capable—”

    “Kevin.” Sokoloff slid forward, new intensity in his eyes. “What about what it’s doing to you? How much sleep did you get last night?”

    Conway tried to shrug it off. “I’m fine. And if it gets to be too much for me, that’s why I have you, Syl, and Ken, right?”

    He tried to make it light and jocular. Sokoloff’s gravity remained unchanged.

    “You know I’ll always back your play, Boss,” the lieutenant said. “Hell, I’d take a bullet for you. But you can’t expect that from everyone on the force. And you can’t expect to run a...a charity operation like this for much longer before the guys start wondering what’s in it for them.”

    Conway’s neck muscles drew tight. “They do get paid, Larry.”

    Sokoloff nodded. “That they do. But is it enough to cover having to face down the county cops over and over? When it’s a lead-pipe cinch that sooner or later bullets will fly and someone will get killed?”

    A charged silence passed between them.

    “I do think about that,” Conway said. “It’s why I go on these sorties unarmed, so it’s as obvious as it can possibly be that my blood will be the first spilled. But I can’t do anything more about it until our neighbors wake up to the threat and take a hand in their own defense.”

    “And you won’t stop providing that defense gratis,” Sokoloff said. “Even though that’s the perfect disincentive to getting them to act for themselves.”

    Conway opened his mouth to reply, closed it without speaking.

    He’s right.

    Sokoloff waited impassively.

    “I’ll give it more thought, Larry. I promise.”

    The second-in-command nodded, rose, and made his exit. Conway dropped his head into his hands.

    The State bleeds you dry for funds it uses to tyrannize you, while your only defender, who risks his life to thwart your official oppressors, has to work for coffee and doughnuts. Organized crime never had it so good.

    Is it a whole new paradigm of governance, or the oldest one of all?

    It doesn't matter. Either way it can’t go on much longer. But I can’t just go limp on them.

    They need a leader figure who’ll rally them to their own colors. A Man on Horseback they’ll follow without having to be shamed or prodded. For damn sure that’s not me. But who, then?

    He had no answer.


Friday, April 25, 2014

Freedom Fiction

Culture is upstream from politics -- Andrew Breitbart

There aren't enough writers of Freedom Fiction. It's an under-served segment in the first place, and a depressing number of the writers who address that subgenre are, shall we say, less than proficient. So it gives me much pleasure to commend J.P. Medved to your attention.

I've just read his novelette Granite Republic, which I enjoyed greatly. It's an episodic tale that concerns a possible future in which the Free State Project succeeds in elevating a number of candidates to high office in the state of New Hampshire. The consequences might not be what you'd expect.

Please give Granite Republic, or one of his other works, a try. If it's representative, it will be worth your time. And remember: We're in this together. If you don't go to your friends' funerals, they won't go to yours!

The Forbidden Subject

It seems that no matter who you are, how innocent your deeds, or how ethically you treat your fellow man, you are absolutely forbidden to speak on certain subjects, on pain of ostracism, being abandoned to the mercies of the State, or worse. The premier such subject, eclipsing all others, is the correlation between certain socioeconomic conditions and race.

Cliven Bundy, the rancher whose cause animated hundreds of freedom lovers to rally personally, bearing arms, to his defense against an overbearing federal government, has dared to touch on that forbidden subject:

"I want to tell you one more thing I know about the Negro," he said. Mr. Bundy recalled driving past a public-housing project in North Las Vegas, "and in front of that government house the door was usually open and the older people and the kids -- and there is always at least a half a dozen people sitting on the porch -- they didn't have nothing to do. They didn't have nothing for their kids to do. They didn't have nothing for their young girls to do.

"And because they were basically on government subsidy, so now what do they do?" he asked. "They abort their young children, they put their young men in jail, because they never learned how to pick cotton. And I've often wondered, are they better off as slaves, picking cotton and having a family life and doing things, or are they better off under government subsidy? They didn't get no more freedom. They got less freedom."

Maybe it’s me. Maybe I’m the stupid one. Even a genius can be topically or contextually stupid. But for the life of me, I can’t see the smallest thing wrong with what Bundy said. I can’t spot any inaccuracies in it. Quite a lot of black welfare-ridden families match Bundy’s description. It might upset us to hear it, but those who’ve seen it at close range, or have lived close enough to it to be touched by its consequences, can’t sincerely deny it.

