Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Well, If You’re Serious...

     ...then let’s get it on:

     During an anti-Trump protest in Seattle this weekend, an activist associated with the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement took to the megaphone to voice her support for, among other things, “killing people,” and “killing the White House.”

     While she said that, another protester can be heard saying, “Burn it!”

     She also says, “White people, give your fucking money, your fucking house, your fucking property, we need it fucking all,” as another protester responds “reparations!”

     There’s a video clip at the linked piece. Please watch it. It will enrage you – and that’s exactly what we need. You see, this isn’t “an isolated incident.”

     Everyone is aware of the riots on Inauguration Day. Everyone is aware of the chaos they created and the property they destroyed. If you’re a regular Gentle Reader of Liberty’s Torch, you’re aware of this incident at West Virginia University. And of course we have the disruption of airports, just these past two days, by left-wing agitators over President Trump’s moratorium on ingress to the U.S. from seven terrorist-riddled Islamic hellholes.

     The Left is doing what Lenin counseled: “Probe with the bayonet. If you meet steel, withdraw; if you meet flesh, continue.” Leftist disruptors have steadily escalated their tactics deeper toward outright violence, without evoking a matched reaction from either the forces of order or the common citizenry. Our passivity has persuaded their strategists that there will be no such reaction. Their next step should be obvious.

     Persons of normal values expect that the police, assisted when necessary by the National Guard, will intervene in such incidents to restore order. However, in many of the locales the Left has selected for its disruptions, the police have been restrained by their command authority. Remember Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, mayor of Baltimore, ordering the police to give the rioters space in which to express themselves by destroying property? However the police felt about it, they largely did as ordered.

     Rawlings-Blake isn’t the only mayor so inclined. Many of the mayors of coastal cities would do the same, and Leftists know it. Consider Bill De Blasio, the hard-Left Mayor of the City of New York. Imagine what degree of chaos would afflict New York under similar conditions...and imagine what the shutdown of the financial capital of the nation, even for a day or two, would do to the American economy.

     A forcible response is overdue.

     There isn’t much else to say about this, except that there will come a point at which the matter will be settled with tanks and machine guns. That was how it went in Detroit, in 1967.

     What, then, must we do? Yes, it’s a rhetorical question. But “who will bell the cat?” is not.

Sunday, January 29, 2017


     Patterns, patterns, patterns! Everywhere I look, another BLEEP!ing pattern! Right out in front of God and everybody. You’d think they’d get more notice than they do.

     Well, it’s not for lack of trying on my part, anyway. But some of these patterns are becoming so large, so all-embracing, that they pass all notice. They become “too big to be seen.”

     Yet they might be the most important patterns of all.

     The pattern on my mind as I write this is visible among the children of political-class members, especially those who’ve attained the presidency. Consider the offspring of:

  • Jimmy Carter;
  • Ronald Reagan;
  • George H. W. Bush;
  • Bill Clinton;
  • George W. Bush;
  • Barack Obama;
  • and of course, Donald Trump.

     Note the patterns in their children’s subsequent behavior and involvements. It leaps out at you with such ferocity that you’d have to be blind not to notice it... that is, unless you were deliberately discouraged from doing so.

     We’ve known for a while that children tend to inherit their parents’ politics and associated values. But as usual, there’s more to the matter than that.

     The children of highly placed Democrats seem to turn to politics and Causes almost as soon as they’re old enough to vote. Our most recent example is here:

     The children of highly placed Republicans will sometimes embrace politics; we have the men of the Bush family as an example. However, their young are more often drawn into the business world. The young women tend to become wives, mothers, and homemakers along with any commercial involvements they choose.

     It’s early in the game for the Obamas’ daughters, and even more so for Barron Trump. But the pattern so far appears clear. Therefore I would expect Sasha and Malia to become more politically visible, while Barron will pursue some sort of business career, perhaps along the lines of his father.

     It’s probably not genetic, though in our time ever more associations between inheritance and behavior are coming into view. It’s far more likely to be an environmental transmission of values and standards vertically through the generations. And in certain cases it just might be conscious on the parents’ part.

     The survival of institutions requires that they perpetuate their missions and values in their recruiting practices. This tends to be more visible in smaller organizations, in part because it’s more critical. Larger institutions, being larger and juicier targets for those who covet their resources, are more likely to depart from their original missions, perhaps to the extent of losing them entirely. That was one of the more important motifs in Polymath:

     “Was there anything you want to discuss that we haven’t already covered?” Iverson said.
     “Just something from our first interview,” she said. “I can’t quite fathom why you license the production of everything you design. You must be happy with the results, but you’re forgoing the possibility of making Arcologics a Fortune 100 firm.”
     He chuckled. “Jeanne told me you’d return to that. It’s fairly simple, really. We’re not here for that. Well, it would be more accurate to say that I’m not here for that. Miss Cathcart—”
     She held up a hand. “May I please be Kate, at least until I’ve become an actual employee?”
     He nodded. “Okay.” He sat back and looked down at his folded hands. It was the classic pose of a man deep in his decision-making process. Kate’s anticipation level rose still further.
     Finally he said “It’s like this. Everything, from one-celled organisms to corporations, has an optimum size. It’s determined by the nature of the beast: in the case of a commercial enterprise, what it was formed to do. Most publicly traded companies outgrow their optimum sizes without realizing it, because when their managements decided to go public they left their, ah, mission behind in a quest for big capital investment and the profit and prestige that go with it. But I haven’t forgotten my mission and I won’t, so I haven’t taken Arcologics public and I don’t intend to.” He sat back with an expression of anticipation, eyes locked with hers.
     That’s my cue.
     She swept her gaze around the cafeteria. The few others still dining were far enough away not to be a factor. “Are you willing to discuss that mission with your chief engineer to be?”
     He nodded. “But only with you.” The gravity of his tone brought her to full alert. “This must never be disclosed to anyone else. No exceptions whatsoever. Still want to hear it?”
     She nodded.
     “My mission,” he said, “is to make Man not just a space-faring race, but a space-dwelling one as well.”
     “How?” she breathed.
     Todd Iverson’s gentle grin flared with an unmistakable intensity.
     “By designing and constructing a closed, completely self-sufficient space habitat and positioning it at one of the Earth-Moon Lagrange points,” he said. “And then moving there.”

     From the heavy emphasis on politics among American left-liberals – remember that one of their maxims is that “The personal is political” – we might expect that when they gain a foothold in an institution of another sort, they will begin to inject political postures and activity into its mission. Note in this connection the behavior of Human Resources departments, which are a favored target of the Left-inclined. The larger the company, the more emphasis its HR department will put on “political correctness,” and the more reliably and severely it will penalize deviations from it. Such an orientation needn’t be overt to be gruesomely effective in twisting the company’s mission in a left-wing direction, especially if it’s reinforced by pressures from outside.

     An organization that has exceeded its optimum size is usually one that has deviated, whether or not its top management is aware of it, from its original mission and the values that powered it. Its internal conflicts and dynamics will bear little or no relation to the values that powered it at its inception. In many a case, the deviation was brought about by politicization.

     Perpetuations often involve assaults on those who obstruct them. It’s in the nature of the thing: if you’re determined to grow but are blocked by an entity opposed to your values, that entity must somehow be neutralized.

     From the perspective of the American Left, what has blocked its path most staunchly these past few decades is the American people.

     The American libertarian heritage, so neatly encapsulated in our longtime mantra to “mind your own business,” impedes the absolute and universal politicization the Left so ardently desires. Far too many of us look at politics and its machinations and say “Got nothin’ to do with me.” That is a sign of emotional health, even though the swelling power of the Omnipotent State demands that we pay it more attention than we’d like. But while we resist, the Left cannot make the progress it seeks. Therefore, it must neutralize us.

     Its vehicles for that have been the unlimited enlargement of the welfare state, the conquest of the news and entertainment media, the colonization of our educational institutions, and support for massive immigration whether legal or illegal.

