Thursday, July 31, 2014

Edging Toward Moral Equivalence

Beware: It can happen to anyone, as is illustrated by this misstep from the usually more reliable Peter Grant:

I've found myself - yet again - nonplussed at the outpouring of emotion over the situation in Gaza. All over the world Israel is being condemned for defending itself against terrorist attacks, which aren't even mentioned by most of its critics. At the same time, many of those defending Israel are ignoring the fact that Palestinians have a legitimate grievance against being dispossessed of lands that were theirs and being treated like dirt by the 'occupiers'. [Emphasis added by FWP]

The remainder of Peter's article is far better. I exhort my Gentle Readers to read it in its entirety, if only out of fairness. But the emphasized portion above tripped my triggers in a way I would never have expected from the fairly intelligent and generally sensible "Bayou Renaissance Man."

The "dispossession" to which Peter refers occurred in 1947 and 1948, following a United Nations Partition Plan designed to end Britain's Mandate over Palestine. It included the establishment of a state of Transjordan (later simply Jordan) as the new homeland for the Arab Muslim residents of the region allocated to the Jews. Rather than accept the Partition Plan, the Muslims of the region chose to go to war. The Jews won that war, and in 1948 declared the formation of the state of Israel, the Jewish homeland they hoped would secure them against persecutions of the sort that had occurred throughout world history.

That makes the Palestinians' "grievance" sixty-six years old as of today. How long must we wait for that "grievance" to expire? Are American Indians still entitled to claim a grievance against the European colonists of North America? Incidentally, the newborn state of Israel offered the "dispossessed" compensation for the lands and homes it had claimed. Though some of the Muslims thus dispossessed stepped forward to collect said compensation, many declined to do so, believing that they could recapture by force of arms what they had lost. As anyone familiar with the history of the region will know, Israel's uniformly hostile neighbors made several attempts to do so, all of which came to an abrupt end with Israel's acquisition of a nuclear deterrent.

The argument against "reparations for slavery" here in the United States has always been that the relevant injustices occurred so long ago that there can be no accuracy in identifying either the persons to be compensated or the persons to be mulcted for that compensation. Must Israel wait 149 years before it can say the same?

Are the Palestinian irredentists "treated like dirt" by Israel? What about the surrounding Muslim nations, all of which have absolutely refused to allow the Palestinian irredentists to settle in their countries? Give the Palestinians weapons? Certainly. Use them as a stick with which to beat Israel? Of course. But nothing more than that. Israel, meanwhile, has provided the Palestinian autonomous zones with water, natural gas, electric power, medical services, and a great deal of other aid -- all while being under constant assault by missiles and a continuous threat of terrorist strikes, which have reaped many Israeli lives and many millions of dollars in economic harm. And as is often mentioned on the Right, Muslims in Israel proper have more political and economic rights than Muslims anywhere else in the Middle East.

Later in his article, Peter writes that "I don't believe for a moment that Israel is blameless in this fight." If his entire reason for believing thus is the original war that gave birth to Israel, I must oppose his position. However, he goes a little further:

One can condemn Israel's continued occupation of Palestinian lands, and its mistreatment of the Palestinian people. Those are undeniable realities that no objective observer can ignore.

...but provides no specifics. Yet Israel does not "occupy" either of the Palestinian autonomous zones in any sense. It maintains security fences that limit Palestinian access to Israel, thus greatly reducing attacks by suicide bombers and other terrorist squads. It forbids Gaza to have a functioning seaport, fearing -- quite reasonably, in light of recent events -- that such a port would be used to funnel heavy weapons to HAMAS, which controls that zone. What other "mistreatment...that no objective observer can ignore" can anyone cite? If such mistreatment is genuinely occurring, and is not in the nature of offenses done by one or a few private Israeli citizens rather than by the government of Israel, I've missed it completely.

The point to all this is that credence granted to a claimed grievance must have an objective basis. The evidence must be in plain sight, not merely a representation by the propagandists of a group known for implacable hatred of its adversary and an oft-stated desire to see that adversary destroyed to the last man, woman, and babe in arms:

Though glossed over in major media reporting on the Israel-Gaza confrontation, the Hamas conflict with the Jewish State remains deeply ideological. Hamas’s Al-Aqsa TV broadcast a sermon Friday reaffirming the Hamas ideology that according to Islam, it is Muslim destiny to exterminate the Jews.

The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) carries a new video of an official television broadcast in which a Hamas cleric states:

Our belief about fighting you [Jews] is that we will exterminate you, until the last one, and we will not leave of you, even one. For you are the usurpers of the land, foreigners, mercenaries of the present and of all times. Look at history, brothers: Wherever there were Jews, they spread corruption... (Quran): "They spread corruption in the land, and Allah does not like corrupters." Their belief is destructive. Their belief fulfills the prophecy. Our belief is in obtaining our rights on our land, implementing Shari'ah (Islamic law) under Allah's sky.

[Al-Aqsa TV (Hamas), July 25, 2014]

Killing Jews as religious practice is a basic message of Hamas, which believes that Muslim struggle against Jews—not only Israelis—and eventual extermination of Jews at the hands of Muslims is intrinsic to Islam. Hamas includes this message in its charter:

Hamas Charter Introduction: "Our struggle against the Jews is extremely wide-ranging and grave..."

Article 28: "Israel, by virtue of its being Jewish and of having a Jewish population, defies Islam and the Muslims..."

Article 7: "Hamas has been looking forward to implement Allah's promise whatever time it might take. The prophet (prayer and peace be upon him) said [in a Hadith]: 'The time (of Resurrection) will not come until Muslims will fight the Jews; until the Jews hide behind rocks and trees, which will cry: o Muslim! there is a Jew hiding behind me, come and kill him!'"

In the case of Israel and the Palestinians, it's well to remember that the Jews of that region were driven out of it in the first centuries after the rise of Muhammad, by Muslim armies resolved upon conquest under the banner of Islam. Indeed, Muhammad hated no other group nearly as much as the Jews, who were the first to reject him and his pseudo-religion. He was determined that they submit to him or die, despite truces he had made with them. The ferocity of the Muslim armies of those years got him his wish. Is it not ironic that Jewish arms should have redressed that ancient wrong -- and more ironic still that it's the far more numerous Muslims crying foul over it?

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Whose Fault Is It That This Is So Plausible?

Perhaps you've already seen the following, which is purported to be a partial transcript of a phone conversation between Barack Hussein Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu:

Barack Hussein Obama: I demand that Israel agrees to an immediate, unilateral ceasefire and halt all offensive activities, in particular airstrikes.
Benjamin Netanyahu: And what will Israel receive in exchange for a ceasefire?
BO: I believe that Hamas will cease its rocket fire — silence will be met with silence.
BN: Hamas broke all five previous ceasefires. It’s a terrorist organization dedicated to the destruction of Israel.
BO: I repeat and expect Israel to stop all its military activities unilaterally. The pictures of destruction in Gaza distance the world from Israel’s position.
BN: Kerry’s proposal was completely unrealistic and gives Hamas military and diplomatic advantages.
BO: Within a week of the end of Israel’s military activities, Qatar and Turkey will begin negotiations with Hamas based on the 2012 understandings, including Israel’s commitment to removing the siege and restrictions on Gaza.
BN: Qatar and Turkey are the biggest supporters of Hamas. It’s impossible to rely on them to be fair mediators.
BO: I trust Qatar and Turkey. Israel is not in the position that it can choose its mediators.
BN: I protest because Hamas can continue to launch rockets and use tunnels for terror attacks –
BO: (interrupting Netanyahu) The ball’s in Israel’s court, and it must end all its military activities.

It didn't take long for the National Security Council to tweet out a denial that such a conversation had taken place:

We have seen reports of an alleged POTUS-Netanyahu transcript; neither reports nor alleged transcript bear any resemblance to reality 1/2

Shocking and disappointing someone would sink to misrepresenting a pvt convo between POTUS and PM in fabrications to Israeli press 2/2

...which of course brings to mind the old adage:

"Never believe anything political until it is officially denied."

...but that's not the whole story. Tyler Durden of Zero Hedge gives us this:

Despite the denials, Israel's Channel 1 refused to retract the leaked statement. Worse, it revealed the source of the leak as a "senior American official."
Despite rejections by American and Israeli officials, Channel 1's Or Nahari insists that the transcript leaked to him by a “senior American official” is authentic, but acknowledges that the quotes he published were merely an excerpt from a long conversation.

...while Debra Heine adds the following:

Danny Danon, member of Knesset for the Likud party in Israel, was on the Steve Malzberg Show, Tuesday to talk about the Israel/Hamas war and the Obama Regime’s epic PR meltdown in trying to negotiate a ceasefire agreement. Danon said that the call between Netanyahu and Obama Sunday night was a subject of much conversation in Israel, and claimed that O had yelled at Bibi, telling him “what to do and what not to do.”

“I want to sound polite, but it is an insult the way President Obama is treating Israel and Secretary Kerry is treating Israel,” Danon began. “It is an insult for us – the demand to have a ceasefire and putting Israel on the same level as Hamas – it is unacceptable.”

“It was not a pleasant conversation,” Danon said of the phone call. “It was yelling and telling Prime Minister Netanyahu what he should do and what he should not do. And I tell you frankly, we have a very close relationship with the US – the strongest ally of Israel – but this is not the way to talk to the leader of an allied country.” He brought his point home by suggesting that Obama was treating Netanyahu no differently than he would treat the leader of the Taliban.

