Saturday, October 31, 2015

Quickies: Power Crazy

     This morning Politico asks a perennial question:

     Jeb Bush might have pledged to conduct his campaign “joyfully,” but it’s hard to see the modern-day presidential campaign—months on the road, relentless attacks, kowtowing to donors—as anything but joyless. And if you make it through all that, your prize is one of the most stressful jobs in the world. Why do they do it? To understand, Politico Magazine asked leading psychologists and psychiatrists to get inside the candidates’ heads and diagnose the urge to run. Is it narcissism? Masochism? Psychosis? Are presidential candidates just like the rest of us—or are they just out of their minds?

     Some aspirants to the pinnacle of executive power in these United States probably are sufferers – enjoyers? – of some delusion or other. But they’re united far better under a different awning: their highest priority is the attainment of power. They demonstrate the intensity of their desire for power by enduring the rigors of a nationwide campaign.

     Before the presidency was made dependent on popular balloting, one could not seriously say that anyone campaigned for the office in a sense comprehensible to contemporary Americans. State legislatures selected the electors; the electors selected the president-to-be. It was possible for aspirants to lobby the electors once their names were known, but a campaign of the sort we suffer today would have been deemed proof of psychosis.

     Perhaps it should still constitute proof today. Of course, that would mean that anyone who chooses to run for president would be swiftly certified and packed off to some pleasant institution where the residents’ rooms have soft walls and the doors lock from the outside. But that might not be such a bad thing, considering the damage popularly elected presidents have done to the Republic over the century behind us.

Quickies: Debates And The “Debates”

     By now, everyone’s said and written quite enough about the travesty of a Republican presidential “debate” hosted by CNBC. Yes, it was quite as bad as it’s been said to be. Yes, it was a display of media bias and, equally important, media arrogance that one would be hard pressed to exceed. Yes, the candidates were largely united in the counterattack against the hard-left “moderators.” Yes, yes, yes.

     But I have a different subject in mind: the essential elements of a debate, as they’ve been understood for centuries.

     A debate worthy of the name has always involved:

  • A focus question (e.g.: “Resolved: That rye toast should be buttered, not cream-cheesed and jellied”);
  • “For” and “against” participants or teams thereof;
  • Rules about what sort of statements are licit, and a moderator to enforce them.

     What we’ve seen called “debates” among presidential contenders are nothing of the sort. They’re group interrogations, often conducted by “moderators” who’ve already chosen sides and thus will skew the exchanges among them with tendentious questions. If the CNBC “debate” offered us anything of enduring value, it was that it made this plain at long last.

     Are authentic debates possible among a multitude of contenders? I can’t see how they could be organized. How would one select a single focus question? How would the contenders be partitioned into teams? And of course, how would such an affair play on television?

     Of one thing I am certain: the “debates” we’ve endured have been anything but informative for the general public, at least as regards educating viewers about the character, intelligence, candor, and readiness for the presidency of the participants. Individual interviews of the competitors would be far more constructive. But the major media find the “debate” format as currently practiced more congenial to their ratings...especially if they can contrive to get the contenders embroiled in a slanging match, perhaps even an on-air fistfight.

Quickies: The Big Lie About Gun “Control”

     Courtesy of Western Rifle Shooters:

     In a nutshell! Gun control is not and has never been about guns, “public safety,” or any of the other shibboleths of the anti-gun crowd; it’s about who gets to have guns and wield them, and at whose pleasure and direction...and the answer to that question, so nicely rendered in the above, is 100% of the reason for the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.

     Never forget that the Dishonorable Chuck Schumer, the most rabidly pro-“gun control” creature in Congress, has a Concealed Carry Permit. Do you think he’d ever willingly surrender his guns?

Quickies: Substance On Money

     It isn’t often that a politician makes a statement about an important matter that possesses actual substance...which is why I admire Ted Cruz:

     Over the century behind us, the Federal Reserve system has done more damage to the United States than all the ordnance of all our enemies combined since the formation of the Republic. More, it’s done that damage under a false rationale about “stabilizing the economy” while in fact it assists Washington in draining away the earnings, wealth, and security of ordinary Americans. I’m grateful that at least one presidential aspirant understands this.

Friday, October 30, 2015

For My Fiction Readers

A Bruno Adventure

     [We’ve been told that dogs’ partnership with Man took thousands of years to germinate and solidify. Perhaps it did...but that doesn’t mean that a different sort of inter-species bond would take that long, especially if Bruno the Newf were one of the participants.]

     The autumn weather was atypically sunny and mild for Onteora County. Aware that his outdoor activities would be sharply curtailed by the coming of winter, it was natural for Phyllis Coren to leave Bruno outside for much of the day. Also, leaving the Newf outdoors left her more time and space for her other pursuits.
     Bruno didn’t mind. It gave him additional space and time in which to exercise his canine preferences. Anyway, his mistress had never been as affectionate or playful as his master. He enjoyed the Corens’ big back yard to the hilt, romping about with more energy and enthusiasm than a five-year-old, hundred-fifty-pound Newfoundland would be expected to display.
     He missed Galatea. Though the elderly female had seldom joined him in his more kinetic activities, he’d loved her with a devotion unknown to men. Perhaps humans have become too detached from one another to appreciate the intensity with which a savior can bond to the one he’s saved. Just knowing that she was on the Corens’ deck watching him as he romped, rolled, and cavorted around their yard added a fillip to his pleasure that he could not have expressed, even had the Creator granted him the power of speech.
     But Nature has its laws. Bruno knew them well. Galatea’s time in the flesh had come to its end. The master had seen to it that her life was ended painlessly. That was all any dog, faced with unceasing pain, the inability to eat or drink, and the loss of his power of locomotion, could ask.
     All the same, he yearned for a new companion, a new friend to love and protect.
     It wasn’t long before his wish was granted.


     Phyllis was no longer the television addict she’d once been. Nevertheless, she would not willingly miss an episode of The Weatherly Report, nor would she let anything deflect her attention from it. Though she’d ended her fling with gender-war feminism, she remained a devoted fan of the blonde bombshell talk-show host. Jessica Weatherly was more than merely a fashion icon; she was articulate, forthright, and despite her confrontational style, consistently more successful at luring high-profile guests onto her dais than any other talk emcee. Her interview of Stephen Graham Sumner, the first such on national network television, had increased VIPs’ willingness to appear on her show.
     Thus, Phyllis declined to rise and inspect the premises when she heard something large crash through the bordering brush. She refrained again despite the unfamiliar howl, too high and too prolonged to have come from Bruno’s throat, that followed. Only when a pair of heavy landings on the back deck, the second more pronounced than the first, rocked the house did she turn to the window to see what was occurring in the yard.
     Bruno was grooming another Newf. At least, it looked like a Newf: large, heavy, with a broad skull, covered from head to tail with shaggy black fur. Except for its muzzle, which was a light tan.
     The newcomer was sprawled on its back, all four paws waving in the air. Bruno nuzzled its chest and belly, pausing now and again to bump its head or lick at a crusted patch of fur. The two appeared to be enjoying themselves.
     She could not see a collar on the newcomer. She snorted at the negligence of owners who would allow a valuable purebred to wander the county, thought briefly about checking the newcomer for any identification, shrugged and returned to her television show.

     Harold Coren had just entered the house, dropped his briefcase, and shed his coat when the sound of animals frisking energetically on the back deck reached his ears. The thumping was too rapid to be Bruno alone, but too energetic for him to guess at the nature of the Newf’s companion. He went at once to the kitchen. Phyllis was not at her usual perch before the ceiling-mounted TV. He found her at the back door, gawking delightedly at their deck. She noticed him, beckoned him over, and pointed at the furry wrestling match he’d heard from the front of the house.
     “Bruno has a new playmate,” she said. “Somebody let a Newf run loose and he came to visit.” She giggled. “First one I’ve ever seen that’s bigger than Bruno.”
     Harold peered at the cavorting pair, paled as he recognized the visitor, and ran for his shotgun.
     “What’s the matter, Hal?”
     He racked the gun’s pump, took a deep breath, and smiled reassuringly at his wife. “Phyl,” he said, “that’s not a Newf.”