     To some extent those vehicles have supported the Left’s designs. However, various American institutions continue to stand in its way. Several of those, recently including the Electoral College, have succeeded in defeating its more important thrusts. As knowledge of the failure of the Left’s political ideology and nostrums becomes more widespread, it’s even being set back despite its bastions in the media, the arts, and education, and the torrent of non-Americans over our borders.

     Recent weeks have seen a “doubling down” on the Left in response to the ascendancy of Donald Trump and his swift actions to implement his campaign promises. It’s unclear how this will play out. However, it might tell us that the Left’s top strategists believe that heightened activity is the only way to perpetuate its grip on its base in the face of the success of (and the steadily increasing popular support for) the Trump program.

     We shall see.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Enemies And How To Treat Them Part 3: Wine And Sewage

     I was casting about for the source of a statement I’ve always admired (and have quoted more than once) when I remembered this piece:

     Compromise is potentially constructive only when it's strictly about means: i.e., when the two sides angling toward a compromise sincerely agree on the end to be sought, and are both willing to allow that they might be wrong about what means would best serve that end. Under those conditions, everyone involved will be watching the outcome and judging the means applied by that standard alone. When the ends are opposed to one another, compromise must disserve one or the other. It cannot be any other way.

     If your end is political liberty -- the maximum possible freedom from coercion or constraint for peaceable persons -- there's absolutely no reason to "dialogue" with persons whose end is an expansion of State power. Compromising with statists means promoting their end, which is the exact opposite of your end. Yet many a freedom-minded person will feel a tug toward such a "dialogue," and the ideal of compromise, despite the clarity of the above. This is the Nice-Guy Trap in action.

     Of course. But the Left is as relentless as the Sun is regular. It always comes back: perhaps weakened, or under a new disguise, or with dramatically different rhetoric and tactics. But one way or another, it comes back.

     Which means that if lovers of freedom and justice want an enduring victory – not an eternal one, mind you; that’s impossible, in the nature of the game – we must be prepared. The preparations must be of a specific sort.

     For the umpteenth time – or perhaps the skatey-eighth? – I will repeat a maxim of which I’ve grown fond:

If you pour a cup of wine into a barrel of sewage, it remains a barrel of sewage, but if you pour a cup of sewage into a barrel of wine, it becomes a barrel of sewage.

     There are possible modifications to many a proposed public policy that would improve it in the fundamental sense: i.e., by making it a better step toward its goal. However, there are equally many possible modifications that would corrupt it: i.e., they would alter it away from its goal, perhaps by giving life to an evil whose defeat was the point of the policy initiative.

     This is the heart of the problem of compromise. A parable I first encountered in the writings of mathematician, polymath, and maverick philosopher Raymond Smullyan comes to mind:

     John and Steve, two young boys, are wandering around in a seemingly empty house. They come to its kitchen, where they find a scrumptious-looking cake. John exclaims at once “Excellent! I shall now eat the whole cake.” Steve immediately moves to block John: “No! We found it together, so we should share it: half for you and half for me.” John pays him no mind, and says once again, “I shall eat the whole cake.” The two are quarreling when an adult happens upon the scene, listens briefly, and says “Gentlemen! This is no way to act. You should compromise.” He then addresses Steve: “Give him three-quarters of the cake.”

     [Presented in This Book Needs No Title. NOTE: The above is not an exact quote.]

     Get the idea?

     Business legend Robert C. Townsend wasn’t fond of compromise either:

     Compromise is usually bad. It should be a last resort. If two departments or divisions have a problem they can’t solve and it comes up to you, listen to both sides and then, unlike Solomon, pick one or the other. This places solid accountability on the winner to make it work....

     When you give in, give in all the way. And when you win, try to win all the way so that the responsibility to make it work rests squarely on you.

     [From Further Up The Organization.]

     In a business context, the desirability of that sort of absolutism can be debated in particular cases: specifically, those in which the “loser” is required to collaborate with the “winner” on the “winner’s” terms, against the “loser’s” best judgment (and possibly his departmental interests). In a public-policy context, the matter is much clearer.

     When the Right is in the ascendant and proposes a policy (or a change to an existing policy), it will almost always be rooted in a fundamental goal of the Right: defending the country, limiting government and its exactions, assuring and protecting individuals’ rights, what-have-you. The Left will usually choose between two tactics:

  • Outright denunciation of the proposal as somehow cruel, unjust, or “un-American;”
  • A suggestion of “compromise.”

     Clearly, the former stroke must be fought a outrance; no other response is possible. The latter one often sets the Right back on its heels.

     Why is that? Because the word compromise has somehow been imbued with a glamor that fogs minds. It’s treated as good beyond all possibility of argument. And nearly all the time, the exact reverse is the case.

     I submit this brilliant pictorial depiction of what “compromise” has done to the Constitutionally guaranteed right to keep and bear arms as Exhibit One.

     The Left’s goals are absolutely and irremediably in conflict with ours. The “compromises” they suggest to Constitution-respecting, pro-freedom initiatives will oppose the goal of such initiatives. Therefore they must be fought with maximum ferocity.

     Will that always be the case? At this point in our sociopolitical devolution, I must answer in the affirmative. The Left wants absolute power over every last aspect of human existence, forever. That is its one and only goal. Leftists’ representations of “compassion” and the like are purely cosmetic. Therefore, in principle – and there’s a word more people should understand for its exact meaning – there can be no “compromise” with them.

     At this time, the Left is in a shrunken minority position, nationwide. Its own machinations have “weaponized” the federal government, such that President Donald Trump can tear away its recent gains by the same methods his predecessor used to accrue them. Preliminary indications, including several surveys of popular opinion, suggest that the denunciation tactic will not serve the Left this time. Therefore, we must expect that their mouthpieces on Capitol Hill will attempt to undermine Republican initiatives with suggestions of “compromise” – cups of sewage to be poured into our pro-freedom, pro-Constitution, pro-American wine – with coordinated PR campaigns designed to paint the GOP as “unreasonable” should those “compromises” be declined.

     The moral should be obvious...and there are those two damnable words again.

     Write your Republican Representatives and Senators. Send them a link to this essay. And remind them that you’ll be watching.

Friday, January 27, 2017

"How Do I Learn Philosophy?"

Some weekend reading; since I personally don't have anything especially insightful to add to Fran's recent Enemies and How to Treat Them Part 2 ("We can beat these clowns. Indeed, we can beat them so thoroughly that they won't even dare to whimper. But to do so, we must be ready, willing, and able to fight.") I want to share an article of interest from Curt Doolittle, an interesting character and writer. He calls his philosophy "Propertarianism" and I don't intend to explore that right now, but it's worth a look.
(My comments)

A reader asked Doolittle "How Do I Learn Philosophy?" Some highlights from his answer:

First, we need to define Philosophy. Which I think I can successfully do by stating it’s a set of ideas that assist us in forming a framework of understanding, whether by imitation of others – whether real or mythical (virtue), rules of conduct and decision making(deontological), or understanding of the mechanics of the universe(teleological), with which we can use limited human knowledge and reason for the purposes of acting to achieve needs, satisfactions, and fulfillments, by cooperating successfully in a world of others doing the same.

I can already sense some of our Gentle Readers raising their hand and saying "But wait, what about X" but I'm not going to parse this definition right now either. Mainly, I want to share some truly interesting insights and opinions that I had not considered before:

-One’s Experience-
i – children and primitive cultures rely on virtue (religion)
ii – adults in developing cultures rely on rules (law)
iii – the wise in mature cultures rely on outcomes (science)

(And then, when the limits of science are exhausted, the wise return to virtue, only at the next higher level.)

Christianity provides a body of myth and ritual with but one purpose: the extension of kinship love to non kin, as a means of generating universal inclusiveness. It is a religion of benevolent pacification cured only by it’s opposite in the martial nobility.
(Obviously there is more than "one purpose" but this is true, as far as it goes. "Martial nobility" married to Christianity is the very essence of "The West.")

Islam provides rules and virtues for people with limited intelligence to observe and daily rituals to enforce them – although this is a false promise since it achieves the opposite.