Bundy’s rhetorical question:

"I've often wondered, are they better off as slaves, picking cotton and having a family life and doing things, or are they better off under government subsidy?"

...surely wasn't intended as an endorsement of chattel slavery. It was his way of highlighting the unique squalor that comes from the acceptance of government dependency as a way of existence.

There are more varieties of slavery than chattel slavery, in which one is deemed the property of another. A slavery that leads one to the passive acceptance of idleness and despair is one of the worst kinds. Ask any prison inmate who's been denied the privilege of working at something during his confinement.

But race! Daring to cite the particular effects a government policy has had upon a particular race is unthinkable! The speaker shall be anathematized, banished to the outer darkness, where there is the weeping and the gnashing of teeth. Nevermore shall we ponder the offenses done to him by others -- not even others with guns and dogs and sniper rifles -- for his words, regardless of their veracity, have rendered him untouchable!

Maybe it’s not me. Maybe we really are a nation of cowards. Not in the odious Eric Holder’s sense, though.

It seems so clear to me. The Left is desperate to "keep 'em on the plantation" of government dependency. There’s no physical barrier around the Left's prison for poor American blacks. The emotional and financial walls are quite high enough. Nor is it necessarily because those folks are black, except in one sense: poor black Americans, especially those concentrated in Northeastern cities, were the target population for the Sixties campaign to expand the welfare state.

There’s an important lesson here for anyone with the stomach to accept and digest it.

It’s been a staple of Leftist political strategy to create what Thomas Sowell has called mascot groups: populations united by some common characteristic, to which leftist panderers can offer some seeming benefit with addictive properties in exchange for political allegiance. The most obvious such benefit is financial: welfare payments, subsidies, and preferential treatment in government hiring and contracting. The Left has had extraordinary success seducing American blacks in that fashion. If you doubt this, consider the distribution of black votes in presidential elections since World War II.

It’s not enough simply to offer money for votes, though. Even the most downtrodden, hangdog victim of fate is likely to recoil indignantly from such an offer. Few Americans lack sufficient personal pride to react another way – white, black, brown, yellow, or red.

The pitch had to be accompanied by a justification. Black Americans in marginal economic circumstances had to be told that "the Man owes you." They had to be persuaded that what they were being offered was only what was due them. Unless that barrier could be conquered, their pride would enable the overwhelming majority of them to resist the appeal of the welfare state.

Hundreds of thousands of them bought into it.
They accepted that they were still in thrall to white America.
They accepted that the unemployed among them were jobless because of racism.
They accepted that black entrepreneurs were slighted by white-owned companies because of racism.
And all the rest, including all the social and political consequences, followed as the night follows the day: inevitably.

It might be the greatest single crime ever perpetrated against a race.

Cliven Bundy's sin has been to make open, unembarrassed note of the above. That leftists should pillory him for it is unsurprising; that’s just what they do. That conservatives should do so is saddening and wrong.

We in the Right like to think of ourselves as persons of intelligence and dispassionate judgment. Admittedly, everyone wants to think of himself that way, but for us it’s a pillar of our self-image. Yet it seems that on this subject, the Left, with the help of its media annex, has cowed us so thoroughly that we can’t even hear a string of oral observations about the reality before us all -- a reality that’s objectively verifiable ! -- without cringing and begging forgiveness, when the subject is “racially sensitive.”

Glory be to God, people! Where is your pride? Where is your regard for the truth? Where is your love of justice, that you should reflexively kowtow to the Panjandrums of Political Correctness and retreat from the defense of a decent man who’s merely trying to defend a business his family has operated for more than a century? Would you be so quick to back away from him if he and his family were black?

Find your spines and get them straightened out before it’s too late for us all.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Trigger Trippers

Lately we've been hearing a lot about concern over "trigger words," particularly in universities and other large institutions where the perpetually aggrieved and hypersensitive tend to congregate. Frankly, I couldn't care less about such self-victimized fainting flowers. Their complaints tend to trigger me, in a fashion they would be unlikely to enjoy. And yes, like most persons who vent their opinions on public policy subjects onto the Net, I encounter them here as well. They receive a response calibrated to discourage their return to Liberty's Torch.