     The opening of the door caused the frolicking animals to pause in their play. Bruno noticed at once that the master was carrying his weapon. He immediately stood and interposed himself between the master and his new friend. The newcomer stood and edged slightly toward the deck stairs, plainly afraid of what might happen next.
     The master wasn’t pointing the weapon. Not yet. But he was plainly nervous. The mistress stood behind him, peering anxiously around his side. All four stood quite still for several seconds.
     The master broke the standoff by setting his weapon against the wall of the house and dropping to a crouch. Bruno went to him at once and licked his face, hoping to reassure his human that all was well. The master responded by ruffling his neck fur and scratching behind his ears. Though he remained unsure, Bruno turned toward his friend and grinned, tongue wagging in the traditional dog signal for All’s well with the world.
     Bruno’s friend approached hesitantly and stood close beside him. Bruno rubbed against his friend gently for additional reassurance.
     The master extended a hand toward the newcomer and made the traditional human sounds for Come here, I mean you no harm.
     The newcomer approached and accepted the touch of the master. The acquaintance prospered swiftly. Presently Bruno’s new friend was on her back, paws waving, as the master rubbed her ribs and belly and scratched at the creases of her joints in the fashion Bruno knew and loved.
     Maybe all really is well with the world.

     “Ursus americanus,” Dr. Samuel Grotius, D.V.M. said. “Eastern black bear, female, full grown. I’d put her at about three years old, somewhere around two hundred pounds. Smaller than most in these parts. Seems perfectly healthy, though I can’t imagine why...” He straightened and turned to face Harold. “You have called Animal Control, haven’t you?”
     “Why would I do that?” Harold said. “They’d just kill her, or put her in a cage, or ship her hundreds of miles away to some wilderness she doesn’t know.” He gestured at the bear, lounging indolently on the deck with Bruno close beside her. “You can see how gentle she is.”
     Grotius frowned. “She’s a wild animal, Hal. A member of a protected, private-ownership-forbidden species. You know the law against keeping one of those for a pet. I’m supposed to report it.”
     Harold looked at him levelly. “But you won’t, will you?”
     The veterinarian grimaced. “Not if you insist. But before you get any bright ideas, think of the practicalities involved. She’s used to roaming the county, she’s hardly likely to eat what Bruno eats, and you’ll be unpleasantly surprised by the size and aroma of her, ah, eliminations. And look at those claws. Do you really plan to have her in your house?
     Harold thought about it.
     “Maybe not,” he said, “but there’s no reason not to make her welcome here. I won’t try to confine her to the yard, but I’ll put up a shed for her, so she’ll have a shelter here if she chooses to stay.” He glanced at Phyllis, who shrugged. “By the way, what do they eat?”
     “They’re omnivorous,” Grotius said. “About eighty percent vegetation, twenty percent meat. If you really plan to do this...?” Harold nodded. “Well, she’ll forage in the brush for her roughage, but she’ll need a couple of pounds of meat or fish every day or two.”
     “Not a problem. How will I know when to feed her?”
     “She’ll let you know.” The veterinarian shook his head. “You’re a lunatic, but I know I can’t dissuade you.” He packed his traveling kit carefully and offered Harold his hand. “This’ll make a story for the next AVA convention.”
     Harold took the hand. “Just don’t mention our names. What do I owe you for today?”
     Grotius waved it aside. “Forget it. The novelty made it a fine trade.” He nodded farewell and departed.
     “Well,” Harold said as the vet’s van pulled away, “looks like Bruno’s got a new friend.”
     “And we’ve got a new expense,” Phyllis murmured.
     “We can afford it.” He nodded toward the two animal pals, nuzzling and grooming one another by turns. “How much is it worth to you to see Bruno this happy again?”
     “Plenty,” she said huskily. She looked off toward the north, whence the winter weather that made central New York a skier’s delight and a resident’s horror would come. “You’d better get started on that shed.”
     “I’ll get a kit at Lawn, Sun, and Shade and put it up tomorrow. What should we name her?”
     “The shed?”
     “The bear, silly!”
     “Oh. How about...Ursula?”
     “That works.”

     The bonding of Newf and bear proceeded as if it had been written in the stars. Before two days had passed, it was plain that the two were devoted to one another, quite as much as Bruno and Galatea had been.
     They romped. They wrestled. They cuddled. They groomed one another. They played the doggy versions of Tag and Keep-away. Neither ever offered the other so much as a slap with a forepaw. Every night, Ursula would bed down in the seven foot square shed Harold had built and filled with fresh cedar chips, seemingly content with the accommodations and the attentions of their proprietors.
     Sam Grotius’s predictions about diet were spot-on. Ursula would leave their yard two or three times per day to forage in the forest that ran through the heart of the county. Bruno would cease all other activity to sit at her exit point and await her return. She invariably returned full, torpid, and welcoming of both human and canine affection.
     Every other day Ursula would clamber onto the deck and rise up on her hind legs. At that signal, one of the Corens would pull a two pound package of freshly caught fish out of the refrigerator, unwrap it, and toss the contents onto the deck at her feet. Ursula would feast with Bruno watching. The bear never left anything, not even the heads, to be cleaned up.
     The regularity of the pattern struck Harold with peculiar force.
     “You know, Phyl,” he said after they’d been feeding her for two weeks, “I don’t think Ursula was a wild animal after all.”
     “Hm? Why?”
     “She’s too tame. Too trusting and affectionate. Too good at communicating with us. And way too good with Bruno. Don’t you think a real wild bear would have tried to kill him?”
     “Maybe,” she said, “but if she’s not wild, then she escaped from some traveling circus or something. When was the last of those seen in Onteora?”
     “Beats me.” He grinned at the four-footed companions, just then engaged in a spirited counterclockwise race around the back yard. “But suppose she is. What do we say if the previous owner shows up?”
     She chuckled. “Ask rather what he’d say. How would he prove that Ursula is his? She didn’t arrive with a collar or tags, and Grotius couldn’t find an RFID chip.”
     “Dunno. But I’m not going to worry about it now.” Harold put an arm around his wife’s waist and pulled her close. “We’re having too much fun.”
     “We? Don’t you mean they?”

     Central New York’s characteristic winter weather roared out of the north with its usual brutality. By Thanksgiving Day, Onteora County had been twice blanketed with snow. Ursula’s friskiness was considerably reduced, as was Bruno’s time with his friend, despite his double coat and bred-in resistance to the cold. He struggled to endure it as best he could. When he could not, Ursula would often stand on the deck peering into the Corens’ home, clearly displeased that her companion had immured himself. Bruno was no happier about the separation. They had many a plaintive exchange of regrets through the kitchen’s picture window.
     It was then that Harold estimated the chances of Ursula’s permanent departure to be the highest. Yet the bear remained faithful, firmly attached to the Corens’ yard, to the comfort and security of the shelter Harold had built and outfitted for her, and to Bruno.
     The spring thaw and the slow return of warmth came as a great relief to the entire household.

     Though the forest that traversed the county lengthwise was home to a fair population of wildlife, Harold hadn’t heard of any other bears, black or brown, being spotted since he and Phyllis purchased their home in Oakleigh hamlet. All the same, there was a chance that Ursula would find or be found by a mate when her season was upon her. What might follow, he could not imagine.
     But Ursula did not go into season. Her pattern throughout the spring and into the summer was what it had been the previous fall. The pleasure she took in Bruno’s friendship and the Corens’ affection was unchanged as well.
     July 9, Bruno’s sixth birthday, was celebrated in a fashion that might never before have occurred among men: with two quarts of vanilla ice cream, one each for Newf and bear. Harold and Phyllis stood on the deck and giggled over their highballs as the furry companions enjoyed their treats.

     “I think you were right,” Harold said as the animals raced counterclockwise around the yard. “She was somebody else’s bear who got away.”
     “Hm?” Phyllis said. “What makes you think so?”
     “Well, her behavior around us, for one thing. She’s never shown the least trace of aggression, and virtually no fear. So she was used to people before she came here. She’s taken to a domesticated lifestyle as if it were already familiar to her. She doesn’t hunt smaller least, she’s never brought one back here. And I think she’s been sterilized.”
     “She never did go into heat,” Phyllis said. She grinned. “Lucky for us.”
     “Yeah.” Harold slipped an arm around her waist and pulled her close. “But pet bears are uncommon. Illegal in New York. So Ursula was probably a working bear, or training to be one.”
     Phyllis giggled. “You think she misses it? Should we send her out to find a job?”
     “Naah.” He drained his highball and stooped to set the glass down on the deck table. “But her job might come looking for her.”
     She laid her head on his shoulder. “You’re still worried about that after almost a year?”

     There is no sound quite like the whop-whop-whop made by the wing of a low-flying helicopter. Despite her immersion in The Weatherly Report, Phyllis heard it at once and knew it for what it was. Her anxieties spiked with a suddenness that sent her near to a faint. She surged out of her seat at the kitchen island and ran to the back window.
     When she’d last looked out at them, Bruno and Ursula had been playing in their usual fashion. They had stopped to gawk upward at the whirlybird. A passenger’s head was sticking out of the left side hatch. The copter was low enough that Phyllis could make out the triumphant grin on his features as he aimed his camera.
     Ursula ran for the brush that lined the northern edge of the yard, crashed through a weak spot, and disappeared into the forest. Bruno dashed onto the deck and howled an alarm. Phyllis jerked open the door to admit him.
     The helicopter hovered a moment longer before turning, assuming ascent attitude, rising swiftly, and vanishing in the distance.
     Phyllis snatched up the telephone and frantically dialed Harold’s office.

