Thursday, June 30, 2016

Just A Gentle Reminder

     At long last, and in much-delyaed response to the advice of a former agent, I've tried my hand at romance:

     At age 28, Jana Tyrell is already the foremost actress in the world. But she wants the love of a good man, and they’re not so common in Hollywood. She finds it in a most unexpected place: Onteora County, NY, a land that produces geniuses and heroes as if they’d been sown there by God. Her target, engineer and Web writer Tim Beaufort, will be rocked by the changes Jana brings to his life.

     Only $2.99 at Amazon or SmashWords.

Frontiers In Medicine

     Perhaps that should be non-medicine:

     Now, a medical journal is upping the stakes by calling such interventions [i.e., care provided to prolong a patient’s life] “non-beneficial treatment (NBT):” From the International Journal for Quality in Healthcare article (my emphasis):
     The term NBT therefore reflects an objective inverse correlation between intensity of treatment and the expected degree of improvement in a patient’s health status, ability for survival to hospital discharge or improvement in quality of life.

     Note that keeping the patient alive because the patient wants to stay alive isn’t mentioned. In other words, the medical technocrats and bioethicists are redefining the core purpose of medicine — maintaining life when that is wanted — and claiming that keeping a patient alive can be non-beneficial.

     This is what we of a classical bent like to call a straw in the wind. The event itself may be of minor significance, but the direction in which it points is critical.

     “Bioethicists” have made similar statements several times. The odious Daniel Callahan is notorious for them. His most notable disclosures of opinion concern weighing advances in medicine against “other social goods” and the immorality of consuming medical resources to prolong the lives of the elderly when those resources could be used elsewhere. If opinions such as his are gaining a foothold in the thinking of medical care providers, we elderly Baby Boomers are in for a rough (but short) ride.

     And you thought ObamaCare was about access to health care for everybody, eh?

Our Memories

     The older I get, the more interesting the past becomes. Yea, even the recent past. And I become ever more interested in perpetuating the memories thereof. Of course, not all such memories are of equal value, but even the kitsch of America’s recent past has important lessons for our future promoters, pitchmen, and pimps.

     There’s charm in the very idea of the independent flackster who can, with a modest expenditure of time, money, and effort, become a “household word,” even if the products he flogs us with are unadulterated wastes of money. They embody a style, an individuating manner that, mated to sufficient chutzpah, has the potential to make a Ragged Dick into a multimillionaire renowned around the world...or at least in Island Park, NY.

     Wherefore I declaim upon the importance...nay, the moral necessity...of a Hall of Fame explicitly dedicated to these champion commercializers of crap.

     It is of course vitally important that the Hall be situated in a relevant place. I propose: a warehouse in Fairlawn, NJ filled with unsaleable merchandise made in the world’s backwaters. You know, the sort of thing you get “free” (pay only separate shipping & handling) with your order of a set of Ginsu knives:

     The awards ceremony must, of course, be held in the wee, small hours (Eastern Standard Time), and covered solely by cable channels with copious unsold programming time. The most appropriate masters of ceremonies would be the titans of our game shows: folks such as Bob Barker, Groucho Marx, Allen Ludden, Hugh Downs, Richard Dawson, Art Fleming, Alex Trebeck, and (of course) the great Monty Hall. (What’s that you say? Most of those are dead? Such trifles! Surely God would reanimate them for a duty this important! At least for an hour or so.) Elevation to the Hall would recognize various categories of achievement:

  • Sales volume;
  • Variety of products hawked;
  • Most annoying infomercial;
  • Most deceptive advertising practices;
  • Most innovative but useless product;
  • Highest “shipping & handling” revenue;
  • Popularization of a pitch line.

     Each such category would recognize an honoree annually. (No, there would be no possibility of declaring “No Award” for the past year. Shame on you for thinking of such a thing!) Each category would be introduced with “But wait: there’s more!” (Yes, yes, even the last one.) The winner’s name would be blared out in the unique voice and inflection of the late, great Billy Mays. The award statuette – the Ronnie, of course – would be in the shape of a Popeil Pocket Fisherman, mounted on a thin base of low-grade steel fabricated in Burkina Faso. And of course, there would be a Lifetime Achievement award, which Ron Popeil would win every year.

     I can’t believe no one has thought of this before me. Well, maybe someone did, but he didn’t want to look silly. Certified Galactic Intellects don’t have that problem. Now, which cablecast channel would be willing to host the first show for an in-kind payment of Vegematics and SlapChops? And to whom could we sell the commercial slots? Hmmm...

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Words Fail Me Dept.

     For many years, people were warned about the importance of keeping homosexuals away from the young – that the homosexual community must proselytize, since it cannot reproduce – and it appears the proof has arrived:

     A new web series called "Queer Kids Stuff" aimed at preschoolers (yes, you read that right) is now attempting to teach those barely out of diapers what the phrases "gay," "bisexual," and "transgender" mean.

     In the opening minutes of the first show, the host tells a teddy bear, as well as innocent viewers, that "gay means love."

     Although no U.S. preschool programs have indicated yet that they will embrace the series, it may only be a matter of time.

     The creators of this “series” are enthusiastic about its prospects:

     "These are the years of the W's: who, what, when, and why," series creator Amer [no other name given] told The Huffington Post. "These ages are when children are learning and soaking up everything they can about the world they were pretty recently introduced to. While they are learning about the world, they are also beginning to form their own opinions about the things in this world."

     Amer also said, "If they aren't seeing queerness in their world (particularly in their media), how can they know to ask questions and spark conversations (as many parents won't do this themselves)? And what happens if the first time they are introduced to a queer topic, it has a negative connotation? As soon as that happens, it is far more difficult to undo that moment than it is to simply introduce the topic truthfully and positively first."

     [JamesMichael] Nichols is ecstatic about this new vehicle toting the LGBT agenda. "We're super excited about this project and can't wait to see what's ahead," he wrote. "Check out the first episode, "What Does Gay Mean?..."

     So without this series, young children’s first exposure to “queerness” will bear “a negative connotation” -- ? Gee, I wonder why? Might it have something to do with homosexuals’ obvious departure from biological normality? Or perhaps from homosexuals’ flaunting of outrageous behavior, so frequently trumpeted in the news? Or perhaps from simple, innate revulsion?

     As if more were necessary, in the very same online edition of Fox News, we have this story:

     Gay, lesbian and bisexual individuals reported more health problems than straight men and women, in a large U.S. survey.

     For the first time since its launch in 1957, the National Health Interview Survey in 2013 and 2014 included a question about sexual orientation.

     With nearly 69,000 participants, the survey revealed that lesbian, gay and bisexual adults "were more likely to report impaired physical and mental health, heavy alcohol consumption, and heavy cigarette use, potentially due to the stressors that (they) experience as a result of interpersonal and structural discrimination," researchers wrote online June 28 in JAMA Internal Medicine.

     Please read the whole thing. Sample sizes matter, and in this study the samples of non-heterosexuals were far smaller than that of heterosexuals; therefore, it pays to reserve final judgment on the results. However, there’s been considerable evidence amassed over the years that points in this direction. The studies on comparative lifespans and suicide rates are especially troubling.

     Homosexual proselytization efforts are peaking. If they penetrate the preschools, there’s nothing they won’t reach. Parents of toddlers and grade-schoolers are well advised to beware.


     I’ve long been fond of this Herbert Spencer statement about protectionism:

     It is, indeed, marvellous how readily we let ourselves be deceived by words and phrases which suggest one aspect of the facts while leaving the opposite aspect unsuggested. A good illustration of this, and one germane to the immediate question, is seen in the use of the words "protection" and "protectionist" by the antagonists of free-trade, and in the tacit admission of its propriety by free-traders. While the one party has habitually ignored, the other party has habitually failed to emphasize, the truth that this so-called protection always involves aggression; and that the name aggressionist ought to be substituted for the name protectionist. For nothing can be more certain than that if, to maintain A's profit, B is forbidden to buy of C, or is fined to the extent of the duty if he buys of C, then B is aggressed upon that A may be "protected." Nay, "aggressionists" is a title doubly more applicable to the anti-free-traders than is the euphemistic title "protectionists"; since, that one producer may gain, ten consumers are fleeced. [From The Man Versus The State]

     Those who call for entirely free trade among the nations have often employed an argument parallel to the above. Moreover, it’s a good argument in its proper context. However, there are contexts in which it has very little force...and the United States of America in the year of Our Lord 2016 is one such.

     What’s that you say? “How can this Fran person call himself a freedom advocate when he opposes free trade?” Patience, Gentle Reader. We have a significant distance to cover.

