Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Show Marriages

     Politics is rife with them.

     The known show marriages in American politics include such as John F. Kennedy’s marriage to Jacqueline Bouvier. JFK was a notorious womanizer, a characteristic the press of his day was anxious not to report. Had it been as widely known then as it is now, questions would have abounded about why Jackie stayed with him. In many women’s eyes, the status that accrued to her as First Lady doesn’t nearly compensate for his serial betrayals of her with women high and low.

     Before JFK there was the show marriage of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt. FDR was yet another Democratic adulterer. His extramarital dalliances with Lucy Mercer are well documented; his later affairs with Marguerite “Missy” LeHand are less well known but nearly as certain, owing to her extensive visits to him when Eleanor was absent. Eleanor, be it noted, did answer FDR’s straying with dalliances of her own, first with Earl Miller and later with Lorena Hickok.

     Adultery was also among Warren Harding’s failings. Indeed, one of his mistresses, Nan Britton, actually lived in the White House during his time there, though he took some trouble to conceal it. Even so, Harding’s “real” wife Florence “Duchess” Kling must have been more gullible than average.

     The match between William Jefferson Clinton and Hillary Rodham gives every indication of being strictly for show. Clinton’s numerous adulteries and advances toward other women, both before and during his presidency, are well known. Almost as well known is Hillary’s spate of lesbian engagements during her young adulthood. Those aware of that period in her life have speculated freely about a more intimate than business relationship between her and long time aide and companion Huma Abedin.

     With the long awaited separation of Abedin from Anthony Weiner, the speculation is bound to explode. Surely the Weiners’ marriage – a New York Jew to a Pakistani Muslim – was among the most useful of matches to the Democrat Party. Yet appearances have been against them since long before Weiner’s “sexting” behavior was revealed to the world. The dissolution of their marriage will soon be an accomplished fact, at which point the political press will be divided into two camps: those anxious to avert their eyes, lest the story weaken Hillary’s chances for the presidency, and those who find the scandal and its implications too juicy to resist.

     The question on the minds of many about a show marriage demonstrated to be such is, of course, “Why does she tolerate it?”

     The possible answers are many. However, in recent years the most plausible of the lot has been that she wants the power, privilege, and status that the marriage brings her too much to allow herself to fret over its vacuity. When we contemplate the Clintons’ marriage, for example, we see two persons both avid for power and status. Whether or not she regarded their alliance as a practical one at first, after Bill’s inability to restrain himself sexually became well known, Hillary surely had to evaluate her chances of achieving as high and powerful a station on her own as she might as his wife. Rumors about what went on between them after the infamous “bimbo eruptions” of the 1992 presidential campaign don’t involve a solemn vow that he would “keep it in his pants,” but rather bargaining over which of them was to control what aspects of federal policy.

     It is unlikely that similar bargaining occurred between the Weiners. Legislators don’t have the same kind of power. Yet Huma, who had already taken a grave risk by marrying a Jew, must have contemplated the practical effects of divorcing Anthony when the scandal broke. They were already apart far more than they were together, owing to her tight binding to Hillary. However, the Clintons had already modeled that pattern and had received a kind of indirect approbation for it, so perhaps it seemed to her that it would be best just to go on as they had.

     The consequences of the Weiners’ upcoming divorce will be wide – perhaps wider than anyone can foresee.

     “Politics make strange bedfellows,” it is said. Indeed, there aren’t many successful marriages in which the spouses hold to diametrically opposed politics. However, there are probably many more marriages of convenience, especially when he’s the one in high office, than most Americans suppose. Ascent to a federal office puts special strains on the occupant, including a significant increase in the sexual temptations that will be offered him. Power is among the more potent aphrodisiacs.

     Despite all that, Americans prefer married office-seekers to single ones. It seems that something about the institution of marriage reassures us about a politician. He committed to a binding relationship; therefore he’ll commit to the duties and responsibilities of high office. Unfortunately, the connective tissue – that the marital commitment was sincere rather than made for appearances or potential gain – is missing from that kinda-sorta syllogism.

     In our day, single persons have a steep hill to climb toward political power. Given the almost complete loosening of mores concerning sexual fidelity, perhaps it seems to many aspirants – beforehand, at least – that a show marriage will be “worth it” as an investment and won’t be “too much trouble” to maintain afterward. Yet paradoxically and somewhat ironically, we hold our officeholders to higher standards of fidelity than most of us hold ourselves. “He proved he can’t be trusted,” we say to one another. That should cause us to reflect, somewhat more often and more seriously than we do, on what the prevalence of adultery among us says about how ready we should be to trust one another in this year of Our Lord 2016.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Is Hillary Clinton Running For Liar-in-Chief?

     First, peruse this story:

     STEPHANOPOULOS: How about in the White House? The New York Times wrote this week that you did not attend National Security Council meetings, you did not receive the president's daily briefing, didn't have a security clearance. And that calls your experience in the White House into question.

     CLINTON: Well, I just disagree with that. You know, I can imagine what the stories would have been had I attended a National Security Council meeting. You were there. I think you can vouch for that.

     But I had direct access to all of the decision-makers. I was briefed on a range of issues, often provided classified information. And often when I traveled on behalf of our country. I traveled with representatives from the DOD, the CIA, the State Department. I think that my experience is unique, having been eight years in the White House, having, yes, been part of making history, and also been part of learning how to best present our country's case. And now, seven years on the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue.

     Then ponder this story:

     Hillary Clinton had no role in national security matters as first lady, according to newly uncovered records, a revelation that undermines her claims on the campaign trail in 2008.

     William Cohen, who served as secretary of defense under President Bill Clinton for several years, said in 2007 that Hillary Clinton “was not involved in national security issues” as first lady, according to a transcript of an interview with the defense secretary’s historical office obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.

     Cohen, who was appointed by Bill Clinton in 1996, spoke about his experience as defense secretary during the interview, highlighting his positive relationship with the former president. When asked by interviewers whether Hillary Clinton “play[ed] any kind of part” in national security and Pentagon matters, he replied, “No, not really.”

     “She was not involved in national security issues,” Cohen said in the transcript, which was included in the William S. Cohen papers archive housed at the University of Maine.

     I can’t help but wonder whether the drugs she’s been taking for her myriad physical maladies have caused Mrs. Clinton to hallucinate. Or perhaps she’s merely confident that the media will confirm whatever she says whenever it can, and will refuse to cover the story whenever it can’t.

     Bill Clinton, according to the testimony of one of his co-partisans, is "an unusually good liar." His wife, unfortunately for her and everyone in her orbit, is an unusually bad one.

The Criminalization Of The Survival Instinct

     Yes, Gentle Reader, it’s really happening.

     I wrote very recently about the reaction, among American whites, to the violence and disruptions issuing from among American blacks (with a few profit-minded whites included for seasoning). Today, Ol’ Remus adds some thoughts of his own:

     Riots—arson, assault, looting—aren't demonstrations, they're not a legitimate part of "the marketplace of ideas", even when they're federally funded and sanctioned by municipalities. If Black Lives Matter believes otherwise, especially if they're dumb enough to take it outside their own 'hood, they invite a return to former times when invasive violence was answered in kind, to general applause from the citizenry. Martin King advised the hot heads among his followers to think about the real meaning of the word "minority."...

     Things aren't likely to remain as they are, nor is there any obvious way for it to get better, partly because there's no honest conversation. After decades of lavish appeasement, BLM and the like, their federal sponsors and the media have come to believe it's their right and duty to set bounds on what we can say. You'll notice they're surprised and disappointed we talk among ourselves without their supervision, it's possible we may take our own side.

     There's nothing in any of this for sincere people of good will. The opportunity for live and let live has come and gone. Stay away from crowds.

     Concise and to the point. Yet there’s more to say, for the “Black Lives Matter” obscenity and the associated rampages are part of a wider phenomenon. So, indeed, is the reaction to them, which has acquired a name certain persons are straining to vilify: the “Alt-Right.”

     Every totalitarian movement needs a chimera to rail against. The Nazis of the Thirties employed the Jews. The Communists of Lenin’s time exploited the “capitalists” and the kulaks. Mao’s Communists condemned “class enemies,” a handily flexible category. Hillary Clinton, today’s most prominent totalitarian in a Democrat’s clothing, has chosen hers: the “Alt-Right.”

     Of course, such chimeras are almost never real forces organized or aimed as their detractors proclaim. They’re mostly loose categories of persons following their personal interests as best they can. They might agree upon certain things. They might share a religious faith. What they don’t have is a common vision of “the enemy.” No, not even the “Alt-Right,” though that category does share certain convictions about what’s gone (and is still going) wrong with American society and its political system.

     Theodore “Vox Day” Beale has produced an “Alt-Right” manifesto of sorts. However, not everyone who likes the label agrees. For example, Brett Stevens has produced his own summation of what he thinks the Alt-Right is or should be. There are others attempting to define the term to their liking. Each adds his own flavor to the icing.