Now, in the usual case I'd discount anything said by "a senior American official" simply on the grounds that a man who won't give his name and stand behind his statements deserves no credence, especially when his statements are damaging to another man's reputation. But with Or Nahari and Danny Danon both backing the "senior American official" quite strongly, the report deserves more consideration. Particular attention should go to its plausibility.

Consider the following:

  • "Elections have consequences. I won, therefore I trump you on that issue."
  • "Only I am president of the United States."
  • "Senator McCain, the election is over."
  • "I don't want them to do a lot of talking."
  • "I've got a pen and I've got a phone."
  • "I didn't ask for an argument. It's the right thing to do."
  • "The nice thing about being president is I can do anything I want."

The word choices and tone attributed to Obama in the purported transcript above are perfectly consistent with what we've seen and heard from this supremely arrogant and narcissistic man. He genuinely believes that he can bully other sovereign nations into doing as he wills, even when it conflicts dramatically -- perhaps fatally -- with that nation's own interests. More, he believes that it's his right to do so, and that those who resist him are therefore irrefutably in the wrong -- and that his slide in the opinion polls is because he's being unfairly treated by the press.

Is this just what you get from a "community organizer" with no private-sector seasoning? Or is it the consequence of putting a "red-diaper baby," told all his life what a superior creature he is, into the Oval Office? Or is it uniquely a case of a single sociopathic narcissist, filled with rage at all the world by Frank Marshall Davis, Jeremiah Wright, Bill Ayres, et alii, whose like we shall (happily) never endure again?

No, we can't get rid of him by any Constitutional procedure. He deserves impeachment, conviction, and summary removal from office, but the cowards in the House and the Quislings in the Senate will never permit it. (Actually, he deserves far worse, but I'll refrain from specifics. I'd rather not have to tell a bunch of Secret Servicemen to get the BLEEP! off my doorstep or suffer to have their heads blown off; it would cause too much talk.)

Given the state of affairs inside the Beltway, all we have left is hope: the hope that the damage Barack Hussein Obama has done, is doing, and will do to the United States as president is reparable, and that subsequent administrations will repair it rather than compound it. However, given the rising tide of violence around the world, which Obama's "foreign policy" has done so much to potentiate, it's unlikely that America will recapture her position of leadership among the nations. Whether Americans' liberty, our prosperity, and our overall security can be restored after his term is done, we can only wait to see.


CSO: I’ve got to get some new bath sponges.
FWP: Not softening up, eh?

CSO: Not at all. Still takes the skin off.
FWP: You could have convinced me it was a loofa.

CSO: A loofa is a kind of sponge!
FWP: Really? Taxonomically?

CSO: Yes. I’m pretty sure, anyway.
FWP: And all this time I thought a loofa was a ball of leftover barbed wire that had been “repurposed.”

[Save water! Shower with your sweetie!]

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Mood I’m In

Sometimes, it all gets to be just a bit much...

The wall on which the prophets wrote
Is cracking at the seams.
Upon the instruments of death
The sunlight brightly gleams.
When every man is torn apart
With nightmares and with dreams,
Will no one lay the laurel wreath
As silence drowns the screams?

Confusion will be my epitaph.
As I crawl a cracked and broken path
If we make it we can all sit back and laugh.
But I fear tomorrow I'll be crying,
Yes I fear tomorrow I'll be crying.
Yes I fear tomorrow I'll be crying.

Between the iron gates of fate,
The seeds of time were sown,
And watered by the deeds of those
Who know and who are known;
Knowledge is a deadly friend
When no one sets the rules.
The fate of all mankind I see
Is in the hands of fools.

Confusion will be my epitaph.
As I crawl a cracked and broken path
If we make it we can all sit back and laugh.
But I fear tomorrow I'll be crying,
Yes I fear tomorrow I'll be crying.
Yes I fear tomorrow I'll be crying.

[Robert Fripp / Greg Lake]

And for relief:

The wanderer has far to go
Humble must he constant be
Where the paths of wisdom lead
Distant is the shadow of the setting sun.

Bless the daytime, bless the night
Bless the sun which gives us light
Bless the thunder, bless the rain
Bless all those who cause us pain.

Yellow stars may lead the way
All diversions lead astray
While his resolution holds
Fortune and good will will surely follow him.

Bless the free man, bless the slave
Bless the hero in his grave
Bless the soldier, bless the saint
Bless all those whose hearts grow faint.

Bless the daytime, bless the night
Bless the sun which gives us light
Bless the thunder, bless the rain
Bless all those who cause us pain.

Bless the free man, bless the slave
Bless the hero in his grave
Bless the soldier, bless the saint
Bless all those whose hearts grow faint.

Bless the daytime, bless the night
Bless the sun which gives us light
Bless the thunder, bless the rain
Bless all those who cause us pain.

Bless the free man, bless the slave
Bless the hero in his grave
Bless the soldier, bless the saint
Bless all those whose hearts grow faint.

[David Cousins]

The Penalty Of Death

Let's get one thing out of the way right up front: Capital punishment itself is clearly Constitutional:

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger...

That's the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, just in case you haven't seen its text lately. (Yes, I added the emphasis; the Founders were terrible at HTML.) So the Supreme Law notes and tacitly permits execution, though the Eighth Amendment, which forbids "cruel and unusual punishments," would seem to qualify its application.

This, you may be assured, is highly vexing to the Left. Liberals' campaign against the death penalty has a long lineage, and despite never having acquired majority backing has succeeded in reducing the use of execution in several ingenious ways.

The most successful attacks on the death penalty have been through Eighth Amendment arguments against execution's "cruelty." If we must take a man's life, the argument runs, at least we can do so without making him suffer. This line of attack has been used to invalidate every method of execution ever employed in the United States:

  • Hanging;
  • Firing squad;
  • The electric chair;
  • The gas chamber;
  • Lethal injection, by certain drugs.

...and has succeeded in preventing states that still employ the death penalty from using them, on the representation that they're unnecessarily painful, and therefore unConstitutionally cruel. In the case of lethal injection, which is still employed in some states, the assault has focused on the particular drugs used to terminate the condemned man's life. As effective drugs have been eliminated from the execution pharmacopeia, less effective ones have come into use, with the paradoxical effect of increasing the visible suffering of the condemned, thus strengthening the argument against capital punishment per se.

Wesley Pruden of the Washington Times presents us with some recent horror stories:

The executioners of Joseph Rudolph Wood, 55, were so long about it earlier this month — nearly two hours — that his lawyers had time to file an unusual emergency appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court in mid-execution for relief on humanitarian grounds. “He has been gasping and snorting for more than an hour,” his lawyers told the justices. “He is still alive.” The justices, perhaps eager to finally get away for their summer holiday, declined to stop it.

Wood began gasping shortly after the sedative midazolam and the painkiller hydromorphone were administered. Witnesses said Wood’s mouth dropped open, his chest expanded dramatically and then contracted, and they counted 600 violent gasps over the next 90 minutes. The director of the state Department of Corrections said he “conferred and collaborated with our IV team members and was assured that the inmate was comatose and never in pain or distress.”...

Ohio put Dennis McGuire to death in January with a cocktail of new and untested drugs that, if not mixed properly, cause unimaginable pain. McGuire screamed that he felt as if his body was on fire, and death did not follow his gasping and writhing on a gurney for 25 minutes. The Ohio attorney general had argued earlier, when his lawyer tried to block the execution with the untested drugs, that the U.S. Constitution bars cruel and unusual punishment but “you’re not entitled to a pain-free execution.”

In April, Oklahoma tried for an hour to execute Clayton Lockett, a murderer and a rapist, while he lay convulsing and writhing on a gurney, and never succeeded. He died of a heart attack while waiting for the state to get on with it.

Pruden notes that such events have resulted in a significant conservative reaction against capital punishment:

Polls show that 80 percent of Republicans favor the death penalty, but a small but expanding group of conservatives argue that fealty to authentic conservatism leads away from capital punishment. Some of the names, ranging from Jeb Bush to Newt Gingrich to Rick Perry, are surprising. The death penalty is as popular as ever with many conservatives, but methods of dealing death are not. Inefficiency inevitably costs money, and wasteful government inefficiency, after all, is not a conservative virtue.

The reasoning will strike many persons as cruel in and of itself. Abolish the death penalty because it's inefficient? But keeping a condemned man around to the end of his natural life is pretty inefficient too! Add to that the extreme mental cruelty of imposing lifetime confinement without hope upon him, and the shadow of the Eighth Amendment begins to creep across the doorsill once more.

Constitutional or not, the Left's attack upon methods of execution has made deep inroads into Americans' willingness to have even the most vicious murderers put to death.

Is capital punishment something we ought to allow, Constitutional or not? Have two somewhat contrasting views on the subject. First, the argument against it:

"Deserves death? I dare say he does. Many that live deserve death. And some die that deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then be not too eager to deal out death in the name of justice, fearing for your own safety. Even the very wise cannot see all ends." [From The Fellowship Of the Ring]

And for the contrary view:

"Once you know a man deserves to die, you have to kill him. If you don't, you're committing a crime against everyone who doesn't deserve to die. If you get him down but can't bring yourself to do it, and he gets up off the mat and kills you instead, you're only getting what you deserve yourself." [From On Broken Wings]

No, "be not too eager to deal out death." It's very good counsel. But we know that there are times when self-defense, or the defense of innocent others, requires the taking of a life. If it's licit at such times, why wouldn't it be permissible as a matter of dispassionate justice? Surely execution -- as a method of retribution for murder, at least -- is proportionate and confers protection upon anyone else the condemned might have menaced were he allowed to live.