     Harold was home within ten minutes after ringing off.
     “Are you sure he was focusing on Ursula?”
     Phyllis nodded. “He was grinning like he’d just won the lottery.”
     “That settles it.” He went to the back window. Ursula had returned from the forest, She was on the deck, huddled against Bruno.
     I can’t let them be separated. Not by anyone, for any reason.
     He opened the back door wide and squatted. The animals turned to look at him. He beckoned to them.
     Bruno understood at once. He rose, nuzzled Ursula as if in encouragement, waited as his friend stood, and nudged her toward the door.
     The bear moved hesitantly, as if unsure of the sincerity of the invitation. Bruno stayed next to her, their shoulders touching, until the two reached the threshold. He stopped, and waited as Harold presented his face to be licked
     Bruno gave his master a full-tongue slurp and settled onto his haunches. Harold nodded and turned to Ursula.
     The bear’s breath reeked of fish and forest loam. Her tongue was much rougher than the Newf’s. Harold resisted the urge to flinch. Presently Ursula ceased and sat as Bruno had.
     Harold rose, turned slowly, and stepped into the house. First Bruno, then Ursula, followed him.

     Sam Grotius could not stop shaking his head.
     “I can’t believe you did this.”
     Harold smirked. “I think we can housetrain her, Doc. Now, will you chip her or not?”
     “I brought the equipment. But Hal, the law—”
     “It’s my business to know the law, Sam. Yes, New York law prohibits the private ownership of bears. So we don’t own any. Ursula’s a wild bear, free to come and go as she pleases. Sometimes she comes to visit, and that’s fine with us.”
     “Then why—”
     “For her protection,” Harold said. “I want you to register her as a wild black bear of New York origin. So that no one else can claim her as his property. No zoo or sideshow act, for example.”
     “What about your furniture?” The veterinarian waved at the Corens’ living room suite, an ensemble of graceful matching pieces in dark woods and soft gray leather.
     Harold glanced to where Phyllis sat. She nodded. He turned to look at Ursula. Since entering the house, the bear hadn’t stepped away from Bruno for as much as a second. The two were pressed so closely against one another that it was difficult to tell where one ended and the other began.
     “We’ll cope. Please, just do it.”
     Ten minutes later the veterinarian departed, check in hand, still muttering and shaking his head.
     Phyllis rose and embraced him. “You know we can’t keep her inside all the time.”
     “Of course we won’t. But she needs to know that this is her home, just as much as Bruno’s. Besides,” he said, “this will be better for her in the winter months than sleeping in the shed.”
     “I guess.” Phyllis glanced over her shoulder at the animal friends. Bruno was grooming the spot between Ursula’s shoulders where Grotius had inserted the RFID chip. The bear was stretched out full length, eyes closed and head propped upon her forepaws. “There were times last winter I thought Bruno was about to join her in the shed, to keep her company.”
     “No one likes to sleep alone.” Harold stroked his wife’s back. “Like I said, we’ll cope. Just be ready for a knock at the door. You know it’s coming.”
     She nodded. “And don’t you forget to clean out the shed, remove all traces of her, and put a few garden tools in there for show.”

     It was plain to Bruno that there had been a change in Ursula’s status. Before her, no animal but he had been admitted to the Corens’ home. He wasn’t unhappy about it, but he was aware that in bringing Ursula indoors, his master had acknowledged and adjusted to a change of some other kind. Probably not a good kind.
     He became keenly attentive to the transient noises of the neighborhood: the sounds of passing vehicles and other sorts of traffic on the street before his home. Anything that came near and lingered for more than a few seconds received his undivided attention until it moved on.
     Ursula had grown wary as well. She stayed even closer to Bruno than was her previous habit. Whenever he went indoors, she would do so as well. When they were outside, she would dash off into the forest at ever slighter disturbances of the peace, returning only when silence had returned and had persisted for a considerable interval. Bruno began to fear that should anyone but the Corens enter their yard, she would depart forever.
     He had no way to reassure her except with his presence, his affection, and a degree of vigilance over their surroundings she could not help but notice. For the present, those things were enough.

     Hallowe’en in the Corens’ Oakleigh neighborhood was a more active and sociable date than any other on the calendar. Costumed trick-or-treaters, from the very young to the soon-to-be-drinking, swarmed over their street from just after lunch hour until well into the darkness. Harold was bemused, and Phyllis sternly disapproving, at the racy direction costuming had taken even among the prepubescent. Nevertheless, they were openhanded about gifts of candy and general good wishes to all.
     As they’d done on their previous Hallowe’ens in that home, they kept Bruno in the back yard throughout. He was too prone to “making friends” with everyone who might come to the door. Having Ursula beside him added an element of risk beyond what prudence would permit.
     It was a few minutes after ten, the last trick-or-treater had come and departed half an hour before, and Harold was about to close and lock the door for the night when the limousine pulled into their driveway. He frowned, pulled the door all the way open, and waited.
     The stretch Lincoln’s passenger side doors opened simultaneously. Two men emerged. One was fiftyish and silver-haired, about Harold’s height and build, dressed in an expensive-looking suit, and had a folio tucked under one arm. The other was short, stocky, and carried an unidentifiable weapon.
     The former headed up the walk to the door. The latter went around to the side of the house, plainly headed toward the back yard. Phyllis edged up behind her husband and laid a hand on his shoulder.
     “Phyl,” Harold said, “are Bruno and Ursula in or out?”
     “Out,” she whispered.
     “Stay here and keep that guy outside.”
     He snatched up his shotgun and sprinted to the back door. He stepped out of the house and onto the deck to confront a standoff he’d hoped never to see.
     Ursula was prone on the grass, paws over her head in unconcealed terror. Bruno was between the intruder and the bear, doing his best to keep her in his shadow, while snarling and growling menacingly. The intruder was edging to his left, trying for a shot at Ursula with what was plainly a launcher for anesthetic darts.
     Harold knew that if Bruno were to take a bite out of the intruder, he’d be destroyed by court order.
     He raised his shotgun and racked the pump.
     The intruder froze.
     “Take one more step,” Harold grated, “and I’ll fire. Drop your gun and face me.”
     The intruder complied. Bruno relaxed fractionally.
     “You’re trespassing and threatening my dog with a weapon of some kind,” Harold said. “My wife has already called the police. Clear out of here before they get here, and no more will come of this. Refuse, and you go to prison.”
     “Oh, I think not,” came a masculine voice from behind him.
     Naturally sharp reflexes and well-honed skills from Harold’s time in the 75th Ranger regiment surged forward. A roundhouse stroke with the shotgun’s stock and a deft sweep of his legs put the tall stranger Phyllis had been unable to exclude unconscious on the deck. Harold spun a second time to refocus on the first intruder.
     But too slowly.
     The anesthetic dart caught him in the upper thigh. It must have been loaded with the most powerful soporific known to Man, for a bare three seconds had elapsed before Harold slumped into unconsciousness himself.

     Bruno sensed his opportunity and charged.
     He knocked the intruder onto his back and pummeled him with both forepaws. The intruder flailed his arms uselessly, confused by the assault. After a few seconds he groped for his gun, dropped just barely within his reach.
     Ursula darted forward, took the tranquilizer gun between her teeth, and bounded off into the forest.
     Relieved of that threat, Bruno slid forward and laid his broad chest over the man’s face. The flailing became wilder, then weaker as the Newf pressed down with his full strength and weight, cutting off his captive's respiration. The struggles had grown feeble when he heard the mistress command him to sit up. He complied.
     The mistress was standing over them, pointing the master’s weapon at the intruder. They exchanged words in that shrill, anger filled tone Bruno knew from the Corens’ occasional fights over money.
     Presently the mistress allowed the intruder to rise. She nudged him toward the gate with the muzzle of the weapon, tracking him with it until he’d gotten into the big vehicle in the driveway. Moments later, the vehicle had departed.