Stoicism provides a means of achieving personal happiness for those who live in civilized worlds but who have little control over their environments. Stoicism is the opposite of buddhism in that buddhism achieves satisfaction by escapism and internal discipline, while stoicism achieves satisfaction by means of creating many small successes in daily life, accumulating in your achievement of virtue independent of the opinions of others. Combined with Sport it is extremely attractive to men.
(Perhaps the best definition I've seen.)

Judaism provides a means for not only exiting their incompetent classes but an entire body of law to master, and overwhelming pressure to remain within the polity which is ensured by the hostility to outsiders and therefore outsider hostility to insiders. Judaism is perhaps the ultimate synthesis of rule based systems and history even if it is a failed system because it lacks the moral content necessary to hold land. It originated with pastoralists and remains a pastorialist (unlanded) doctrine. It lacks intertemporal moral content. That is why the jews cannot hold land.
(That's a way of looking at it that I've never heard before, at least not with such simplicity and clarity. It has remarkable explanatory power and aligns with reality.)

Aristotelianism (what we call science) is demanding and at times forces us to confront uncomfortable truths, but at least when large numbers of us adopt it, we are able to master reality better than all other philosophies combined. The problem is that it is an aristocratic philosophy because it requires great effort and ability to learn and apply. Which is why we invest so heavily in education: we must.


Some reading lists follow--you've probably read some of the works, but perhaps you'll find something new and, ahem, enlightening.

I considered Doolittle's post to be well worth my time. It might be worth yours as well.

Enemies And How To Treat Them Part 2

     I’m a bit weary this morning, but rather than declare a “day off” and return to sleep, I thought I might present a couple of bits of evidence that confirm my thesis of yesterday. I’m fairly sure my Gentle Readers will enjoy them, if they haven’t already.

     First up is this report about sorrows at the Environmental Protection Agency:

     Environmental Protection Agency employees have not accepted Donald Trump’s victory and are still “coming to work in tears” more than two months after the election.

     “At EPA headquarters, the mood remains dark,” ProPublica reported Wednesday. “A longtime career communications employee said in a phone interview Tuesday that more than a few friends were ‘coming to work in tears’ each morning as they grappled with balancing the practical need to keep their jobs with their concerns for the issues they work on.”

     Trump’s victory has been tough for bureaucrats. The State Department held stress workshops after the election so they would not “become paralyzed by fear.” EPA employees were caught crying before, just after the election, as were White House aides. Energy Department employees were granted counseling. Sobbing staffers greeted Hillary Clinton on Capitol Hill a month after her loss.

     EPA employees are upset that the new president will take a different approach than the Obama administration. ProPublica called Trump’s nomination of Scott Pruitt, the Oklahoma attorney general who has sued the EPA over its climate change regulations, to lead the agency “dramatic.”

     EPA bureaucrats are unhappy about the new Administration? I wonder why. Possibly because they know that for the first time, they face a president who refuses to give lip service to this supposedly “popular” organ of the federal government. Presidential lip service is invariably rewarded with demands for more money, facilities, and power. Presidential advisors routinely counsel presidents not to “cross” the EPA, lest there be a “backlash” from an electorate convinced of the EPA’s “necessity.”

     If President Trump is getting any of that from his inner circle, he isn’t buying it. He knows that the demands of the “green bigots” (Thomas Sowell) have gone way overboard. He knows what the effects on business and commerce, and therefore on employment and general prosperity, have been. And he’s publicly proclaimed that it will cease.

     The EPA has never been treated that way before. Its people are used to getting their way: growing ever more numerous, becoming ever better funded, and exercising ever more pervasive and invasive powers. The prospect of being put in their place, admittedly a consummation yet to be effectuated, has unhinged them.

     Second, ponder this incident at West Virginia University:

     ‘Why the f— are you filming me right now?’

     What started as a meeting between progressive and conservative student groups to discuss a possible public debate turned violent Wednesday night, according to video captured by one of the participants.

     A member of the West Virginia University Left Alliance physically attacked a member of the campus Turning Point USA chapter who was recording him after the meeting had ended on a sour note and the groups had dispersed.

     A source who knows the aggressor identified him to The College Fix as Kelley Denham, who is also president of the WVU Gender Equality Movement, a student group.

     Another Turning Point participant seen in the video, Kaitlynn Critchfield, told The Fix that Denham threw her against the wall and tried to take her phone before he was recorded attacking the other member who was filming. She said she alerted the campus police after the incident.

     Critchfield said she had started recording the meeting after Denham told the TPUSA members to “get the fuck out,” because she feared for their safety.

     What Miss Critchfield had done – filming a nominally public gathering being held on public grounds – is entirely legal under the laws of West Virginia and those of the United States. However, it threatened to disclose the nature of the “Gender Equality Movement,” a hard-left organization that cannot stand to be exposed to the sunlight. Kelley Denham, the student who assaulted her, probably acted in part from the fear that he might be prosecuted...and as we now have video evidence of his deeds, he just might.

     It’s been said more than once that in this Second Civil War for control over the laws, policies, and public norms of the United States, only one side has been fighting. In those instances when the other side has decided to get serious, the panic of the Left has been palpable. They don’t like facing an active, counterpunching opponent that can bring their true nature into the open.

     Far less will they enjoy the rising of decent Americans, men and women committed to justice above all other things, against their skullduggery, intimidation, vandalism, and violence.

     We can beat these clowns. Indeed, we can beat them so thoroughly that they won’t even dare to whimper. But to do so, we must be ready, willing, and able to fight.

     Carry a recording device.
     Travel armed.
     Be alert.

     The hour of decision is drawing near.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Enemies And How To Treat Them

     Certain mechanisms dictate tactical choices in political interplay. A great deal of ink and trillions of pixels have been expended upon the rudeness and indecency of the tactics that currently prevail. The commentary from the Right has been disapproving: explicit denunciations of those tactics and of those who publicly employ them, and exhortations to conservatives’ to observe traditional standards of civility in discourse.

     Those denunciations are wrong. Those who issue them are shortsighted, deluded, pink-glassed believers that we live a society that no longer exists. And I’m here to tell you why.

     Two pieces of significance, and a truly great documentary, are uppermost in my thoughts this morning. First up is this piece from David Marcus at the Federalist. Here’s how it opens:

     Progressives have found a rallying cry in their opposition to Donald Trump’s presidency. Whether in the New York Times, on the John Oliver Show, or in protests in the nations’ streets, they are insisting that Trump is “not normal.” News media and elected officials not considered critical enough of Trump are criticized for normalizing him and his ideas. Suddenly progressives, of all people, are deeply concerned about our culture’s long-held norms and traditions.

     The irony in all of this is crystal clear. These are the same people who over the past few years have insisted that five-year-old boys becoming five-year-old girls is normal. They tell us that a guaranteed basic income and running for president as a Socialist is normal. Forcing Catholic hospitals to offer birth control, undocumented immigrants voting in our elections, and abolishing the police: normal, normal, and normal.

     In Donald Trump, with his admittedly dangerous, devil-may-care attitude, progressives have stumbled upon the value of conserving norms and traditions. A president just doesn’t say these awful things about his opponents and the media. A president doesn’t tweet attacks at enemies late at night. A President doesn’t put a controversial figure like Steve Bannon a few doors down from the Oval Office.

     But here’s the thing: it’s too late. We are way past that now. The Left let its freak flag fly. We all saw it. No normal is the new normal and there is no clear way back from that.

     The sardonic tone is unconcealed. “Here’s what you’ve accomplished, Leftists. Now you’re reaping the consequences. Like ‘em?” It’s nothing out of the ordinary from a conservative; conservatives are aware that the reasons certain things are “not done” is because the norm protects everyone, and that everyone will suffer if it falls. You’d expect more of the same, and you’d get some of that...but here’s the capper:

     A big part of what conservatives are meant to conserve is decency, decorum, and respect. We should oppose shouting expletives at those we disagree with. We should oppose public shaming and boycotts. We should oppose cruel mockery as a legitimate means to achieve our ends.

     Those on the alt-right and their apologists tell us that we must use the Left’s tactics to defeat them. This is wrong. It’s wrong because there is no distinction between tactics and politics, you cannot defeat something by becoming it.