     Economic interventions by governments are deeply sunk in history. I’ve often ranted about government manipulation of currencies, of course, but the currency wars are almost childishly simplistic in comparison to the machinations concerning trade barriers and border imposts.

     In the U.S., it started virtually with the Founding. Alexander Hamilton was foremost among those who advanced the famous “infant industries” argument for import tariff protection of American wares. Such tariffs have been a feature of American trade policy for more than two centuries. Never have they been lowered all the way to zero.

     The fallacy hidden by the “infant industries” argument is one that’s hard to spot. It requires the recognition of two subtle aspects of market economics:

  1. There’s more to competition than price;
  2. There are products that have not yet been invented.

     Some very intelligent people have failed to understand Item #1. (A famous example is George Orwell: “The trouble with competitions is that somebody wins them.”) If price were the sole determinant of who shall flourish in the marketplace, how is it possible that there are multitudes of vendors for cars, computers, and canned soup? Even more striking, how can it be that new vendors of such products – supposedly “mature” products over which competition has been flaming for many decades – pop up every day?

     The answer, of course, is that no two makers of a given item offer exactly the same item on the same terms. Indeed, this is part of the value trichotomy that students of business must absorb:

  1. You can compete on price;
  2. Or on features;
  3. Or on service, which is actually a compound of service, quality, “customer care,” and other factors.

     You can also compete by offering a unique balance of those things. In this way, the market offers an effectively inexhaustible array of niches into which a business can attempt to fit itself. Some of those niches will be more profitable than the others, and some will prove completely non-viable, but that’s in the nature of the market. Success is not guaranteed.

     Item #2 requires a knowledge of economic history and a sense for the possibilities afforded to Man. The frequent emergence of new enterprises that offer entirely new products is a characteristic of free-market economies. Indeed, this is the preferred route for the ambitious businessman unsatisfied with the prospects for competing in an “established” or “mature” industry. A brand new product is self-differentiating; there’s no need to concern oneself with direct competition until it arises. Of course, one must envision the new product and the reasons it might appeal to purchasers, a gift not all persons possess. More, not all innovations flourish, as anyone who remembers the Edsel, the massage belt, or the pogo stick will attest.

     For these reasons among others, lesser ones, protectionism is less profitable to a nation than a market open to goods from other nations. That, of course, hasn’t stopped even one nation from imposing trade restrictions at its borders – and that has consequences that can reach across the centuries.

     Once a nation has erected protectionist measures, those measures become a part of the nation’s economic order. They produce a state of affairs in which some people’s livelihoods are semi-guaranteed. (The guarantee can never be absolute, as the customer can always decide not to purchase.) A look at internal European Union trade policies reveals several such arrangements, specifically to protect certain “established” industries in France and Germany.

     Thus, we can imagine that the nation of Brux has protected, via an import tariff, its thing industry, thus bolstering the livelihoods of Bruxist thing makers. This angers thing makers in Wazznia who’d like to sell to Bruxists. If there’s a substantial market for things in Brux, both the glee of Bruxist thing makers and the unhappiness of their Wazznian competitors are entirely understandable. Conversations between the nations will follow, though not necessarily to any particular effect.

     What follows in Brux is what will matter. Over the near term, the thing industry will tend to enlarge. It offers a degree of security that unprotected industries lack. The prospect of large or rapid gains might not be there – this is more commonly the case in an industry of long standing – but there will always be persons more drawn to security than opportunity and its risks.

     Bruxist thing purchasers will notice that Wazznian things are made more expensive by the tariff. However, the thing makers of Brux will have attained a politically powerful status: a special interest already embedded in Brux’s politico-economic order. Arguments against the tariff, or for reducing it, will be met by two countervailing forces:

  • It will be argued that Bruxist thing makers would lose their jobs or suffer reductions in income, a blow to the Bruxist economy (and to the politicians that bring that upon them).
  • The thing companies of Brux will ply the politicians with liquor, lobster, and luscious hookers.

     Special interests always possess greater influence than their numbers suggest, because their agenda is short, their members powerfully motivated, and their efforts concentrated. They will nearly always carry the day...and as time passes and “the vital importance of the thing industry to the Bruxist economy” increases, their clout will increase.

     Only one factor can undo this dynamic: the counter-dynamic that arises with an entirely new product – widgets – that obsoletes things completely. There’s no way for the thing makers to countervail the loss of consumer interest in things. In extremis, they might strive to have their political protectors declare widgets illegal, but that seldom works.

     Once widgets are available, the thing is destined for extinction. It might take a while, but it cannot be prevented...and with the market for things will go the incomes of all those persons, from CEOs to janitors, that coppered their bets on things.

     The above schematic illustrates both the politico-economic power of protectionism and what will eventually force its demise in specific cases. The U.S. has protected a wide variety of industries via import tariffs and other regulations. Thus, many Americans’ incomes (though less than a majority) would be endangered by the removal of those barriers. That makes the affected Americans a potent special interest, perhaps capable of elevating or dooming a presidential candidate all by themselves.

     No one in a protected industry thinks of his political protection as a privilege, though that’s exactly what it is. To him it’s a right, something to be defended a outrance. In this lies the potency of contemporary protectionist politics, and therefore a great part of the appeal of Donald Trump. That all those protected industries (with the possible exception of protected sectors in agriculture) will eventually fall to as-yet-uninvented successors has little impact on the current debates. Millions of jobs have already been lost and millions of incomes have been reduced. That this is in large measure because of government interventions in the economy is generally waved aside.

     Politics is always about power, and moreover about the present. An intensification of protectionism is being touted as a necessary measure for the restoration of Americans’ prosperity. In fact, it’s merely a short-term buttress for the wealth and status of political clients whose dooms are already sealed, the fruit of an attitude toward trade that has persisted for far too long. But we cannot expect those who see today’s paycheck endangered to think that clearly about tomorrow, let alone about years and decades to come.

     “Change is hard, and difficulty make people impatient.” – Arthur Herzog

     Food for thought.

2.5 miles down.

H/t: "American Digest."

Annoying Windows 10 upgrade messages.

Info about a helpful bit of freeware to stop those upgrade messages is here:

"How to Remove the “Get Windows 10” Icon from Your System Tray (and Stop Those Upgrade Notifications)." How-To-Geek. 5/23/16.

I ran the Never10 utility and it appears to have stopped those upgrade notices. I haven't been able to get it to delete the Windows 10 files secretly downloaded to my hard drive. The utility tells me that some of the files are in use and to restart and try again. The utility tells the same thing after I reboot so it looks like I'm stuck with about 1.7MB of those files.

The link above states:

Never10 was developed by well-respected security researcher Steve Gibson, which means it’s trustworthy and contains no adware, viruses, or other assorted malware nastiness up its sleeve. Basically, it acts as a frontend for Microsoft’s hidden settings that prevent the Windows 10 upgrade.
FYI. Use at your own risk.

UPDATE (6/29/16):

The developer of GWX Control Panel invited me to check it out as an alternative removal tool. Commenter Eskyman at Liberty's Torch says it's a good program.

Also, commenter Carol at Liberty's Torch says merely removing Windows update KB3035583 solved the problem for her.

Commenter Rick C. flirts with heresy by saying just upgrade.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

No Supreme Law Needed?

     It appears that that’s what U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Richard Posner thinks:

     Judge Richard A. Posner, who was appointed by President Ronald Reagan in 1981 and serves on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in Chicago, has published an op-ed at Slate declaring that the U.S. Constitution is a waste of time.
     And on another note about academia and practical law, I see absolutely no value to a judge of spending decades, years, months, weeks, day, hours, minutes, or seconds studying the Constitution, the history of its enactment, its amendments, and its implementation (across the centuries—well, just a little more than two centuries, and of course less for many of the amendments). Eighteenth-century guys, however smart, could not foresee the culture, technology, etc., of the 21st century. Which means that the original Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the post–Civil War amendments (including the 14th), do not speak to today. David Strauss is right: The Supreme Court treats the Constitution like it is authorizing the court to create a common law of constitutional law, based on current concerns, not what those 18th-century guys were worrying about.

     In short, let’s not let the dead bury the living.

     But the Constitution is the Supreme Law of the Land. It is the arbiter for whether legislated laws are acceptable and possess governing force. If the Constitution is to be ignored, against what standard, then, will legislated laws be judged valid or invalid?