     In my opinion, all of these attempts miss the essence of the thing. And so – as you, perspicacious Gentle Reader, no doubt have already guessed – here I am to offer my own thoughts.

     The “traditional” political spectrum of Left versus Right has taken some body blows these past few years. The contrast between JFK liberals and contemporary left-liberals is quite stark; that between Reagan conservatives and those who call themselves conservatives today is even starker. A principal difference, which tends to color every more specific difference each contrast reveals, is the change in attitude toward the other side:

  • Whereas JFK liberals were agreed that America is worthy of both celebration and defense, contemporary left-liberals tend to castigate, if not condemn, the very country they seek to govern.
  • Whereas Reagan conservatives were stoutly opposed to the expansion of the federal government – indeed, were committed in principle to rolling it back – contemporary conservatives content themselves with merely slowing the expansion of federal power.

     The transitions involved were not simultaneous. The Left began its journey during the Johnson Administration. The Right’s metamorphosis commenced with the failure of Reagan’s Congresses to cooperate with any of his aims other than the two tax-rate-reduction bills and the reinvigoration of America’s military. In both cases, the changes began “at the top:” among the strategists and kingmakers in the Democrat and Republican parties. The effects “trickled down” to well regarded opinion leaders on both sides, who dutifully promulgated the new gospels, which then permeated officeholders in their respective parties.

     In short, as the Left pressed for total power over all things, the Right committed itself to a rearguard action, accepting the Left’s advances as “inevitable.” This did not meet with the approval of ordinary citizens of conservative bent, who felt their well-being – in some cases, their survival – was at stake. They felt they were being betrayed by the very people to whom they’d given their money and votes.

     They were right to feel betrayed. It would take some time for the enormity of that betrayal to become visible.

     The survival instinct, once triggered, supersedes all other impulses and interests. We’re hard-wired that way, incapable of acting otherwise. When it’s triggered by the sense of an enemy approaching, the response is either to fight or to flee. I submit that this is the characteristic that, however divergent their policy preferences might be, unites the Alt-Right in our time:

     Some Alt-Rightists are inclined to fortify personal, familial, or community redoubts against the enemies they most fear. This is a form of “fleeing in place,” which recognizes that the world beyond America’s shores is just as deep in the mire, if not even deeper. Such persons are often called “preppers.” Not all those who style them such are benevolently disposed toward them.

     Other Alt-Rightists are girding for battle, whether political or explicit. The politically inclined are seeking champions outside the Republican mainstream, for obvious reasons. Those who feel that it must come to bloodshed are sharpening their weapons skills, stocking up on arms and ammo, and in some cases collaborating on community preparations for what they believe must eventually arrive. That they don’t all prioritize the same enemies or fear them to the same degree is of little importance.

     The commonality of Alt-Rightists in their sense of a looming threat, whether to their prosperity, to the freedoms they cherish, or to their very lives, utterly dwarfs any specific differences in policy or orientation among them. Some are religious, but others are not. Some are white, but others are not. Some support the presidential candidacy of Donald Trump, but others do not. Some are heterosexual, but as Milo Yiannopoulos makes clear, others are not. Nor do the differences end there.

     Those differences are of no real importance to Hillary Rodham Clinton or her lust for power. She needs a chimera with which to terrify and mobilize her supporters, and she’s chosen the Alt-Right for the role.

     If I may coin a word to describe the key commonality among the Alt-Right, it would be antiarchonic: i.e., they are opposed to the ruling class of our time and place, regardless of the labels worn by specific persons. That’s entirely consistent with their common sense of betrayal by their nominal representatives within that class, and with the sense of threat they share. Those who seek to displace the ruling class and install another frequently draw the amused sarcasm of those who maintain that “the system is the real enemy.” Nevertheless, their animosity toward those who purport to “govern” us is common and deeply felt.

     Now, please remember that this is all one man’s opinion. I sometimes see myself as a part of this very diffuse movement, but at other times, with regard to specific persons who claim to speak for it, I draw back in dismay. The current of anti-Semitism I condemned here disturbs me greatly. That’s an error Americans should know better than to repeat. Similarly, contemplating the possibility of the sort of racial pogrom I depicted fictionally makes me shudder. What I find meritorious is good Americans’ willingness to recognize that they’re seriously threatened by their ruling elite, and their consequent willingness to take some sort of stance from which to battle it. You cannot defeat an enemy you refuse to identify.

     By adopting the Alt-Right as the bug-bear with which to animate her followers, Hillary Clinton has implied a willingness to criminalize the survival instinct of those Americans. That follows from the tacit endorsement she and her supporters have given to the demands and tactics of groups such as Black Lives Matter, Occupy, the gender-war feminists, and the enviro-fascist activists. Recognition of her posture will harden the opposition she has called “Alt-Right” into something more coherent – something unified around a single aim.

     There may yet be time for it to rise in wrath and effect her downfall. Stay tuned.

Demographics And The Medicalization Of Human Existence: An Addendum

     For those who don’t read comments sections, the indispensable Pascal Fervor has kindly dug up the Web Archive Service’s copies of the articles linked in the piece below:

     Thank you very much, Pas.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Demographics And The Medicalization Of Human Existence – The Consequences

     Upon reading this brief piece by Wesley J. Smith, I was cast backward in time, to an essay I wrote in 2007. It appears below. Before proceeding to it, please read Smith’s article and ask yourself about the proliferation of “assisted suicide” laws here in the United States: specifically, which demographic’s political pressure and influence called them into being, and which demographic, at any particular time, is most likely to “benefit” from them.

     (The links won't work because they all point to Eternity Road, which no longer exists. Sorry about that.)

     Quite a percentage of the most upsetting stories of the past few years have had a medical character. The execution by torture of Terri Schiavo, the government-decreed starvation of Leslie Burke,and Amy Richards's murder of two of her three unborn triplets come to mind at once. The medical sector of society seems to have infiltrated parts of our media, and our consciousness, we once reserved for serial killers and horror writers.

     We needn't stop there, of course. Just murmur "embryonic stem cell research" to yourself in a dimly lit room, and watch the shadows surge menacingly around you. Or perhaps "assisted suicide," the "choice" whose proponents become more militant with each passing year. If you haven't yet crept quivering under your desk, consider the "Groningen Protocol," which multitudes of European and American physicians have enthusiastically endorsed. It would seem that the most venerated of the "helping professions" has grown bored with helping people to live, and has taken on a sideline of a quite different sort.

     Why are physicians helping to stoke the engines of death, and why are we allowing them to do so?

     If you haven't asked yourself that question yet, check your pulse: you may have died and not noticed. Of course, in that case the subject would seem a deal less relevant, but your Curmudgeon will proceed nevertheless.


     Immediately after World War II, the massed armies of the combatants pretty much dropped their guns where they stood and flocked home to procreate. In the United States, the population surge this produced is well known as the Baby Boom, and its individual members as Boomers. Though the phrase is American, the other nations that were heavily involved in the war all experienced similar demographic spikes, as fighting men all over the world remembered that there was an activity they greatly preferred to taking orders and dodging bullets.

     For at least forty years, the worldwide Baby Boom has been the demographic fact of greatest significance to the nations it affected. It's pulled politics, economics, technology and culture into its wake; the desires of so great and concentrated a mass could hardly do otherwise. But its influence on the attitudes and practices of the medical field, and the interplay of medical with political trends, have been less well analyzed than they deserve.

     The influence of the vast Baby Boom market on the commercial sector has been plain to see. Whatever Boomers wanted, or were imagined to want, industry strained to produce. By and large, that hasn't been a bad thing. But today, with the Boomer cohort trudging toward late middle age and peering forward at seniority, what Boomers want is quite different from what we wanted twenty years ago.

     Basically, we want to be young again. Functionally young, not calendrically. We want to look young, feel young, enjoy the pleasures and opportunities of youth, and -- here's the kicker -- evade the burdens and responsibilities of age. Of course, many an oldster before the Boom has wished for his youth back, for the above reasons and others. But never before in recorded history has a demographic cohort this large wished for that benison this ardently, and been as pandered to as ours is being.

     When we were young, we were treated like royalty. We were catered to as children, given few or no responsibilities and whatever pleasures or diversions we wished. We were made into the center of the universe as teenagers and young adults, told that our half-assed opinions mattered despite our callowness and ignorance, and flattered by legions of politicians and media barons. As we moved into middle age, we were handed the reins of government and industry without a fight, and largely without having to prove our mettle. Bliss it was in that dawn to be alive, but to be a Boomer was very heaven.

     It was a natural consequence of the postwar years. The wars had reaped tens of millions of lives; disease had ravaged tens of millions more. Our parents, weary with conflict and destruction, looked to us to improve on their a sense, to save the world not only for them but from them. Wishful thinking? Yes, of course...yet on what grounds could a youngster of our day assert that he'd have been immune to the temptation? Since the Industrial Revolution, no generation had been tested as severely as the parents of the Baby Boom. It might be dozens of centuries before men face such trials again.