     Harold awoke to a remarkable sight.
     The man he’d knocked unconscious was awake and sitting in a lawn chair. The intruder’s gaze flicked to Harold as he sat up. Phyllis stood alongside him. She was wielding his shotgun like a pro, keeping the muzzle perfectly steady on the intruder’s chest.
     Bruno stood beside his mistress, teeth bared and eyes locked onto their uninvited guest.
     “Status?” Harold said.
     “Bruno knocked the other guy down and subdued him while I fetched your gun. I made him get into the limo and leave. Ursula snatched his tranq gun and ran into the brush with it.”
     “Her name,” the intruder said, “is Lulubelle.”
     Despite the pounding in his head, Harold laughed.
     “You named a bear that? Were you planning to enter her in a ballet company or something?”
     The intruder’s face twitched. He said nothing.
     Harold shook his head and immediately regretted it. “How long have I been out?”
     “Maybe twenty minutes.”
     That long? “You’ve been standing guard over this guy all that time?”
     “No big deal,” she said. “He was out about as long. I wanted your input about what we should do with him.” Her terseness did nothing to hide her anger. “Son of a bitch pushed past me into our house as if I were nothing.”
     “I doubt he’ll make that mistake a second time.”
     I wouldn’t have guessed I was still part of a Ranger quick-reaction squad.
     He clambered awkwardly to his feet and stood beside his wife. She made no move to surrender the shotgun.
     Smart girl.
     “Buddy,” he said, “I don’t know who you are or what you thought you were going to pull off, but I hope you can see that you blew it.” He stepped away from Phyllis. “Give me your driver’s license.”
     The intruder reached into his inside jacket pocket, brought forth a wallet, extracted a driver’s license, and handed it to Harold.
     It was a Massachusetts license in the name of Jesse Eisenbud. Harold recognized the name at once.
     “Eisenbud Digital Industries?”
     The man nodded.
     “What did you want with the bear?”
     Eisenbud shrugged and looked away.
     “A pet for my wife. She wanted a bear.”
     “If memory serves,” Harold said, “Massachusetts has a law against owning bears.”
     “So? She’s twenty-four years old, a Miss Maine runner-up, has tits like cantaloupes, can suck a golf ball through forty feet of garden hose, and she wanted a bear.” Eisenbud smirked. “Besides, it’s against the law in New York too. Isn’t it?”
     Harold nodded. “Exactly, which is why we don’t own a bear.”
     The billionaire’s face clouded over. “But—”
     “If you leave peaceably and swear never to come back here, I won’t turn you over to the police. But trust me when I say this, Mr. Eisenbud.” Harold smiled his brightest, most vicious smile. “If you show your face around here ever again, shortly thereafter the Onteora cops will be notifying your wife of your untimely and very messy demise.”
     Bruno added a low growl.
     Harold held up the driver’s license. “I’ll hold onto this. Phyl, Bruno, keep him where he is.”
     The Newf barked once sharply.
     “Where are you going?” she said, still wire-taut.
     “To call him a cab.”

     Ursula didn’t return that night, nor the next, nor the next. After five days had passed with no sign of the bear, Harold began to wonder if the commotion had frightened her away permanently, to become as wild de facto as de jure. After two weeks it seemed a certainty.
     It saddened him. All three of them had bonded with Ursula. Bruno had taken to standing watch at her habitual entry and exit point, as if to leave it unmonitored would risk having Ursula come back, survey the yard, decide she was no longer welcome, and depart never to return.
     Thanksgiving was two days away, and Harold was busily stacking the deck furniture for winter storage, when a rustling came from the northern edge of the yard. Bruno barked sharply and made a beeline for the sound.
     Presently Ursula emerged from the brush, a bit thinner for her time away but apparently otherwise no worse off. Her jaws were clenched on a long, silvery object. Bruno romped around her like a puppy, beside himself with joy. He escorted her to the deck and preceded her up the steps.
     She dropped the tranquilizer gun at Harold’s feet, sat on her haunches, and wagged her tongue.
     Harold dropped to his knees and wrapped the bear in a hug. Ursula returned it. Bruno pressed against the two of them with almost enough force to knock them over.
     A flurry of steps from behind them announced Phyllis’s arrival at the gathering.
     “She’s back,” she said wonderingly.
     He nodded. He kept his face against Ursula’s shoulder, lest his wife see his tears.
     Her hand descended on his shoulder. “Hal, it’s okay.”
     He looked up at that. Her face was as wet as his own.
     He released the bear and rose. A moment later the bear and the Newf and were once again careening joyously around the yard, companions love-bonded and inseparable.
     He pulled his wife snugly against his side.
     “I should have known she’d come back,” he said.
     “I never doubted it.”
     He looked at her. She grinned.
     “A woman knows these things. But Hal? She probably needs protein, and there’s no fish in the freezer.”
     “Right.” He fished for the car keys. “I’m on it.”
     “I’ll come with you.”
     “You sure?” He waved at the reunited pals, frolicking as if their energies were inexhaustible.
     She nodded. “They’ll be all right.”
     “Yeah,” he said. “I guess they will.”


Thursday, October 29, 2015

Ultra-Quickies: “Trigger Warnings,” The Beginning

     Does anyone remember when the fatuous “Your Daily Horoscope” columns in the daily newspapers stopped calling the sign for June 22 through July 22 Cancer and started calling it Moon Children?


     When he ran for president as the Libertarian Party candidate, attorney David Bergland was frequently faced with a question third-party candidates know all too well: “You know you can’t win, so why are you doing this?”

     Bergland had a thoughtful answer to that question. I’ll defer presenting it to you until the completion of this piece.

     Today, we have a pithy and important essay from Dystopic:

     On the matter of trophies, my father earned a number of them in High School for various things. He was a very talented athlete and won a number of track and field events. Those old trophies were kept in this dilapidated old bag, and every year he would look at them and ponder whether he should just chuck them in the garbage for being a waste of space. Each time, I would convince him to keep them, because I was proud that my father had been a talented athlete.

     But I guess what was really eating me was that I had squandered my own athletic talents. His trophies were proof to me, since I had the same genes, that I could do it if I really wanted to. My meager participation trophies were enough, I thought. But they really weren’t, and so each year I would try to convince my father to keep his trophies around. It puzzled me back then that they didn’t mean anything to him.

     Finally, one year he overrode my objections, and into the garbage they went. I asked him why he would throw them away, and in typical fashion (for my father is not a man of many words), he explained that the trophies didn’t matter. What matters is that he knew he won, and he could carry that knowledge without the corresponding waste of garage space.

     It took a long time for me to understand his wisdom.

     And wisdom there was in plenty, though it escapes many all their lives long. When winner is defined as “he who has triumphed over all his competitors,” it becomes exclusive, a property that can belong to only one contestant. The obsession with winning in that sense reduces many of us to bitterness.

     But we can assign more than one meaning to winner, without destroying the one above.

     In the movie Personal Best, aspiring Olympic competitors (and lovers) Chris Cahill (played by Mariel Hemingway) and Tory Skinner (played by Patrice Donnelly) must several times confront differences between them that eventually, albeit not unhappily, end their romance. One of those was their competition against one another in a couple of track and field events. Seriously meant competitions between lovers are seldom a good thing.

     A track event can have only one winner. There are medals for the second and third-place finishers, but they’re essentially consolation prizes; they concede the title of winner to the one who wears the gold.

     As the overture to the climactic heat, Skinner, who faces being eliminated from the squad by the presence of younger and faster runners, tells Cahill that the most important thing isn’t to win the gold; it’s to improve on one’s “personal best:” the standard set by one’s previous best performance. That outlook allows Skinner, who has already confronted her advancing age as an athlete, to reframe the heat into a competition with herself.

     In that sort of competition, there are no medals...but there are also no losers.

     While I share Dystopic’s contempt for “participation trophies,” I feel it’s equally important to supplement his closing haymaker of an observation:

     We are not all winners. And this might be the most important life lesson of all.

     ...with this alternate viewpoint: No, we are not all winners if the contest is against others. But to the extent that one has set a personal goal and has attained it despite obstacles, pain, fatigue, and self-doubt, he has won the contest with himself.

     That perspective is the one that makes it possible for millions of us, who can never be “winners” in the conventional sense, to keep going.

     In electing to run a “hopeless” campaign for the presidency in 1984, David Bergland set himself a goal: to popularize the philosophy of freedom well beyond the bounds it knew at that time. He pursued it vigorously, with a great many public appearances and written material. Given his achievements in that direction, he was able to define himself as a winner despite not having gained the Oval Office.

     Paul of Tarsus, knowing that his execution was at hand, consoled himself and his acolyte thus in his second epistle to Timothy:

     I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom;
     Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.
     For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;
     And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.
     But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.
     For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.
     I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:
     Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.

     [Second Epistle to Timothy 4:1-8]

     In that stance there is victory imperishable.

Quickies: Rhetorical Concessions Engender Ideological Defeat

     I’ve generally enjoyed Andrea Tantaros’s commentary...until now:

     Aha! The “equality” chimera in full attack, with claws raised and saliva dripping from its fangs! I thought she was smarter than that.

     This morning at least, if I could inscribe a single tenet on the forebrains of all the conservative commentators on Earth, it would be this one:

“Equality” is a stalking-horse for totalitarianism.