     A year and a day ago, I wrote:

     The Supreme Court has just written into our “Constitutional” framework that:
  • The text of a law doesn’t matter;
  • The text of the Constitution doesn’t matter;
  • What a majority of “Justices” imagine about what those who passed the law intended are of decisive legal weight;
  • There is no human practice, custom, tradition, or institution which the State cannot seize and tax, regulate, reorganize, or completely redefine to suit itself.

     The entire edifice of constitutionalism has just been ceremoniously trashed. Oh, we could see it coming from miles away. At least, I could; I’ve been watching this progression too closely and for too long to harbor any illusions about it. However, I must admit that I didn’t expect it to happen quite so rapidly or precipitously. Alvin Toffler would have something to say about that, wouldn’t he?

     We will pay for this in blood. I can only hope that the first persons to render up their due will be those selfsame “Justices.”

     Back then, my conclusions were only implicit in recent Supreme Court decisions. But now, a highly respected Court of Appeals judge, who has occasionally been mentioned as a reasonable choice for the Supreme Court, has expressed them openly. How much longer will it be before a majority of the Court signs onto a decision that explicitly nullifies the Constitution in all respects – and what will we do then?

     Keep your powder dry, Gentle Reader.

More Exits Coming?

     If I’m any judge of such things, this will trigger a mass exodus:

     The foreign ministers of France and Germany are due to reveal a blueprint to effectively do away with individual member states in what is being described as an “ultimatum”.

     Under the radical proposals EU countries will lose the right to have their own army, criminal law, taxation system or central bank, with all those powers being transferred to Brussels.

     Controversially member states would also lose what few controls they have left over their own borders, including the procedure for admitting and relocating refugees.

     This is astonishing. I know little of the Express’s proclivities for honesty and completeness, but even a hint of such a plan should cause the governments of most EU nations to bolt for the exits. It would reduce them to nullities. People who’ve pursued power and attained it are unlikely to sit still for a plan that takes it from them.

     Of course, it’s possible – barely – that European ministers of state are qualitatively different from those we know and despise in the U.S. But how likely is it?

     If the Merkel and Hollande governments truly intend to submit such a proposal, their personal security details had better be first rate and continuously vigilant. Not everyone in Europe will take such an idea lying down.

Starting Conversations Considered Harmful

     (Perhaps not quite as harmful as the GOTO statement – apologies, Professor Dijkstra – but then, not everyone is willing to abandon that, either.)

     Not long ago, I learned of a group styled the Conservative-Libertarian Fiction Alliance:

     Welcome to the Official Website of the Conservative-Libertarian Fiction Alliance (the CLFA for short). The CLFA is the destination for lovers of fiction and freedom. Visit for the latest news of fiction for consumers ranging from religious conservatives to atheist libertarians and everyone in between – in short, everyone who wants less government control and less SJW authoritarianism, and who loves a good story!

     It sounded like a good idea; after all, “Politics is downstream from culture.” [Breitbart 1:1] –The group boasts a substantial membership, including a couple of well-known writers, and it seemed a good place to look for resources and do the occasional, gentle bit of self-promotion. So after a brief inner struggle, I fought down my anti-joiner inclinations and even though it required me to join Facebook, which I cordially detest, I signed on.

     There’s some substance there, though less than I’d hoped. I did find a cover artist there for Love In The Time Of Cinema, so it hasn’t been a complete waste of time. Mostly it’s just one more Facebook group of persons who find one another generally more agreeable than not swapping recommendations, repartee, and recipes.

     (Yes, recipes. As far as I can make out from my admittedly limited experience, sooner or later every Facebook group will feature recipes for this, that, or the other thing. I’m hoping one of the members will suggest a tasty alternative to the pina colada for my summer indulgence. I've seen nothing so far, but the summer is young.)

     However, it seems that during my brief tenure there, I’ve done something a few other CLFA members dislike: I’ve started a couple of conversations of which not everyone approves. One was on worn-out motifs in urban fantasy; the other was on overtired elements in science fiction. In both cases, a substantial fraction of the responses was “Why are we talking about this?” Another, smaller group held that “We shouldn’t be talking about this.”

     One of the reasons I was reluctant to join Facebook, even though it’s the only effective way to participate in CLFA, is the legendary contentiousness of its members. I have no particular beef with people who like to argue, but there are certain categories of argument that puzzle me. One of them is the sort that runs “Why are we talking about this?” We, whoever that might be, find it interesting enough to add comments. If it bores you, why not simply decline to participate? Surely no one is forcing you to do so.

     Then there are the volunteer censors: “We shouldn’t be talking about this.” Why not? What’s offensive about the subject? That’s a stroke I’d have expected from the Left, not the Right. Anyway, those who are offended by a particular topic have the same option as those who are bored by it.

     Finally, one member posted the same response to each of the two threads I started: “I’ve sold a whole lot of books about this.” Okay, that’s nice, and we’re all happy for you; I am, anyway. But does that mean that others with different preferences ought to keep them to themselves? No one’s trying to invalidate your books; success, as they say, is its own justification.

     I’m no stranger to controversy or contention – Liberty’s Torch should be ample proof of that – but I’m baffled that a site explicitly devoted to “freedom-friendly fiction” should have members more interested in dampening or shutting down the discussion of a subject than in pursuing one that piques their interest.

     I posted a version of this at CLFA’s Facebook site. This will make the maximum degree of irony possible: Someone will suggest that I shouldn’t have done so, and we’ll be off to the races once again.

     UPDATE: The reactions to the above have caused me to delete my Facebook account -- for the third (and probably the last) time. I suppose I should have known better.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Let's just quit the pretense.

A nation consists of people with a common racial, ethnic, linguistic, cultural, historical, and political identity. The left has foisted off on us the notion that a nation is nothing but the sum total of all the people who pass through Grand Central Station over the course of a year.
The Brexit vote has established an idea that Benjamin Netanyahu would find familiar: each ethnic group must act in self-interest. It is no longer the responsibility or burden of the UK to be the world’s immigration destination; instead, English and British people can act toward their own self-interest, which means excluding everyone else.

Just because someone is born in the UK, they are not British. They are occupants, not natives. And now, the natives want their country back. The backlash has begun, against not just the EU, but democracy and its inherent Leftist tendencies and the idea of multiculturalism itself.[1]

For the truth of the proposition that people born in Britain are not British, revisit my earlier post from which I republish this video:

[1] "‘Stop immigration. Start repatriation.’" By Brett Stephens, Amerika, 6/26/16.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

New Fiction

     At long last, I’ve finished something!

     At age 28, Jana Tyrell is already the foremost actress in the world. But she wants the love of a good man, and they’re not so common in Hollywood. She finds it in a most unexpected place: Onteora County, NY, a land that produces geniuses and heroes as if they’d been sown there by God. Her target, engineer and Web writer Tim Beaufort, will be rocked by the changes Jana brings to his life.

     For those of you Gentle Readers who’ve wanted a little more from my kinda-sorta Shire in continental New York, you have it now. Only $2.99 at SmashWords or Amazon.

Day Off

     I had a Ruminationish idea in mind for today, but I’m so terribly tired that I don’t think I can do it justice. Perhaps, assuming there are no major coups, atrocities, assassinations, or new video games announced today, it will become a Monday Rumination.

     Till tomorrow, Gentle Reader.

Saturday, June 25, 2016


     I know, I know: everyone’s talking about the “Brexit.” Everyone else, that is. I try to let such things age in their casks for a day or two before I comment on them. The results usually please me more than what I expect my initial reaction would have produced had I acted on it.

     Read on and decide whether you agree.

     The European Union was a partially foreseen consequence of the aftermath of World War II. Its zygote formed as Europeans, their continent largely laid waste by the war, looked upon their savior, the United States, and pondered the advantages that might accrue to them via a comparable union. Though America had mobilized as completely as any of the Old World combatants, it had emerged from the war in far better shape, able to lend substantial financial assistance to a Europe struggling to rebuild.

     The first of the large-scale consequences was the European Economic Community, also known as the Common Market, which lowered trade and tariff barriers among its participants and provided for greater ease of travel among them as well. Over time, non-economic provisions and further members were added to the original agreement. However, the benefits were always less than had been hoped, owing to the member nations’ unwillingness to enter completely into the spirit of the agreement.

     Ambitious politicians eager for wider powers envisioned a complete political integration of the continent almost from the first. In this they were at odds with the peoples of their nations, which preferred to retain the national identities that such integration would threaten. But politicians being what they are, they contrived to impose the 1993 Maastricht Treaty, the Amsterdam Treaty,, the Treaty of Nice, and the 2007 Treaty of Lisbon, which formalized a political European Union, on their nations by one device after another. This included compelling “rematch” referenda upon their nations when previous referenda had rejected submergence in the EU.