     But understanding it is insufficient to avert its consequences. Boomers are a youth-fixated people. As we move ever deeper into the latter halves of our lives, our desire to avert the consequences of that transition becomes ever more powerful. We devote increasing amounts of time, money, and effort to preserving the things of youth. We'll even take the form if we can't have the content; witness the explosive growth of the cosmetic surgery industry.

     The implications for the medical field, including the critical field of medical research, would seem to be clear. Some of them, at least:

  • We want to look and feel young.
  • We want to be treated the way we were when we were calendrically young.
  • We don't want to become infirm.
  • We certainly don't want to die.

     Science fiction author Larry Niven, in a series of stories in his "Known Space" canon, narrated some of the more horrifying sociopolitical consequences of a youth-fixated / death-averse world. If the vote could be used to stay young and hale, he reasoned, it would be. Therefore, given the chance, citizens would vote for the death penalty for every imaginable offense, and mandate that the sentence be carried out in an operating room. The condemned would be transformed into transplant resources, to help keep the law-abiding folks alive and well.

     We're not at that point yet, but we're getting closer. Embryonic stem-cell research is not morally distant from Niven's premise. A few nations have considered passing mandatory organ donation laws. A few folks have even suggested that executing a condemned man and throwing away his body is simply wrong, when his organs could help to compensate for the harm he'd done in life.

     If such nightmares poke their snouts into the light of day, it will be because Boomers have demanded them.

     But Niven's speculation is far from the end of the subject. Young persons, healthy and vigorous, seldom need health care, and therefore seldom need to pay for it. The older they get, the larger this burden becomes financially. Medicare and Medicaid, along with the pervasive practice of paying for any and every kind of medical service through insurance, have greatly accelerated those costs, per office visit, per lab test, per treatment, and per capita.

     A Boomer today not only faces medical bills far greater than his parents did at his age, but the treatments and services he buys are much more desirable to him: less painful, more likely to work without undesirable side effects, and more oriented toward maintaining him in a condition of fitness and vigor. To his parents, medicine and its practitioners were a recourse in times of great need, invoked only to cope with serious conditions and life-threatening injuries. To him, "health care" is the Fountain of Youth.

     If you've never understood how a nation with so many horrifying examples of the failures of socialized medicine before its eyes could nevertheless flirt with allowing Washington to nationalize the health care industry, perhaps you understand it now.


     The above certainly has explanatory power for much of the medicalization of human existence. But there's another, darker facet to Boomer culture that remains to be critically examined: how Boomers' desire to remain young and hale feeds the engines of death.

     We needn't linger over embryonic stem-cell research. That's really part of the "positive" side of the equation: the part that hopes that by sacrificing the most defenseless proto-humans of all, we might contrive to extend our own health and vitality. To grasp the negative side of things, we must study financial factors more deeply.

     A dollar spent on X is unavailable to be spent on Y; this is the monetary corollary to the Principle of Scarcity on which all of economics is based. He who projects that his own bills will be rising sharply, for whatever reason, will certainly feel a desire to minimize the expenditures others "force" upon him. If he foresees great increases in those involuntary expenditures upon others, that would force him to reduce his expenditures upon his personal needs and desires, he will be greatly distressed. He might toy with "doing something about it."

     Thus, we enter the realm of euthanasia.

     A mere three generations ago, the suggestion that Gramps be "put to sleep" for any reason, much less to free his kids of the bills for his maintenance, would have been greeted with an outrage that transcended horror. Today it's an active topic of discussion. Several states have submitted to the demands of such groups as the Hemlock Society by enacting "assisted suicide" laws. From time to time, public figures have made comments about the "duty" of the old to "get out of the way" of the young. "Ethicist" Peter Singer, a hero to many for his arguments in favor of retroactive abortion, argues that below a certain "quality of life," a creature no longer possesses a right to life, and can be put involuntarily to death for utilitarian reasons -- an assertion that reaches every point on the spectrum of age. The doctors who authored the Groningen Protocol have employed this argument, too.

     Boomers grant the discussibility of euthanasia for the lowest of all reasons: it would save us money. We'd no longer have to worry about how to foot the bills for Gramps, or for the spouse with terminal multiple sclerosis, or for the child with severe cerebral palsy or Down's Syndrome. Beyond the money, it would save us having to labor over those wretches, or endure their complaints and their lack of gratitude. Away with them! If the State won't take them off our hands, maybe God will! More time and money for us, that's the ticket!

     Of course, we hedge our selfishness and cowardice with the nicest of stringencies. There must be consultations and deliberations. Family, physicians, psychiatrists, bureaucrats -- everyone must have a say. There must be nothing that could possibly be done for the sufferer to elevate his "quality of life" near to that of an actual person. And of course, when we inevitably decide upon the inevitable Quietus, it must be painless -- not for the sake of the guest of honor, but as a balm for our own consciences.

     And the "medical community," power and wealth in prospect, rushes to comply. Hippocratic Oath be damned; that might have been good enough for the pagan Greeks, but we're beyond all that now. We're civilized.

     Are we?


     A final twist of the stiletto remains: the inevitability of our own ends.

     As a rule Boomers are not good about bearing pain or helplessness. Of course, that's one of the drivers of the New Medicine; never before have there been so many different analgesics and therapies for pain, and so many artifices to help a disabled person cope with the challenges of life. But ultimately, all these things must fail; no one's body can be kept sound forever. He who is unlucky enough to outlive his health and strength must either accept increasing discomfort and the loss of his abilities, or die.

     Because we've known so little pain and disability, a good many of us want to make certain that we'll have "assistance" toward the Final Exit when the time comes. It's a form of cowardice that earlier generations resisted far better than we...but then, a member of the pre-Boomer generations bore more pain in his first ten years of life than a typical Boomer will know lifelong.

     Few Boomers who call vociferously for "assisted suicide" laws pause to think about the pressures our progeny might put upon us to "use" those laws...possibly well before the thought ever enters our heads.


     The medicalization of our existence is being driven by our existence itself: our privileged position in space, time, and circumstance as the least burdened, most pampered people ever to slide behind the wheel of a Lexus. Life is good; we want to keep it that way, especially those of us from the have-it-all Boomer generation who've hardly known privation or suffering. If the promises become lurid enough, we might well succumb to the lure of bureacratized doctors as unreviewable arbiters of life and death -- and don't kid yourself; socialized medicine, for which "universal health care" is a mere circumlocution, means exactly that.

     Think, and pray.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Hearken Unto John C. Wright!

In his words (except for a few typos I corrected) --
Let us cut to the chase. 
Think back to the day when you first discovered that you were a meat robot without free will, without freedom, and without dignity. Did the discovery fill you with awe, rapture, wonder and gratitude? 
For, if not, the discovery is false. Truth is majestic and majesty provokes awe; truth is sublimely beautiful and beauty provokes rapture; truth is startling, because it shatters the lies we tell ourselves, and the bright surprise leaves us blinking in wonder; truth is a gift of prized above all price, and gifts provoke gratitude. 
If the discovery of materialism did none of these things, either your reactions are mis-calibrated and do not reflect reality, or your discovery was not a discovery at all, merely a falsehood you have yet to test with due rigor. 
So? What was your reaction?

My reaction (to his argument, not to materialism) --

The only modification I would make is to simplify that Truth affects -- as do Lies, except to opposite effect.  Some truth we'd rather not know, and of course then the effect might not seem as pleasant as is made out here.  And yet, we somehow know it to be truth -- because it affects.

I know a lot of people will dislike and disagree with this kind of argument, however, I think even such thinkers should deeply consider the slightly more primordial thought from which this train flows -- that the only way to know Truth, the only way to know or believe anything, is through experience.  There just simply is no other avenue.

Do you believe in the Bible?  Because you have somehow experienced the truth of it -- through reading it, through sermons, what-have-you.  Do you not believe?  Even that belief is through experience of some sort.

Do you believe in logic, even?  Because you have experienced the truth of it, you have seen it work before your eyes.  Otherwise, even logic itself is simply a proposition --  it might or might not have been true to your eyes.  I know a lot of people are not going to like that, but there it is.

These days a lot of people like to argue for some other basis of belief -- 'proving' this or that through 'pure logic', 'rationality', etc.  This is simply not the way it works.  Even if you were convicted of such a system it would be because of your experience of it, and not, strictly speaking, because of the logic itself, in a direct sense.

Experience is the ground of all knowledge.  It is the only way 'in.'  Of course, it is just as fallible as people are, but nevertheless, it's all anybody has got to go on, and the only 'evidence' anybody has of the veracity of anything.  Which means, at least to my mind, that experience is indeed very good and important evidence, i.e., that if you experience -- in some way or other -- that there very much is a divine aspect to reality, then there probably is, and you are absolutely right to believe even if it can't be 'proved,' even if you can't 'defend your faith rationally,' etc.  Yes, you should probably work on those things -- but they come second, not first!  Don't let the posers on the internet convince you that it is in some weird way otherwise.