But "trigger trippers," generally, are a matter of interest to me for a different reason: the effort we in the Right have to exert to avoid being provoked by the things that punch our buttons. A few items from that list:

  • Being told we lack "compassion;"
  • Being accused of miscellaneous venalities and hypocrisies;
  • Having our motives impugned for daring to disagree with the Left;
  • Having some leftist accuse us of the very conduct he himself has displayed.

It's been a postulate of conservatives' public posture that we should behave like gentlemen, remaining perfectly civil and courteous, even when our opponents are at their worst. I've begun to think that that's no longer desirable...indeed, if it ever was.

Just yesterday, the Dishonorable Harry Reid, who must surely be in terror of his imminent descent to Minority Leader status, vented in a most exercising way over the Bundy Backdown:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says “something is going to happen” to get Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy to stop letting his cattle graze on federal land.

“It’s obvious that you can’t just walk away from this. And we can speculate all we want to speculate to what’s going to happen next,” Reid told KSNV-TV. “But I don’t think it’s going to be tomorrow that something is going to happen, but something will happen. We are a nation of laws, not of men and women.”

Reid called militias staying at Bundy’s Bunkerville ranch “domestic violent terrorist-wannabes.”

It's already been revealed that Reid's son expects to profit personally from the elimination of the Bundy ranch, which is bad enough. As for "domestic terrorist wannabes," well, you have to expect that sort of rhetoric from a Democrat who's having a public tantrum. But that "nation of laws" business is the Ace kicker

  • The Bureau of Land Management has attempted to eliminate the Bundys' longstanding prescriptive grazing rights by simple fiat, not by law;
  • The BLM is about to do the same thing to 90,000 acres of privately owned land that abuts the Texas-Oklahoma border;
  • There is no provision in the Constitution authorizing the federal government to own land for an arbitrary purpose, and none for the protection of a supposedly endangered species.

Quite a lot of conservatives' triggers are being tripped as we speak -- and it's well that it should be so. Reid has attempted to put a "nation of laws" veneer over a plainly unlawful act. That it's in his character to do so -- this is a thoroughly duplicitous man, deeply steeped in the philosophy of might-makes-right -- does not reduce the offense it does to our sensibilities.

Should the GOP retake the Senate this coming November, perhaps his party will administer a suitable chastisement to Dingy Harry...but it won't be for his lies, his slanders, or his venalities; it will be for having lost. And that's a trigger-tripper of another sort.

The Supreme Court's recent McClatchy decision, a cheering thing for those of us opposed to racial preferences, evoked an angry dissent from "wise Latina woman" Sonia Sotomayor. In her 58-page shriek of dismay she claimed that to end racial discrimination we must discriminate by race, though her phrasing was nowhere near that compact. But the most striking thing about the dissent wasn't its illogic or its plain self-interested pleading; it was the hysteria that screamed from every sentence.

Sotomayor is the Left's most highly placed Hispanic. She was put where she is to perpetuate racial and ethnic preferences, among other things. Her rant may be viewed in that light as an expression of the general alarm on the Left, which has fought successfully for preferential treatment of its mascot-groups up to now and regards those efforts as essential to "keeping them on the plantation." McClatchy endangers those preferences, thus endangering the Democrats' grip on voting blocs it must retain to remain a major party.

Clearly, the 6-2 majority that confirmed Michigan voters' privilege of amending their state constitution triggered Sotomayor. Equally clearly, Sotomayor's hysterics have triggered us in the Right...mostly to laughter, as this beneficiary of preferential treatment reveals, decision after decision, how little she cares about the law or the Constitution.

And now, Gentle Reader, allow me to trip your triggers:

Every word Senator Paul said in that video is absolutely, verifiably accurate. He has not distorted the smallest thing. But if you go to Breitbart and survey the comments, you'll find that many of the commenters are furious with him for daring to state verifiable facts that appear to cast a shadow over the Reagan legacy.

Of course, the context matters:

  • Reagan prioritized the restoration of the military above all else, believing that a rapid increase in the defense budget was the best way to overcome the threat from the Soviets;
  • The Reagan era mushrooming of federal tax revenues, made possible by improvements in the tax code and the suppression of the growth of the regulatory burden, gave Congress's appetite for spending a huge boost -- and had the special interests slavering for their piece of the pie as well;
  • In the Administration's internal debates over federal spending, the advocates of reductions lost to those who derided their preferred policy as "root canal politics" that would cost the GOP its dominance, and succeeded in persuading Reagan that the unchained American economy could "outgrow" the federal deficit;
  • Democrats on Capitol Hill, who controlled the House of Representatives throughout the Reagan Administration, succeeded at holding the Administration's desires for defense budget increases hostage to massive increases in spending on social programs and the general expansion of the federal bureaucracy.