     Twenty-three years of “European integration” have passed, and the Old World appears more fragmented than ever. Parallels to the rising sectionalism of the pre-Civil War United States have not been missed.

     The pro-EU propaganda spread about prior to the various national referenda were heavy with hyperbole. Many suggested that the alternative was another continent-devouring war:

     With the new constitution flailing in most polls, the Dutch government is being rather vicious already. Bernard Bot, the foreign minister, dismisses the electorate's objections as "a lot of irrational reaction". Piet-Hein Donner, the justice minister, warns that Europe will go the way of Helga's orchestra if the constitution is rejected. "Yugoslavia was more integrated than the Union is now," he points out, "but bad will and the inability to stifle hidden irritations and rivalry led in a short time to war."

     Scornful of such piffling analogies, the prime minister, Jan-Peter Balkenende, thinks a Balkan end is the least of their worries. "I've been in Auschwitz and Yad Vashem," he says. "The images haunt me every day. It is supremely important for us to avoid such things in Europe."

     At the Theresienstadt (or Terezin) concentration camp in the Czech Republic, Sweden's European Commissioner, Margot Wallstrom, declared: "There are those who want to scrap the supranational idea. They want the European Union to go back to the old purely inter-governmental way of doing things. I say those people should come to Terezin and see where that old road leads."

     What’s that you say? There was no middle course available between a fresh Holocaust and the submergence of the individual nations of Europe into a continent-wide superstate? Apparently many Europeans rejected that notion. But the politicians bent upon EUnification would not be balked by any degree of resistance:

     “If it's a Yes, we will say 'on we go', and if it's a No we will say 'we continue’... We decide on something, leave it lying around, and wait and see what happens. If no one kicks up a fuss, because most people don't understand what has been decided, we continue step by step until there is no turning back. ” – EU president Jean-Claude Juncker
     It was a crucial mistake to send out the entire constitution to every French voter, the architect of the EU's first constitution ValĂ©ry Giscard d'Estaing has said in an interview.

     In an interview with the New York Times, his first since the French rejection of the constitution two weeks ago, the former French president apportions most of the blame to president Jacques Chirac for failure in the referendum campaign.

     One crucial mistake was to send out the entire three-part, 448-article document to every French voter, said Mr Giscard.

     Over the phone he had warned Mr Chirac already in March: "I said, 'Don't do it, don't do it'".

     "It is not possible for anyone to understand the full text". -- The EUobserver, “Giscard regrets constitution sent to French people.”

     Could it be clearer that the EUrocrats were determined to have their way no matter what their subjects might think?

     Enthusiasm for superstates has almost always been confined to the political and cultural elites – in my estimation, persons more interested in their own power and prestige than anything else. Yet some very intelligent men, including George Bernard Shaw, Bertrand Russell, and James Blish, have felt that there was no other “solution” to Mankind’s interminable quarrels. It took a thinker more familiar with facts and more comfortable with reasoning to point out the shortcomings:

     I believe that even a poor world government might be preferable to an uncontrolled arms race. I also believe that the practical difficulties are so large that it is a digression to dwell on such possibilities as a possible solution for the problems of the sixties....It is the hallmark of the amateur and dilettante that he has alomost no interest in how to get to his particular utopia. Perhaps this is because the practical job of finding a path may be more difficult than the job of designing the goal. -- Herman Kahn, On Thermonuclear War
     It is generally acknowledged that in the unlikely event nuclear weapons did become generally unavailable, a nation that retained even a single weapon would represent a terrible threat to the rest of the world. Consequently, some supporters of disarmament simultaneously support a world government that would have a monopoly on nuclear weapons. The practical problems of this alternative, namely the possibility that such a government could itself become oppressive, or could be taken over by an oppressive group, are rarely considered. -- Herman Kahn, Thinking About The Unthinkable in the 1980s

     Of course, the lure of power unbounded by rights or national borders will always appeal to the politically ambitious. It is these who are most ardent for superstates, including constructions such as the EU. But historical evidence suggests powerfully that such states are merely short-term precursors to galacticization:

     A system with positive feedback embedded in its guts behaves much like a system dominated by gravity. A system of masses ruled by unopposed gravity will compress at an exponential rate; the pressures that ultimately result will cause it to explode. The higher the peak pressure, the greater the bang – and the politics of the Left has already put American society, the American economy, and the American psyche under enormous pressure.

     If we look objectively at the stresses acting upon these United States after a century and a half of relentless centralization of power in Washington, we might easily conclude that we’re headed in the same direction as the slowly dissolving EU. Several states are alive with talk of secession, despite the results of the Civil War and the inevitable reaction of the federal government. Given the most recent attempts of our federal mandarins to remake the population itself via mass immigration, such talk can no longer be lightly dismissed.

     Oppressions, whether willful or the fruit of policy missteps, when imposed on a nation of hundreds of millions will engender a more violent backlash than the same errors on a smaller scale. So it is for Europe...and possibly for America as well:

     “You wanted to re-establish the centralized state, didn’t you? Did you ever stop to think that maybe feudalism is what suits man? Some one place to call our own, and belong to, and be part of; a community with traditions and honor; a chance for the individual to make decisions that count; a bulwark for liberty against the central overlords, who’ll always want more and more power; a thousand different ways to live. We’ve always built supercountries, here on Earth, and we’ve always knocked them apart again. I think maybe the whole idea is wrong. And maybe this time we’ll try something better. Why not a world of little states, too well rooted to dissolve in a nation, too small to do much harm—slowly rising above petty jealousies and spite, but keeping their identities—a thousand separate approaches to our problems. Maybe then we can solve a few of them...for ourselves!”

     The Founding Fathers understood this. (Yes, even the ones who wanted an all-powerful, unopposable central government.) Perhaps in the sweet rushing fullness of time, the European political elite – and ours – will come to understand it, too.

Friday, June 24, 2016

The “Jonah” Protagonist

     Among the best-known stories of the Old Testament is that of Jonah, he who was swallowed by “a great fish” and who lay in the belly that fish “three days and three nights.” However, Jonah’s harrowing adventure and subsequent service to God are better known than why inexorable disaster followed him before that: he had fled from God’s call to serve Him as a prophet to Nineveh.

     Jonah’s reluctance to serve God as he’d been called to do makes him the prototype for the reluctant hero: the protagonist who possesses the characteristics necessary to triumph over the antagonist, but who, for reasons of his own, refuses to buckle on his sword, take up his shield, and go forth to battle.

     The reluctant hero’s tragic flaw is often self-doubt. However, about as often it’s simply a rejection of his calling in favor of another sort of life: perhaps a quieter one, or at least more private.

     A story in which such a protagonist overcomes his reluctance and takes up cudgels is one in the classical pattern. Today we see about as many stories in which such a protagonist rationalizes his rejection of his calling – for example, by deciding that “people have to solve their own problems.”

     Note that, in the New Testament, Jesus of Nazareth felt a reluctance to embrace his role all the way to its conclusion:

     And he came out, and went, as he was wont, to the mount of Olives; and his disciples also followed him. And when he was at the place, he said unto them, Pray that ye enter not into temptation. And he was withdrawn from them about a stone's cast, and kneeled down, and prayed, Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done. And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him. And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground. [Luke 22:39-45]

     Yet at the last He did embrace it – and in the process founded the greatest of all religions.

     Needless to say, the Son of God was not a “Jonah.” Rather, being as human as He was Divine, He recoiled from His anticipated suffering as naturally as any of us would.

     It seems to me that recent fiction is light on reluctant heroes – that other patterns have come to predominate. Those patterns include both the “Doc Savage” indestructible and indefeasible hero and the utter antihero who can witness horrors beyond measure and yet say to himself “It’s not my problem.” However, I like the reluctant hero quite a bit – I should; I’ve written two of them – and I take an interest in the approaches of other writers who like him as well.

     The Lara Croft “relaunch” game Tomb Raider: A Survivor Is Born appealed to me in part because Lara is presented to us as a reluctant hero. Nathan Drake of the Uncharted games has a hint of that to him, as well. These two figures doubt themselves, rather than the justice of the cause they’re called to serve. The reluctant hero who doubts the moral validity of the cause (rather than his moral fitness to serve it) is somewhat rarer.

     What fictions have you encountered that present good examples of a “Jonah protagonist” / reluctant hero? Were they involving and exciting because of that, or despite it? In other words, did the protagonist’s reluctance seem contrived, perhaps as “filler” with which to lengthen the story, or was it integral to his character and background?