This would all seem almost painfully self-evident, and yet, how many arguments have you seen where one side becomes incensed that the other won't accede once the case has been 'proven?'  And yet -- of course! -- that is not at all on what it all turns -- if the other party does not experience the truth of what has been presented, of course he should not (and almost certainly will not) be converted over.  He may be wrong or right in doing so; it may simply be that he does not understand, he thinks something or other important is missing, or maybe in some cases he is outright dishonest.  But it is rather silly to think that he should on logical or 'rational' grounds, as if that were really what it were all about.  If it is really one's purpose to bring him over, it would seem to be more prudent to search for a way to bring about the proper experience.  Apparently, the one presented wasn't up to the task.

As always -- in my opinion... for whatever that's worth...

Degradations: A Sunday Rumination

     It may be that there are things Man was not meant to know, but of this I am certain: There are things no man wants to know. Yet some of those things are essentials, bits of knowledge without which a life is markedly incomplete, sometimes to the point of being unworkable.

     One of the essentials that the average man strains mightily never to learn is the abysmal depth to which degradation – including self-imposed degradation – can descend.

     It’s been my cross to know people who seemed to be striving to plumb the depths of degradation. Two are most vivid in memory. One sought mindlessness through immersion in the flesh: sex with as many strangers as he could entice into his bed. The other embraced filth: he created surroundings for himself so disgusting that they could not be worsened.

     Both those persons had been blessed with substantial intellects. They were fully aware of what they were doing. They might have been mentally ill, but they could not claim that “it was all a mistake,” that “I had no idea what I’d done to myself.” And both came to unhappy ends.

     For a long time afterward, I flogged myself about what I might have done to help them. In neither case did I ever come up with anything. In one, I eventually saw myself as one of his several enablers, who ought to have known better. It’s been a source of regret for some years.

     Degradation can look incomprehensible from the outside. Indeed, it usually does, for one who is unafflicted can never grasp the entirety of the degraded person’s background or mental state. Of course that doesn’t change the reality of the condition. However, it does tempt the man of good will to do well meant but poorly thought out things, out of a sincere desire to help. I’d wager that everyone who’s ever lived has felt or will feel such a temptation.

     As much as we want to help, that’s an objective: i.e., a goal to be sought within the confines of physical, moral, and ethical constraints. And foremost among the ethical constraints God has laid upon all of us is this one: Don’t make things worse.

     The creed of Alcoholics Anonymous holds that the alcoholic must “hit bottom” before he can regain the clarity and humility required to face his disease in its enormity. So it is with every species of self-degradation. The degraded one must descend so far that he can no longer hide his sickness from himself. Until he’s fallen that low, he will continue to believe that his condition is one he can correct at any time, by himself. Therefore, he will regard any aid offered to him as gratuitous – dispensable.

     Are there exceptions? Possibly. But I haven’t known any, nor has anyone with whom I’ve discussed the subject.

     Christian thought and teaching exhorts us to charity toward the less fortunate. Charity – the care for another that sprints from caritas, benevolent emotional involvement with him – is not exempt from the “Don’t make things worse” constraint. Moreover, among the “less fortunate” are many whose condition is of their own making. The only possible form of charity toward such persons is to tell them what they need to hear and then stand well back. All else is an enabler’s folly.

     Even telling a self-degraded man what he “needs to hear” is pointless unless he’s already grasped his sickness for himself. He’ll dismiss it as meddling, an outsider’s uncomprehending intrusion into “stuff I can handle by myself.” The benevolence that animated it will usually be invisible to him. He might say “I know you mean well,” but inside he’ll be thinking “Stay out of my affairs.”

     This is a critical qualifying clause to the Christian exhortation to charity. It couples to another aspect of charitable action that’s all too seldom addressed: Are you sincerely trying to help him, or are you more concerned with gaining merit for yourself? Like all the rest of us, the unfortunate man exists for his own sake. He must not be treated as an opportunity to amass “brownie points with God.”

     How often have you heard a priest, minister, or lay preacher mention that little codicil?

     I’ve only scratched the surface of this subject. Many side trails lead from it into other regions of Christian life and thought. For today, suffice it to say that self-degradation – and in the United States of America, it’s by far the most common variety – is something to be treated with maximum delicacy. No matter how well meant, meddling in the affairs of a self-degraded man before he’s “hit bottom” will do him no good. More likely than not, it will set him back. The other elements in his emotional mix, including his vestigial pride and his all too human stubbornness, will make him react against you.

     Your desire to help is admirable. Would that everyone were as benevolently disposed toward his fellows! But as the physicians among us would say, Primum non nocere: First, do no harm.

     May God bless and keep you all.

Saturday, August 27, 2016


It was not part of their blood,
It came to them very late,
With long arrears to make good,
When the Saxon began to hate.

They were not easily moved,
They were icy — willing to wait
Till every count should be proved,
Ere the Saxon began to hate.

Their voices were even and low.
Their eyes were level and straight.
There was neither sign nor show
When the Saxon began to hate.

It was not preached to the crowd.
It was not taught by the state.
No man spoke it aloud
When the Saxon began to hate.

It was not suddenly bred.
It will not swiftly abate.
Through the chilled years ahead,
When Time shall count from the date
That the Saxon began to hate.

-- Rudyard Kipling --

     It would seem at this time that campaigns of condemnation amounting to outright hatred have become “ho hum,” “just one of those things,” and “nothing to write home about.” This is especially the case when the target of such a campaign can be associated with some behavior, attitude, or concept that the public has been exhorted to hate. And there are more such campaigns, whether organized or not, than ever before in American history.

     Remarkable, eh? It calls an old Tom Lehrer song to mind:

     Of course, there are more “behaviors, attitudes, and concepts to hate” being urged upon us today than ever before, too. I’m on the negative end of many of them, so I’m more than merely aware of the vilification being heaped upon them (and me).

     Make no mistake about it: If you hold to certain beliefs, many of which are well supported by evidence, there’s a significant body of people who: 1) hate you for it, and: 2) encourage others to hate you as well. Moreover, their hatred is fundamentally insincere. They don’t hate you out of the true, visceral perception of a profound moral wrong willingly embraced. They “hate” you and exhort others to do so because they hope to get something that way, usually through the political system.

     Welcome to the age of strategic hatred.

     John Hinderaker of PowerLine has a few words for us about the fomenting of hatred:

     I don’t think we have said much about Hillary Clinton’s speech in which she denounced Donald Trump as a racist of the “alt-right,” thereby confusing, no doubt, most of her audience. Much could be said about Hillary’s smears–a Republican racist running for president? Not again!–but I want to comment on just one aspect of it: her claim that “the billionaire businessman’s campaign [is] one that will ‘make America hate again.'”

     My question is: where has Hillary been for the last eight years? Has she failed to notice that she was part of an administration that went a long way toward making America hate again? Her boss, Barack Obama, deliberately fomented racial conflict for the purpose of political gain.

     Indeed. Yet Barack Hussein Obama wasn’t the originator of strategic hatred; he saw that it had been used effectively by the Left and by various left-leaning special interests, and adopted it for his own. He put it to use to excite racial hatred – specifically hatred among blacks toward whites – perhaps hoping that it would solidify his grip on power and cow the Republican opposition into acquiescing to his policies.

     But in social systems as in mechanical systems, action will always be met by reaction. The rise of racial animosity among blacks toward whites has evoked an equal but opposite feeling among whites toward blacks. As American whites are six to seven times as numerous as American blacks, this is not a lever that favors black aspirations, regardless of their nature.

     If we look at the illegal-immigration problem through this lens, the same sort of picture appears. Hispanic populations in California and the Southwest have become ever more militant and demanding. The majority of that demographic is in this country illegally. The more aggressively quarrelsome it becomes, the greater the reaction against it among American whites.

     Focus your attention on any identifiable group – feminists, homosexuals, Muslims, Bernie Sanders-style social fascists, or left-liberals generally – and the picture is essentially the same: those that have promoted the hatred of persons outside their group have elicited reactive hatred in equal measure. They should fear the probable consequences. However, most are either too arrogant or too stupid to do so.

     We come now to the nascent coalescence of those reactive hatreds: what’s been called the Alt-Right. Theodore “Vox Day” Beale has prepared a sort of bullet-point definition of this agglomeration. After his sixteen individual theses, he says:

     The Alt Right is a Western ideology that believes in science, history, reality, and the right of a genetic nation to exist and govern itself in its own interests.

     I have no doubt that whether or not he believes that summary to be an accurate characterization of the Alt-Right, Beale sincerely wants it to be so. Unfortunately, at this time that’s not the case. Many persons – possibly the majority – who’ve adopted the Alt-Right label are moved by a reactive animosity toward a single group they perceive to have targeted them or their priorities. Mind you, those folks might be absolutely correct about having been so targeted. That doesn’t mean that they subscribe to the broader list of convictions Beale has enumerated.