As Thomas Sowell has noted, there's no amount of money Congress cannot overspend -- and Congress spent every dollar it took in and quite a few more. Every extra dollar Congress received in federal revenues, which nearly doubled from 1981 through 1989 -- was "overspent" by about $1.30. Reagan's few vetoes did little to stem the tide of red ink. The period was, inter alia, a perfect demonstration of the old maxim that the only way to get the King to spend less is to give him less money.

There's no avoiding the conclusion that Reagan was partly responsible for the deficit explosion, at least in that he regarded increasing the defense budget as too important to permit the Democrats in the House to impede it, and in accepting the advice of the preponderance of his counselors about avoiding "root canal politics." But such is the reverence and affection conservatives feel for the Gipper that many are simply unwilling to hear it.

Trigger upon trigger upon trigger....It seems we're all hypersensitive about something. Worse, the somethings have been multiplying like toadstools. Everyone is offended; everyone has outrage to vent. Shrunken is the remnant that prefers to discuss law or policy dispassionately, from a Constitutional perspective, with proper regard for the lessons history teaches us about political economy and political power.

There might not be much to be done about it. Yet I cannot help recalling what Robert A. Heinlein noted in Stranger In A Strange Land: that obsession with the news is the single largest driver of neurosis and unhappiness known to Man. His character Jubal Harshaw called it "wallowing in the troubles of billions of strangers," and he may have been more right than even Heinlein knew. It might be the supreme irony of our time that the general tendency is to inject ever more such troubles into our consciousness with every passing day, as the relentless politicization of anything and everything drives toward its foreseeable conclusion.

And with that, Gentle Reader, I think I'll lie down quietly with a cool cloth on my forehead until the steam has ceased to pour from my ears.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Pyongyang on the Thames.

If one reads some UK socio-history, one can empathize totally with the plight of the downtrodden through the centuries, and here I am thinking of the battles of such as The Tolpuddle martyrs, the reform act and the chartists, all of it makes for fascinating reading but......when I read of these notable events - I thought - interesting but nonetheless history, 'we live in much more enlightened times' went the comforting reverie.

Often, no, actually all the time now I lie awake - from storm ridden dreams, a nightmare coalesces and like some grotesque incubus it is now made flesh....

How far have we travelled, not far, not far at all. Because once very mistakenly I always believed in the unchallengeable, redoubtable sovereignty and freedom of our legislature and the supreme equity of British common law statute as the bulwark which would defend the rights of all free men who lived within the borders of this nation.

I have now reached the conclusion that all of last paragraph is delusional hogwash on my part, the ratchet, the laws that bind - holds us tight and that the vice is harder than steel.

I read the above piece [blog post] written by you Ms. Synon and I posit, it matters not who is installed in the 'hotseats' of power in the EU - there is not a snowballs' chance in hell of the British being allowed any freedom, rights or indeed challenge to the authority of our 'blessed leaders' and they may as well inhabit Pyongyang - so similar and distant are they.

The EU Parliament is frilly panties burlesque, even with Barosso gone, fret ye not because another inanely grinning muppet will sit in his place and the ship just glides imperiously on and on. Evidently, the course and the charts are already set and read - for, behind the scenes the script has been written and there is nothing democracy and any sort of democratic process - can do about it.

The leviathan that is known as, Empire of Brussels will not be halted and it will be forever, unless................

It will rain war on Europe.

Comment by Ravenscar on "Brussels' New Top Dogs and 'The United Nations Without The Sex.’” By M.E. Synon, Breitbart, 4/22/14.

A fundamentally stupid man.

Then came Obama, who brought it [the leftist garbage] all back to life again.

All of it -- the dream of a green economy, the dream of universal pacifism, of a degraded and defeated United States, of a middle class subservient to its intellectual betters, of a universal nanny state, of the conviction that the leftist delusion is intertwined with the basic nature of reality itself. It became once more possible to believe in the coming socialist dawn that had motivated leftists since 1917.