The joker in the deck is, of course, that there's no way to reanimate a wrongly executed man. Any other form of punishment can be compensated for to some extent, should it be discovered that it landed upon an innocent party. But a dead man is beyond all such things.

The imperatives of justice, the needs of the bereaved for catharsis, and the putative security of other innocents must be balanced against two countervailing theses: cruelty, and the possibility of a mistaken execution. And though for many centuries the scale has tipped toward execution for the most heinous crimes, it begins to seem likely that sometime in the foreseeable future it will swing in the other direction. Whether we'll come to regret that, only time will tell.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Conceptions Of Freedom Part 2: For Some End Or For Its Own Sake?

The previous essay concerned itself principally with differentiating the original American conception of political freedom (a.k.a. liberty) from the fascist and socialist bilge being vended today under that label. The distinctions should be clear, which is what makes it so puzzling that so many can't see the gulf between them. But were everyone in the nation to embrace the original conception once again, there would still be questions to ponder. The one of greatest interest is:

Why do you want to be free?

No, it's not new. Nevertheless, it's troubling, for two reasons. Let's tackle the lesser one first.

"Why do you want [insert item or condition here]?" is a question that can confound anyone, on any subject, for a simple reason: There are only two answers, and one of them is transitory:

  • "To get [some other thing]."
  • "It will make me happy."

The first of those answers merely provokes a second iteration of the question. The second does not, for no one can rationally ask another "Why do you want to be happy?" When the condition under scrutiny is freedom, the implication behind the question is that the answer must be of the first sort: Smith wants to be free because it will enable him to get something else. In that view, freedom is merely a means to an end, nothing more.

This opens an ominous door: the divergence of the argument over freedom into other channels that have nothing to do with freedom per se. He who succumbs to the lure will thereafter find himself parrying questions about the worthiness of his ends, about whether there are other and better ways to pursue them, and once he has revealed his other goals, whether his priorities are "good." For example:

Questioner: Why do you want to be free?
Respondent: Because free societies are more prosperous.
Questioner: But you're already prosperous. What do you want that you don't have?
Respondent: Oh, nothing specific. I'd just like to be able to keep more of what I earn.
Questioner: But why, if there's nothing in particular that you want?


Questioner: Why do you want to be free?
Respondent: So I can make more money.
Questioner: But you could do that by changing trades! By becoming a lawyer, for instance.
Respondent: But I don't want to be a lawyer!
Questioner: Well, what about becoming a doctor, then?


Questioner: Why do you want to be free?
Respondent: So I can ride rollercoasters all day and get legal access to ABCD [a drug not yet invented -- FWP]
Questioner: What? That's all you want? What a waste of your talents!

Freedom itself ceases to be the subject under discussion once Respondent's answer allows Questioner to address his "real goal." The importance of freedom is thus postulated from the start as instrumental only. As it is given no inherent value of its own, the shift of focus to Respondent's other interests is automatic.

But there's no need to allow ourselves to be channeled into such courses.

The "Why freedom?" question has confounded many able minds. It's that seductive, to say nothing of the tendency of the intelligent to over-analyze even the simplest questions as a way of displaying the power of one's intellect. Writers of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, John Stuart Mill notable among them, fell into the trap in a subtle way. All men must seek the good, they said. But we cannot resolve, once and for all, what "the good" is or must be. Therefore, men must be free to pursue "the good" as they conceive it.

See the hidden snare in there? No? Give it a moment; it will come to you.

Of course! There's no shortage of persons who will claim, with varying degrees of plausibility, that they have determined what "the good" is, for any and every individual. And as freedom is merely an instrumental value, important only for seeking the good, we can do away with it now, and simply impose the good by the force of law!

Many, many peoples have succumbed to such nonsense. Some survivors of Nazi Germany, Communist Russia, Maoist China, Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge, and other examples are still around to tell you about it.

Part of the "Camelot myth" that surrounds the "New Frontier" of John F. Kennedy involved just such notions. Kennedy opened his administration to suggestions from an unprecedentedly wide variety of would-be advisors. Indeed, he often sought them out actively, perhaps in the hope that in doing so he would discover previously hidden or ignored fountains of wisdom about the human condition and the proper ends of Man:

"One could not deny a sense of New Frontier autointoxication; one felt it oneself. The pleasures of power, so long untasted, were now being happily devoured -- the chauffeur-driven limousines, the special telephones, the top-secret documents, the personal aides, the meetings in the Cabinet Room, the phone calls from the president....The currents of vitality radiated out of the White House, flowed through the government and created a sense of vast possibility....Above all, Kennedy held out such promise of hope. Intelligence at last was being applied to public affairs. Euphoria reigned; we thought for a moment that the world was plastic and the future unlimited. " -- Arthur Schlesinger, A Thousand Days.

Those savants presumed to eliminate all "need" for freedom.

It's insufficiently clear to far too many, including many in the liberty movement, that "Why do you want to be free?" is a trick question. In nearly all cases, the questioner is hostile to freedom and would like to see it reduced or expunged altogether. He wants to lure you down some secondary rhetorical path, specifically so you'll stop promoting and defending freedom itself. This is the second and infinitely more important reason the question is of importance.

If each of us has a natural, God-given right to be free -- i.e., to suffer neither coercion nor intimidation in any matter that doesn't involve aggression or fraud -- then there is only one appropriate response:

Questioner: Why do you want to be free?
Respondent: Why do you want me to be unfree?

In applying that riposte, Gentle Reader, do take care to stand well back. Spittle can fly farther than most of us might think!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Recourse To Fundamentals

It happens, from time to time, that I am reminded of the fundamental, unbridgeable disjunction between the Left and the Right: the one that argument can never resolve and which renders all our attempts to reason with them utterly insane. The personal tragedy in such a reminder is that I should ever need it; the greater tragedy is that so many others cannot grasp the lesson at all.

In a lesser irony, today's reminder comes from a Liberty's Torch reader. Peruse my brief exchange with "Bob R" and give it a few moments' thought.

Perhaps the most important essay of our time is C. S. Lewis's masterpiece The Abolition Of Man. The great Christian polemicist says so much, of such importance, in so few pages that I often despair of ever producing anything of equal power. Indeed, that essay is the major reason I've occasionally expressed an ambition to become known as "the C. S. Lewis of the 21st Century," as hopeless as such an aspiration may be.

Lewis's key point in the second segment of this mighty work is one that should be indelibly imprinted on every thinking mind:

From propositions about fact alone no practical conclusion can ever be drawn. This will preserve society cannot lead to do this except by the mediation of society ought to be preserved. This will cost you your life cannot lead directly to do not do this: it can lead to it only through a felt desire or an acknowledged duty of self-preservation. The Innovator is trying to get a conclusion in the imperative mood out of premisses in the indicative mood: and though he continues trying to all eternity he cannot succeed, for the thing is impossible. We must therefore either extend the word Reason to include what our ancestors called Practical Reason and confess that judgements such as society ought to be preserved (though they can support themselves by no reason of the sort that Gaius and Titius demand) are not mere sentiments but are rationality itself; or else we must give up at once, and for ever, the attempt to find a core of 'rational' value behind all the sentiments we have debunked.

"Practical conclusion." "Imperative mood." "Practical Reason!" What innocent phrases Lewis employs to illuminate the heart of human experience! How much metaphysics, how much insight into human nature, lurks behind each one! Just a few days ago, I blathered about the importance of using words according to their exact, publicly acknowledged meanings. Quite a few persons wrote that I must be joking -- that the meaning of a word is necessarily a relative, receiver-centered phenomenon that no one can cement down. For my rebuttal, ponder Lewis's use of the word "practical" in the above and tell me what you think he meant.

Yes, context matters. Doesn't it always?

The "language corruption" essay addressed a political subject: the deliberate distortion or misapplication of words to serve a covert political purpose. However, the overarching subject is much larger. Indeed, it goes all the way to the core of Lewis's intent in his argument about "Practical Reason."

Nor is Lewis the only writer to address it:

    "Are you going to be as impractical as that?"
    "The evaluation of an action as 'practical,' Dr. Ferris, depends upon what it is that one wishes to practice."

You know where that comes from, don't you? If not, relax; here's another citation from the same book, from one of the most powerful soliloquies ever to appear in a work of fiction:

    “It is not your particular policy that I challenge, but your moral premise. If it were true that men could achieve their good by means of turning some men into sacrificial animals, and I were asked to immolate myself for the sake of creatures who wanted to survive at the price of my blood, if I were asked to serve the interests of society apart from, above and against my own – I would refuse. I would reject it as the most contemptible evil, I would fight it with every power I possess, I would fight the whole of mankind, if one minute were all I could last before I were murdered, I would fight in the full confidence of the justice of my battle and of a living being’s right to exist. Let there be no misunderstanding about me. If it is now the belief of my fellow men, who call themselves the public, that their good requires victims, then I say: The public good be damned, I will have no part of it!”