     Because the Alt-Right is at this time mostly a notion being entertained by writers and commentators, it’s easily put to use by propagandists for purposes of their own. Under this video on the subject there’s a brief statement that many who might otherwise find “Alt-Right” a suitable label for their convictions would reject:

     Equality is bullshit. Hierarchy is essential. The races are different. The sexes are different. Morality matters and degeneracy is real. All cultures are not equal and we are not obligated to think they are. Man is a fallen creature and there is more to life than hollow materialism. Finally, the white race matters, and civilisation is precious. This is the Alt-Right.

     Mind you, I agree with that statement. However, tone matters, and the tone thereof is belligerent, off-putting to many. Worse, the video nods to a kind of neo-anti-Semitism:

     Unjust, untrue, and deplorable – yet it was probably inevitable. The Jews have been scapegoated for centuries, both in Europe and here in America. Yet no people anywhere more passionately desires to be left in peace. Their “influence” arises from being above-average achievers, especially in scholarship and commerce...things a decent person can only admire.

     But when “the Saxon” begins to hate, he tends to lose a portion of his power to discriminate fairly. Old resentments, including some that were and are utterly unjust, will be lumped in with the newer ones.

     The next few months will surely see further discussion and polemics about this subject. It will be critical to remain critical: i.e., to insist upon the critical distinctions among facts, desires, opinions, values, and assumptions. Whether the term “Alt-Right” requires a firm, widely accepted definition will be part of the discourse. The “conventional Right,” which many regard as too Establishmentarian for the needs of the times, will participate – and not in a fashion that favors its competitors.

     For my part, I’m certain only of this: the old labels conservative, liberal, libertarian, socialist, authoritarian, et cetera will not be sufficient to express the passions that have flared in this era of pervasive and often strategic hatred, much less to contain them. Our discourse has already moved beyond them. It will move further still...and our actions will move with it.

Friday, August 26, 2016

A Credo For Our Time

     This comes from the worthy proprietor of A Nod To The Gods:

     I have had enough of hearing Obama say “This is not who we are as a nation”. I don’t get who the hell he is talking about.

     Letting perverts into a girls locker rooms and bathrooms is not who I am.
     Bringing in muslim refugees from around the globe without knowing who they are is not who I am.
     Letting illegal immigrants in by the millions across the southern border is not who I am.
     Providing free healthcare for people with no ambition while fleecing the people who do work to subsidize them is not who I am.
     Letting gender confused mentally ill people into the military and positions of power in the Pentagon is not who I am.
     Allowing alphabet agencies destroy business’s across the country in the name of global warming climate change is not who I am.
     Having the Vice President claim the American peoples support for Turkeys’ Erdogan is not who I am.
     Giving a terrorist country billions of dollars and nuclear capability is not who I am.
     Allowing a radical black activist cult into the White House is not who I am.
     Releasing terrorists back into the battlefield to kill more Americans is not who I am.
     Putting the country into debt more than every previous President combined is not who I am.
     Allowing militant minority groups to sue a business because of their beliefs is not who I am.

     I am a hard working, hard partying, divorced, remarried father of three that believes in less government, secure borders, and a moral code of conduct for a society that has devolved into chaos. I am God fearing man who thinks that welfare should have a sunset time frame, illegals are not allowed access to tax payer benefits, each state should be allowed to regulate themselves, gay people can be gay but not militant, minorities should be held to the same standards as everyone else and given no preferential treatment. Illegal immigrant criminals held in our jails and prisons should be returned to their homelands, and a very large wall should be constructed on our southern border.

     That is who I am. Not everyone believes the way I do which is fine, I have never claimed that what I believe is what we are as a nation, that would be foolish.

     So before you talk for me and my fellow Americans remember at least half of us are nothing like you. A majority of Americans were not part of a choom gang, are not closet muslims, did not get special access to college, did not start a grievance business as a community organizer, did not gain affirmative action access to the senate, and did not become POTUS due to the color of their skin. So before you say “It’s not who we are” remember we are nothing like you and never will be….so shut the fuck up about “Who We Are” because you have no idea.


On Evil Part 2: Other Mental Barriers To Recognizing Evil

     As I said in the previous piece, the great majority of Americans disbelieve in evil because they don’t want to believe in it. Even when evil intentions are plainly on display, with not even a gesture at disguise, we look for ways to exculpate the evildoer. Consider these frequently employed phrases::

  1. “He was badly raised.”
  2. “He didn’t know any better.”
  3. “Well, in light of past injustices...”
  4. “How else could he get what he needs?”
  5. “Our nation / race / religion has done worse.”

     The list could be extended, but the above are the most common parries to a judgment of evil. But note that while the above might explain the genesis of evil intentions – i.e., the conscious desire to wreak harm upon innocent others – the evil of them remains untouched. It can be explained; it cannot be excused.

     Let’s look at each of the above attempts in turn.

     1. “He was badly raised.”

     Stipulate that this was the case. It’s exceedingly rare that any child is raised in a complete absence of influences other than his parents. He will have aunts and uncles, cousins, acquaintances near to his own age, the parents of those acquaintances, teachers, and neighbors. These days, he’ll also have electronic contact with a much wider world. The probability that a child can reach the age of responsibility completely ignorant of what must and must not be done approaches zero.

     2. “He didn’t know any better.”

     The similarity to excuse #1 is considerable. Is it plausible? Hardly. At any rate, we didn’t accept it at Nuremberg. Those trials were predicated on the postulate that an adult must “know better” – that no amount nor intensity of propaganda can overmatch the conscience with which each of us is equipped.

     The sole exception to the Nuremberg principle is the sociopath: the man from whom the conscience is apparently absent. The existence of such a creature, possessed of human capabilities but no moral governor, is intolerable. He must be treated as we would treat a rabid dog: with a bullet to the brain.

     3. “In light of past injustices...”

     Two wrongs cannot make a right. Vengeance is sometimes justifiable as proper retribution. Victimizing the innocent is not. Nor can we merely wave aside harm done to bystanders and say “collateral damage.” While such damage is inevitable in warfare, a good-faith attempt to minimize it and a good-faith attempt to redress it afterward are morally mandatory.

     4. “How else could he get what he needs?”

     Need is one of the worst-abused words in any language. Strictly speaking, no one needs anything. Death is always an available option. Viewed less starkly, one’s survival needs are bare-minimum nutrition, clothing, and shelter from the elements – and how often does some villain pleading “need” restrict himself to those things?

     But let’s be hard on ourselves. Let’s imagine a uniquely tough case:

  • Smith doesn’t have adequate food, clothing, or shelter, or the means to purchase them.
  • He cannot acquire them by honest effort.
  • He has no family and no friends who would succor him.
  • There are no impersonal charities available to him.

     What of it? Would Smith’s circumstances excuse the victimization of Jones, who might need those things just as badly? For that matter, imagine that Jones is unbelievably rich; would that make it just for Smith to steal from him? Ask first why Smith has no friends who would help him voluntarily, for in the answer to that question lies the key to Smith’s predicament.

     Smith’s dire straits make it understandable that he might victimize Jones. Excusing it is another matter.

     5. “Our nation / race / religion has done worse.”

     Stipulate that this is so. It’s still no excuse. It cannot be, else the great-great-grandchildren of pre-Civil War slaveholders would be personally morally liable for the deeds of their forebears. But the truly vile aspect of this attempt at excusing present evil is that the perpetrators are almost never victims of any objective evil; indeed, in our present age the evildoers are among the most favored, most pampered categories of men. More, their victims are almost never connected in any way to those of “our nation / race / religion” who perpetrated evil in the past.

     But to cope with the above requires than men think – that they disregard cant and volume; that they refuse unearned guilt; that they ask hard questions and demand specific answers; that they marshal the courage appropriate to their convictions; and that they uphold a single, uniform standard for right and wrong. These are apparently difficult requirements to satisfy in our time, place, and circumstances.

     There’s more to say about our mental aversion to recognizing evil than a single essay can cover, of course. Yet the subject is far simpler than most people make it, owing to the advance among us of “moral relativism” and the tendency to “think” with our wishes rather than with the logical faculties of our brains. The required standards are utterly simple, objective, and irrefutable. They were elucidated a long time ago, first by Confucius:

     Repay kindness with kindness, but evil with justice.

     ...and a bit later by Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God and Redeemer of Mankind:

     Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

     It cannot be put more plainly than that.

This Must Go Viral

     It speaks for itself:

     Spread it far and wide. Please!

Thursday, August 25, 2016


     This one happened at a nearby gas station.

FWP: Hello!
Flo: (peers at me uncertainly) Hi. You’re from the parish, aren’t you?