This is the secret of Obama’s appeal, and the explanation of the long-pondered mystery of what he’s really up to, what his actual goal is. The truth is, there is no goal. Or rather, the goal, the plan, involves simply lighting up all those bereft and chilly bubbles abiding in major urban areas, college towns, and fringes along each coast. That is the ultimate goal, and there is nothing coherent or comprehensible beyond it. A fundamentally stupid man, one who time and again has demonstrated complete lack of understanding of the world as it exists, Obama is as enrapt with illusion as his followers.

Obama is Bursting the Left's Bubbles." By J.R. Dunn, American Thinker, 4/23/14.

Way of life.

Leftism is a hyperbubble in and of itself, consisting of nearly as many sub-bubbles as there are leftists (it has long been understood that leftism is essentially the politicization of petty personal grievances). Living in leftist bubbles -- whether feminist, racial, academic, communist, or what have you -- amounts to a way of life for millions of Americans.
"Obama is Bursting the Left's Bubbles." By J.R. Dunn, American Thinker, 4/23/14.

From The Junk Drawer

Yes, it's another "assorted" post. Apologies, Gentle Reader. I'm literally gasping for breath here, so please allow me another of these semi-cop-outs.

1. Piketty.

No, that's not some new fad...well, except maybe on the Left. It's the name of a young French economist who's decided to rewrite Marx's Capital and equip it with the hot new rationale: Inequality!

We're already hearing quite a lot about "income inequality" from the Democrats. As they're desperate to deflect attention from Obama Regime policies, especially ObamaCare, this is understandable. However, their praise of Piketty's book is likely to backfire on them as word about what the Frenchman espouses spreads among the public. Piketty's aim is to prevent wealth, especially inherited wealth. As decent Americans aspire to becoming wealthy, Piketty's advocacy of confiscatory inheritance and wealth taxes and 80% income taxes will not sit well with them.

2. Old Authoritarianism in a New Bottle.

The Left never seems to learn any new tricks. The esteemed Andrew Bolt gives us an example of their penchant for recycling old ideas:

Neil Ormerod, Professor of Theology at the Australian Catholic University, demands an end to free speech:
Free speech for racist bigots, free speech for climate denialists. Where will it end?… There is a value in free speech to promote reasoned discussion and deliberation. And then there is obdurate and at times wilful ignorance ...

Fine, Professor. Then let’s also end the free speech of those who peddle obdurate and wilfully ignorant claims that the first woman was created from the rib of the first man.

Professor, do you understand how many people would deny your own right to speak under the standards you set for others?

Does anyone out there remember Herbert Marcuse's "Repressive Tolerance," or am I alone in the world?

3. Keynes Must Be Whirling In His Grave.

The esteemed Tyler Durden has seen fit to give the Obamunists "knightmares:"

"Janet, we have a problem," is the resoundingly loud message from the latest Gallup poll of Americans preference (and relative enjoyment) of "saving" vs. "spending". It seems, despite all the hoop-la and exuberance about an 'economic recovery' that is pent-up due to weather but about to break out to escape velocity, the majority of Americans continue to enjoy saving money more than spending it, by 62% to 34%. The 2014 saving-spending gap is the one of the widest since Gallup began tracking Americans' preferences in 2001. How long before a discussion of negative rates re-appears as the rich and powerful Oz-ians contemplate the latest effort to 'change' people's mass psychology...

Inasmuch as the whole left-liberal approach to economics is based on encouraging consumption rather than production, that has to be frightening to the Obama Regime. It's especially telling that credit, by virtue of Federal Reserve policy, has never been cheaper...yet borrowing remains stalled at nadir-of-the-Great-Recession levels.

I doubt they'll learn. Too much "sunk intellectual capital" would have to be jettisoned.

4. Benghazi.

Say, remember when Senator Rand Paul suggested that the Benghazi affair might have something to do with covert arms shipments into Syria, and was widely ridiculed for it? Remember Hilary Clinton's dismissive response to his inquiry?

Well, the Senator might have been better informed than we thought:

The full extent of US co-operation with Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar in assisting the rebel opposition in Syria has yet to come to light. The Obama administration has never publicly admitted to its role in creating what the CIA calls a ‘rat line’, a back channel highway into Syria. The rat line, authorised in early 2012, was used to funnel weapons and ammunition from Libya via southern Turkey and across the Syrian border to the opposition. Many of those in Syria who ultimately received the weapons were jihadists, some of them affiliated with al-Qaida. (The DNI spokesperson said: ‘The idea that the United States was providing weapons from Libya to anyone is false.’)....