Only Man, among all God's creatures, has conscious intentions he seeks to serve. Many of those intentions are instrumental only: do this to get that, where that will serve some other purpose. But some are linked to the cores of our souls, wherein lives the conscience:

    “Christine, I’m a priest. I have to work from certain postulates. According to those postulates, the soul is the seat of conscience, of an individual’s real and unalterable identity. Creatures without souls are also without moral choice. They act strictly from innate drives, motivations built right into their flesh. You can’t have a moral nature, the ability to know right from wrong, unless you have a soul. You can’t love, or be grateful, or understand loyalty or duty or justice. So either those postulates are wrong, or your soul is as real and valuable as mine.”

(If you don't recognize that book, I have no sympathy for you.)

My point, just in case even the citations above haven't clarified it adequately, is a simple one:

Moral premises underpin all reasoning.
They are Reason's indispensable foundation.
Therefore, you cannot support or refute them by reasoning.

A brief but relevant digression: Quite a number of religiously inclined persons react to any citation of Ayn Rand the way a vampire would react to a crucifix, except with increased anger and disgust. That's not wholly incomprehensible, considering Rand's open, repeated condemnations of religious faith. Needless to say (for anyone who's been reading Liberty's Torch for a while, at least), I consider Rand to have been misguided on this subject. However, I find her aversion to religion comprehensible as well, for it's the same sort of error as that of those who reject all she ever wrote: a discarding of the baby with the bathwater.

I must have written a thousand times by now that positions from which authority can be exercised will sooner or later be occupied by persons whose highest priority is the acquisition of authority. This Iron Law of Power will eventually corrupt any and every sort of hierarchy. Nor is it restricted to the political (i.e., coercive) forms of authority. It's done quite a number on every religious hierarchy Man has ever experienced. This is made clear by even the most cursory study of the history of religious institutions.

Here's an illustration of that tendency about one of the oldest religious systems, from the great Paul Johnson:

Moses is the fulcrum-figure in Jewish history, the hinge around which it all turns....He was a Jewish archetype, like Joseph, but quite different and far more formidable. He was a prophet and a leader; a man of decisive actions and electric presence, capable of huge wrath and ruthless resolve; but also a man of intense spirituality, loving solitary communion with himself and God in the remote countryside, seeing visions and epiphanies and apocalypses; and yet not a hermit nor an anchorite but an active spiritual force in the world, hating injustice, fervently seeking to create a Utopia, a man who acted not only as an intermediary between God and man but sought to translate the most intense idealism into practical statesmanship, and noble concepts into details of everyday life. Above all, he was a lawmaker and a judge, the engineer of a mighty framework to enclose in a structure of rectitude every aspect of public and private conduct -- a totalitarian of the spirit.

[Emphasis added by FWP.]

Rand's reaction against religion because of the Ultra Vires tendencies within religious hierarchies is nicely symmetrical to religious persons' wholesale reaction against Rand's thought because of her rejection of religious faith.

There is no salvation in human authorities. He who claims to stand as "an intermediary between God and man" is quite as dangerous as any coercive institution. Note the frequency of religiously animated injustices and atrocities throughout human history. Note that they continue in our time, though they're concentrated among devotees of a single "faith." Thus, when Rand writes in Atlas Shrugged:

"Dagny, how did you do it? How did you manage to remain unmangled?"
"By holding to just one rule."
"To place nothing--nothing--above the verdict of my own mind."

...she speaks tellingly of the pretensions of both secular and religious authorities. So! You claim to be in possession of a revelation? Show me. Show me how it accords with my moral precepts, my sense of the laws of Nature, my conscience. I shan't let you get away with saying "God told me so," for that's an attempt to borrow an authority that doesn't belong to any individual man. What you proclaim must be consistent with what I know of how the world observably works; it cannot rest upon preference, intention, or wishful thinking.

Which is why of all the moral creeds ever dispensed unto Man, only the simplest of them:

Now when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they assembled together. And one of them, an expert in religious law, asked him a question to test him: “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” Jesus said to him, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your 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 hang all the law and the prophets." [Matthew 22:37-40]
Now a man came up to him and said, "Teacher, what good thing must I do to gain eternal life?" He said to him, "Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments." "Which ones?" he asked. Jesus replied, "You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false witness, honor your father and mother and love your neighbor as yourself." [Matthew, 19:16-19.] worth more than the breath with which its Founder expressed it.

To sum up: You cannot argue moral premises. Either they express the natural law, or they are irrelevant or contradictory to it. In the first case, their adoption will conduce to health, flourishing, and an increase in human happiness; in the second and third, the consequences will be dire. Only actual practice -- Lewis's "Practical Reason," rather than any abstraction from it -- will tell the tale.

So when Bob R -- or anyone else -- declaims about rights, he's either talking to a fellow fish about water, or he's making incomprehensible mouth noises at someone predisposed to rape him the moment his back is turned. Indeed, whenever I do it, its impact is no greater. At best, to declare one's stance on rights constitutes the donning of an emblem by which those who share those premises will recognize a compatible mind.

Though the Right is a fairly diverse community of thought, among whose allegiants many detail differences of reasoning and position can be identified, we tend to agree on our moral premises: i.e., the Rights of Man. The Left has no moral premises to which it will hold fast; their sole touchstone, as with the villains of Atlas Shrugged, is "Can we get away with it?" Which is, of course, entirely consistent with their drive for power over all persons and things. Once more, with trumpets:

Morally different is a synonym for evil.

Don't bother arguing about rights with the Left. Save your breath and keep your powder dry. The hour of decision will soon be upon us.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

The True History of the Southwest.

In summary, no current inhabitants of Mexico (or Guatemala, etc.) have a claim on even one single inch of the American Southwest. Not one single citizen of Mexico is sneaking into the United States to reclaim property their ancestors were deprived of. Not one. They are criminal invaders and colonizers, pure and simple.

It’s time Americans learned the true history of our Southwest, as a counter to the currently prevalent "Aztlan" fairy tales put out by "La Raza" (The Race), “the Brown Berets of Aztlan,” "MEChA" (the Student Movement for Aztlan, whose very symbol is a lit “mecha” or fuse on a dynamite bomb), and other radical (and usually openly communist) anti-American groups.

"The True History of the Southwest." By Matt Bracken, Resister in the Rockies, 7/3/14.

H/t: Gates of Vienna.

Some Thoughts On Sex And The Bonded Couple

[This article also appears in PJ Media's Lifestyle section. As I've seen nothing else to spur an essay this morning, and I've just discovered the true inner meaning of exhaustion, I've decided to repost it here. -- FWP]

"How times have changed!" rises the cry of every generation. At least, it can seem that way to one unfamiliar with the course of things over time.

I have in mind the recent exchange of thoughts between psychologist Dr. Helen Smith and PJ Media Lifestyle editor Dave Swindle, germinated by the recently publicized case of a man who, feeling that his wife had cut him off sexually, presented her with a spreadsheet detailing their recent encounters. Dr. Helen was sympathetic toward the man: seemed she was confused about his behavior, and said the lack of sex was unusual and that it was because she was just busy with work. From what I remember, she is in her 20s and the couple have been together around five years and married for two and have no kids.

And she seriously wonders why the guy is mad? She has sex three times in seven weeks and he has probably been angry and boiling for some time before that. Why is she posting their problems on Reddit? She mentions his immature behavior; is hers any better? She says he wouldn’t talk to her about the chart etc., so maybe during this quiet time, she should stop and think about her behavior.

But more importantly, the husband should reflect on his marriage and ask himself a few questions. So far, there are no kids. If she lets her job interfere with her sex life, what about the kids? Will he have an eighteen year chart of excuses and pain? If kids are involved and he wants to get out of the marriage then, he is going to have a much harder time. Perhaps he simply needs some quiet time to reflect on what to do, whether this is going to work in the long run and why his wife would turn to strangers on the internet and post his chart on a Reddit site instead of sitting back and giving him some breathing room. This does not reflect well on how things will go for him in the future if they stay married.

...while Dave Swindle was not:

I’m actually going to take the wife’s side in this dispute. I have absolutely ZERO SYMPATHY WHATSOEVER for this loser. Why?

Because it’s not a wife’s responsibility to be her husband’s happy whore, eagerly providing him with his orgasms on demand.

Dissatisfied husbands, want to know the secret to having sex with your wife whenever you want? It is not your wife’s responsibility to be ready to go on command, it’s YOUR responsibility to know your wife so well that you are capable of seducing her anytime. When you want to have sex with her you don’t ask her, you put her in the mood yourself. It’s really that simple: know you wife well enough so you can push the right buttons, say the right things, and create an environment where sex just naturally happens.

Unfortunately, that’s more work than most men are used to for getting orgasms.

The frequency with which the unnamed subjects of the exchange actually "have sex" -- Lord, how I detest that phrase! -- strikes me as irrelevant. He feels she's cut him off; she claims to be too busy and tired. Neither mentions whether the lovemaking they actually manage to do is pleasant or fulfilling, whether physically or emotionally. The conflict doesn't involve sexual satisfaction, but rather sexual receptivity.

The questions that should follow aren't being explicitly addressed.

Dave Swindle's original reply to Dr. Helen emphasized orgasm: "[I]t’s not a wife’s responsibility to be her husband’s happy whore, eagerly providing him with his orgasms on demand." Yet Dr. Helen didn't speak of orgasm, or any of the other physical aspects of the sex act. She concentrates on emotion: "[I]t is a good example of how many women (and men too, given some of the comments) don’t think men have any feelings when it comes to what they need in marriage."