Quickies: Privileged Characters

     The word privilege comes from Latin roots, meaning private law. A society that honors the rule of law cannot have private – i.e., unpublished – laws, for that would make it impossible for a citizen to know what the law mandates and forbids. But a Society of Status, where “some are more equal than others,” will have two legal codes: one for the common man and one for the privileged. The latter code will often consist of exemptions from the laws in the former one.

     The Dishonorable Charles Rangel – and no, I don’t care that he served in Korea – who was censured for tax evasion after decades sitting on the House Ways & Means committee, thinks the protection you don’t deserve is his God-given right:

     New York Democratic Rep. Charlie Rangel says members of Congress “deserve” and “need” people with firearms protecting them in the U.S. Capitol building, but he does not want law-abiding residents in his own district to be armed for self-protection.

     Rangel made this distinction when he spoke to The Daily Caller Tuesday night about New York Police Department’s gun permitting bribery scandal....

     When asked by The Daily Caller his thoughts on the difficulty of getting a concealed carry permit in New York City and how rare it is for such permits to be issued by the NYPD, Rangel replied, “I’m glad to hear you say that very few people get it.”...

     TheDC noted to Rangel he and other members of Congress are protected by armed members of the U.S. Capitol Police.

     “Well that’s a little different. I think we deserve–I think we need to be protected down here.” Rangel laughingly insisted.

     Well, at least he’s consistent...but wasn’t Leona Helmsley indicted, tried, convicted, and imprisoned for her conviction that the laws are for the little people?

     This is also the man who has characterized the Republican Party as wanting to bring back slavery and who said, right out in front of God and everybody, “It’s not ‘spic’ or ‘nigger’ anymore. They say ‘Let’s cut taxes.’” And he’s sat in the House of Representatives with the other privileged characters of our supposedly classless society for nigh upon half a century.

     Remember those indecently naked D.C. lampposts, Gentle Readers.

Quickies: This Was Easy To Foresee

     The man who promised to “fundamentally transform” America isn’t about to let the courts stop him:

     President Obama said most illegal immigrants still won’t be deported, even after the Supreme Court’s tie ruling Thursday upheld an injunction on his broader deportation amnesty.

     Mr. Obama rushed to assure illegal immigrants with ties to the U.S. that they are “low priorities,” even though they will not be able to get the work permits and taxpayer benefits his “deferred action” program had promised.

     Imagine that. A “president” demonstrably contemptuous of his adversaries, the Constitution, and the rule of law has decided that the judicial outcome is less important than his priorities. He simply has to “have it his way,” as if the Oval Office were a Burger King.

     This morning, anyone who ever voted for this man, praised his intelligence, or cited his legal acumen as a reason to support him should hang his head in shame. Speaking of hanging, there are an awful lot of undecorated lampposts in the District of Columbia.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Quickies: This Idea Must Be Vigorously Opposed!

     This woman wants to make it harder to see boobs! Anti-boob propaganda is fundamentally anti-technological and anti-American. I mean, would we have near-universal broadband Internet access and cheap 2 Terabyte hard disks if this woman had her way?

     What nonsense, that boob scarcity somehow drives inventiveness! The entire electronics industry depends upon the demand for boobs. If it weren’t for men’s fascination with the female bosom, we’d probably all be running DOS 8.3.

     We must organize at once! No effort may be spared to defeat this pernicious new anti-boob ideology. Think of the bra makers. Think of the bikini developers. Think of the children! Oh, never mind the kiddies; think of all the people in Adult Nursing Relationships who’d suddenly become disenfranchised (not to mention quite a bit hungrier).

     This shall not pass! I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me boobs or...wait a moment, I mean: They can have my boobs when they pry them...uh, just a sec...oh, never mind.

Quickies: No Discussion Allowed!

Ashe Schow has the news:
     Two professors at the University of Northern Colorado were investigated after students complained that they were forced to hear opposing viewpoints.

     The complaints were made to Northern Colorado's "Bias Response Team," an Orwellian office on campus that asks students to report their peers and professors for anything that upsets or offends them. When the news outlet Heat Street made an open records request for some of the complaints, it discovered that two students had become so upset about having to hear an opinion they disagreed with they filed reports with school administrators.

     And rather than telling the students to buck up because they might hear those opinions outside of college or on the news or in the media, the schools told the professors to stop teaching that there's an alternate viewpoint.

     If I were given plenipotentiary power, and were to attempt to engineer a population that’s unable to defend its own convictions, I would:

  1. Decree mandatory schooling for all young persons, preferably for sixteen years;
  2. Render all schools subordinate to my decisions concerning what shall and shall not be addressed there;
  3. Create exactly the kind of debate-averse climate – in which addressing opposing views is actually punishable – that the cited story describes.

     Note also that the overlarge infants being trained thus not to think will some day rise to the levers of power in government and business. They may not be your problem today, but they will most assuredly become your problem tomorrow.

     Parents of America: Guard your children’s minds against this sort of thing. Keep them out of the “educational system” – and yes, that includes our “institutions of higher education.”

Quickies: A Continuation Of Civil War By Other Means

     Dystopic has written further on the tactics of the “social justice warrior” (SJW). As is usual at The Declination, it’s a piece filled with information and ideas, and deserves to be read in its entirety. However, I’ll excerpt a bit of it here for my own purposes:

     The point is, everything that SJWs do revolves around attacking your income. And every normal human being on Earth, without exception, has done something, said something, tweeted something or otherwise that could be spun into a Social Justice crusade. Perhaps you wore dreadlocks as a white guy? Maybe you attended an art show featuring a painting of kimono-clad people? Maybe you made a cheap joke about USB dongles?

     And maybe you donated to an anti-SJW political initiative. Let’s not forget that one.

     SJWs are losing the battle for public opinion as the Internet allows conservatives and libertarians to find one another and band together. If they can’t win our hearts and minds, they must attack us as individuals – render us afraid to take a stand against them for fear of personal or familial losses we cannot withstand. They like to attack our incomes – our employability, really – because it’s most individuals’ most vulnerable point.

     Attacking individuals’ ability to earn and prosper is barely a step short of attacking them with bullets and knives. If I may use a somewhat threadbare phrase, it displaces the politics of persuasion via facts and reasoning with the politics of personal destruction – a Leftist specialty.

     Tactically, this is gaining them ground in the short term. Strategically, it will ultimately cost them everything. Most Americans are fair-minded regardless of their political positions. They believe in freedom of speech and opinion. In the end, the nation will turn on the SJW cadres for their amorality. The consequences won’t be pretty.

     Our challenge is surviving the short term. To that end, Dystopic’s suggestions are important ones. Consider them seriously.

You Can’t Make This Stuff Up Dept.

Really, you can’t:
     Europe’s war against the tech age may be entering a new phase, as draft legislation has been introduced to decree that robots must be treated as human workers—and taxed as such. Reuters reports:
     Europe’s growing army of robot workers could be classed as “electronic persons” and their owners liable to paying social security for them if the European Union adopts a draft plan to address the realities of a new industrial revolution.[..]

     Their growing intelligence, pervasiveness and autonomy requires rethinking everything from taxation to legal liability, a draft European Parliament motion, dated May 31, suggests.

     The draft motion called on the European Commission to consider “that at least the most sophisticated autonomous robots could be established as having the status of electronic persons with specific rights and obligations”

     This is nonsense on mile-high stilts. These fabricated, purposed devices are property ab initio of those who make and buy them. Alfred Bester’s classic story notwithstanding, our machines aren’t independent entities with the capacity for autonomous action. My own speculations in that direction are likely never to be realized. The reasons are too involute for a short essay.

     But the masters of the European Union aren’t concerned with reality. They’re focused on revenue and the suppression of machine competition for human laborers. The “structural” unemployment problem the nations of Europe endure, itself entirely a creation of law, is worsened by the proliferation of “smart” manufacturing robots.

     Robots don’t strike for higher pay.
     They don’t take vacations or sick leave.
     Robots can work much longer shifts than men.
     They don’t mind doing the same thing over and over.
     And the “doctors” that tend their hurts don’t require medical degrees.

     Thus, as human workers become ever more strident about working conditions, noncash benefits, “living wages,” and the like, robots acquire a competitive edge...and the politicians see a corresponding diminution in their power to tax and regulate.

     Much as it is here, the resistance to increased tax rates has reached a point near to immobility. While Europeans aren’t as likely as Americans to “take the musket down from the mantel,” they have their own means of resisting arbitrary assertions of power, some of which are both innovative and effective. However, Europeans are generally friendlier than Americans to widening the population taxed...and if to spare European workers and their families any further increases in their tax burdens, that population must embrace nonsense by enfolding nonpersons, then so be it.