....A number of front companies were set up in Libya, some under the cover of Australian entities. Retired American soldiers, who didn’t always know who was really employing them, were hired to manage procurement and shipping. The operation was run by David Petraeus, the CIA director who would soon resign when it became known he was having an affair with his biographer. (A spokesperson for Petraeus denied the operation ever took place.)

Please read the whole article. It's an example of something we see far too little of these days: investigative journalism.

(Applause to Sara Noble for the reference.)

5. Is the BLM Feeling Its Oats...

...or is it just spoiling for a fresh fight in the aftermath of the Bundy Backdown?

After Breitbart Texas reported on the U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) intent to seize 90,000 acres belonging to Texas landholders along the Texas/Oklahoma line, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott questioned the BLM’s authority to take such action.

“I am about ready,” General Abbott told Breitbart Texas, “to go to the Red River and raise a ‘Come and Take It’ flag to tell the feds to stay out of Texas.”

Gen. Abbott sent a strongly-worded letter to BLM Director Neil Kornze, asking for answers to a series of questions related to the potential land grab....

  1. Please delineate with specificity each of the steps for the RMP/EIS process for property along the Red River.
  2. Please describe the procedural due process the BLM will afford to Texans whose property may be claimed by the federal government.
  3. Please confirm whether the BLM agrees that, from 1923 until the ratification of the Red River Boundary Compact, the boundary between Texas and Oklahoma was the gradient line of the south bank of the Red River. To the extent the BLM does not agree, please provide legal analysis supporting the BLM’s position.
  4. Please confirm whether the BLM still considers Congress’ ratification of the Red River Boundary Compact as determinative of its interest in land along the Red River? To the extent the BLM does not agree, please provide legal analysis supporting the BLM’s new position.
  5. Please delineate with specificity the amount of Texas territory that would be impacted by the BLM’s decision to claim this private land as the property of the federal government.

“The letter today,” Abbott explained, “is the first shot in the legal process. We expect answers from them and based upon their answers we will decide what legal action to take.”

“What Barack Obama’s BLM is doing,” Abbott continued, “is so out of bounds and so offensive that we should have quick and successful legal action if they dare attempt to tread on Texas land and take it from private property owners in this state.”

Of this, I can only say: Bravo for Texas and its Attorney-General! It's high time someone challenged Washington's claim to the power to seize land at its whim, whether for "national monuments," "wildlife refuges," or any other unConstitutional purpose. Texas is the perfect place to force a federal stand-down.

And that's all the news for today, Gentle Reader. Good night and have a pleasant tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Worst Social Fascist... the one who indignantly refuses the label.

First, allow me to be maximally explicit about my terms. A fascist is one who deems the State to have no limit to its authority and no limit to what it may do to its subjects in the application of its authority. In theory, a fascist State would have the authority, if not the de facto ability, to regulate your breathing and elimination, and to punish you for a violation by executing you. The implication of such an unbounded State is that individuals possess no rights whatsoever.

A social fascist is a fascist whose rationale for his fascism is "the greater good of society." Such persons speak incessantly of chimeras such as "social justice." He might be sincere in his belief that an omnipotent State can achieve that undefined goal, or it might be a veneer, a cosmetic representation intended to disguise his true priorities. Either way, he'll maintain to his dying breath (and may that happy moment come sooner than later) that the eggs he's broken or proposes to break are for the greater good of the omelet.

Thus, we have a creature who, whatever his protests to the contrary:

  • Denies that individuals have rights but maintains that "society" does;
  • Deems the State the sole arbiter of all things, including what rights "society" possesses;
  • Accepts that some can, should, and must wield absolute and unbounded power over others for "the greater good of society;"
  • Refuses to define any of the end states he claims to seek, nor will he posit delivery dates his policies will meet for delivering them.

You have your template, Gentle Reader. How many of the members of our contemporary political class would you say are good fits to it?

Anyone with the patience required to read Liberty's Torch will undoubtedly remember that, during the 2008 presidential campaign, when an interviewer pressed Barack Obama about whether he would raise the capital gains tax even if it were proved to reduce federal revenues, Obama unhesitatingly replied that he would do so "as a matter of fairness."