Dr. Helen's perspective is closer to mine. As I wrote in a recent novel:

"I know he still loves me," Marilyn said, "and of course I still love him. It's just that --"

"'Of course'? 'Of course'?" Helen's smile vanished and her face darkened. "You deny him all enjoyment of your body, you make him feel a churl even for thinking about it, you reave him of one of the essential achievements of manhood, but that's all right because you still love him?"

Marilyn gaped. "What achievement do you mean?"

"Do you have any idea," Helen said, "how radically different a man's experience of sex is from a woman's, dear?"


Helen sat back and folded her arms over her breasts. She looked at Marilyn as a teacher might an underachieving pupil, one who had more than adequate ability but refused to apply himself.

"We hold the veto power. We compel them to woo us, seduce us, cater to us. When we oh-so-generously let them near, they do almost all of the work, yet their orgasms involve only a tiny portion of their bodies and last a mere second or two. Ours are incomparably fuller and longer -- and at so much smaller a cost that it doesn't bear comparison." She shook her head. "We get so much more out of it than they do, it's a wonder they bother with us at all. So why do they bother with us, Marilyn?"

Helen's silent glare accused her of having missed something critical, something she ought to have known without needing to be told.

"I don't know. I...never thought about it."

The reproof in Helen's eyes remained strong, but something else entered to temper it, something wryly amused.

"You ought to have thought about it. But you're not the only one. Harridans all across this land have been telling women like you that you're owed, that men's desire for you is barely a hair's breadth from chattel slavery, that 'a woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle.' And you're too afraid to contradict them, or too proud to ask your mothers whether it might just possibly be some other way. So they go on to catechize the men, telling them what oppressors they are, and how awful the burdens of womanhood are, and how unfair it is that they should get to exhaust their bodies and erode their spirits with wage labor while women sit in the safety and comfort of their homes, being most oppressively provided for." Helen shook her head. "If a hundredth of that were true, the race would have died out thousands of years ago. It's we who owe them, Marilyn. Without them, we would still be cowering in caves. They have made us a world where we can be whatever we please."

My character Helen poses the essential question -- " So why do they bother with us, Marilyn?" -- though she never answers it explicitly. Male orgasm -- his spasmodic release of tension and seminal fluid -- is not the reason a decent man cherishes his lover's body and access to it. That there are a fair number of "indecent" men roaming about need not cloud the central issue.

Her sexual receptivity is his prize for being the man she loves. It tells him two things of inestimable value:

  1. That she has deemed him worthy above any of her other suitors;
  2. That he can make the effort, complications, and potential consequences of sex worth her while.

This aspect of sexual congress is so frequently dismissed that it approaches a kind of censorship. There are reasons for that, of course: the gender-war feminist movement treats men as "the enemy," to whom nothing should be granted except on terms profitable to her, while the "Game" movement among men resentful of feminism's representations and determined to assert sexual dominance are inclined to view contemporary women's exploitative attitude toward men as a license to think and behave in a complementary fashion. In effect, each views the other as a means to an end, which demeans and shortchanges both.

I've said it before: The fulfillments of sexual intercourse don't end with physical pleasure. They don't begin there, either. Though the language seems brusque, even a bit savage, the principal fulfillment to the man is that of victory: winning access to the body of his beloved. The principal fulfillment to the woman is that of agreeable surrender: the cession of her body to his, not merely for immediate pleasure but also in hope of a union that eclipses the physical connection. These satisfactions greatly overshadow the pleasures of the body, as does their continuation over time.

Indeed, a mature, self-assured man, properly reared and past the urgings of adolescence, is less concerned with his own physical pleasure than with bringing pleasure to her. Her desire for his desire, with all that follows from that, gives him what he most wants: the opportunity to bring her pleasure, even if he gets little or none for himself. This has often been dismissed as merely a form of politeness, but in fact it's the source of his greatest sexual fulfillment and, apart from progeny, his principal reason for wanting her to want him.

The comprehension of this point is so vital to the long-term maintenance of a successful marriage that no heap of adjectives could do it justice. Yet from the evidence we may conclude that millions of couples fail to grasp it at all, and suffer terribly thereby.

Yes, there are men so self-absorbed that a woman's sexual desire is merely an opening through which to seek their own fulfillment, including the evanescent and essentially trivial pleasure of orgasm. Yes, there are men who never bother to learn "what she likes." But in any decent society these will be a minority. The great danger to marital relations arises from the accelerating tendency among women to view sex as an imposition, a venue for negotiation, even an unpleasant duty to be minimized. It's not avoiding "being too tired" from one's daily labors that's central, but attaining and maintaining the variety of love that sees the couple as a transcendent entity, greater than the sum of its parts, that deserves every available opportunity to be more than two individuals obsessed with their own prerogatives.

His "spreadsheet approach" does seem misguided; at any rate, he could have been subtler. But far greater demerit attaches to her demotion of their coupling to a status below that of an after-dinner drink. Where's the love that caused them to become husband and wife? Where did they leave it behind? And why on Earth did they replace it with swivel chairs and a conference room table?

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

"Behind The Camera:" Conceptions Of Freedom

I will never cease to be amazed at the power of memory: how it can rise up from nowhere, intrude irresistibly into one's thoughts, and assert itself against all attempts to deflect it.

Some years ago, it was my pleasure to encounter, at Francis Ford Coppola's Zoetrope writers' forum, a writer named Kerrigan Philip Coles. (His novels appear under the nom de plume "Philip Kerrigan.") We lavished a bit of praise upon one another's short stories; it was what we were both concentrating on at the time. One of his stories surged to mind this morning as I was preparing for the daily ordeal of my commute to work.

Kerrigan's story concerned a young woman whose father has abused and exploited her sexually, not merely for his own pleasure but as a source of profit, in pornographic films. She breaks away from him as an adult, but in the wake of his later, disabling stroke, is called upon to take him under her care. The story concludes in a horrifically brilliant fashion: she uses her helpless father as the object of abuse in a porn film that she composes and directs.

The conclusion is unforgettable: the protagonist luxuriates in being "behind the camera" and "in control of her own life" at long last.

Let that sink in for just a moment.

One of the recently reported trends I find most disturbing is the sharp diminution of interest among teenaged Americans in acquiring drivers' licenses and cars. I made mention of this to a colleague just yesterday; he replied that his sixteen-year-old son evinced the same disinclination -- that it took paternal pressure to get him behind the wheel for a driving lesson. It's the sort of contrast with the attitudes of young Americans in my age bracket that illuminates what's being done to us, slice by thin slice, by the encroachments of the Omnipotent State.

As a young adult, what being able and equipped to drive meant to me was freedom: a significant increase in my ability to control my own affairs. Indeed, to be unable or unequipped to drive struck me as pitiable, a state well below that which was proper to an American. It didn't occur to me until the rising of the leftist political wave against the personal automobile, some time in the Seventies, how important the auto is as an emblem of personal independence.

There are a few ironies buried in there, of course. Driving isn't a right but a government-licensed privilege. Car ownership is itself regulated by a registration regime that demands periodic (and often quite expensive) renewal. One's car will occasionally fail to cooperate with one's desire to be on the move, requiring expensive propitiation before it will comply. And of course, most of us can only drive where and how the government's roads will allow it.

All the same: To a teen of the Sixties, the first jalopy and the driver's license that allowed him to operate it constituted a giant step toward freedom, the ideal of these United States for which a bloody revolution was fought. That teens and young adults of this age should display such disinterest in acquiring independent mobility speaks volumes about the transformation in the priorities of the young, over the years since my own rite of automotive passage.

It often seems as if the original American conception of freedom -- the absence of coercion or constraint from all matters that don't involve aggression or fraud -- has given way to a welfarist conception, in which what the individual is supposed to prize most highly is "freedom from want:" i.e., the absence of significant unsatisfied desires for material things. Note that "freedom from want" was one of Franklin D. Roosevelt's quartet, by which he hoped to deflect the attention of those who cried out against his New Deal interventions. The Great Depression had created enough of a constituency for government largesse to gain FDR's "Four Freedoms" gambit a respect it has never deserved.

Clarence Carson, in his masterpiece The American Tradition, made plain just how thoroughly the original conception of freedom has been displaced by the Marxist conception of freedom as "an absence of tension or conflict." That didn't happen all by itself; it was pressed upon us by the Progressive political movement, which began with Jeremy Bentham and Edward Bellamy and continues, unchanged in its premises, to this day. That Marx's fatuous economic notions would give rise to "superabundance" of material goods and an eventual "withering away of the State" has never made good on its promises, no matter where or how it's been tried. The Progressives dangled a shiny bauble before the American people...and a heartbreaking number of them released their grip on their freedom to grab for it.

Hearken to Dr. Carson's peroration:

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.

As bad as that is, there's more and worse.

Part of the Progressive agenda was to conflate freedom with power, in such a fashion as to efface all distinctions between the original conception of freedom as decision-making free from coercion or constraint and the power to dictate the course of events. John Dewey, perhaps the most potent Progressive evangelist of the Twentieth Century, blatantly wrote that liberty -- political freedom -- is "power, effective power to do specific things:"

"Liberty is not just an idea, an abstract principle. It is power, effective power to do specific things. There is no such thing as liberty in general; liberty, so to speak, at large."