     Britain appears to be heading for the exit door. If it secedes from the EU, other nations are likely to follow it – and proposals such as this one will accelerate and intensify the tide.

Send Them Back to the Kitchen Dept.

United States Attorney General, Loretta Lynch:
We stand with you [the LGBT community] to say that the good in this world far outweighs the evil, that our common humanity transcends our differences, and that our most effective response to terror and to hatred is compassion, it’s unity, and it’s love,” Lynch said. “We stand with you today as we grieve together, and long after the cameras are gone, we will continue to stand with you as we grow together in commitment, in solidarity, and in equality.[1]
Lynch is no slouch in the Vacuous Buzzwords Department (VBD) either:
  • stand with you,
  • our common humanity,
  • transcends (common sense?),
  • differences,
  • hatred,
  • compassion,
  • unity,
  • love,
  • stand with you today (more standing),
  • grieve together,
  • continue to stand with you (even more standing),
  • grow together,
  • commitment,
  • solidarity, and
  • equality.

This kind of meaningless flapdoodle is also a specialty of our putative president, as witness his speech after the Ft. Hood workplace violence incident six long years ago.

There was a great "Twilight Zone" episode years ago where a low-life card sharp dies and ends up in an amazing place where every dice throw comes up seven, gorgeous women hang on his arm and his every word, and every need is provided for in luxury. He finally becomes so bored that he begs to be sent to "the other place." The official in charge laughs and says that this is "the other place."

Maybe the nearest earthly equivalent is to live in a great country but to be afflicted by a ruling class that is devoid of insight, character, firmness of will, and ability to foresee the immediate and long-term consequences of economic and political choices. On the outside they look like intelligent, normal people but after you watch them for a while you see they are dull, venal, treacherous, flaccid, empty, and treasonous.

They are uniformly like the two teenagers in the horror movie who hear a noise in the basement of the haunted house and immediately decide to go investigate. Yes, that's right. Go find out what's making that noise! When they reach the basement you want to scream at them, "Don't split up! Don't split up!" But they always do.

The political class is like that. When faced with a ludicrous decision and a commonsense decision which one do they invariably choose? Correct. The ludicrous one. The insane one. The most destructive one.

Merkel, for example, was faced with two alternatives:

(1) stop participating in the war against Syria that generates refugees; help refugees in place at a fraction of the cost; stop groveling at the feet of Erdogan who is also participating in the war against Syria and playing her like a Dollar Store ukelele; don't be a sap about admitting criminals, jihadis, economic parasites, and competitors for jobs and resources that should go to Germans; and demand interdiction at the land border with Turkey and in the Mediterranean; or . . .

(2) flood Germany and the rest of Europe with people who will cause enormous expense, heartache, misery, destruction, crime, and death.

We all know how that one went down.

The same in the U.S. where we have two big choices: (1) stop all legal immigration, bring back our troops from the Afghan border to seal our border, and deport foreign invaders and visa overstayers, or (2) keep legal immigration at toxic levels, leave the border wide open, and grant welfare and citizenship to invading illegals.

Obvious Treason Class choice: (2).

Yeah, baby.

It's the same with the 2016 U.S. presidential election. The elite has the option of supporting (1) a grasping, conniving, lying, abusive, power-hungry monster or (2) a normal person. And, 'chachos, the Establishment nominee is?

Chinese landscape painters loved to depict officials and wise men with long white beards living in gorgeous remote mountains where they contemplate waterfalls. I understand those guys. One can stand only so much mediocrity.

[1] "Lynch: The Best Response to Terrorism Is Love and Compassion." By David Rutz, Washington Free Beacon, 6/21/16 (emphasis added).

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

The vote heard 'round the world

First "Brexit," then Trump. If both our nations pushed back against the Globalists in the same year, that'd be some Hope & Change I could actually believe in!

Quickies: What Is It About Email?

     This morning, the Department of Homeland Security is looking not so secure:

     Judicial Watch today announced it obtained 693 pages of Department of Homeland Security records revealing that Secretary Jeh Johnson and 28 other agency officials used government computers to access personal web-based email accounts despite an agency-wide ban due to heightened security concerns. The documents also reveal that Homeland Security officials misled Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA) when Perry specifically asked whether personal accounts were being used for official government business.

     The records were obtained in response to a February 2016 court order by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia following a Judicial Watch Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit (Judicial Watch v. Department of Homeland Security (No. 1:15-cv-01772)).

     Not only did various DHSers break their own security rules, its executives lied to Congress about it. I’m torn between keelhauling them one by one – lengthwise along the keel of one of our aircraft carriers, of course – or staking the lot of them out on desert anthills, with specially imported fire ants, extra buzzards, and full media coverage of their demises. The side betting would be fascinating.

     The Obama Administration is, from top to bottom, a clown show composed entirely of felonious clowns. Worse, the clowns don’t even have enough sense to conceal their own wrongdoing. At this point, it would surprise me to learn that ISIS, al Qaeda, the Muslim Brotherhood, Tehran, Pyongyang, the Kremlin, Beijing, or anyone else who wishes us ill lacks full access to and knowledge of American security secrets...and of course one must wonder whether that was the end in view.

     Misconduct of this sort would have gotten a private citizen with a security clearance five to ten years in a federal prison. As for what will become of Jeh Johnson, or Hillary Clinton, or any of the rest of the crew, we’ll just have to wait and see.

     Keep all of this in mind the next time you hear the Obamunists talking about transparency...or “leaks.”

Quickies: “It’s Not Whether It Would Have Worked That Matters”

     Politicians don’t often care:

     During the June 19 airing of ABC’s This Week, Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) dodged questions regarding the impotency of his gun control proposal by suggesting it is not fair to judge gun control based on whether it works.

     Democrats are notorious for “waving the bloody shirt” after an long as it wasn’t committed by members of one of their mascot groups, of course. Every shooting that makes national news brings the gun-controllers out of the baseboards with fresh proposals for limiting law-abiding Americans’ access to firearms. Whether it would have prevented the “triggering” atrocity, however, is of no interest to them:

     So first of all, we can’t get into that trap. I disagree, I think if this proposal had been into effect it may have stopped the shooting. But we can’t get into the trap in which we are forced to defend our proposal simply because it didn’t stop the last tragedy.

     That makes it legitimate to question the proposer’s actual motives...but how often do the major media bother to do so? When was the last time an interviewer for one of the major news channels responded to such as the above by inquiring, “Well, if it wouldn’t have stopped the last tragedy, why are you proposing it now? Aren’t you just using the bodies of the dead as a platform on which you can stand with your irrelevant anti-Second Amendment scheme?”

     We in the pro-firearms-rights community would pay to see and hear that – and the reply to it.

Quickies: An Election-Year Maneuver And What It Suggests

     CNN has occasionally been derided as the “Communist News Network” or the “Clinton News Network.” Its editorial leanings are left of center, and several of its luminaries have been fairly open about that. However, that doesn’t mean the people who run it are stupid.

     Consider this sliver of evidence:

     CNN will host a televised Townhall for the Libertarian ticket of Governors Gary Johnson and William Weld tonight at 9 pm eastern, the first time any non-major party candidates have been given this exposure.

     No other media are being allowed access to the event. For the past two days the Libertarian Townhall has been the subject of the CNN countdown clock that appears in the lower right corner of the screen on CNN broadcasts.

     In a closely contested race for the presidency, minor parties will usually endorse one of the two major-party nominees. The usual calculation is that since it’s clear that a minor-party candidate cannot win a national election, its interests lie with whichever major-party candidate is closest to its own ideology. Were the prospective margin of victory large, the minor party might run an “educational campaign,” simply using the election as a vehicle with which to expose voters to its platform.

     The Libertarian Party doesn’t follow that pattern. It has run candidates of its own in every presidential contest since 1972. The LP ticket has never garnered enough votes to make a difference in the outcome, though it has occasionally figured in close races for other offices.

     However, this year might be different, as the LP ticket of two former Republican governors is sufficiently well known and respected to draw a few percent of the vote. The fear among Republican partisans is that GOP nominee Donald Trump will be the one to “lose votes” to the Johnson / Weld ticket. If so, it could cost him the election.

     It’s difficult to analyze the matter. Some who would vote for Johnson and Weld would otherwise stay home, but some would likely have voted for the Trump ticket. Therefore, one cannot say definitively that the LP ticket would “defeat” the Republican ticket by siphoning off votes. But that could be the case...and from the comments to the cited article, it has a lot of Republican partisans worried. What has my attention, however, is different.