     The complete vacuity of that passage took my breath away. Though Marcus is plainly aware of the value of norms of civility, he’s clueless about the mechanism that brings them into existence and restores them after a breach.

     Next up is this pungent piece from Ace of Spades HQ:

     There's a frustrating game that the left plays with conservatives. It's an Alinksy tactic called, "Make them live up to their values." Now, living up to one's values isn't a bad thing, but setting high standards ultimately means that you'll sometimes fall short.

     The left loves to exploit these shortcomings--every Christian who falls short of perfection is a hypocrite; the social values candidate you voted for just got arrested for drunk driving. Haha, everything you believe and advocate is now discredited.

     They got away with it for years, waving away the lies, hypocrisy, indiscretions, and criminal behavior from their own politicians while beating the right mercilessly with the missteps of their own. It's effective because the right always maintains a baseline of integrity not displayed by the left, as evidenced by comparing what happens to Republican politicians when they're caught in criminal behavior with what happens to Democrats. Republican voters and politicians reluctantly dump the malefactor while Democrats defend their guy and launch an offensive against those who demand accountability.

     And then came along Trump, a guy just ripe for demonization by the left. I think it's fair to say that even his early supporters worried that the Democrats would successfully make him toxic to the general voting public with his boorish behavior, vulgarity, multiple bankruptcies and very public divorces.

     But something strange happened. Not only did Donald Trump not care about attacks on his character, neither did anyone else. We saw this new paradigm assert itself over and over during the primary throughout repeated media predictions that this time he's gone to far and he's cooked.

     The same sense of norms destroyed emanates from that passage as from the Marcus essay. But watch how the author concludes:

     There aren't any rules anymore because the left only applies them one way. And in doing so, they've left what once was a civil compact between the two parties in smoldering ruins....

     Further, I no longer have any investment in any particular political values, save one: The rules created by the left will be applied to the left as equally and punitively as they have applied them to the right. And when they beg for mercy, I'll begin to reconsider. Or maybe not. Because fuck these people.

     This new philosophy has freed me of more emotional angst that I can describe. Literally nothing the left says or does matters to me anymore. I don't care about their tantrums. I don't care about their accusations. I don't care if they say Trump is lying. I don't care if Trump is lying.

     They created this Frankenstein. They own it. I am free of all obligation. I will never play defense again. I will attack, attack, attack, attack using their own tactics against them until they learn their lesson.

     What I will not do is let them play my values against me ever again. I don't need to prove that I'm better than them. I already know it.

     The author has accurately delineated the emotional response of those of us who’ve had it with the Left’s ways: not their political postures, though they’re odious enough, but their public tactics. “You want to play rough? You think you can browbeat us but force us to be nice? Well, according to the language we speak, no rules means no rules. We have a Hulk, and he’s going to make you wish you’d never dared to try it.”

     David Marcus would deplore this, as he did at the conclusion of the article I cited above. But he’s wrong to do so, even though the ugliness of what has begun, and what will surely follow, are themselves deplorable...as are we.

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

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

     [Tom Kratman, A Desert Called Peace, Afterword]

     This theme has been on my mind since I viewed Cassie Jaye’s fine new documentary on the Men’s Rights movement. Much of that film is about the nature of the response from the feminist Left to the emergence of a Men’s Rights Activism. Feminists, particularly feminist activists, aren’t just opposed to the Men’s Rights community; they seek to silence and destroy it. That’s not the “dialogue” the Left has so often told us it seeks. Then again, the Left-organized street riots and widespread vandalism of Inauguration Weekend have made it plain that the Left’s notion of “dialogue” is “Shut up and do as we say or we’ll hurt you.”

     “By their tactics shall ye know them,” as I would once have said. But we in the Right are steadily moving our tactics in an uncivil direction. We must; there’s no other path toward survival. More to the point, there’s no other way to restore the previous norms of public civility and decency.

     People learn from consequences. Indeed, we learn in no other way. The consequences of remaining polite and restrained in the face of Leftist provocations have been terrible, as David Marcus observed above. The inexorable conclusion is that war has been forced upon us – and war of the most horrifying sort, at that: a war that knows no rules.

     "What is combat, Christine?"
     "What is combat? How does it differ from other kinds of human interaction?"
     "Well, you're trying to hurt somebody."
     Louis cocked an eyebrow. "You're never trying to hurt somebody under other circumstances?"
     She thought it over. "Well, yeah."
     "So what's the difference?"
     "Well, you have to have an opponent."
     He waited in silence.
     "And he has to be trying to stop you."
     "From doing what?"
     "Whatever you're trying to do!" She was growing impatient.
     "And what are the rules?"
     "Um, do there have to be any?"
     He shook his head. "There have to be none."
     "You heard me. If it's combat, it has no rules, only objectives. That's really the defining characteristic."
     He went to a wooden rack across from his punching bag and lifted a large, gently curved sword from it. She had never seen him handle the thing before, and had wondered why he had it.
     "This is a medieval saber. A thousand years ago, it was one of the most potent weapons a man could carry. Moreover, possession was restricted by law. You had to be a member of the ruling class to own one legally."
     He swung the sword in a complex pattern that defeated her attempt to track it.
     "You can kill with one of these, if you have enough strength and skill. Of course, it's a little conspicuous, and it takes a lot more effort to use than most people would guess. Would you want to have to tote one around?"
     "And why is that?" He laid the tip of the saber in his left hand and held out the sword as if offering it to her.
     "Because there's better available. We have guns now."
     He nodded. "Yes, we do. And for quite a wide range of combat situations, a gun is a better weapon than a sword. In fact, there are a number of cases where bare hands are better than a sword, but that's beside the point for now. If you were in a combat situation, where you had this and your opponent had a gun, what could you do about it?"
     She looked hard at the old weapon. It had a certain antique beauty and simplicity, but she couldn't imagine ever wanting to wield it.
     "Not a lot. Try to take the gun away from him, maybe?"
     Louis snorted. "I hope you never have to do that, Chris. The odds are going to be on his side. But one thing you wouldn't do is to shout, 'Hey, that's not fair.' Right?"
     She laughed. "Silly man!"
     His face went dark. "I'm trying to make a very important point here, Chris. Combat means no rules. What he has is what you have to deal with, period. If you can't face his size, his skills, or his armament, you'd better be prepared to run. "

     [From On Broken Wings.]

     That is where we stand, socially and politically: locked in mortal combat with a community that knows no rules and no decency, whose battlefield is unbounded, and that admits no conception of “non-combatant.”

     They cannot be reasoned with.
     They cannot be seduced into emulating us.
     And they cannot be defeated with milquetoast tactics.

     Those are the only conclusions anyone determined to survive, prosper, and live once again in a decent society could possibly draw.

     Are you horrified? I am. I detest what has been forced upon us. But I want my society and my nation back. We can’t get there by pretending that there’s no war in progress. If we don’t defeat our enemies, they will exterminate us; it’s their openly avowed intention.

     So we must fight – and we must observe no more limits than our enemies.

     The Left has embraced open warfare: street violence intended to intimidate those its “softer” tactics have not silenced. The implications are terrible; many cities are likely to become un-navigable if not utterly unlivable. But the war cannot be wished away merely because we’d rather it had never begun.

     Think about it.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

“The Red Pill”

     You may have heard the phrase, specifically in connection with the Men’s Rights movement. But unless you contributed to its making, you haven’t seen the documentary.

     I just did. It’s magnificent.

     Cassie Jaye (“Jaye Bird Productions”) has made an extraordinary contribution to the national dialogue on gender issues. In just short of two hours, she depicts both the positions and obstacles of the major figures in the Men’s Rights movement and the efforts of their detractors to denigrate and silence Men’s Rights figures and events, along with her own snowballing realization that in a world that encourages the trumpeting of “women’s issues” but does its best to ignore or silence any expression of men’s concerns, something is very wrong.