Dewey thus discards freedom of choice in favor of control over outcomes. In his conception, you are not free unless you have or can get what you want: a perfect complement to the Marxian and Rooseveltian formulations. As the premier proponent of government-controlled education, he promulgated this conception to tens of thousands of acolytes: persons who would go on to become teachers themselves.

Those currents have swelled into a fearsome tide. That tide has borne up the specious causes of all the gimme-groups in the country. It has injected the Democrat Party with the greater part of the 1928 Socialist Party platform. It has allowed "constitutional lawyer" Barack Hussein Obama to deride the Constitution as insufficient because it effectuates only "negative liberties," and makes no provision for "positive" ones. It's at the heart of United States Senator Elizabeth Warren's supposedly non-presidential campaign for every leftist wish in their very large wish book.

The original conception of freedom might not be wholly lost, but it is gravely imperiled. Remember the woman who supported Obama because "he gonna pay my mortgage." Remember the one who preened about her "Obama phone." And remember the two, on their way to get some "Obama money," who when asked where Obama would get it, shrugged and said "From his stash."

We return to Kerrigan's story at last. His protagonist, reaved of freedom by her predatory father, sought -- and believed she attained -- "freedom" by reversing their roles: putting him under her control and subjecting him to the very vilenesses he had inflicted on her. That is the nadir of thought, the conflation of untrammeled dictatorial power, the power of life and death and all that lies between them, with personal independence from another's control. That Dad might have deserved no better is utterly irrelevant. The tragedy occurs in the mind of the daughter. By adopting power and seeing it as freedom, she attains revenge but loses all hope of any freedom to come. That very same disease of the mind is steadily becoming epidemic in these United States.

Kerrigan, wherever you are, I hope you're well and happy.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Fourfer Tuesday

1. Barefaced Shamelessness.

You'd think, given the current white-hot scandal in which it's embroiled, the IRS would put this on hold for the moment:

Days after IRS officials said in a sworn statement that former top agency employee Lois G. Lerner’s computer memory had been wiped clean, the agency put out word to contractors Monday that it needs help to destroy at least another 3,200 hard drives.

The Internal Revenue Service solicitation for “media destruction” services reflects an otherwise routine job to protect sensitive taxpayer information, but it was made while the agency’s record destruction practices remain under a sharp congressional spotlight.

Congressional investigators of the IRS targeting of conservative groups have been hampered by the unexplained destruction of emails and other records of Ms. Lerner, the former head of the IRS tax-exempt division and a central figure in the scandal.

The loss of Ms. Lerner’s hard drive also raised broader questions about why the tax agency never reported the missing records to the National Archives and Records Administration, as required by the Federal Records Act....

Dan Epstein, executive director of the watchdog group Cause of Action, said rules require the archivist to sign off on the destruction of federal records.

“This solicitation, combined with the failure of the IRS to consult the Archivist about Lois Lerner’s hard drive, should put hesitation into any assumption that consultation with the Archivist is happening and prompt a thorough assessment of record retention at the IRS,” Mr. Epstein said Monday.

The only conclusion I can draw from the above is that the IRS, and whoever in the White House has been tasked with protecting Obama from it, have assessed the consequences of blatantly violating the Federal Records Act as less painful for the IRS and the Obama Administration than the consequences of allowing any detailed records of Lerner's communications to come to light. Given the toothlessness of Congress and the nature of the Justice Department at this time, that could well be true.

2. The Wiggle Room That Yet Remains To American Medicine.

I find this development heartening, though because of its cost it won't be available to everyone:

[Dr. Frederick] Becker is shifting to a new style of practice, sometimes called concierge or retainer medicine. With the help of a company that has been helping physicians make such shifts for over 13 years, he will cease caring for a total of 2,500 patients and instead cut back to about 600. These patients will pay an annual fee of $1,650. In exchange, they will receive a two-hour annual visit with a complete physical exam, same-day appointments, 24-hour physician phone access, and personalized, web-based resources to promote wellness.

When patients get admitted to the hospital, Becker will remain their physician, and their health insurance will still pay for much of their care. Will it make more money for physicians? Becker doubts it, but if it does, he plans to plow any additional income he might derive back into his group practice, helping to lessen the economic pressures on his colleagues.

The concierge model of practice is growing, and it is estimated that more than 4,000 U.S. physicians have adopted some variation of it. Most are general internists, with family practitioners second. It is attractive to physicians because they are relieved of much of the pressure to move patients through quickly, and they can devote more time to prevention and wellness.

As an end-run around the ongoing bureaucratization of medical practice, this is highly attractive to physicians and patients both. The downside, of course, is that those who can't afford to pay such an annual fee will have increasing difficulty finding a primary care physician, owing to the accelerating retirement of currently practicing doctors and the dwindling supply of new doctors. Perhaps the "doc in a box" phenomenon will fill the gap, but it will be a while before the results of the new incentive structures become clear -- and you may be very sure that the federal government will stick its fingers into the works whenever a mascot-group screeches about "a right to affordable care."

3. Our Tranquil World.

It sometimes appears that the entire Obama Administration has been dosed with something that numbs one to reality:

Barack Obama’s team recently took credit for improving the “tranquility of the global community,” and the president made it clear just what a calm place the world has become during his tenure.

But this summer Obama’s tranquil world has descended into medieval barbarism in a way scarcely seen in decades.

The justly celebrated Victor Davis Hanson gives us a compact yet comprehensive rundown. Please read it all.

The central question, of course, is how anyone could sincerely maintain that the world is a more tranquil -- i.e., peaceful -- place owing to the efforts of Barack Hussein Obama and his lieutenants. Press secretaries, of course, are liars for pay, who are required to say what they've been instructed to say, and to deflect inquiries that might rip the cover off the administration's representations. Adroitness of rhetoric and tactical insincerity are written into the job description. But is it even conceivable that any official inside the foreign-policy apparatus of the Obama Administration has ever believed that Obamunist foreign policy has made the world a more tranquil place?

The silver lining is that should she gain the Democrats' presidential nomination, Hillary Clinton will be required to defend the mess she helped to make. Whatever she might think of herself, her abilities don't extend to using black paint to paint in white.

4. For Readers.

A pleasant recent discovery is urban fantasist Seanan McGuire. I recently finished her three-book "Incryptid" series, and was enthralled throughout by her freewheeling imagination and her facility for combining exciting action with good characterization and gentle humor. I've just begun her "October Daye" series, and so far it's equally captivating. Fans of contemporary fantasy hungry for something other than the ubiquitous vampire, werewolf, and zombie crap might want to give her a look.

Along with the pleasures of the stories themselves, Miss McGuire's Kindle-edition books are modestly priced -- and good reading in ebook format that's less expensive than the paperback edition is getting to be harder and harder to find.

I have a deadline to meet, so that will be all for today, Gentle Reader. If you'd like, you can help me to stay focused by going to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Smashwords and buying a few of my deathless masterpieces. Hint, hint!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Decreeing Utopia

It didn't work for Lenin.
It worked even more poorly for Stalin.
Mao killed sixty million Chinese and it still didn't work.
Pol Pot? Are you BLEEP!ing kidding me?
The Eurocrats have failed as well.
Who's left?

Perhaps that last should have been "Who's Left?" But I digress.

These clowns are left:

End global hunger and all forms of malnutrition and poverty by 2030, along with all urban slums around the world. Halve the number of deaths from road traffic accidents globally (an estimated 1.24 million in 2010, according to the World Health Organization) by the same date—and “reduce levels of violence and halve related death rates everywhere” by then too. Make sure that the income of the bottom 40 percent of the population in all countries grows faster than the national average. Achieve “global resource efficiency,” and try to separate economic growth from “environmental degradation and resource use” everywhere over the next decade and a half.

All of those lofty, ambitious –and for critics, improbable and not-very-closely-linked—objectives, as well as many more, are currently being bundled, massaged and repackaged at the United Nations, to be formally unveiled in September as the ”sustainable development goals,” the centerpiece of the latest multi-trillion-dollar U.N. bid to reshape the planet along largely socialist or progressive lines.

Are you surprised in the slightest, Gentle Reader, to learn that Obama supports this "initiative" -- or that his envoy to the soiree is John Podesta?

Well, it does keep them off the street, at least. And inasmuch as U.N. types contribute mightily to downtown Manhattan traffic and parking problems, that's no small thing. But should the Obamunists manage to commit us to this "big container of verbal fudge" (William Easterly, formerly an economist at the World Bank), it will be the end of anything even resembling a free market in these United States.

I've argued before that smart people have no place in government. It's always smart people who chisel around the edges of their authority when in office. It's always smart people who "baffle 'em with bullshit." And it's always smart people, when their houses of straw catch fire, who mutter to themselves that "nobody understands or appreciates me." Unwillingness to accept his limitations -- or limitations that arise from the nature of Mankind, for that matter -- is the hallmark of the "intellectual" in office.

Please don't misunderstand me. There are plenty of smart people who are humble enough to stick to what they truly know and can do well. But he who seeks a public position of authority has two strikes against him for that reason alone. An intellect significantly above the norm adds a million more. Worst of all is the man who believes himself both above average in intelligence and ethically qualified for a position of power, and is wrong on both counts. I could make a good case for immuring such individuals in lifelong solitary confinement as soon as they display their plumage.