     CNN, never previously open to LP coverage, is hosting this “Townhall.” If it’s a conscious maneuver to draw support away from Trump, it’s both cynical and clever: potentially even game-changing. The agitation among right-inclined voters aware of the “Townhall” suggests that a substantial number of them would embrace a proposal to exclude third parties from electoral participation, at least in presidential contests. It’s an ugly, unAmerican idea, but our politics has devolved so greatly that it’s not beyond possibility. Moreover, both major parties would favor it.

     Keep that last sentence in mind as the contest progresses.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Our Greatest Failures Part 4: Border Control

     Just in case you’ve spent the last eighteen months in a medically induced coma, it appears that, barring a development that would probably put an end to the Republican Party, its nominee for president in this year of Our Lord 2016 will be Donald J. Trump. The issue that brought Trump to the top of the lists was none other than illegal immigration and its effects upon these United States.

     Americans have become increasingly concerned about our border control these past few decades. The last significant immigration-relevant bill was passed in 1986 and signed by President Reagan. It was the fruit of a compromise: the bill granted amnesty to illegal aliens already within our borders, in exchange for a guarantee that much tighter border control would follow. According to some commentators, the Democrat caucus in the Senate promised during negotiations not to impede any subsequent bill that pertained to border control.

     Unfortunately, Democrats don’t keep promises.

     The amnesty the 1986 bill granted to certain illegals encouraged still more illegal entries to the U.S., especially over our southern border. The consequences have steadily become more visible. Urban and suburban residents can all testify to the concentrations of working-age men of Hispanic appearance congregating at certain public places in the mornings: because the employers of temporary low-skill labor know that they can be found there. Along with that, of course, has come a flood of news stories about heinous crimes committed by illegals. Hardly a week goes by without some lurid new entry – usually murder or rape – in that procession.

     There’s only one direct and immediate solution for lax border control: tight border control. However, there are certain impediments to such a solution:

  • It’s costly;
  • It excites cries of “racism,” however absurd;
  • The Democrats see the flood of illegals as politically favorable to them.

     First, let’s look at some important aspects of policy. Trump’s proposed wall along the southern border is one approach to tightening our border control. It would have some effect, but fences can be surmounted or penetrated; therefore, it would not be cost-effective unless it were fairly heavily monitored and manned. Moreover, there will always be ways to enter a country illegally for those sufficiently determined to do so, as the tunnels the Palestinians have dug for unsanctioned access to Israel should demonstrate. Thus, a maximally effective border control policy would require buttressing by enhancements to federal law concerning the detection and reporting of illegals, especially by prospective employers – and that comes with impediments of its own.

     Let all that stand to the side. Most significant for Americans today is the political potency of the illegal-immigration issue – an issue that Barack Hussein Obama is inflaming still further by importing Middle Easter Muslim “refugees” to the U.S. by executive fiat.

     Why is illegal immigration a hotter topic than virtually any other in our contemporary discourse?

     The labor and crime aspects of the matter are certainly potent enough on their own. They become even more so when one factors cultural matters into the equation. The flood of Hispanic immigrants to the western U.S. has resulted in the creation of Hispanic exclaves within which the only language spoken is Spanish, non-Hispanics are unwelcome, and the law is whatever the residents want it to be, regardless of the laws that nominally govern that region. Irredentist movements such as MEChA and La Raza are strong in such areas.

     Add to the above the steady proliferation of even more threatening Islamic exclaves, and the reluctance of the authorities to deal with Muslim violations of the peace, and Americans have good reason to believe that much tighter border control, and much less lip service to “cultural relativism,” should be at the top of our political priorities.

     I see the following changes as indispensable in this matter:

  • A physical barrier along the southern border;
  • Patrols of that border by men, drones, and electronic monitors;
  • Changes to federal law that intensify the penalties for entering the U.S. illegally;
  • Reinvigorated enforcement of federal laws that pertain to immigration and illegal entry;
  • Above all, compatible cultural changes:
    • Reassertion of the American national culture;
    • Imposition of an English-only policy by our public institutions, especially the schools;
    • Absolute rejection of all accusations of “racism” concerning the preservation of our borders and culture.

     The last of those conditions might be the most important of all, for Americans are irrationally sensitive to accusations of discrimination. Yet discrimination is merely a synonym for choice – and freedom of choice, including freedom of association both social and commercial, is an essential component of freedom.

     If we cannot discriminate, we are not free. More to the point of today’s tirade, every law discriminates between lawbreakers and the law-abiding. Laws that dictate immigration policy, including what constitutes legal entry to the U.S. and what shall be done with those who enter in some other way, are as discriminatory as any others. But three hundred million Americans must grasp this both intellectually and viscerally before the other changes required can be implemented.

Ultra-Quickies: “All Of A Sudden”

     This piece at Brock Townsend’s Free North Carolina is of vital importance. Read it!

     I’ll be back later.

Monday, June 20, 2016

“Aid And Comfort”

     Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. [Constitution of the United States, Article III, Section 3]

     Isabel Paterson noted the treason clause, in combination with the Constitution’s prohibition of bills of attainder and “corruption of blood,” as supremely important protections for the lives and property rights of Americans. Understanding this requires knowledge of how charges of treason were used by monarchies to destroy those who opposed the king. For all practical purposes, if the king charged you with treason, you were automatically guilty – and no one dared object, for reasons that should be obvious. “Corruption of blood,” another monarchical practice banned by the Constitution, extended the penalty from the accused to his family: it “justified” the attainting of the accused’s relatives, seizure of all family property, and in some cases the enslavement of all family members.

     But these provisions, though critical to attaining a grasp of the mindset of the Founding Fathers, are of less interest today than the three words “War,” “Aid,” and “Comfort.”

     Yes, Gentle Reader, those specific words are of vital importance to us today: the twentieth of June in the year of Our Lord 2016. There are several reasons, but the one I have in mind at the moment is Islam.

     Perhaps you haven’t yet heard about this pronouncement:

     On “Meet the Press” Sunday, Attorney General Loretta Lynch told Chuck Todd that only partial transcripts of Orlando terrorist Omar Mateen’s calls with law enforcement will be released. All of his “pledges of allegiance to terrorist groups”? Yeah — you don’t get to read or hear those:

     Lynch’s mealy-mouthed rationale – not furthering Mateen’s “propaganda” – won’t fool anyone. The Administration doesn’t want anyone to hear Islamic terrorist Mateen pledging allegiance to ISIS. Inasmuch as it’s already generally well known that he did so, why bother to suppress that part of the transcript?

     If the reason isn’t pressure from Islamic mouthpiece groups, what could it possibly be?

     Mind you, ISIS has already declared itself our enemy. That, too, is generally well known. However, Constitutional language doesn’t recognize an entity as an enemy of the United States unless Congress has declared war upon it – and one thing you may be certain will not occur, under the Obama Administration or any successor, is a declaration of war against ISIS. Among other things, that would grant implicit statehood to ISIS, which Obama has said “is not Islamic, and is not a state.”

     Rather interesting that we sortie warplanes against this entity that isn’t a state and we aren’t at war with, eh what?

     There’s been plenty of theorizing about why the Obamunists are so adamant about never associating Islam of any variety with terrorism. It’s possible that there’s some truth in all the proffered explanations. The one that’s uppermost in my mind this morning is the Administration’s current policy of importing Middle Eastern Muslims to our shores under the rationale of “humanitarian aid to refugees.”

     Muslim migrants are already turning much of Europe into a hellhole of savagery. While America’s problems with Islam and Muslims aren’t yet on Europe’s scale, we have quite enough of them and are sure to acquire more should our Muslim fraction increase. That the Obamunists refuse to confront that well established fact suggests that there’s another agenda in play...and it’s unlikely to put the interests of the United States or its citizens at the front.

     Islam itself classifies any land not dominated by Islam and Muslims to be Dar al Harb: “the House of War.” The Qur’an is replete with verses concerning the obligation of Muslims to wage jihad – war – upon the “unbeliever.” While not all Muslims take this to its logical conclusion, very few Muslims confronted by militant co-religionists would deny them at minimum the passive shelter of discreet silence. Surveys suggest that most Muslims would be far more accommodating than that.

     In Constitutional language, “Aid and Comfort” equate to any of the following:

  • Providing an enemy with material support (e.g. food, clothing, ammunition);
  • Providing him with wound care or other medical services;
  • Sheltering him or otherwise aiding in his concealment;
  • Spreading propaganda for his cause.