     Gentle Reader, see this movie. Showings will be widespread over the upcoming weeks; go to the website for details about where it’s already been placed and scheduled. If you’re familiar with the Men’s Rights movement and are generally sympathetic to its representations, it will broaden your knowledge, acquainting you with aspects and attitudes you might never have considered. If you’re unacquainted with it, it’s likely to blow your mind – especially if you’ve largely accepted the “women are oppressed / men are oppressors and predators” paradigm promoted by feminist activists.

     Most people don’t bother with documentaries. Make The Red Pill an exception. Seriously. You’ll thank me.

New Guns, Better Aim And Faster Rate Of Fire, More Victories [UPDATED]

     Far too many Republican officeholders have treated the press as capable of taking them down regardless of the facts. Even Reagan kowtowed to “the Fourth Estate” about certain things. George W. Bush started out well, on one memorable occasion openly telling the assembled barons of the media that he didn’t automatically assume that their reportage accurately reflected reality, but lacked the resilience to do so for his full eight years.

     But there are new guns in town: Sean Spicer, Kellyanne Conway, Steve Bannon, and of course their boss Donald J. Trump, and their fully justified ferocity toward the media is already having a salutary effect:

     The New York Times quietly issued a major correction to an editorial attacking the electoral college in December, admitting it has in fact defended the electoral college at a time when it was politically expedient for Democrats.

     The paper ran the editorial calling for an end to the electoral college in December, when Democrats were harping on the fact that Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton beat President Donald Trump in the popular vote, and calling for reforms to make the system more “fair.” Obviously seeking to avoid the editorial position as politically motivated, the editorial emphasized what turned out to be a false claim that the paper has opposed the electoral college system for 80 years....

     But the next day, the NYTimes ran a correction that went almost entirely unnoticed, stating the paper had in fact supported the electoral college when President George W. Bush won the 2000 presidential election. “It failed to note an exception: in 2000, the board defended the college after the election of George W. Bush,” the correction reads, totally undermining the idea that its new opposition to the electoral college is not motivated by a distaste for Trump.

     The debate over the moral validity of the Electoral College goes back many decades. In the usual case, objections to it arise from the losing side when the loser has garnered a popular-vote advantage. This counterpoise of the popular vote with the EC will never be completely settled, even though it was the explicit desire of the Founding Fathers to enable and defend exactly such a result.

     However, my concentration for today is on the behavior of the ever more openly partisan Main Stream Media. Time was, no correction such as the one noted above would have been issued. That was the Media Way: The facts are what we report; if we didn’t mention it, then it didn’t happen. The emergence of alternatives to the broadcast and print media did make some inroads against such self-serving duplicity, but the pushback was never more than halfway sufficient.

     What’s making the difference today is an Administration whose members – so far, at least – are ready, willing, and able to call the media out on its claims. That Administration enjoys sufficient popular support to withstand media counterblasts. Kellyanne Conway in particular has demonstrated this in her exchanges of fire with Chuck Todd and others.

     Trump himself has taken some criticism, including from the Right, about his seeming need to “win all the battles,” including battles he, having “won the war,” supposedly need not fight. There’s some truth to this. Yet Trump’s exceptional combativeness, tempered by decades in the rough-and-tumble, utterly unforgiving New York Metro real-estate marketplace and joustings with its press, might be the indispensable emotional foundation for his and his lieutenants’ willingness to stick to their guns and keep on firing. If that’s the case – and given how heartened his supporters have been by his people’s consistent feistiness, I think it more likely than not – then on net balance that win-all-the-battles “fault” is really an asset.

     Trump’s supporters are cheered, and rightly so, by every outcome of this kind. But I await the day an honest, responsible member of the media confronts the Times, the Washington Post, or some other Democrat mouthpiece with pretensions to “impartiality” with a question such as the following:

“Had the results been exactly the reverse – had Donald Trump prevailed in the popular vote but Hillary Clinton won in the Electoral College – you would have defended the EC, wouldn’t you?”

     It will be a delicious moment. May it come soon!

     [For an expanded treatment of the subject of media power and its partisan inclinations, I cannot recommend too highly The Flight From Truth, by the late Jean-Francois Revel. The chapter on the press is exceptionally illuminating. Read it!]

     UPDATE: Much of political “journalism” is driven by a desire to maintain a particular, cherished status among media competitors. Read Roger Simon’s essay on this today:

     [W]hy would anybody ever, by tradition or for any other reason, always get to ask the first or even the fifth question at a White House press briefing or conference?

     Or, to drill down a little further, why does any media outlet get preference over any other when it comes to asking questions? Or still further, who determines what reporters and organizations get into the briefing room in the first place to sit forever in rows one or two?

     Well, um... professionalism.

     Oh, I see. Is that a degree from Columbia Journalism School? Hemingway didn't even go to college and could outwrite everyone in that briefing room by an exponential factor. Journalism isn't brain surgery or even anesthesiology. It's an occupation for ambitious hustlers with a gift for gab not so different from screenwriting, but not so high paying.

     The truth is that those organizations are indeed there by tradition, a tradition of droit du seigneur and corporate thuggery that makes you yearn for the extension of anti-trust legislation.

     You get the position, you keep the position. It's a game of rich, entrenched bullies that happen to be monolithic media companies anxious to preserve their monopolies.

     Of course, sillier things have been done for even sillier reasons:

     Tony: Alice, you talk as though only you could understand them. That’s not true. Why, every family has got curious little traits. What of it? My father raises orchids at ten thousand dollars a bulb. Is that sensible? My mother believes in spiritualism. That’s just as bad as your mother writing plays, isn’t it?

     Alice: It goes deeper, Tony. Your mother believes in spiritualism because it’s fashionable, and your father raises orchids because he can afford to. My mother writes plays because eight years ago a typewriter was delivered here by mistake.

     [From You Can’t Take It With You]


I'll be on the road until about February 10 with light blogging in between, if any.

In the meantime, do not miss this superb piece on Pres. Trump's foreign policy:

"Donald Trump Has a Coherent, Radical Foreign Policy Doctrine." By George Friedman, Real Clear World, 1/20/17.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Who Is He Really? Part 2

     Yes, I’m back to this theme. Why? Because of the passing parade, the human tragicomedy, and the living detritus it scatters across the face of reality. Also, because I’m utterly weary of political commentary, of speaking in categories and imperatives (and categorical imperatives). This allows me a break from the routine. Anyway, the other Esteemed Co-Conspirators of Liberty’s Torch will surely fill the sociopolitical gap...if a gap there be.

     NOTE: The rules as stated in Part 1 still apply.

     This person seems to “live at the office.” You could easily get the impression that he’d spend his entire life there, if it were made possible. For him, home is mostly a place to store his clothes.

     Or maybe not. Maybe he spends all his time on a pastime. It could be a sport, a craft, video games, coin collecting, the Internet...it really doesn’t matter. It absorbs him too completely for any other sort of involvement, possibly including gainful employment.

     Or maybe not that either. Maybe his life is consumed by his bank balance. Or by a search for sexual conquests. Or by fanatic devotion to some sports figure, or franchise, or musical icon. Or by the adoration of some political figure, or Cause, or popular guru. Whatever it is, it leaves no space in his day, week, month, or year for any competing interest.

     In these United States of America, in this year of Our Lord 2017, it’s very likely that you know such a person.

     Let’s call him the Monochromist.

     We have it on pretty good authority that the immense variety and richness of life, especially contemporary American life, should make us happy as kings. Some of us are. Maybe even most of us. But appearances to the contrary, that’s unlikely to include the Monochromist.

     Obsession isn’t good for anyone. Moreover, it’s odds-on that the Monochromist knows that. Nevertheless, he prefers it to broader engagement with the people and the world around him.

     To marry oneself to a single interest, forsaking all others, is seldom due to the decision that that interest is all that matters. Far more often it’s a reaction born of pain: a withdrawal into a “safe space,” stemming from emotional damage sustained during a flirtation with the possibilities of the wider world.

     The Monochromist is frequently found in works of fiction. He’s almost always a pitiable figure. He’s employed to illustrate the emotional seductiveness of closure around a single, all-consuming pursuit.

     Considering how many Monochromists inhabit the real world, it’s fairly easy to “create” one for use in a story. But he and his fellows are also a warning to the rest of us.