That statement should have shocked the entire nation into maximum alertness. Sadly, it garnered less attention, and far less outrage, than it deserved. Of course, there were pseudo-Americans, utterly consumed by envy of the better-off, who thought the idea a splendid one. But decent Americans who heard the statement mostly shrugged it off, whether because they failed to grasp its implications or because they were confident that such an attitude would come to nothing in practice.

What concept of "fairness" in taxation would be consistent with a practice that would make both the federal government and the taxed individual worse off? Only one imbued with antipathy toward wealth -- and to a degree that would embrace a reduction of the federal government's resources for meeting its bills. That's irrational by any standard. The suggestion waved a huge red flag over Obama's candidacy... sadly, a red flag that an insufficient number of decent Americans took seriously.

As for those who greeted the idea with approbation...well, envy will do that to you. They prattle about "social justice" without deigning to elaborate on how a purely destructive practice could meet any standard of justice. (The esteemed Jonah Goldberg does a terrific demolition of "social justice" in this brief YouTube video.) But it's merely distracting twaddle intended to deflect examination of their real priority. As Helmut Schoeck has noted, envious Smith thinks that breaking his neighbor Jones's leg would enable Smith to walk better.

How many such pseudo-Americans are there? Perhaps more than we'd like to think. After all, Obama is in his second term as we speak.

The Obamunist Ascension has emboldened others of similar sentiment. Matt Yglesias, long a prominent presence in the SinistroSphere, recently added his brain splinter to the subject. Read the whole thing if you can; it's about as bald a case for the deliberate, tax-code-engineered destruction of wealth in service to an abstract notion of "social justice" as you'll encounter anywhere. Familiarity with the social-fascists' approach to such propositions is important if we're to have a hope of defeating them.

Yglesias does decorate his screed with a few de rigueur "practical" offerings: assertions that "sin taxes" reduce the "sinful" practices, and carbon taxes would reduce pollution (unproven). But his core priority, the one that trumps all else, is never concealed:

  • "in an era of surging inequality..."
  • "endlessly growing inequality can have a cancerous effect on our democracy..."
  • "it would help break the doom loop of oligarchy..."

Inasmuch as all Yglesias's claims for beneficial effects from confiscatory taxation -- e.g., in terms of employment, the compensation of workers, and additional resources for "the poor" -- are unsubstantiated by historical evidence, the question this social-fascist should be compelled to face is "What if your suppositions about such a policy leading to "the greater good" were to be proved incorrect? Would you then renounce the policy, cry mea culpa for the damage you'd caused, and concede that your claim to expertise was arrogant at best?"

Don't expect Yglesias to answer that question directly. Indeed, don't expect him to be required to face it. He would never agree to be interviewed by a Bret Baier, a John Stossel, a Megyn Kelly, or any other interviewer who might pose such a question. Social-fascists dislike to have their pretensions spotlighted in such clarity; it reveals them all too clearly for what they are.

At the deeper level of justice in public policy, Yglesias and his fellow travelers operate from premises utterly divorced from the foundations of Western thought. Their prattle about "social justice" is nothing but froth and gas. They cannot define it and will not suffer to try. The key word in their lexicon, inequality, speaks of a natural attribute of men that cannot be effectuated without killing us all. Those who are aware of it have practiced evasion of the subject to the heights of the rhetorical art.

But this is of a piece with the social-fascist mentality. Once you have chosen "everything for the State; nothing outside the State" as your touchstone, all else is merely jockeying for position. Friedrich Hayek, in The Road To Serfdom, shows us where that would lead us -- where it will lead us, unless a sufficiency of Americans should rise against it in the little time we have left before it becomes impossible to reverse.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Work And Love: A Kinda-Sorta Rumination

First, to all my Christian readers: Happy Easter! In these times of widespread suspicion and distrust, isn't it good to know that some promises really are kept (i.e., "He is risen, just as he said.")? Though as Pope Benedict XVI has told us, faith is inseparable from doubt, the Resurrection allows us to wait in hope, if not (damn it all) in Hope.

Second, to all my Eastern European readers: Happy Dyngus Day! Enjoy yourselves thoroughly. But do be careful with the pussy willow branches. Those things can smart.