     There is no “equality” among human beings. There should be equality before the law: meaning that one’s identity should have no bearing on his guilt or innocence when charged with an offense. But that’s the only sort of equality possible in a free society: the “all men are created equal” mantra Thomas Jefferson understood full well that has been twisted so viciously by the Left.

     Freedom – the absence of governmental coercion or constraint from individual decision-making, excepting acts of aggression or fraud – must be regarded as a principle. If it is not – if it’s merely a gauzy desideratum to be traded off for something else that some gaggle of mouthy activists have demanded – it will always lose. A politician who refuses to accept those dicta is not to be trusted with the smallest degree of public authority or trust.

     An out-and-out socialist once said to me, quite baldly, that if freedom stands in the way of equality, then freedom must be abandoned as a societal good. He meant it, and all its implications, quite sincerely. I knew what he wanted and told him so...but he would not back away.

     Politicians are seldom that forthright...but whenever freedom is counterpoised to something they want for their constituents, their supporters, their creditors, or their standings in the polls, they mock-reluctantly relinquish the defense of freedom. How, then, does such a politician differ in principle from my long-ago socialist adversary?

     Something to think about over your Cheerios.®

CNBC and the elephant in the room.

The fact is, the monetary madness in the Eccles Building [Federal Reserve] is destroying free market capitalism by systematically and massively falsifying the prices of financial assets, and fueling a relentless, debilitating accumulation of debt throughout the warp and woof of the American economy and the rest of the world; and it’s simultaneously extinguishing political democracy by deeply subsidizing our crushing $19 trillion national debt.

The GOP politicians appropriately sputtered last night about the bipartisan beltway scam rammed through the House yesterday by Johnny Lawnchair, but they were given no opportunity by their clueless moderators to explore exactly why this kind of taxpayer betrayal happens over and over.[1]

The ballooning balance sheet of the Federal Reserve and the inexorable rise in the amount of public debt in America are indicators that the political "management" of the economy is solidly in fantasy territory.

You may like aircraft carriers, war on Syria, EBT cards for parasites, a war on coal, sex change operations for federal prisoners, abortion counseling for pre-teens, relocating our Muslim enemies to Vail, Martian colonization, and combat gear for the Environmental Protection Agency, but one way or another our debt structure becomes more dangerous. As an out-of-control, idiot, universal-franchise democracy, it's a given that the peculiar and self-interested wishes of various constituencies will trump any considerations of morality (no subsidies for the child bearing of whores) or sensible fiscal policy (live within our means). Those constituencies can "win" year after year but eventually no one wins.

Why? Because the Great Calculator in the Sky scores the costs of these stupidities every moment of our existence and no mere vote by any mere human changes the total cost in the slightest. Reality eventually must be accommodated. A sick person may drink green tea and tell himself that he's in great shape all he wants, but his cancer will require either chemo, surgery, or his death. The unpleasantness of the disease is not affected by what the patient chooses to avoid.

CNBC, with some kind of putative finger on the pulse of the American economy supposedly, did not want the effects of Federal Reserve policy discussed in last night's "debate" and its agents were properly called on the carpet by Cruz and Christie for focusing on trivial matters.

More to the point, is there any area of modern Western life that is not just infested with this kind of willful avoidance? Germany's Santa Angela says, "We can manage" or that Europe's "values" require the admission of a million more Muslims but is the option of stopping the flow of invaders at the source even mentioned? Does she or anyone bother to explain what "values" require Europe to commit suicide? Obviously commit suicide?

The lies of the lunatics running Western countries are bad enough but the omissions of these treasonous fools are just as treacherous. Merkel can say Germany (and Europe) can "manage" but does anyone think to ask why Germany has to manage in the first place?

And why does the national debt curve keep soaring into the clouds with NO effort to bend it back down in the direction of solid ground? A great question but don't expect it to be part of the political discourse.

[1] "The Debate: GOP Candidates Elevated, CNBC Eviscerated." By David Stockman, Contra Corner, 10/29/15. Mr. Stockman's article is worth your time.

Hyperbole alert.

The US military may be staggering around the planet like a drunken, bloated colossus. Yet [Matthew] Continetti [editor of The Washington Free Beacon] still dutifully trots out all the [Irving] Kristolian tropes about the need for military assertiveness (more drunken belligerence), massive defense spending (more bloating), and “a new American century.” Reaganism is needed now just as much as in 1996, he avers: in fact, doubly so, for Russia has reemerged as:
“…the greatest military and ideological threat to the United States and to the world order it has built over decades as guarantor of international security.”[1]
Last I heard the people actually pulling triggers on rifles and IEDs on American troops these days are sunni jihadis, not Russian Christians, though that could change soon enough if we continue to throw our weight around in service to the jihadi cause in the Middle East.

I am also at a loss to know what Russian ideas are spreading across the world that are such a danger to the U.S. Their undoubted position that we are acting like a bunch of overbearing, entitled, deluded jerks might be unpleasant for some people to deal with but it's hardly what I'd call an "ideological threat."

And such Russian troops as are outside Russia pale in significance beside the numbers of U.S. troops outside U.S. borders, but I suppose we get a pass because the world knows that we are a benevolent power. The late Mr. Gaddafi is probably saying to himself, "Who knew?"

The United States could do some good if it would persuade Merkel and the Europeans to stop committing suicide on the matter of mass immigration but that would highlight a much more sinister agenda there and here. So Russians are "it" -- the locus of all earthly satanic activity in a neocon worldview that's quite oblivious to the ongoing Western suicide at home.

It's odd that the neocon Mr. Continetti doesn't see the U.S. infatuation with Saudi salafism and support for ISIS and al Qaida in Syria as possibly threatening to the world order, made in U.S.A. or otherwise. Or that the neocon agenda of laying waste to various nation states here and there is reckless and destablilizing by itself. In a world where the Western powers have embraced suicide by immigrant invader it's like swatting at mosquitoes with a baseball bat to try to find any kind of a common sense in the clouds of this kind of intellectual flapdoodle.

[1] "Embracing The Dark Side: A Short History Of The Pathological Neocon Quest For Empire." By Dan Sanchez, David Stockman's Contra Corner, 10/27/15 (emphasis added).

Son of hyperbole alert.

Beware anthro-/capitalo-genic global warming.
What sort of grisly sentence shall we impose on the masters of the great capitalist carbon-industrial complex for their efforts to exterminate human (and other forms of) life by the turning the planet into a giant Greenhouse Gas chamber? The Nazis, to be sure, to be sure, killed in the tens of million, including six million Jews murdered with explicit genocidal intent. (The Allies and the U.S. also committed monumental war crimes, including the appalling atom-bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki). But anthropogenic – really capitalogenic – global warming threatens to end the human experiment altogether. Exterminist Ecocide is hard to beat when it comes to criminality. [1]
Mr. Street cannot "completely escape" the "dream-like" image of "top oil executives being marched up to the gallows in the wake of a world Ecocide Trial." What he really and truly wants to say, I think, is we should kill those sons of bitches, at least that's what he appears to be after considering the title to his article.

Executions would take place after a "world Ecocide Trial," if Street's inner Dr. Strangelove were to take control of the outer Street. The "world" part would make it especially right. Rationality and justice are the hallmarks of what gets done at the "world" level as any leftist will tell you. The template he has in mind for that "dream-like" image of his is the hanging of Nazi leaders in 1946 in which their necks were not properly broken and they suffered "bloody head injuries" on the edges of the trap doors. This he describes in loving detail at the start of his article.

Noticeably absent in his article is any mention of the legality of this ecocide tribunal's exercise of jurisdiction, the ex post facto doctrine, or the idea of punishment only for crimes precisely-defined before the offending conduct. These minor details were defects in the original 1946 proceedings, but what's legality have to do with anything when you just know you're right.

Writing tip:

To amplify chances of publication on steamy leftist Counterpunch web site shoe horn in "capitalo-," "biofuels," "imperial profits," "carbon-industrial-complex," "smart," "cleaner," "sustainable," "rapacious," "precious,"[2] and "too late" into what you is writing and you is good to go.

[1] "Why Exxon Executives Deserve the Ultimate Punishment." By Paul Street, Counterpunch, 10/28/15.
[2] "[P]recious time, precious species, precious glaciers, precious rain forest, precious coral reef, and precious permafrost . . . ."

Wednesday, October 28, 2015


     FWP: As one who is irresistibly drawn to unanswered questions—
     CSO: Oh boy, here we go again.

     FWP: Quiet, wench. I find that I must ask: Why Franks and Beans?
     CSO: What do you mean?

     FWP: How were the two conjoined? Were there other, less successful combinations? Say, Franks and Corn? Or Franks and Broccoli? Or, may God preserve us, even Franks and Brussels Sprouts?
     CSO: Nope. It’s always been Franks and Beans.