     A world “so full of a number of things” will occasionally inflict pain, disappointment, or failure on each of us. It’s inherent in our wanting natures. The more we see, the more we want: things, people, skills, achievements, stature, novelty, diversion, what-have-you. It’s inherent in the nature of reality that some of those wants will not be fulfilled, or that pursuing them will exact a price we’d prefer not to pay, whether or not we get what we’ve sought.

     He who is unable to endure pain, disappointment, and failure is ill-prepared for life. It’s not that life is inherently and unremittingly painful, but rather that we are limited creatures with limited powers and limited resources. If our wants could be limited in like fashion, life could be free of all sorrow...but apparently that’s not possible to the overwhelming majority of us. We call the exceptions saints. Some of them deserve it.

     The Monochromist has created a refuge for himself, in which he hopes to escape further sorrow. In fact what he’s done is to wall himself up with his sorrows, such that they’re always hovering around him at the slightest of removes. His fanatic concentration on his single interest is the sole barrier that keeps those sorrows at bay.

     “A slave cannot be freed, save he do it himself.” – Robert A. Heinlein

     What’s true of the slave is also true of the Monochromist. The walls around him are of his own design and construction. Only he can tear them down. Nevertheless, a huge number of persons of a “helping” disposition will attempt it. Their efforts are seldom rewarded with anything but frustration and bruises.

     Motivation, as Robert C. Townsend has noted, is a door locked from within. It’s pointless to try to force new motives onto someone, especially a Monochromist. He’s far more likely to reinforce his barriers than to lower them at your suggestion.

     Many are the parents whose adolescent children have wound themselves around some obsession. The condition is becoming ever more commonplace in our time. However, relief usually comes as they mature. He who elects to care about an adult Monochromist has a tougher row to hoe.

     Do you know any such, Gentle Reader? I’d lay odds on it. What responses have they inspired in you?

Monday, January 23, 2017

Groupiness And The Imperative Of Formality

     I avoid crowds. I detest large cities. I refuse to join groups. None of that will be news to the typical Gentle Reader of Liberty’s Torch. What might surprise him is the question I recently received from a woman who was baffled by those preferences:

“Then who are you?”

     Ponder that for a moment: specifically, what it tells us about the assumptions of the asker. It’s been on my mind since 4:30 AM.

     Collectivism, every version of which privileges groups according to some scheme of valuation, is responsible for virtually all the evil in the First World. Yet the assignment of others into categories – groups – is an ineradicable trait. We all do it...because we must.

     About two years ago, I wrote:

     Collectivism – the doctrine that rights and responsibilities adhere not to individuals, but to groups – is a gospel of unending strife. But the ordinary man cannot be moved to take part in such strife without having something to blame on “the Other.” So Negroes must imagine Caucasians to be the source of their problems with crime and lack of economic advancement; women must conceive of men as their oppressors; “the young” must blame “the old” for their struggles at getting employment; and so forth.

Note that just as Anthony Bryan states that “white people and black people are different,” so also are men and women different. So also are the young and the old different. So also are urbanites and suburbanites different, Northerners and Southerners different, Christians and Jews different, et cetera ad nauseam infinitam. Indeed, every individual differs from every other, in innumerable ways. It’s the factual soil in which individualism is rooted: You are unique, with a unique and irreplaceable soul; therefore, only you are responsible for your destiny.

Some differences matter more than others. Some are contextual and mutable, while others are innate and permanent. Some can be accommodated and harmonized; others are immiscible, requiring separation. They exist beyond our opinions and despite our preferences; indeed, they can be critical to the survival of both individuals and nations. But as long as we cleave to the individualist premise that each of us is alone responsible for himself, we can navigate among our differences, making use of the useful ones, coping with the ones that cause difficulties, and avoiding the ones that cause friction.

The substitution of the collectivist premise permits evil minded persons to create discord. If we can be induced to see John Passerby not as an arbitrary individual with his own priorities and obligations, but as black, or female, or Jewish, we can be trained to fear him...and to hate him.

     I stand by every word of the above. It’s beyond refutation. Yet I, too, am impelled to assign people to groups, to expect them to conform to the norms of those groups, and thereafter, to be surprised when they deviate from what I expect. Everybody does it.

     But that’s not the sting in the tail. We do it for a compelling reason: It works often enough, and positively enough, to be worth doing. In somewhat more loaded words:

     So we’re not going to stop. The question of the hour is how the tendency can be detoxified...tamed...rendered less likely to bring bad consequences.

     It can be done, of course. Indeed, it’s not complex or difficult: it merely requires that we see the individual first, allow him the right to differ from any and every group, and judge him on his own merits. But quite a lot of people don’t or won’t do it. Some refuse to do it, and exhort others not to do it, for – drum roll, please – political reasons.

     They who desire strife – who see disharmony, friction, and conflict as paths toward power or profit – are inherently favorable toward the crudest sort of collectivism.

     The above might seem a bit off-axis from me, inasmuch as I’ve been vocal, and quite recently so, about the desirability of formalizing the relations between the races. As it happens, I feel the same way about relations between the sexes, between the generations, between the religions, between the nations, between the [insert your meta-collectivity here]. We appear to do much better, socially, when we practice a high degree of formality toward those who differ with us in recognized ways.

     The undiscussed virtue of formality is that it incorporates respect: specifically, respect for the other person’s prerogatives. The patterns it prescribes are designed for exactly that purpose.

     For example, what does it mean when an unaccompanied woman, approached by a man she doesn’t know, smiles formally and says “I don’t believe we’ve been introduced” – ? It’s shorthand for a longer, more explicit statement likely to wound feelings:

     “Excuse me, but I don’t know you, and circumstances are either conducive to fear, conducive to inconvenience, or inappropriate for us to make one another’s acquaintance. Please allow me to go my way. If at some future time we should encounter one another again and discover that we have friends in common, perhaps the outcome will be different.”

     Even the simplest of formal politenesses – “Excuse me,” “Pardon me,” “Please,” “Thank you,” “May I,” “So sorry” – promote and facilitate the maintenance of respect, especially respect between strangers.

     In circumstances of enforced crowding, where there’s nothing to be done about the throng that presses upon one, formalities are far more difficult to implement, which is among the reasons I avoid crowds. Among other things, ammunition has become far more expensive in recent years...to say nothing of the services of a good criminal-defense lawyer.

     I expect I’ll return to this.

The leftist switcheroo: ditch labor, embrace the fringe, get rich.

Neoliberalism--the opening of markets and borders--enables capital to effortlessly crush labor. The social democrats, in embracing open borders, have institutionalized an open immigration that shreds the scarcity value of domestic labor in favor of lower cost immigrant labor that serves capital's desire for lower costs.

Globalization and neoliberal financial / immigration policies signify the collapse of the Left and the victory of capital. Now capital completely dominates the state and its cronyist structures--political parties, lobbying, campaign contributions, charitable foundations operating as pay-for-play cash vacuums, and all the other features of cartel-state capitalism.

To mask the collapse of the Left's economic defense of labor, the Left's apologists and PR machine have substituted social justice movements for economic opportunities to acquire economic security and capital. This has succeeded brilliantly, as tens of millions of self-described "progressives" completely bought the left's Great Con that "social justice" campaigns on behalf of marginalized social groups were the defining feature of Progressive Social Democratic movements.[1]

The Democrat Party – guardian of pathology: worship of foreigners, embrace of the underclass, fawning over feminist and sexual freaks, hostility to free speech, slobbering over globalism, blindness regarding Islam, and blindness to violence and the breakdown of public order.

Guardian of working people (or anyone else)? Not so much.

Keith Preston has a similar take on this:

During the 1960s, the political Left in the Western world underwent a transformation from class-based proletarianism to an orientation towards cultural politics with an emphasis on race, gender, and counterculturalism. A variety of explanations have been offered for why this occurred but for the purposes of this discussion what matters is the effect of this transformation on American electoral politics. Beginning with the electoral strategy devised for the Democratic Party in the early 1970s by Fred Dutton, the mainstream of American liberalism and much of the far Left began to jettison a working class orientation, and instead embracing upper middle class liberals, students, minorities, the counterculture, and environmentalists.