     To the best of my knowledge, whether attempting to suppress information about the enemy’s intentions constitutes propaganda of a passive sort has not been tested in court.

     Clearly, while it’s the most open of secrets that Islam is at war with us, the Administration will never admit that “the feeling is mutual” – that we are accordingly at war with Islam or any excrescence thereof. Indeed, great pains have been taken to separate the two Congressionally declared military excursions of recent years, Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom, from open association with Islam. For if Congress should ever declare that America is at war with Islam or any of its subvarieties, the treason clause comes into effect – and there are many, many persons on our soil who have given “Aid and Comfort” to Islamic militants. Some of those persons are routinely found within the corridors of power.

     What’s still worse is that the avoidance of the fact is entirely bipartisan. No one on either side of the aisle will ever allow that a state of war exists between world Islam and the United States of America. The implications go well beyond those that powered the internment of West Coast residents of Japanese descent. No one in our political elite wants to dredge those waters today.

     But war is upon us:

     It is in vain, sir, to extenuate the matter. The gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace– but there is no peace. The war is actually begun!

     You don’t need to be told who said that and when, do you, Gentle Reader?

Mile markers on the road to oblivion.

I really don’t know what it will take to knock that big fat lie [diversity is our strength] on the head and kill it for good. Nine-eleven should have done it in all logic; but no, we just doubled down on our diversity gamble, admitting more Muslims for settlement in the decade after 9/11 than we had in the decade before.
"Orlando, Paris, Yorkshire, and Donald Trump’s Unanswerable Questions About Immigration." By John Derbyshire, The Unz Review, 6/19/16.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

The Flower Of All Evil: A Quickie Rumination

     I never expected this. Seriously.

     I’ve been deluged with email from readers demanding to know why there hasn’t been a Sunday Rumination – i.e., a piece on some aspect of faith and the spirit – for a few weeks. I’d thought those essays were among my less popular ones, and that they wouldn’t be missed among the rest of the bilge I post here. It appears I was wrong. Even way wrong.

     Okay. I’m just back from a road trip, and half-drunk at that – it doesn’t take me long, and driving 677 miles is enough for me to “feel the need” – but I’ll do my best.

     I’m not guaranteeing that you’ll like what you read. Far from it.

     Would you like my opinion on the absolutely most important passage in the Gospels? It doesn’t matter what your answer is, because you’re going to get it regardless:

     But when the Pharisees had heard that he had put the Sadducees to silence, they were gathered together.
     Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, Master, which is the great commandment in the law?
     Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

     [Matthew 22:34-40]

     That passage is so critical to understanding Jesus’s New Covenant that Church teaching routinely omits it. Reflect on that for a moment and let the contradictions pile up in your forebrain while I fetch more tawny port.

     Ah, still here? Very good. The illuminating question is this: If my assessment is correct, why would Church teaching not refer to that passage at every relevant moment – i.e., at every proclamation that this or that prescription or proscription is binding upon all Christian faithful? Why would it be referenced only in passing, as a general instruction toward love of neighbor and charity?

     If you’re having trouble with the answer, read the last verse above – Matthew 22:40 – until the answer beats you over the head with a tire iron.

     I don’t know why most Liberty’s Torch readers are...well...readers of Liberty’s Torch. Every now and then I have an opportunity to ask opportunity I seldom exploit. When it comes to the Christian stuff, the question is often too painful for me to entertain.

     Do you know why it concerns me? Because I think the Gospels are the most important written documents on Earth. Because whether you prefer the King James version of the Bible, or the New Revised Standard version, or something else with which I’m unfamiliar, there’s no evading this:

All Christian authority resides in the Gospels, and none outside it.

     Given that Jesus was the Founder of Christianity and the sole possessor of Divine authority to proclaim the Law, how could it be otherwise?

     The Gospels are conspicuously silent on certain matters about which the Church is quite vociferous – even strident. Some of those matters have been subjects of controversy for decades. Consider just these three:

  • Contraception;
  • Homosexuality;
  • Papal infallibility.

     There isn’t a single word in the Gospels about any of those things. Yet the Church has made grandiose claims on all three, and on other matters for which no Gospel text is relevant, as well.

     Papal infallibility is particularly troublesome for its circularity. “I’m infallible,” said Pope Pius IX. Why? “Because I said so, and after all, I’m infallible.” Would any secular authority be accepted on that basis?

     Catholics (and many non-Catholic Christians) trust papal pronouncements as reliable guides to right belief and action. However, they would almost certainly do so without this business of papal infallibility. After all, the pope isn’t a lone man issuing decrees ex cathedra on his sole say-so; he has the College of Cardinals and the assistance of worthy theologians worldwide to assist him in his cogitations. On subjects relevant to Christian theology and ethics, the weight of presumption should be with the pope in the absence of powerful counter-evidence.

     But that’s a far cry from claiming that if the Pope says so, it cannot be otherwise.

     Reflect on that for a moment.

     A great part of fundamental Christian doctrine was laid down not by Jesus, but by Saint Paul: i.e., Saul of Tarsus, who’d been a Pharisee until his “road to Damascus” conversion. Saint Paul was not one of the original Twelve. He was added to the roster by the eleven Apostles some time after the Pentecost and the beginning of the Great Commission, in part because of the fire of his faith and in part because of his “work ethic:” his willingness to preach far and wide and to endure hardships and hazards many other believers found too daunting.

     But Paul was a Pharisee by upbringing and long habit. Much of what he laid down as Christian doctrine was imported from Pharisaic Judaism: i.e., from the Levitical Covenant that Christ’s New Covenant superseded. It is legitimate to question such doctrines – and to ask where in the Gospels we can find any substantiation for the notion that some particular Pauline doctrine “hangs from” the two Great Commandments.

     Quite a lot of Catholics, especially the most orthodox, will be angry with me for the above. That only makes the questions posed here that much more imperative.

     In Shadow of A Sword appears the following passage:

     [Christine’s] brow knotted. “Do you think [Louis is] with God now? Even though he said he didn’t believe?”
     Ray paused to organize his thoughts.
     “We are taught,” he said carefully, “that no good man will be denied his just reward in the next life. Going by what you’ve told me, Louis was more than a good man, much more. I’m nowhere near that good, and I’ve never known anybody who was nearly that good. If he had doubts, they clearly didn’t keep him from living the faith in every imaginable way. And there aren’t many who can say that, even among the clergy.” He rose, went to the west-facing window and surveyed the day briefly. All was quiet beyond. He turned back to her. “If God is just, and He is, then Louis is with Him.”
     “What about...” She paused and looked away. “What about all the sex?”
     “Was he promised to anyone? Were you?”
     She shook her head, and he smiled.
     “A peccadillo, if even that. The commandments forbid adultery, which is the violation of the marital promise of fidelity and constancy. The physical love you shared with him strikes me as the only imaginable way the bond between you could have been expressed. I expect God would see it the same way. Have no fear for him, dear.”

     Father Ray has quite obviously departed from “orthodox” Catholic doctrine in the above. Church doctrine makes the claim – utterly fantastic to me – that the Sixth Commandment – “Thou shalt not commit adultery” – confers upon the Church blanket, plenipotentiary authority over all sexual and parasexual conduct.

     I don’t buy it. I cannot buy it. And I cannot sit idle and allow the claim to go unchallenged. But my dissent has caused other Catholics to rain huge amounts of disparagement trending toward hatred upon my head. Yet they cannot substantiate their positions except by saying that “this is what the Church teaches.”

     Well, if they disliked Father Ray’s “literalist” interpretation of “Thou shalt not commit adultery,” they’re going to hate the romance novel I’m about to publish.

     At first I thought this would be a “quickie” Rumination, which is why I titled it thus. Clearly it’s more than that. But I’m going to let the title stay as it is. I’m also going to substantiate the first portion thereof, so you can have some sense of where my thoughts are trending.

     All evil ultimately flowers in hatred:

  • Hatred of God;
  • Hatred of others;
  • Hatred of Jesus’s New Covenant and its specific dictates.

     It cannot be otherwise. Neither is it possible for persons desirous of authority beyond what is properly theirs to pervert the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God and Redeemer of Mankind, without becoming His enemies: persons who hate Him and desire to displace Him at the right hand of God.

     Clerics – from the lowliest parish deacon all the way to the Holy Father – who attempt to substitute their own preferences for the teachings of Christ are indictable under that observation.

     More anon.

     UPDATE: I've closed comments because some commenters are more interested in hurling insults than arguing. I can be wrong; indeed, I've been wrong quite often. But if you want to demonstrate to me that I'm wrong, insulting me is the wrong way to go about it.