     FWP: But was that the one and only combination the inventor tried? Were there no other experiments before Franks and Beans were married once and for all, for no man to put asunder?
     CSO: Why don’t you look into it?

     FWP: Because there are undoubtedly powerful forces determined to keep the genesis secret! The heads of shadowy conglomerates with vast stakes in the maintenance of the culinary status quo!
Surely the Bush family is involved!
     CSO: Hey, you’re the foremost intrepid adventurer of our time. Gird your loins and dig until you can reveal to the world the unspeakable truth! Stop at nothing! Let no array of opposing forces daunt you!

     FWP: Sounds like a plan. Maybe after dinner.
     CSO: Another helping?
     FWP: (belches feelingly) Sure.

Quickies: A Bit More From The Greshamite Perspective.

     After reading this brief piece by Christopher Chupik, it occurred to me that SJWs are aware of the application of Gresham’s Law to groups and employ it consciously. In effect, they use it to “cleanse” popular online fora of any non-Left sentiment that would otherwise be expressed there.

     Lies, vitriol, and slander are their preferred tools. When those fail, they recur to threats of violence. The end in view is always the exclusion of anyone who differs with them. They achieve their objective more often than not.

     Why? Well, from their perspective, it beats arguing for their positions, since their positions are the irrational whinings of a gaggle of intellectually challenged droolers, wholly opposed to both evidence and reason. From ours, it’s simply not worth the loss of dignity and self-respect that it would take to cope with their spittle-flecked emissions. From the standpoint of the forum operator or moderator caught in the toils, it’s beyond his control; he can’t force anyone to remain, and policing an oversized nursery full of idiots with Entitlement Symdrome is just too much like work.

     The most important consequence, of course, is that actual argument is nearly extinct. In the unlikely event that a Leftist position were to be rationally based and in need of analysis, that analysis would not occur. Thus, Leftists, the perpetrators of our partitioning into mutually hostile camps dripping with contempt for one another, are the chief losers: their idiotic emissions will be defeated by reality itself, while anything reasonable they come up with – I know, I know, it’s about as likely as a blizzard on Independence Day – won’t receive the testing it deserves.

     This is one of those days I feel just a wee bit glad to be an old man.

Quickies: Self-Nominations And Gresham’s Law

     Today, Ashe Schow comments on the not-so-unique blindness of a former feminist icon:

     Gloria Steinem said that few people want to identify as "feminists" because of Rush Limbaugh. Seriously.

     Late last week, the feminist activist was promoting her new book on "CBS This Morning" when she was asked why she believed people don't want to identify as feminists. Host Norah O'Donnell noted that actress Meryl Streep won't use the label and prefers the term "humanist."

     Steinem interrupted O'Donnell to claim that Limbaugh has diminished the term by talking "about 'feminazis' every day."

     You have to expect some defensiveness from former Playboy bunny Steinem, but what’s truly remarkable is her unwillingness to focus on the real reason “feminism” as a self-nomination is in decline. Miss Schow is here to tell us:

     "Too many folks see 'feminist' as implying not just equality, but other ideas — that the sexes are the same, or should be; that women who stay home to raise the kids are making a bad choice," the [N.Y. Post] editorial board wrote. "Feminism got tied to one side in the abortion wars and countless other issues. It's hard now to see it as more than another arm of the 'progressive' agenda."

     The editorial board added that those who brandish the "feminist" label appear to respect the choices of some women — especially women who espouse liberal beliefs — more than others.

     I can say personally that is the reason I wouldn't use the term as it applies today, especially since I've never listened to Rush Limbaugh.

     But of course. I’ve written about this before:

     There's a form of Gresham's Law that functions here: A group that equally values its most civilized members and its most vitriolic members will soon possess a preponderance of the latter. The good, self-respecting members will disdain to remain among persons who hurl insults and epithets at them, leaving the group populated by only the insult-hurlers, plus a smattering of generally decent persons with inadequate self-respect.

     Sir Thomas Gresham was more right, and about more subjects, than even he knew.

Quickies: The Truth, But Not The Whole Truth

     FBI Director James Comey gives us a slice of truth:

     In two speeches, the FBI boss said he believes crime is rising in much of the nation in part because growing criticism of cops has emboldened criminals and caused law enforcement to retreat. He said cops complain their every move is often captured on cellphone videos by hostile crowds, and so have backed off from making arrests.

     “I do have a strong sense that some part of the explanation is a chill wind that has blown through American law enforcement over the last year,” Comey said at the University of Chicago Law School.

     And indeed, that wind is amplified by selective use of videos such as the following:

     ...which show what looks like police brutality by removing the context. But context matters; in the above case, it’s critical:

  • The student, a black girl in a majority black classroom, openly used her cell phone during class.
  • The teacher demanded that the student cease, as it was disrupting the class.
  • The student defied her teacher, who by law is forbidden to touch the student.
  • The administration called in the police.
  • The cop demanded that the student relinquish the cell phone.
  • The student defied the cop.

     Given the legal environment and the lack of options at the school’s disposal, what would you have done? Quoth David French:

     After watching and re-watching the incident, I keep coming to the same conclusion: This is what happens when a person resists a lawful order from a police officer to move (UPDATE: CNN is now reporting that a third video shows the student hitting the officer in the face when he initially put his hands on her). Unless the school is willing to have one student commandeer the classroom indefinitely, the officer has few options beyond physical force — and the use of physical force is rarely pretty to see. In this instance, the use of force was decisive, brief, and did not physically harm the student.

     While I hardly claim to have grown up (or live) on the wrong side of the tracks, I’ve seen multiple police interventions in my 46 years on this planet — including in my own high school in the 1980s — and I’ve never seen the police be gentle when a person resists arrest. The use of physical force is never elegant, it’s always potentially dangerous, and it’s always easy to critique from a distance. Lawlessness typically leaves a police officer with options that simply don’t look good on camera.

     Nevertheless, there is a problem with police militarization and the swelling of the us-against-them attitude among the police, as we have seen in other incidents. The situation is neither all one way nor all the other. Men of good will attentive to the evidence must remain mindful that cases that run in one direction don’t automatically preclude cases that run in the other.


     The entire continent of Europe is being turned upside down and shaken by the so-called “refugee crisis.” This “crisis” consists of largely young, largely male Muslims flooding into Eastern Europe along the ancient invasion route used by Bazajet and other Muslim warlords, The majority of the “refugees” are not from Syria or ISIS-controlled Iraq. The combat in those lands is not the motivator for all this relocation. Most of them travel unaccompanied by anyone who constitutes a helpless dependent.

     This is not flight from a war zone. It’s an invasion. It’s the consequence of a mass recognition among Middle Eastern Muslims that Europe will not defend itself against them.

     Europe’s politicians kowtow to the bleatings of bleeding-hearts and the shrieks of grievance-mongers. Its welfare states distribute the earnings of its citizens to the invaders as largesse. Its cultural institutions are being shackled and muffled to accommodate the invaders. Its social order, the peace of its streets and public places, is being ripped asunder.

     The Islamic invasion is killing Europe, and the nations of Europe, in a paroxysm of unthinking, suicidal “humanitarianism,” are letting it go on.

     Tom Clancy, in one of his novels, described war as armed robbery writ large. There’s a lot of substance to that assessment. If today’s wave of Islamic invaders is unarmed, which appears to be the case, the “armed” part of Clancy’s description does not apply. Yet the invasion is no less a robbery for that.

     The Islamic ummah is stealing Europe from its original denizens.

     Islam teaches its adherents, most explicitly, that the entire world belongs to them by right. The observant Muslim is commanded to work for the day when Islam is the only accepted religion on Earth – for the political subjugation of all Mankind under an Islamic caliphate. All other religions are to be driven out of the public square. Their adherents are to be converted, enslaved, or killed. No Muslim is ever to be under the authority of a kafir, Islam’s term of disparagement for a non-Muslim.

     This is not the paranoid fantasy of a fearful Christian. This is Islamic doctrine straight from Islam’s most authoritative sources: the Qur’an, the ahadith, and the sunnah.

     Do all Muslims work actively and openly toward this end? No; but they must support those who do as far as their means and station in life will permit. And every Muslim who takes residence in any part of Dar al-Harb – “the House of War,” where Islam does not yet dominate – is obligated to regard himself as an outrider of the jihad stationed in enemy territory.

     If you haven’t yet viewed it, please run the short video below:

     Brigitte Gabriel knows Islam from the inside. More to the point, she is painfully aware that it is the militant fraction of any ideology that matters. Among the millions of Muslims pressing upon the borders of Europe, clamoring for admission, there will be 15% or more who adhere to the militant prescriptions in the Qur’an. Thus, should Europe open its doors wide to the invaders, it will admit tens of thousands of would-be conquerors. These will perpetrate acts of destruction and cultural degradation intended to reduce the Old World to a, Islamic satrapy: a realm where non-Muslims are enslaved to Muslims via the jizya, where no faith but Islam is tolerated, and where no kafir woman is safe from rape.