And third, to all you constipated anti-capitalist types slavering over your annual opportunity to go all sanctimonious on the rest of us tomorrow, you can stuff that where the moon don't shine. I'll be celebrating "Earth Day" by enjoying the fruits of my labors, including a spacious single-family home, a Mercedes-Benz S550, a 65" HDTV and matching home theater system, a magnificent hot tub, my five-computer network, my Kindle HD Fire 8.9", and my B&N NOOK -- all of which you jackasses would deny me in the name of your rocks-and-moss-worshipping gospel of "environmentalism." I hope my more sensible fellow citizens will do the same, or close to it.

Ah, that feels better. Now, where was I?

An emotionally healthy person is one with the capacity for work and love. -- Origin unknown

If memory serves, I first encountered that statement in Joyce Rebeta-Burditt's marvelous novel Triplets. It immediately struck me as a breakthrough in the understanding of mental health: a cutting-through-the-underbrush insight that, if generally understood, would put the entire psychiatry industry out of business. The core perception is one of the existential basics. It provides a simple and satisfying answer to a question that our plague of pseudo-intellectuals asks as if it were the bane of human existence: "Why are we here?"

Why are we here? Why are we here? Why are we here?? Glory be to God, people! Where else could we be?

Living men live in Time. Time is inseparable from matter and energy. Without matter and energy, there would be no causes and effects to take place in time. Without time, the fundamental characteristics of matter and energy could not exist.

Time is the locus of dynamism. It makes change possible, whether for good or for ill. Thus, it's indispensable to learning and growth.

If we accept ourselves for what we are -- temporal creatures that must exercise reason and conscience to survive and flourish -- then we must accept where we are: the spatiotemporal universe into which we're born and from which we must ultimately depart.

Of course, the combination of "what we are" with "where we are" carries some implications, too.

Metaphysical absolutes give a lot of people emotional indigestion. The notions of "social construction of reality," the "Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis," and the like have penetrated a lot of minds to their detriment. The postulate that reality is independent of our perceptions and opinions trumps a lot of relativist and deconstructionist nonsense that, if accepted, could raise its promoters to total power.

The realities of human nature, our needs and desires, and the choices that flow from them are as absolute as any other metaphysical fact. Two above all confine us beyond all hope of escape:

  • We must work to live and flourish;
  • We need to love and be loved.

He who rejects either or both of those facts is insane in the most fundamental sense: he denies the reality in which he must live. He who exhorts you to doubt or deny them is emphatically not your friend.

That's not to say that work and love are unmixed blessings. Work is tiring, can be frustrating, and all too often goes unappreciated. We often come to appreciate its pleasures only when we renounce it -- or, as prison inmates sometimes discover, when we're deprived of it. As for love, it lacks guarantees, is frequently unrequited, and can cause the lover to sacrifice his preferences to the needs and desires of his beloved. The proposition that "'Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all" is rather painful to swallow, though it's no less true for that.

Yet this is the nature of life under the veil of Time. We only escape it at our deaths, and few of us, regardless of our respective faiths, are eager to confront that eventuality.

The weariness and frustrations of work, and the sorrows and sacrifices that attend love, can blind us to our need for them. Think of all the stories you've heard about retirees who, deprived of any meaningful effort with which to occupy themselves, have wasted away in astonishingly short periods of time. Think of all the tales of love unappreciated and unreturned, and the horrific crimes that have been committed by persons abused by those they love. Yet few of us get all the way through our lives without personally experiencing some pain from our work and our lives. That, too, is part of our natures.

The Gospels tell us of a life lived for work that could return no benefit to the Worker, powered by an all-encompassing love that never faltered. What greater work could there possibly be than the redemption of the entire race of Man? What greater love could exist than a love that accepts unmerited death by torture to prove the sincerity of the Lover's message? And what simpler message could He possibly have brought us:

"You shall love the Lord your God with your whole heart, and your whole soul, and your whole mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets." [The Gospel According To Matthew, 22:37-40]

The Resurrection has more than one meaning. In Jesus's time as a man among men, He illustrated the heights to which work and love can raise us. These things were not necessary to Him -- God has no needs, after all -- yet He embraced them unhesitatingly, sacrificing all the satisfactions available to ordinary men to fulfill them and the New Covenant founded upon them.

It is not for us to do all that He did, but in this as in so many other things, we can learn from His example.

May God bless and keep you all.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Promise Kept

In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre. And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it. His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow: And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men. And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you.

And they departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy; and did run to bring his disciples word. And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him. Then said Jesus unto them, Be not afraid: go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me.

[The Gospel According to Matthew, 28:1-10]