FWP: Yes, and that’s the problem. I’ve been a member of the parish for thirteen years, and no one has taken the trouble to introduce himself. So I’m taking the bull by the horns. (Sticks out hand) Hello, I’m Fran.
Flo: (shakes hands) Hello, I’m Flo. Pleased to meet you.

FWP: See, wasn’t that easy? And you’ve sat three seats away from me for over a thousand Masses by now. Say, the tall good-looking fellow who always sits next to you—
Flo: My husband?
FWP: If you say so. What’s his name?
Flo: Oh, that’s Bill.

FWP: Very nice. Believe me, I understand the reluctance to walk up to a stranger and introduce yourself. You never know who might turn out to be an Islamic terrorist.
Flo: (giggles) Are you an Islamic terrorist?
FWP: (smiles naughtily) Are you sure you’d be able to trust my reply?
Flo: (giggles nervously) Well, you have a nice day.
FWP: You too!

     You know, I’d never seen an elderly woman leave rubber pulling out of a gas station before...

On Evil And Meaning Well

     “Don’t tell them that I meant well.” – Lord Adron e’Kieron, in Steven Brust’s Five Hundred Years After

     If there’s a principal metaphysical flaw in the understandings of most Americans today, it would arise from the widespread disinclination to believe in the reality of evil. This is a consequence of the general benevolence that characterizes the American mindset. Many tend to assume that others’ moral and ethical postulates are congruent with their own: i.e., as they wish no other man harm, they assume that no other man would wish to harm them. This partially disarms them before the genuinely evil man.

     Then again, American society is founded on a degree of interpersonal trust that exceeds anything found in any previous civilization. Without the assumption of general benevolence generally felt, our nation would not function nearly as smoothly as it does. So the disinclination to believe in evil, even when instantiated immediately before one, isn’t an entirely bad thing.

     The usual deflection consists of five words:

“I’m sure he means well.”

     That sentence provides cover for a multitude of crimes.

     “I aim at evil and I will achieve evil.” – Robert Putney Drake, in The Eye in the Pyramid

     Among the unpleasant facts I had to accept in growing accustomed to my own powers was this one: The man who habitually, precisely, and coldly distinguishes among facts, desires, opinions, values, and assumptions is the rarest of all creatures. Nearly everyone “thinks” with his wishes at least some of the time. Thinking with your wishes can get you killed. It’s one of the greatest and deadliest of the flaws of Mankind: so great and so lethal that I sometimes wonder how we emerged from Cro-Magnon ancestors who simply had to know better.

     Therein lies the greatest of the dangers that arise from the disbelief in evil: not only do we not believe it, we don’t want to believe it. Thus, given any way to dismiss its existence from consideration, the great majority of us will do so. Hence the destructive power of “I’m sure he means well.”

     It can be difficult to fathom the mindset of an evil man, or a man bent on evil in some particular context. The difficulty, coupled with the desire that it not be so, makes for a very steep emotional hill. It gives the evil man an edge he will not fail to exploit.

     In an early passage in The Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal Lecter asks FBI trainee Clarice Starling whether she considers him evil. She responds, “You're destructive. It amounts to the same thing.” He mocks her for her inability to see the essential difference:

Evil lies in the intention, not in the consequences.

     Evil is inherently a matter of the will. He who wills evil is evil, at least for that instant, whether or not he achieves his aim. He who “means well” might be many unfortunate things: foolish, ignorant, clumsy, or lacking in vision. But no matter how destructive the consequences of his deeds, he is absolved of evil intention, and therefore of evil.

     This appears circular at first blush. A brilliant novel, James Blish’s Black Easter, draws the matter in high relief:

     “Look at it this way for a moment, Dr. Ware. Very roughly, there are only two general kinds of men who go into the munitions business: those without consciences, who see the business as an avenue to a great fortune, eventually to be used for something else, like Jack here — and of course there’s a sub-class of those, people who do have consciences but can’t resist the money anyhow, or the knowledge, rather like Dr. Hess.”
     Both men stirred, but apparently both decided not to dispute their portraits.
     “The second kind is made up of people like me: people who actually take pleasure in the controlled production of chaos and destruction. Not sadists primarily, except in the sense that every dedicated artist is something of a sadist, willing to countenance a little or a lot of suffering — not only his own, but other people’s — for the sake of the end product....
     “War doesn’t satisfy me any more. It’s too sloppy, too subject to accident. It excuses too much.”
     “?” Ware said with an eyebrow.
     “I mean that in time of war, especially in Asia, people expect the worst and try to ride with the punches, no matter how terrible they are. In peacetime, on the other hand, even a small misfortune comes as a total surprise. People complain, ‘Why did this have to happen to me?” — as though they’d never heard of Job.”
     “Re-writing Job is the humanist’s favorite pastime,” Ware agreed. “And his favorite political platform, too. So in fact, Dr. Baines, you do want to afflict people, just where they’re most sensitive to being afflicted and just when they least expect it, right or wrong. Do I understand you correctly?”
     Baines had the shuddering feeling that he had explained too much, but there was no help for that now; and in any event. Ware was hardly himself a saint.
     “You do,” he said shortly.

     Dr. Baines, the CEO of “Consolidated Warfare Services,” has taken a hand in fomenting wars for decades. Until his declaration of intent to black magician Theron Ware, his above-board operations could be seen solely as a search for market opportunities. Once Baines has declared his greatest desire to Ware:

     “I would like to let all the major demons out of Hell for one night, turn them loose in the world with no orders and no restrictions—except of course that they go back by dawn or some other sensible time–and see just what it is they would do if they were left on their own hooks like that.”

     ...his evil intent can no longer be concealed. Yet many would strain to do so anyway, perhaps with a dismissal such as “He’s just being dramatic.” (And indeed, quite a lot of drama emerges from loosing forty-eight major demons upon the defenseless and unsuspecting human race. Read the novel. I highly recommend it.)

     Baines, a fictional character, may or may not exist in the real world. However, the will to wreak harm upon others surely does. Whether those who will such harm achieve their aims is independent of their essential evil.

     I intend this brief piece as a precursor to a more extended examination of evil and our mental defenses against accepting its existence. For the moment, Gentle Reader, let it stimulate some thoughts.

     In other words: More anon.

Back from secret mission.

The Colonel's back from a secret mission disguised as a visit to a certain government installation cleverly disguised as a Veterans Administration health facility in an unnamed Montana city.

A delightful nurse there pointed out to the vending machine tech that one of the machines dispensing ice cream would not dispense the very last item in the stack.

The tech promised to tweak the machine to solve this problem, whereupon this lady volunteered helpfully that, "It doesn't take your money. I just makes you sad."

Perhaps that should be filed under the "You had to be there" heading but it struck me then as now as hysterically funny.

I was fortunate to catch Michael Savage's show afterwards. He had a lot to say about the evil that is George Soros. Worth a listen if you're not depressed enough now: 8/16/16 podcast.

The rest of my trip home was less pleasant as the automobile electrical wiring system gremlin took up residence in the beloved Honda (450,000 miles) resulting in a short causing all instrumentation to cease to function. The car was still drivable and I made the command decision to believe that my cooling system and oil pathways would not also cease to carry vital fluids around inside the engine for the duration of my trip. And who needs turn signals anyway? Also, my air control valve persisted in its problematic behavior which I could cure with the occasional reset of the computer. A rough-running engine in the middle of @#$% nowhere is one of life's downers.

These problems occupy my time back at home now and are not without entertainment value, though chasing the short involved is not proving to be an easy thing to do. Just take off the instrument panel and figure out which of 50 wires is rubbing somewhere on the chassis. Intermittently.

I've been indifferent to blogging of late but appreciate the kind words of Mr. Guizepppe Veritas who contacted me privately. I did run across some choice comments on Zero Hedge yesterday that warrant republication here.

Until I get around to that and my usual routine, allow me to recommend Ervin Nagy's The False Mythos of Migration at Gates of Vienna. As always anywhere on the internet, the comments are choice, especially the one of Snowy. As you read the comment you can only say that what he or she's written is absurd but we all know it is the stone cold truth.

A la Sherlock Holmes, after you eliminate the impossible idea that Western leaders are acting out of a spirit of good will toward their people and intend to preserve the nation states over which they preside, you are left with the conclusion that they are malevolent destroyers bent on the destruction of the highest and best civilization ever known.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Your Mid-Morning Outrage

     Just in case you might be disposed to treat all the Boys in Blue as strictly guardians of justice:

     It's not just asset forfeiture being used by law enforcement to take property away from people. With civil asset forfeiture (as opposed to criminal asset forfeiture), property is deemed "guilty," even if its former possessors are not. Kaveh Waddell of The Atlantic is highlighting another way law enforcement agencies are taking possession of property: by calling it "evidence" and playing keep away with former defendants who've had their cases dismissed or have been acquitted.
     Last summer, Kenneth Clavasquin was arrested in front of the Bronx apartment he shared with his mother. While the 23-year-old was being processed, the New York Police Department took his possessions, including his iPhone, and gave him a receipt detailing the items in police custody. That receipt would be his ticket to getting back his stuff after his case ended.