     Moreover, the “peaceful” ones aren’t all that peaceful:

     We’ve seen the pictures of flimsy boats, overloaded, coming from Africa, sinking, with huge loss of life. The little Syrian toddler washed up on the beach, whose photograph circled the globe, and the story became something quite different than was first alleged. Stories of rape and assaults in the refugee camps. The refugees are demanding, not pleading. Some are actually suing because governments are too slow in offering their benefits. What is one to make of all this?

     Hungary is putting up border fences of razor wire. Slovakian police are escorting the long columns of refugee men, pictured above, young men, who have left their families behind till they get settled, through the country. Denmark is advertising in the Middle East to tell everyone not to try to come to Denmark. Swedish homes may be confiscated to accommodate Asylum Seekers. Sweden is also now the rape capital of the world. Bits of information from all over. Many Europeans are unconcerned. ISIS fighters posing as migrants? Who knows? Refugees in these numbers cannot help but transform the continent. When they become aware, Europeans may react with fury.

     The “becoming aware” should have happened a long time ago. Today might be too late.

     It could be worse, of course. It could happen here. Moreover, there are persons who actively want that to happen, which is why I’ve addressed this subject this cold October morning. For one, our “president” would like it very much:

     Foreigners who want to become U.S. citizens don’t have to change their attitudes or beliefs, President Barack Obama said in a video aimed at convincing migrants to pursue American citizenship.

     “It’s not about changing who you are, it’s about adding a new chapter to your journey…and to our journey as a nation of immigrants,” Obama narrates in his two-minute video urging almost 9 million resident migrants to sign up for citizenship so they can vote in 2016.

     [Emphasis added by FWP.]

     U.S. law requires that an immigrant be a resident of this country for at least five years before he can apply for naturalization to citizenship. And of course, only a citizen may legally vote in a U.S. election. How long has the typical illegal alien been in the U.S.? As he’s never made his presence known to the immigration authorities, how would they know?

     Gentle Reader, did you ever imagine that our domestic fifth column would succeed in installing one of its number in the Oval Office – a true Manchurian Candidate? Did you ever imagine that such a president, thinking only of his party’s political advantage, would openly encourage non-Americans to flout the laws on naturalization so that his party would gain their votes?

     You need imagine no longer. Barack Hussein Obama has done all of that and more.

     The invasion that’s swarming over Europe is being invited to our shores. The Obamunists look at the chaos engulfing the Old World and are not dismayed. Indeed, they’re anxious to repeat it here.


Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Day Off

     I’m actually getting some fiction writing done, and without agonizing over every word as I usually do, so please bear with me until tomorrow.

Legal basis for U.S. military actions in Syria.

As it turns out, there is no legal basis, as Chicago law professor, Eric Posner, makes clear in his excellent article[1] on this question two years ago, which I recommend to the curious.

Oddly, at the end of it he argued for greater "realism" where legal restraints on the war powers are concerned. That's an argument that would have driven the anti-Vietnam War leftist subversives and traitors quite insane in view of the fact that the presidency was then occupied by the hated Richard M. Nixon.[2] With Barack H. Obama in the White House, however, trust in the wisdom of the chief executive is the order of the day and if he is being "realistic," well then, surely there's no cause for alarm.

Place your trust in me!
"Laws governing war make us feel more secure but they don’t actually make us more secure" is where Prof. Posner ends up. Apparently, in a confusing and complex international arena (CCIA) there is just too much fluidity and unpredictability for us to place any limits on executive discretion. Call me crazy, I know, but the words "Obama" and "executive discretion" just make me nervous.

The start of the Korean War created a situation that was "fluid" and "unpredicatable" in spades and only a moron would have gone on TV to complain about no prior Congressional authorization. Things got sorted out at the time but I frankly don't recall the details. Be that as it may, the War Powers Act surely was drafted with that circumstance in mind and it evidenced Congress's determination that a limited compromise of its plenary authority was in order in view of the situation Truman in fact did face.

However, it's more than two years since Posner wrote his article and nothing then or since has shown that anything in Syria was an immediate threat to the United States. If anything, the greatest threat to the international order now is the continued meddling of the U.S. and its "coalition" allies in Middle Eastern matters. Apparently, we yet again wish to experiment with the lunatic idea of "regime change."

Posner failed to show then why constitutional restrictions on the president's war making should be ignored. A vague appeal to "realism" just doesn't cut it.

It's an interesting argument that legal restraints on presidential action don't make us more secure. If you think about it, the Fourth and Fifth Amendments to the Constitution are also something of an inconvenience to the well-meaning presidents and U.S. Attorneys General who come our way from time to time. The constitutional requirements for (1) Congress to declare war and for there to be (2) elections and (3) legislation only in certain areas are additional such inconveniences, among even more. Law as needless executive branch impediment.

Didn't this stuff get hammered out in 1789, as in we thought up ways to limit the power of the chief executive (think "king") so the people and our representatives called the shots in accordance with the Constitution, elections, and duly enacted laws rather than our being subject to the whims of one man?

The problem is not that the law restricts the executive in his efforts to secure the nation. No. The problem is that the Congress has failed from the time of the attack on Libya until now to protect the nation by insisting on observance of the law. As a consequence, we are now actively engaged in military operations in a country where we do not belong with Obama's not having been required to make his case for war to the Congress and the people. This has been a stupid and lawless drift into another war that's equally as lunatic as our wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, now springing back to life and presaging further tragedy.

Apparently, this is OK with Prof. Posner.

[1] "The U.S. Has No Legal Basis to Intervene in Syria. But of course that won't stop us." By Eric Posner, Slate, 8/28/13.
[2] Would that Obama had a tenth of the understanding of foreign policy that Nixon did. His pursuit of the VC and NVA into their Cambodian sanctuaries made life a lot easier for the Colonel and his friends in the Mekong Delta in 1970, but that's another story. God bless Richard Nixon.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Quickies: “The Red Pill”

     Documentarian Cassie Jaye has been struggling to fund a movie exploring the men’s rights movement and the Sturm und Drang that surrounds it. Quoth Milo Yiannopoulos:

     There is a documentary film on gender currently running a Kickstarter campaign that feminism would prefer never sees the light of day. You may be imagining some amateur film made by buffoons bumbling their way through a hit piece on feminism, but you’d be well off the mark. The film is The Red Pill, by self-professed feminist Cassie Jaye.

     Jaye has some heavy-duty credentials: she won the 2010 “best documentary” award at the Cannes film festival with her film Daddy I Do and sympathetically covered gay marriage in a second well-received documentary, The Right to Love: An American Family.

     Jaye describes her latest project, The Red Pill, as “a fly-on-the-wall film about men’s rights activists.” But, she says, at some point during filming the process morphed into her journey through ideologies opposing feminism. What makes the film unique is that it will document her “chipping away at long held beliefs, as my worldview changed within the first month,” a process captured, she says, through video diaries which will be included in the film....

     The underlying suggestion in all of this, of course, is that she has come to sympathise with the men’s movement and jettisoned a lot of received feminist wisdom.

     As a result, Jaye has seen her funding dry up. One observer told Breitbart that grants and funding have been withdrawn and institutional support revoked.

     Yiannopoulos’s article ends with a link to Miss Jaye’s KickStarter campaign.

     This sounded worthy at first. I was moved to contribute...and I might do so yet. But I have a question: Will there be any coverage of the hard data about inter-gender abuse, or is it all going to be for-and-against interviews?

     I have no doubt the interviews will be interesting. I have no doubt the movie itself will inspire “dialogue.” But I doubt whether an interesting movie that sparks “dialogue” would be worth all that much. “Dialogue” about inter-gender abuse has an unpleasant tendency to become shrill and accusatory. If The Red Pill is not heavy with verifiable facts about the rates of various abusive practices, most emphatically including women’s misuse of the law, the police, and the courts to harm men, it will reduce to “he said / she said” claims and accusations entirely without value.

     Miss Jaye has an appealing way about her. I’m impressed by her credentials and have little doubt of her sincerity. But I can’t quite convince myself that The Red Pill will contribute positively to the rectification of current abuses – and I am personally of the opinion that a heavy majority of those abuses are perpetrated by women and against men.

     UPDATE: I decided to donate to the project. Eventually I'll receive a DVD of the finished documentary. We shall see.

Quickies: A Posteriori Policy Rationalizations

     A policy that fails to achieve the goals stated for it at its inception must be regarded as a failure. But policy wonks and the politicians who listen to them are indisposed to admit to failure. That can have electoral consequences, don’t y’know. Thus, they frequently claim a posteriori justifications for a failed policy. Such justifications are often unfalsifiable. That is: they constitute acts of faith.