Trump demeans women.
Photo: Matthew Vadum .
Consequently, the Democratic Party oriented reformist “left” began forming an alliance with corporate liberals against labor in exchange for being given what they wanted on social issues like civil rights, anti-racism, affirmative action, feminism, abortion, gay rights, and environmentalism as a recent article in The Atlantic, a liberal publication, has surprisingly admitted. As a result, the mainstream of American liberalism was transformed into a kind of left-wing capitalism that embraced neoliberal economics but continued to move towards the far left fringes on social and cultural issues.[2]
So what we've seen is one of the great political parties of 20th-c. America turn itself into a zoo whose inmates couldn't recognize (a) Hillary Clinton's monstrous betrayal of our fighting men and diplomats in Benghazi and (b) the astonishing corruption involved in her pay-to-play Clinton Foundation and its Saudi donations. Grotesque speaking fees caused not even a raised eyebrow in the sycophantic house press.

Nothing remarkable there. Our Hilly.

Pointless, reckless, aggressive, unconstitutional war in Libya and Syria? Not an "anti-war" protestor within a thousand miles.

The stench was overpowering but she was the Democrats' star. Coal miners to the remainder bin. Tough.

[1] "The Collapse Of The Left's Great Con." By Charles Hugh Smith, Of Two Minds, 1/22/17. H/t: Zero Hedge.
[2] "Donald Trump and the Return of Liberalism." By Keith Preston, Attack the System, c. 11/13/16.


My lady friend observed that last Saturday's women's marches around the country had a distinct component of idiocy but she thought that still some of the women had a point about "objectification" and not wanting to be treated as sex objects.

She nonetheless found it ironic that the demonstrations took place with the strong backing of Hollywood, no town on earth ever having done more to objectify women and treat them as sex objects.

Concerning The “Women’s March”

     The march I went to yesterday was all anti-Trump. Every single one of them was showcasing ‘solidarity’ against Trump. There were signs saying “safe abortions” and “LGBTQ Rights.” I can’t imagine the hell fire that would have come down if it was revealed that I, a pro-lifer and an AltRighter, was among them. These kinds of protests only have room for the women who agree with them. Women on the left will spout “tolerance” and “love” and “acceptance” of other cultures and beliefs to the point where your ears will bleed. But that tolerance ends when you don’t agree with them. Half the population of women in the U.S. are pro-life, and less than 20% identify as a feminist. The more exposure third wave feminism gets as a regressive movement that has made women progressively less happy since women’s liberation, and the more social justice warriors shit on white men, the fewer women identify with feminism. Thank goodness. -- Bre Faucheux

     That’s probably a bit too much truth for a contemporary “women’s rights” activist...so press it on one today!

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Open Warfare

     That which is potentially lethal should not be allowed to go unobserved. We don’t like it with diseases; indeed, much of contemporary medical practice is aimed at ferreting out the hazards to life that have yet to produce palpable symptoms. It’s even worse when great powers – in any sense of that phrase – are locked in mortal combat while presenting a vision of courtesy, even amity, to those of us not directly engaged in their battle. Yet it’s often the case that such a power will strive to its utmost to conceal the dimensions of its hostility even while in the middle of a war of conquest.

     A lot has already been said and written about the riotous, destructive “demonstrations” that have occurred in Washington D.C. and elsewhere these past two days. A smaller amount has been said about the behavior of the “Fourth Estate:” the broadcast and print media, which seek to shape our perceptions and attitudes through the practice they call “journalism.” This is understandable: those commenting on recent events have mostly been components in those media. But that dispreferred focus is likely to be the more important of the two.

     There’s been ample coverage of the exchanges between the newly installed Trump Administration and its denigrators and detractors in the media. Some of it has been straightforward, essentially objective and honest, but much of it has not. Considering the many blows the Trump campaign hurled at the media – most of them wholly justified – any degree of candor is a bit of a surprise. But as is often the case, what we aren’t seeing is at least as important as what’s being paraded before us.

     Journalism as an institution has one overriding priority: finding “news” to report, that its importance to those who consume its offerings will continue to treat it as important. That institution is populated by journalists with motivations of their own: advancing their careers, feeling important, and promoting what they believe to be important causes. The two sets intersect in a specific aspect of human affairs: conflict.

     Conflict is the key to the news industry. Without it, the media would be greatly diminished in importance. Times of low conflict are bad for the media.

     Canny media figures are aware of this. They act on it: they seek out conflicts to cover. They emphasize the importance of the conflicts they find. They base their decisions about placement and emphasis on the novelty and intensity of those conflicts.

     When there are no conflicts to be found, they fabricate them.

     There’s a standing attitudinal conflict between the media and the political Right. The Right’s promotion of individualism and individual performance clashes with the personality profile of the typical reporter or commentator. Individualism in practice puts a powerful damper on conflicts of all sorts. Though they compete with one another in the marketplace, individualists respect both the rights of the competitor and the power of performance. “May the best man win” is an individualistic sentiment.

     When individualistic attitudes predominate among Americans, the media are deprived of the large-scale conflicts that arise from collectivist clashes of conviction. Outlets that cater to large, regional or national markets have less to write about. Their opinion-mongers become less relevant to their readers and viewers. That’s bad for circulation, and therefore for profits.

     It follows that the barons of the media will have an interest in promoting and enlarging such conflicts as they can find.

     These concepts are on my mind for some obvious reasons, and for one less-than-obvious one: media machinations aimed at making particular outcroppings of conflict appear larger or fresher than they really are. Some of the media’s most recent attention has gone to tempests in a teapot that have nevertheless been accorded front-page / above-the-fold status.

     Media coverage strove to make the riots and demonstrations in Washington D.C. around the inauguration appear as large, as impassioned, and as threatening as possible. Some work was involved, as the rioters and “demonstrators” achieved less than they hoped, particularly as regards closing the city to ingress. The coverage of yesterday’s “women’s marches” in various cities around the country was even more tendentious. The crowd in Washington, though of significant size, was “headlined” by a gaggle of second-echelon and has-been celebrities. The sense of the thing was stale, well past its days of relevance. The “coordinated” demonstrations in other places were of even less interest, as the participation of fringe communities that normal American women disdain was more visible there.

     The “women’s movement” has taken a serious blow. In recent years it’s taken setback after setback, steadily diminishing in importance. But the media need the conflict for their circulation numbers. Therefore the marches and demonstrations had to be promoted, in puff-adder fashion, into something they’re not: a symptom of a major conflict between American women and men.

     But where are the real, genuinely important conflicts, if any?

     Standing behind recent media machinations is the evident and much discussed decline in the public’s confidence in journalism and journalists. The news media are so deeply and thoroughly distrusted by average Americans that their whole business model is tottering. The stakes are high, as is usually the case when whole industries and vast quantities of money are involved.

     To perpetuate their viability, the broadcast and print media must win the conflict behind all the pseudo-conflicts and teapot tempests they’ve been promoting: the one between themselves and American public opinion. Ironically, this is the one major conflict of our time the media aren’t anxious to report on.

     The exchanges of fire between the Trump Administration and the media can be more easily understood in that light. The media are not unhappy about those exchanges. Indeed, they promote them, for they elevate the media’s importance in the minds of readers and viewers: “Our true size is that of our largest enemy.” They would greatly prefer that we focus on those tensions, rather than on why so much of the “news” they slather us with consists of fabrications and exaggerations.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

“MAP:” Threat Or Menace?

     [I wrote this brief piece a couple of years ago for the defunct “Indie Writers’ Net.” Given recent developments in independently published fiction, it seems still to be relevant -- FWP]

     Say, I’ve got an idea...

     (Yes, that’s a rough Long Island equivalent to a Southerner saying “Hey y’all, watch this.”)

     The great majority of us are no good at all at what SF writer Tom Kratman calls “pimping my own works.” It’s easy to see why: it feels too immodest, and it’s usually greeted with amused skepticism by your “audience.” Yet promotion is the most indie writers need most. Without it, our works are “born to blush unseen.”