     But the ticket is worthless. His case was dismissed but no one involved in the seizure of his items showed any interest in returning them. He brought the court's dismissal to the NYPD to retrieve his iPhone but the property desk claimed it was being held as "arrest evidence" -- even though there were no more criminal charges forthcoming. He was sent to the District Attorney's office to ask for permission to obtain the no longer needed "evidence," but the office was less than interested in helping him reclaim his belongings.

     Clavasquin needed to get a release from the district attorney’s office stating that his property would no longer be needed for evidence. Over the following three months, he repeatedly called the assistant district attorney assigned to his case, but he neither got a release nor a written explanation of why he was being denied one.

     Then, with the help of an attorney at the Bronx Defenders, a public-defender office that had been representing him since the day after his arrest, Clavasquin sent a formal written request for the district attorney’s release. He got no response.

     Clavasquin's iPhone was seized in the summer of 2015. His case was dismissed in December. The phone is still in the possession of the NYPD while Clavasquin has continued making monthly service contract payments for a phone he can't use.

     Clever, eh? If the iPhone is “evidence,” then clearly the police can’t release it; it might be critical to an investigation-to-be! What investigation, pray tell? We have no need to tell you.

     The Police Department of the City of New York has long been regarded as a model for other urban law enforcement agencies. “New York’s finest” have been repeatedly held up as examples of bravery and thoroughness in the pursuit of justice. If the NYPD can be corrupted by the lure of ill-gotten gains, what law enforcement institution is immune?

     Ever seen Prince of the City, Gentle Reader? Ever wonder how much of it is fiction and how closely it mirrors the true state of law-enforcement practice? Maybe you should.

Warning Shot

     If you think Hillary Clinton doesn’t really intend to repeal First Amendment protections of freedom of expression, think again:

     Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s campaign has sent out a fundraising email arguing the website Breitbart News has no “right to exist,” and suggests that if elected, the website will be shut down entirely.

     “We’ve had a conservative media in this country for a while,” says the email, sent Thursday and signed by deputy communications director Christina Reynolds. “I don’t always like what they have to say, but I respect their role and their right to exist Reynolds’ acknowledgment that the regular conservative media has a “right to exist,” though, is used to contrast it with Breitbart, which apparently has no such right.

     “Breitbart is something different,” she says. “They make Fox News look like a Democratic Party pamphlet. They’re a different breed altogether — not just conservative but radical, bigoted, anti-Muslim, anti-Semitic conspiracy peddlers who never have been and never should be anywhere near the levers of power in this country.”

     Miss Reynolds’s gambit is a typical entering-wedge ploy. She accuses the Breitbart site of all manner of sins it’s never committed. She’s counting on popular revulsion at such sins, without any objective evidence thereof, to fuel a campaign to shut Breitbart down. She’s hoping to get enough concurrence with her “free speech is all very well, but you have to draw the line somewhere” cant – as with most such aspiring censors, she’d never actually say where “the line” should be drawn once and for all – to disguise her real agenda.

     The real agenda, of course, is absolute State power over all forms of communication above the level of a conversation over the back fence. Breitbart might be the first to face the guillotine, but it wouldn’t be the last. Liberty’s Torch would be loaded into a tumbril sooner or later.

     There are three absolute requirements for the maintenance of a free society:

  1. Education;
  2. Weaponry;
  3. Communications.

     The Democrats are demonstrably hostile to all three things. They’ve already conquered our educational institutions. They’ve made significant inroads against our right to keep and bear arms. Should they saw through the third leg of the tripod, freedom will be dead and doomed for as far forward into the future as any man alive today can see – and Hillary Clinton has promised to further that attack.

     That’s what we’ll face should the Democrats, the Republican Establishment, the Main Stream Media, and the NeverTrumpers succeed at installing Hillary Rodham Clinton, by leaps and bounds the most corrupt, most deceitful, and most venal figure ever to attain federal power, in the White House this coming November.

Your Early Morning Outrage

     Note, please, that it’s coming from a Republican:

     NEW ORLEANS – The Good Samaritans who rescued hundreds, maybe thousands of people during the Great Flood of 2016, are not happy after a state lawmaker announced that he wants government regulations on future actions by the citizen heroes.

     Some of those Good Samaritans, a loosely-organized group called the 'Cajun Navy,' are being interviewed by media around the country, but that attention is nowhere near the pushback lawmakers are discussing when it comes to possibly breaking the law in the future if they save lives again....

     Republican State Senator Jonathan Perry of the Vermillion, Lafayette area, is working on legislation that could require training, certificates and a permit fee to allow these Good Samaritans to get past law enforcement into devastated areas. He said some were turned away.

     “At the end of the day, there are going to be two things that are going to be the hurdle when you approach it from the state’s standpoint,” said Sen. Perry in a radio interview. “Liability is going to be number one for them. They don’t want the liability of someone going out to rescue someone and then not being able to find them (the rescuers) and, secondly, there’s a cost.”

     Jonathan Perry deserves to be tarred, feathered, and ridden out of town on a rail. At the very least the Louisiana Republican Party should drum him out of its bosom, disavow any concurrence with his obscene notions about requiring a license to save catastrophe victims, and make an unambiguous proclamation of its support for the now nationally famous “Cajun Navy” that leaped into action in flooded Louisiana while the state and federal “emergency management” agencies were still pulling their thumbs out of their asses.

     I would hope that if some officious “public servant” were to obstruct a private-citizen Good Samaritan under like circumstances, the Samaritan would thrash him to within an inch of his life. Considering that Supreme Court decisions have held that the State owes you nothing, such a “public servant” (“If there’s anything a public servant hates to do, it’s something for the public” – Kin Hubbard) would be a de facto accessory to the negligent homicide of unnamed persons. Horsewhipping would be too good for him.

     I’ll be back later, after my blood pressure has gone down a bit.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Frame Stories And Interlocutory Narration

     Sorry, Gentle Reader, but I’m so thoroughly sick of politics and current events just now that I can’t bring myself to rant about them. Not that there’s any lack of material for a full-throated Fran Porretto tirade, mind you. The world is still going to Hell in a handbasket, and flesh-eating zombies are still busily ripping away the bottom. I’m simply not in the mood.

     (Hey, it works for wives worldwide, doesn’t it?)

     So, as I often do at such moments, I’ll slather you with a brief discourse about fiction. If you’re a writer, you might find it interesting. If not...well, what else do you have to do with the next ten minutes that would be more entertaining or edifying than reading Liberty’s Torch?

     Many a storytelling technique has gone by the boards these past few decades. Though novelist and critic David Lodge has told us that “everything is in and nothing is out,” nevertheless it’s obvious to anyone who reads widely that certain forms are less frequently found in contemporary fiction than was once the case. Consider, for example, the epistolary novel: a tale told in letters sent by and to the story’s characters. I’ve encountered only one recent example of such: Steven Brust and Emma Bull’s Freedom & Necessity. (Wikipedia, however, lists several other contemporary examples, including Andy Weir’s The Martian.)

     A format such as that is often called a “frame story” or “framing device.” In effect, the writer tells two stories, one enclosed by the other, in a single volume. The “outer” story might be separated in time from the events of the “inner” one; indeed, this is usually the case. However, the two stories are linked in an unambiguous fashion: by protagonist and subject matter.

     “Frame stories” can achieve an end that was once pursued in a different fashion, via another technique deprecated today: the omniscient narrator, not bound to any character’s viewpoint. The writer can use the frame to introduce a narrator other than himself. He then permits that narrator some of the liberties that were once marks of the omniscient-narrator style.

     Among the requirements of the “frame story” technique is that the writer must have “two stories to tell.” They needn’t be wholly separate. In fact, they shouldn’t be, for the “outer” story exists to narrate the “inner” one. Therefore, they must be firmly linked, whether through their characters or their focus.

     Focus is always important. The “outer” story, however important to the characters in it, dictates the focus of the “inner” one by the selection of scenes and events described. Whatever the circumstances of the “outer” narrator, he must be principally concerned with the “inner” narration. The Kevin Spacey / Kate Winslet / Laura Linney movie The Life Of David Gale is a highly dramatic example of this requirement: the “outer” narrator, David Gale (played by Spacey), is facing execution in a few days’ time...but his focus is on the key events of his life other than the one that brought him to that condition, rather than on his “outer”-time jeopardy.

     I’m fond of this technique, as anyone who’s read Chosen One, Polymath, Priestesses, or Love In The Time Of Cinema might imagine. One of my two novels-in-progress uses it as well. A few readers have bridled at it – I can’t imagine why – while others have noted it with surprise and pleasure. I find that it often goes well with my subject matter, which is episodic though focused on the life and times of a single Marquee character.