Time was, there was a common rejoinder to the man with too many opinions and too little sense of his limitations: "If yer so smart, why ain'tcha rich?" It was far better aimed than many of its wielders knew. The typical aspirant to political power has never achieved anything on his own hook. That's part of why he wants his hands on the levers of power.

But should he get there, this supposed intellectual will believe himself capable of re-engineering Mankind. He'll craft "policies" that directly contradict the most basic drives of a sentient creature. When his schemes fail in practice, he'll call for immense enforcement mechanisms with draconian powers. He'll blink in incredulity when black markets arise to countervail his intentions. He'll bellow in rage when he discovers that such markets are ineradicable...and that among the most enthusiastic participants in those markets can be found some of his closest, most trusted lieutenants.

The United Nations regularly convokes such intellectuals and asks them to redesign human society. There's never a shortage of eager attendees. There's usually a lot of crisis-shouting and mutual genital fondling. There's often a complete lack of hard sense.

This latest gathering appears to be aiming for some sort of ultimate grand prize. As columnist George Russell notes, everything from the elimination of poverty to the reduction of traffic fatalities appears in the "zero draft." No one's pet peeve has been omitted. Nothing is said about costs or the implied incursions into individuals' rights. Evidence of logical coherence is entirely absent. Yet the draft claims as its overarching principle..."sustainability."

The one and only thing the United Nations could do for the people of the United States is to relieve Manhattan of its load on the borough's streets. I shan't hold my breath waiting for them to do so.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Language Corruption Continues

From The Analects of Confucius:

Zi-lu said, "The ruler of Wei has been waiting for you, in order with you to administer the government. What will you consider the first thing to be done?"

The Master replied, "What is necessary to rectify names."

"So! indeed!" said Zi-lu. "You are wide of the mark! Why must there be such rectification?"

The Master said, "How uncultivated you are, Yu! A superior man, in regard to what he does not know, shows a cautious reserve.

If names be not correct, language is not in accordance with the truth of things.

If language be not in accordance with the truth of things, affairs cannot be carried on to success.

When affairs cannot be carried on to success, proprieties and music do not flourish.

When proprieties and music do not flourish, punishments will not be properly awarded.

When punishments are not properly awarded, the people do not know how to move hand or foot.

Therefore a superior man considers it necessary that the names he uses may be spoken appropriately, and also that what he speaks may be carried out appropriately.

What the superior man requires is just that in his words there may be nothing incorrect."

Consider also what this more recent commentator had to say:

I have not here been considering the literary use of language, but merely language as an instrument for expressing and not for concealing or preventing thought. Stuart Chase and others have come near to claiming that all abstract words are meaningless, and have used this as a pretext for advocating a kind of political quietism. Since you don't know what Fascism is, how can you struggle against Fascism? One need not swallow such absurdities as this, but one ought to recognize that the present political chaos is connected with the decay of language, and that one can probably bring about some improvement by starting at the verbal end....Political language -- and with variations this is true of all political parties, from Conservatives to Anarchists -- is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.

We know ourselves -- our species, that is -- very well. As humans have been around for a long time now, such that human nature has become thoroughly familiar to us, seldom do we learn anything genuinely new about it. Nevertheless from time to time some atavistic genius, a Confucius or an Orwell, must remind us about some part of it that's apparently slipped our minds.

We think in symbols -- words. He who wishes to enlist your mental resources in the effort to confuse you will endeavor to cloud your understanding of the words by which you represent important concepts. By implication, it is vitally important to all serious discourse that we hold fast to the accurate, publicly agreed upon meanings of words.

Some words can be subtle in application. There's a good example in the paragraph above. Look for it. If you think you've found it, call it out in the comments. For a change, I'll participate there myself.

In the political realm, we frequently employ labels as shorthand for enveloping political postures. Various persons then associate those labels with bundles of policy positions, and perhaps also with particular organizations that purport to represent them. That's where trouble sets in.

To be truly useful, a word must have an exact meaning. It cannot have more than one without becoming dangerous to one's thought processes. What recent political discourse has done to the critical labels has made them extremely dangerous to our thinking, and to the future of our already endangered Republic.

First consider liberal, a word whose original, exact meaning has been severed from it for practical purposes. Have a gander:

Liberal \Lib"er*al\, n. One who favors greater freedom in political or religious matters. [Webster's Unabridged Dictionary, 1913 edition]

Anyone who hasn't spent the last fifty years in a coma will immediately see how far the word liberal has been carried from that meaning. And it has indeed been carried away; it didn't migrate to its contemporary usage all by itself. The kidnapping of liberal was quite deliberate.

Similarly, we have conservative, whose original meaning has also been lost:

Conservative \Con*serv"a*tive\, n. One who desires to maintain existing institutions and customs. [Webster's Unabridged Dictionary, 1913 edition]

Contemporary American conservatives could hardly be accused of that with any justice. Most of then are as hostile to the existing state of things as Bakunin or Kropotkin. Yet they stubbornly clutch the label conservative to their breasts rather than use a more accurate one, perhaps out of a misplaced...conservatism.

The damage consequent to these distortions has been incalculable. It's been inflicted upon us with malice aforethought. The profit has accrued entirely to the Left.

Confusion can only benefit him who seeks to prevent accurate perception and thought. The Left must confuse its targets for a simple reason: the Leftist agenda, to the extent that it's persistent in character, is wholly at odds with human nature and the laws of reality. In practice it conduces to misery and destruction. No hyper-charismatic leader and no amount of tinkering can "make it work," the representations of Leftist mouthpieces notwithstanding. Moreover, this could never be concealed from a person of ordinary rational capacity...if he were equipped with accurate symbols for the key components of the socio-economic-political tableau and were permitted to employ them in thought unobstructed by cant about "inequality," "exploitation," "racism," "patriarchy," "institutionalized bigotry," and the like.

(I could go into one of my customary rants about the importance of distinguishing between the Left's well-meaning fools and the power-lusters who make up its leadership, but that's not germane to the larger point.)

Concerning another word of increasingly frequent misapplication, consider the usages in this essay:

Now, doubtlessly many of you will have been quicker on the uptake on this point, but here is how the average layperson (who even knows what libertarianism is) hears about libertarianism: fiscally conservative, socially liberal. Don’t tell me I’m the only one who’s heard that. Following the new Reason study on millennials, which found a profile somewhat matching that definition, there are tons of people concluding millennials are libertarians.

A quick pause for an interjection: Anyone who's followed me this far, and who's acquainted with libertarian thought to any extent, will be aware that "socially liberal" does not mean favorable to greater freedom! The author of the essay devotes a series of unsparing paragraphs to nailing "liberal" to the cross it now deserves. But here's his conclusion:

What am I, therefore? I am fiscally conservative and socially… well, socially libertarian. I believe in reserving to the states and to the people those rights and duties not clearly associated with mediating interactions between states and representing the United States as a whole to the world. I believe that, wherever possible, the individuals closest to an issue or, at worst, the state in which groups of individuals closest to an issue reside, should be allowed to decide on social issues. As a lodestar in that discussion I believe the best solutions will be the ones that involve the least paperwork, the least government interference, and the least litigation, but I also believe that groups and citizens alike are happiest, and find the best solutions fastest, when they are allowed to do things which I consider stupid.

Stop right there. If we proceed from the exhortations of prominent contemporary conservatives, what does "fiscally conservative" mean to you, Gentle Reader? Does it mean restricting federal spending to those few areas that have been Constitutionally approved? Does it mean that the Treasury should honor only gold and silver as the valid monies of the land? Does it mean limiting taxation to funding only "the common defense and the general welfare of the United States?" Or does it mean rather "keeping a lid" on currency inflation, plus some modest reductions in federal spending, so the national debt might grow a little more slowly?

Constitutionalist libertarians -- i.e., those closest to conservatives in their practical propositions -- demand absolute adherence to the terms of the Constitution. They don't settle for niggling slivers of budgetary reductions, or for "more moderate" currency growth. If Article I, Section 8 doesn't authorize it, the constitutionalist libertarian will have no truck with it...but the overwhelming majority of contemporary conservatives, anxious to avoid looking "uncompassionate" or "overturning too many rice bowls," will swallow just about everything Washington has done to us, with only the tiniest adjustments around the edges. For a contrast, consider this statement from an ardent, though fictional, constitutionalist:

“Walter Coleman has promulgated several executive orders, through which he’s conscripted an entire profession and seized control of two major American industries,” Sumner said. “The power to do such a thing is not granted to any branch of the federal government. Yet the president backed up his will with federal troops, who remain at the aerospace and electronics plants to this day. He claimed that Harry Truman’s seizure of the steel mills during the Korean War was adequate precedent, but an unconstitutional seizure of power can’t be justified by saying that it’s been done before.”

Perhaps the perversions of the word libertarian have not yet become important enough to register on most radars. I expect that they will...because over the past three decades conservatives have become ever more libertarian in their attitudes and approaches, and are resolved not to shed their accustomed label for fear of losing popular attention to a competing school of thought. (Also, the Left has heaped enormous quantities of slander upon libertarian for comparable reasons.)

What is necessary is to rectify names: to speak and write with exactitude, such that one's statements will be armored against misuse. Unless this begins at once, the corruption of our language will progress -- and it's a "progressive" project, beyond all question -- making clear, undistored, entirely defensible political statements will become ever more difficult, and ever more Americans will sink into passivity and despair.