     Consider in this connection the War on Drugs. Vigorous prosecution of this “war” was supposed to reduce:

  • Drug use and dependency;
  • The non-drug crimes associated (by the Drug Warriors) with drug use and dependency;
  • The power and influence of organized crime;
  • Certain other social costs.
Yet every problem claimed to stem from the use of illegal recreational drugs has gotten worse since they were outlawed. Thus, the policy must be regarded as a failure. But wait: the Drug Warriors have a rationalization:

“It would have been worse had we not acted.”

     Note that this is exactly the rationalization employed by the Left about the exponential explosion of the welfare state. When the Left uses it, the Right scoffs at it – and justifiably so. How, then, shall men of good will, determined to rely upon facts and logic, permit the Drug Warriors, the vast majority of whom deem themselves conservatives, to get away with the same specious a posteriori argument?

     Needless to say – yet I must say it, owing to the tendency so many persons exhibit toward accusing their political adversaries of hidden motives – I agree wholeheartedly that the recreational drugs are bad for you. Moreover, they would be no better for you if legalized. But let’s not obscure the policy point: Why should we permit the Drug Warriors to rationalize, post hoc, a policy that failed to achieve its stated objectives by making a claim that cannot be tested without a time machine?

Really, REALLY Quickies: Diagnosis And Cure

     In a comment to this essay on the death of classical music, commenter “Milton Devonair” contributes the following deathless advice:

     Classical music needs more vulgarity, yelling and crotch grabbing.

     I nearly died from the laughter.

Mendacity As The Model

     At some point in the relatively recent past, deceit in the name of a Cause became the standard for the rhetoric of the political Left. I can’t pin down the origin, but it can’t be too far back; even Franklin D. Roosevelt, America’s first would-be Dictator For Life, was verbally honest most of the time.

     The antidote for deceit is, of course, a robust administration of Facts. The World Wide Web has given Facts a “voice” that the Left, which wholly controls the Main Stream Media, has labored to foreclose. Its efforts toward this end include blatant efforts to censor political opinion via the FCC, whether through specious provisions of election law or under the aegis of “net neutrality.” Though despite strenuous efforts to suppress them Facts continue to appear on the Web, the Left has not surrendered the field.

     If there’s a danger-of-all-dangers lurking in the November 2016 elections, the advance of Web censorship is surely it.

     Consider all the following:

     1. The recent Benghazi hearings. Hillary Clinton, who aspires to the presidency (and if the Republicans don’t wise up P.D.Q., is likely to get it), lied her way through several hours of questioning:

     [S]omething else was made clear this week: Hillary Clinton is a committed and unapologetic liar. Of course, this wasn’t actually a revelation any more than testimony from the Secretary of the Interior that, after extensive study, he can confirm that bears do, in fact s*** in the woods.

     There’s a scene in one of the Dune books where Paul Atreides experiences living through the moments he’d already prophesied. If I remember right, it was a dreamlike sense of ennui as he walked through steps he’d felt he’d already walked through. Or something like that. The point is that when it comes to Clintons lying and the press not caring and turning their derision on those who do, it’s déjà vu for as far as the eye can see.

     2. Race-sensitive “reporting.” It’s been the media’s practice for some time to suppress Facts about the race and/or the ethnicity of criminal perpetrators when those details would undermine the applicable Narrative promulgated by the Left. Here’s a blatant example:

     Roberta Happe was a beautiful 23-year-old woman, a recent graduate from USC with a business degree who eschewed the corporate world to devote her life to working with disadvantaged, developmentally disabled children. One evening in February 2001, as Happe was leaving work, she was abducted in a parking garage by a man named Jason Thompson, who made her drive to an ATM, where she was forced to withdraw $400. Thompson then raped, tortured, beat, stabbed, and strangled Happe, leaving her naked body in a Culver City park. By the next day, the LAPD had identified Thompson as the assailant. He’d left behind fingerprints, DNA, and his image on the ATM security camera. An APB was put out for Thompson, who—due to the horrifically brutal nature of the crime—was considered a major risk to strike again.

     For the Times editors, this was a disaster. Thompson was black; Happe was not just white but blond. There’d be no finagling their way out of telling the story of an unimaginably brutal black-on-white crime that involved rape and torture. Unless, of course, they simply decided not to tell it.

     And that’s exactly what they did. They sat on the story. The front page of the metro section the day after police released the details to the press was devoted to a whimsical human-interest story about people in Altadena who keep llamas as pets. The Happe murder and the clear and present threat to every woman in L.A. went completely unmentioned. I called ombudswoman Gold to ask why the story was being suppressed. Even Gold, the ever-obedient cog in the Times machinery, was dumbfounded by the omission, calling the story “such a huge thing that would’ve been in the public’s interest to have published.”

     The omission of critical facts can be just as deceiving as a deliberate lie. In this case, with a murderer on the loose whose race was clearly known, the public was denied the information: a potentially fatal reduction of peaceable citizens’ abilities to protect themselves or assist the police. But to the editors of the Los Angeles Times, defending The Narrative mattered more.

     3. The murderousness of the “Palestinians.” Daniel Greenfield lays out the Facts:

     On September 13, 1993, Arafat and Rabin shook hands over the Oslo Accord in the Rose Garden. At the end of this September, the PLO’s Abbas finally officially disavowed the Oslo Accords....

     The PLO repeatedly violated that agreement by waging war against Israel. Its leaders, Arafat and Abbas, made a mockery of the negotiations. They sabotaged every opportunity to reach an agreement making it clear that they did not want a settlement and they did not want to negotiate.

     Now Abbas has made it official. He disavowed the accords and set off a new intifada in which Muslims hack at Rabbis with meat cleavers or sink knives into the necks of teenage girls. Abbas lights the match and then plays the victim. He praises the "martyrs" who shoot toddlers and then his representative demands UN action.

     Yet the entire policy of the Obama Administration toward the Israel / PLO conflict is that Israel, not the PLO, must make concessions. The Obama State Department condemns Israeli settlements in Israel’s sovereign territory. It promulgates lies about the PLO being a willing and eager “partner for peace” with “legitimate aspirations” to statehood. It presses Israel to accommodate “Palestinian” demands and encourages the nations of Europe to work to undermine Israeli border security. All of that, while Barack Hussein Obama himself claims barefacedly that Israel has never had a more reliable friend than his Administration.

     Only due to the persistence of factual reportage on the World Wide Web are Americans kept informed about matters such as the above. Scant wonder that the Left regards the Web as a territory to be conquered and subjugated by any means necessary.

     The disease has begun to spread. If I may repeat a favorite Tom Kratman quote:

     [I]t has been said more than once that you should choose enemies wisely, because you are going to become just, or at least, much like them. The corollary to this is that your enemies are also going to become very like you....

     If I could speak now to our enemies, I would say: Do you kill innocent civilians for shock value? So will we learn to do, in time. Do you torture and murder prisoners? So will we. Are you composed of religious fanatics? Well, since humanistic secularism seems ill-suited to deal with you, don't be surprised if we turn to our churches and temples for the strength to defeat and destroy you. Do you randomly kill our loved ones to send us a message? Don't be surprised, then, when we begin to target your families, specifically, to send the message that our loved ones are not stationery.

     This seems lost on the current enemy, but then, he's insane. It's very sad. Yes, it's very sad for us, too.

     [From the Afterword to A Desert Called Peace.]

     As Mazer Rackham said to Ender Wiggin in Ender’s Game, “Your enemy is your teacher.” In particular, your enemy teaches you tactics you haven’t yet tried, by using those tactics against you to advantage. If the Left continues to make progress by its deceits, or succeeds in suppressing factual reportage by legal and regulatory means, tacticians on the Right will adopt those tactics and encourage their use. Where will we be then?

     This weary essay of a few days ago was in part motivated by the difficulty the Facts have had at getting political traction. It seemed to me that the Left had effectively nullified the Facts with the relentless blasts of deceit from its media megaphones. Despite the thousands of citizen-journalists who’ve joined the fray on the side of the Facts, the Left’s Narratives – each and every one of them in blatant contradiction to realities observable by anyone with eyes to see and ears to hear – continue to prevail, even advance.

     The evidence of this, too, is all around us. Though you can collect a lot of it at any office coffee mess or water cooler, it becomes most obvious when in conversation with someone from Europe, where the Narratives go unopposed. I’ve had some unpleasant revelations of exactly that kind in recent months. Despite having access to the same Web sources as any American, the Europeans I’ve encountered have swallowed the Left’s Narratives almost unanimously and without question.

     There is no Last Graf. Mendacity cannot be allowed to triumph. How we who champion the Facts can do better than we’ve done to this point, I am unable to say.