     One of the criticisms that’s been leveled at my stuff is its patina of archaism: the resemblance between my style and that of writers of bygone days. The frame-story approach and the interlocutory narration it supports, approaches no longer favored by contemporary writers, are part of that. But when your core story is episodic in nature, being spread over a long time interval and omitting the greater part of the events thereof, framing is exceedingly useful for emphasizing what really matters. Much of the history of even the most significant, most active, and most compelling character is “just day-to-day life.” It would be boring to the reader to need to sift through it all, to say nothing of the burden it would impose on the writer.

     Episodic novels are also disfavored today. There’s a notion going about that dramatic unity is impossible when the events of the novel are widely separated in time. Needless to say, I disagree. Dramatic unity isn’t just an artifact of causally linked events closely spaced in time; it can also arise from the evolution of the Marquee characters’ natures and significance: more specifically, the reasons they do what they do, and the effects they have on those around them.

     The speculative genres – science fiction, fantasy, and horror – feature few examples of the episodic novel, and therefore few examples of the frame story. In part, this is because the technique is unsuited to the sort of adventure tale most frequently told in those genres. But in equal or greater measure, it’s because the events in speculative novels tend to occur over short time spans. Nevertheless, some examples exist; the ones that leap to mind at once are Isaac Asimov’s Foundation Trilogy, in which the “narrator” of the frame is the Encyclopedia Galactica, and Robert A. Heinlein’s Time Enough For Love, in which Heinlein’s perennial rogue-hero Lazarus Long tells of the high water mark events of his two thousand year life.

     What examples of frame-story narration have you encountered in your reading? When has it struck you as suitable and well exploited, and when has it seems an unnecessary intrusion upon the “real story” you were being told by the interlocutor character or device?

     (Cross-posted at my fiction-promotion site.)

Monday, August 22, 2016

Unacknowledged Invasions

     Before we begin, let me be quite specific:

     Invasion n: A warlike or hostile entrance into the possessions or domains of another; the incursion of an army for conquest or plunder.

     That’s from Webster, Gentle Reader. When a force hostile to the inhabitants of territory X enters that territory, that force is invading that territory, especially if it does so illegally.

     Now let’s have a snippet from the usually reliable Joel Kotkin:

     ...two compelling books out this year led me to more somber thoughts about the prospects for the decline and devolution of western society.

     One, “Submission” by the incendiary French writer Michel Houellebecq, traces the life of a rather dissolute French literature professor as he confronts a rapidly Islamifying France....Ultimately, fear of Le Pen leads the French left into an alliance with the Muslim Brotherhood, handing power over to an attractive, clever Islamist politician. With all teaching posts requiring conversion to Islam, Francois in the end “submits” to Allah. Francois’ motives for conversion merge opportunism and attraction, including to the notion that, in an Islamic society, high prestige people like himself get to choose not only one wife, but several, including those barely past puberty.

     The other declinist novel, “The Family Mandible” by Lionel Shriver, is, if anything more dystopic. The author covers a once illustrious family through the projected dismal decades from 2029 to 2047. Like the Muslim tide that overwhelms Francois’ France, the Brooklyn-based Mandibles are overwhelmed in an increasingly Latino-dominated America; due to their higher birthrate and an essentially “open border” policy, “Lats” as they call them, now dominate the political system. The president, Dante Alvarado, is himself an immigrant from Mexico, due to a constitutional amendment — initially pushed to place Arnold Schwarzenegger in the White House — that allows non-natives to assume the White House.

     Collapse is from within.

     Reflect on that final, four word sentence. Do the novels Kotkin summarizes above describe collapses – or the consequences of unresisted invasions?

     Few alive today have vivid memories of the World War II domestic milieu. The United States, once it entered the war, embraced an economic fascism that imposed rationing of virtually every desirable good upon the civilian populace. It wasn’t an easy time for our armed forces, of course, but civilians were required to sacrifice, too. No, it didn’t rise to the level of serious privation for many. Among other things, more Americans maintained private gardens back then than today. But the point here is that our counter-invasion of Europe and our progress westward across the Pacific against the Japanese Empire had consequences for all Americans, not just those in uniformed service.

     All invasions have consequences for everyone involved. The Germans are relearning that particular lesson as we speak:

     BERLIN (Reuters) - For the first time since the end of the Cold War, the German government plans to tell citizens to stockpile food and water in case of an attack or catastrophe, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung newspaper reported on Sunday.

     Germany is currently on high alert after two Islamist attacks and a shooting rampage by a mentally unstable teenager last month. Berlin announced measures earlier this month to spend considerably more on its police and security forces and to create a special unit to counter cyber crime and terrorism.

     "The population will be obliged to hold an individual supply of food for ten days," the newspaper quoted the government's "Concept for Civil Defence" - which has been prepared by the Interior Ministry - as saying.

     A country being invaded cannot rely upon the smooth operation of its civilian logistics. Germany is being invaded by a force hostile to German laws, German customs, and the German people: Muslim migrants. The invasion being undeniable – and undeniably violent – the populace must prepare for interruptions in the usually smoothly functioning German economy. That this is taking place with the connivance of the German federal government doesn’t change the facts. But don’t say any of that to Angela Merkel.

     The United States is undergoing a quieter invasion than what the Germans are suffering. Our invaders are mainly Central Americans who enter at our southern border. Supposedly they come to enjoy the benefits of the superior American economy. While that might be so, the hostility of those illegal alien invaders to American law and norms could hardly be plainer. Little by little they’re transforming California and much of the Southwest into a single giant exclave in which English is seldom spoken, American law is not respected, and American law enforcement is hesitant to enter. But our political elite refuses to recognize that invasion, quite as staunchly as the political classes of Europe refuse to recognize theirs.

     One consequence of these invasions is a significant shift in racial, ethnic, and cultural attitudes among the invaded. In Britain, France, and Germany, a resurgent consciousness of national allegiance and cultural identity can be detected. It has the political classes of those countries terrified. Well it should, for the political classes have openly encouraged the invaders while castigating the native populations to become “more tolerant.” In the U.S., we’re seeing a gradual stiffening of Anglo-American cultural pride: a willingness to assert the superiority of Anglo-American norms against the demands and insinuations of the invaders. This development has the American political class worried; for a proud Americanism of the pre-war variety to reassert itself would be deadly for the transnational-progressivist project and those with whom it seeks to replace us.

     Another consequence is the doffing of masks among the elite’s outer guard:

     Traditional American culture is, as a matter of historical fact, a mostly white, European and English culture. Identity politics has simply been one very effective weapon among a whole arsenal the Left has deployed in its war on tradition. We should fight this effort and sympathize with those most aggrieved by it, but we should not let our sympathy push us to adopting the same tactics or thinking as the Left.

     What’s this? Asserting an American culture – a “white, European and English culture” – would be wrong? Why?

     Black pride is to be celebrated. Asian pride is to be celebrated. Latino pride is to be celebrated. But white pride is denounced everywhere....There are many reasons for this sorry state of affairs, too many to list here. But it’s worth noting that, say, Irish pride or Italian pride have no sinister connotations. This points to the fact that the designation “white” came into existence as the cultural and political opposite of “black” at a time when being black invoked either slavery or Jim Crow. In this context, white isn’t really an ethnicity so much as an ideological construct about racial superiority.

     Great God in heaven! One of the very best writers on the Right has jumped onto the “legacy of slavery” bandwagon! By that “logic,” whites are not allowed to be proud of their extraordinary achievements or the country they built – and don’t give me any guff about slavery – because it resonates with racism!

     Well, there’s no degree of intellect or erudition that can wholly compensate for cowardice. Remember what National Review did to John Derbyshire. I’m sure Jonah Goldberg does.

     In point of fact, America has been invaded – a process still in progress – by persons who disavow white laws, white customs and norms, and white morals and ethics. Many from Central America are technically Caucasian...but in their hostility to the overarching white culture of this nation, they constitute as much a threat to us as any Wahhabi Muslim.

     I could go on for many pages about this. The details of the invasions in progress in the First World are many and horrifying. But I’ll note one more aspect of our danger, one that pertains not to migrants but to persons already here, some of them descended from ancestors who were brought here against their will.

     The urban riots that have beleaguered this country for fifty years and more – most recently, the ones that ravaged Baltimore, Milwaukee, and Ferguson – are race riots, nothing else. They occur only in those regions where blacks are numerous. They involve violence that appears purposeless, except for the looting involved. They amount to a war by blacks against whites. The localities in which they occur make that plain.

     And how have our political masters responded? Not with firm and timely suppression of the violence, but with attempts to appease, to conciliate. Yes, just as they endeavor to persuade the Israelis to appease HAMAS, whose charter openly and unambiguously calls for Israel’s destruction.

     This should go without saying, but it’s been ignored so completely for so long that I think I’ll put it in large font:

That which is attacked must defend itself or die.

     That applies just as imperatively to a race under siege as to a nation.