     So why not “pimp someone else’s works” -- ?

     Has anyone here ever entered into a “mutually assured pimping” agreement? I did it for a while, not realizing that I was doing so. My “co-pimp” was Martin McPhillips, author of the incredible counterterrorism thriller Corpse In Armor. I stumbled over his book, loved it, and started praising it to everyone I know. He noticed that I was doing so, read my novel Chosen One, and started doing the same for me. We both enjoyed sharply increased sales for a significant period.

     Of course, this strategy requires that one has intelligent and sincerely complimentary things to say about other indie writers’ books. Which itself implies that one must willingly read those books and remember their best features. But if you can steel yourself to so awful a fate, you might just discover that you’ve entered the shadowed world of Mutually Assured Pimping, in which the air of menace is unending and nothing is what it seems...except the pleasure of reading nice things about your books and even nicer things in your quarterly payment reports.

     Food for thought.

Past Performances And Future Results

     The extraordinary character of the period that has just ended – from November 8, 2016 to yesterday, January 20, 2017 – is undisputed. It was a time for gloom and misery among many and for celebration and jubilance among many others. And yes, there were some for whom it was a “wait and see” time, a time to read the chicken’s entrails and attempt to prepare for what would come next. But it’s over.

     Now comes the time of “prove you meant it.”

     A certain glamor has been laid upon each new president’s first 100 days. It appears to stem from that first period in the presidential term of Franklin D. Roosevelt, which was marked by so great a flurry of decrees and developments that even the most retentive memory probably won’t recall all of them without at least a glance at Schlesinger. FDR, it should be remembered, had been accorded essentially dictatorial powers; Congress acted as a rubber stamp for his utterances, not one of which drew more than token opposition from the shrunken, badly demoralized Republican remnant on Capitol Hill.

     But 100 days is an arbitrary time interval. It won’t tell us what we most need to know about the new administration:

  • “Did he mean it?”
  • “Can he do it?”

     Those questions won’t be fully answered until January 20, 2021.

     It’s a relatively recent thing, historically, for a president to arrive in office with an agenda. I could go into the reasons for this, and someday I probably will, but for the moment it’s more important that we grasp the state of the federal government and the intentions of those who dominate it.

     Yesterday’s pomp and ceremony notwithstanding, Donald Trump and his lieutenants don’t dominate Washington...yet. That might change – I hope it will; Trump will have little chance of following through on his campaign pledges otherwise – but for the moment the much-maligned Washington Establishment retains its grip on the mechanisms of federal power.

     Constitutionally, all legislative power resides in Congress. Congress is composed of 535 elected officials, few of whom are even sympathetic to the Trump agenda. Moreover, the president has no power over them whatsoever. He cannot dictate even the smallest change to their modus operandi. And each and every one of those Representatives and Senators has some sort of stake in “the way things are.”

     The president’s “pen and phone” have little Constitutional power. Executive orders cannot guarantee enduring changes in federal operations. They have only two areas of effect: the approach to the enforcement of existing laws, and the mandated behavior of executive branch employees. Both can be overridden by successive presidents. Barack Obama is about to have that demonstrated to him.

     Given those conditions, and given the monstrously swollen federal bureaucracy, its inherent bias against dramatic changes, and its several means of resistance, the imposition upon it of the changes Trump intends will be difficult. He’ll have to be very persistent, and very tough.

     The 45th president faces a steep uphill climb. I don’t envy him.

     We discern “whether he meant it” from whether “he” persists in the face of opposition and obstacles. Given the opposition and obstacles already mentioned, the verdict will take a while to arrive. But given the two least tractable elements in any man’s existence – 1) time, and 2) other men – there’s no guarantee that circumstances might force changes upon the Trump agenda.

     Consider as a test case Trump’s declared intention to scale back our international security guarantees in favor of an “America first” policy. This would be welcome; we’ve poured out the blood of our sons and the treasure of our nation for the defense of others who’ve proved largely unwilling to expend their own resources on their own defense. That’s the sort of behavior that collapses empires. Ours is not immune to its enervation.

     But international developments, as our British cousins say, could throw a spanner into the works. For example, we have existing treaty obligations to unwind. They might not be sufficiently rolled back before new conflicts arise in which they would oblige us to participate. In this connection, it would be wise to keep an eye trained on the Baltic states and the previous non-Russian elements of the Warsaw Pact. For all his seeming desire to “make friends” with the new administration, Vladimir Putin is inherently an expansionist who seeks to recreate the pre-Yeltsin Soviet Union and its sphere of politico-economic influence. Some of the small nations Putin’s intentions embrace are NATO members.

     There’s room for a lot of trouble there.

     We determine “whether he can do it” from whether “he” does. In most of the topics upon which Trump campaigned, there’s considerable latitude for interpretation. Moreover, there’s the importance of time once again.

     Much of what Trump has sworn to do will take time. How much? After what interval would it be reasonable to say “Yes, he did it,” or “No, he failed” -- ? Unraveling our regulatory nightmare is a formidable challenge. It’s made worse by this ugly fact: Virtually everyone believes that “some regulation” is necessary and good, but there’s no agreement beyond that.

     There are two uses of the word “regulate” in the Constitution:

  1. Article I, Section 8, clause 3: “To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;”
  2. Article I, Section 8, clause 5: “To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures;”

     Note that those are explicit powers of Congress: legislative powers. The executive branch was given no “regulatory” authority whatsoever. Yet the overwhelmingly greater part of our regulatory burden was imposed upon us by pure executive fiat, with little if any legislative foundation for it.

     You’d think, given that particular tidbit of fact, that Congress, jealous of its position and prerogatives, would collaborate happily with the administration in the dismantling of this edifice. But things aren’t quite that straightforward. The regulatory bureaucracy does Congress several important “services:”

  • It relieves Congress of the need to write properly explicit bills;
  • It assists in the effectuation of “earmarks;”
  • It supports the de facto creation of “laws” that target particular portions of the nation;
  • It provides legislators with a “whipping boy” at whom they can point during election campaigns;
  • It allows legislators to endear themselves to their constituents through “constituent services.”

     Items 1, 2, and 3 are shameful, extra-Constitutional obscenities. They should never have been allowed, but the demotic and demagogic trends of the “broadcast media” era brought them to us anyway. Items 4 and 5 are equally artifacts of our demagogic deterioration. Yet all of them are dear to legislators who’d rather not be heard saying what they really mean or seen doing what they really intend.

     We cannot rationally expect that Congress will be sincerely supportive of Trump’s anti-regulatory intentions.

     The above might seem pessimistic. In a sense, it is; history teaches us to be pessimists about the uses of power and the men who seek it. What we want is for this time, and this nation, to be exceptions, as was the Revolutionary Era and the nation it created.

     There are no guarantees.

     As I wrote yesterday, private persons who desire success for the Trump Administration and its agenda must help it along. Without sustained pressure from the electorate upon those elements of Leviathan that are sure to resist him, the president, no matter how sincerely determined, is unlikely to succeed.

     Yes, Donald Trump won the election against formidable opposition and in defiance of all the oddsmakers’ predictions. But the outcomes of elections are determined by the voters – by us. The machinations in the corridors of power are a different story entirely.

     If we’re to have the future for which we’ve voted, we must keep the pressure on.

Vulgar thought.

I'll be unembarrassedly old-fashioned here: It is profoundly depressing and vulgar to hear an American president proclaim "America First."
~ Bill Kristol.[1]

America First. What a ridiculous idea.

A moment of surprising candor from a cuckservative. Just what we Tea Partiers and Trumpeteers gradually began to suspect.

The American elite, whether "right" or left care nothing for the interests of this nation and have been happy to have our economy trashed and culture destroyed in the name of a fatuous "globalism" and open borders. They were willing to lie and dissemble until Trump tossed his hat in the ring.

Now it's right out there for all to see.

Modernity and prosperity have been the spawning ground for profound stupidity in every aspect of public and private life.

[1] Tweet reported at "On Entering the Trump Era." By Diana West, 1/21/17.