Friday, July 18, 2014


[Socialism’s] a fairy tale for illiterate people.
~ Konstantin Preobrazhensky, former Soviet KGB officer.

"New Film Exposes and Mocks 'Progressives.'" By Cliff Kincaid, Accuracy in Media, 7/18/14.

H/t: New Zeal Blog.

Spot the fake headline.

  • Three Gaza Rockets Fired at Southern Israel – Peace process.
  • UN Urges Papua New Guinea to Stop Attacks on ‘Witches’ – Witch crisis unresolved.
  • Bolivia: UN Secretary General Celebrates 70th Anniversary With Cake of Coca Leaves – IPCC "science" suddenly clear.
  • Italy: Interior Minister Calls for EU Action on Immigration – Straight to voice mail.
  • Netherlands: No Student Loans for Dutch Jihadists in Syria – Dutch universities only, please.
  • UK’s Cameron Signals Tougher Line on Home-Grown Islamist Radicalism – Imported islamist radicalism ok.
  • Mahmoud Abbas’s Wife Undergoes Surgery in Israel – "Bloodsucking Jews" rhetoric temporarily suspended.
  • BasNews Gives Detail About Iranian Forces in Iraq – U.S. foreign policy in action.
  • Iran MPs Demand Rouhani Strictly Enforce Veil Law – Chaos averted.
  • Kurdish Oil Sold to Buyers in Austria, India – Our blood for their oil.
  • Migration Wave Overwhelms Italy – Ticker tape supplies exhausted.
  • Kerry hints at alliance with Iran in sudden policy reversal – From now on, only hinting.
  • Hillary Clinton Turns Liberals Into ‘Rape-Loving’ Scum – Wellesley grads make a difference.
  • Nancy Pelosi: I pray for Republicans ‘every Sunday’ – "Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do."
  • Three Beheaded After Failing 'Quranic Quiz'... – "How many commas?"
  • Iran to Execute Four for Murder Occurring Months After Arrest... – Forensic science meets Prof. Shariah.
  • Saudi Scholar Denounces Zionist Sagging Pants Plot... – Filthy Zionists.
  • Family Struggles to Cope after Daughter Exposed to Pork... – "BLT" on menu.
  • Supreme Court in NFIB v. Sebelius Stands Constitution on Head. – Seditious nonsense.

For My Fiction Readers: Ceremony

Conscience can surprise us...especially in the aftermath of a decision to ignore it. Heavily pregnant single mother-to-be Laura DiGennaro is coping with such a decision and its consequences when she’s “discovered” by a young man of foreign birth, familiar scruples, and a wholly unexpected quality of character.

Ceremony: A free download at Smashwords. [You should probably keep this one away from your minor children.]

On Knowing Your Enemies

Facts that are not frankly faced have a habit of stabbing us in the back. – Sir Harold Bowden

Let's face the facts:

  1. The country is going to Hell.
  2. So is the world beyond our shores.
  3. The Left's divide et impera tactics have succeeded brilliantly.
  4. So has its use of the country’s educational and entertainment systems.
  5. Many persons in federal office are dedicated to nullifying the Constitution.
  6. That includes the great majority of those who stridently claim to be "on our side."

There's a civil war in progress. To evade that conclusion and its logical implications takes a degree of willful blindness akin to that required to maintain -- as a number of Japanese will tell you to this day -- that Japan defeated the U.S. in World War II.

What's less clear are the battle lines and what groups are on which side.

Before we proceed into the analytics most Liberty's Torch readers come here for, allow me to ask you a question: Which side are you on, Gentle Reader? Are you quite sure? For that matter, are you quite sure "your side" really exists, in a coherent and persistent sense?

I'd bet a dollar to a doughnut that you haven't asked yourself that question in a long time, if ever. You have a powerful sense for where you stand, even if you've never fully articulated it. Your moral conscience -- your sense for what's intrinsically right and intrinsically wrong -- is well developed and has served you faithfully over the years. Your positions on various issues flow from those things, so why imagine even for a moment that you wouldn't "know your side," or that you wouldn't be able to tell those who stand with you apart from those who stand against you?

Perhaps you're right. Perhaps your political vision is as clear and accurate as your moral conscience. Trouble is, we keep putting the levers of power into the hands of our enemies. Given that the electorate has several times elected nominally conservative executive administrations and legislative majorities, and that poll after poll has declared Americans to be fundamentally conservative, that demands an explanation.

Since the New Deal, regardless of which party has held federal hegemony, the federal government has grown monotonically larger, more intrusive, and more expensive. Republican "wave" elections have made no difference. Neither did the much-hyped Reagan Administration, despite the desire of so many conservatives to believe otherwise.

Allow me a quote from a favorite novel:

    "What of this one, this Louis Wu?"
    "For us there has been much profitable cooperation with men. Naturally we choose at least one human. Louis Gridley Wu is a proven survival type, in his casual, reckless way."
    "Casual he is, and reckless. He challenged me to single combat."
    "Would you have accepted, had not Hroth been present? Would you have harmed him?"
    "To be sent home in disgrace, having caused a major interspecies incident? But that is not the point," the kzin insisted. "Is it?"
    "Perhaps it is. Louis is alive. You are now aware that you cannot dominate him through fear. Do you believe in results?"

[Larry Niven, Ringworld]

Well, do you, Gentle Reader?

David Limbaugh's column of today sidles up to the problem but refuses to confront it squarely:

I have long contended that the differences between tea party conservatives and the so-called establishment are far deeper than "tactics"; they also involve policy disagreements....

Let's say Republicans then win the presidency and retain control of Congress in 2016. Then what?

I would wager that many of my establishment friends will continue to advise restraint, urging us not to drastically roll back Obama's liberal policies, either because they'll be horrified about the next election or because they have really, in the end, lost their stomach for political battle and their taste for free market principles.

So far, so good, but wait: there's more!

I suspect that many of them have come to accept a large, "energetic" federal government and believe that Republicans should just accept it and instead devise original and creative yet "conservative" policy solutions within the big-government framework. In other words, we should throw in the towel on our founding principles, accept the liberal narrative that Reagan conservatism is extremism, and do the best we can within the new paradigm....

Will Republicans, if they regain power of both political branches, have the political will to begin to unravel the nightmares caused by an abandonment of our founding principles, or will they just nibble around the edges with insignificant modifications because they no longer believe in either conservative principles or their ability to convince the people that our ideas are still superior?

Limbaugh displays a remarkable resistance to the evidence in the above passage. The question isn't "Will they?" It's "How could we possibly believe that they will, given what we've seen from them up to this point?"

Republican politicians' credibility, and our credulity, should both be zeroed out.

Americans might be more conservative than not, but when election time rolls around our behavior is much like that of rats that have been forced to run the same maze ten thousand times without respite. We continue to support persons whose conduct when in power diverges dramatically from their rhetoric. They prattle about "limited government" yet allow government to grow without limit. They orate about "Constitutional restraints," and do nothing to enforce them. Should we attend to their words, or carefully note the vectors established by their deeds?

When a more principled, more courageous individual pokes his head up above the general mass of mediocrities, the Establishment does its best to cut it off. Note the hatchet jobs that have been done to Sarah Palin, Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, and most recently Chris McDaniel...all with GOP Establishment connivance and material support. Is that any way to respect Reagan's Eleventh Commandment? Doesn't it suggest that the Establishment is covertly in league with its supposed adversaries?

Even generally intelligent persons have failed to grasp this principle. Hugh Hewitt's book If It's Not Close, They Can't Cheat, while it does contain some points of value, harps relentlessly on the notion that "Only majorities matter," by which Hewitt plainly means partisan majorities. But what good to freedom lovers is a GOP majority made up of the likes of Thad Cochran and John McCain? What could we expect from such a caucus other than what we've already seen: continuing collaboration with the Democrats in expanding federal power over us?

Think it over.

The Republican Party will not act to rescue Constitutional government. It hasn't done anything about it for eighty years; why expect it to start now? Therefore, electoral politics, conveniently rigged by law and the collusion of the major media to permit only Democrats and Republicans to bid successfully for high office, is no longer of use to us. Indeed, it has become our enemies' principal tool for keeping us in subjection.

The implication should be clear. As unpleasant as it sounds, only if decent Americans tired of deceit and oppression were to boycott electoral politics completely, thus reducing national vote totals to unprecedentedly low levels, could we emphasize that the political elite has lost all mandate to govern us.

There would be consequences, of course:

  1. Government worshippers would elect ever greater majorities of Democrats.
  2. Those majorities would go on expanding the power, intrusiveness and expense of the federal leviathan.
  3. It would become ever more important for individuals to adopt defensive tactics, whether one merely opts to reduce one's visible profile, chooses to "go Galt," or selects any alternative between the two.

If Americans devoted to freedom were to adopt this approach in sufficient numbers, Washington would be progressively enfeebled despite the Left's apparently overwhelming grip on power. But will it happen? Doubtful. Remember the rats, the maze, and the ten thousand uninterrupted repetitions. We're conditioned to believe that the system can be cleansed by the electoral mechanism. Acting against that conditioning would require more will than most persons possess.

But at the very least we can know our enemies. We can give true coloration to their statements and their deeds when given power. We can cease to deceive ourselves about who's really "on our side."

Given all the above, and all the history on which it's founded, that doesn't seem likely either. But I retain my hope. I must; we who understand and love freedom have little else.

Have a nice day.