Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Home Truths And The I-Want Milieu

     I’m feeling pretty good this morning, and it’s got nothing whatsoever to do with political trends, my finances, the collapse of the NFL, or the timely repair of my oven...though I must admit that those are all fairly uplifting in their own right.

     No, it’s about a cleft that runs through American society. It’s not a physical division like the San Andreas Fault, but a conceptual one. It’s the sort of partition that arises when a significant number of putatively responsible American adults start to behave like whiny children socialists. That cleft is becoming ever more visible, and the people on the wrong side thereof purely hate it.

     They should hate it. Its edges are crumbling rapidly, pulling them ever nearer to its maw. Unless they get their heads on straight P.D.Q. it will suck them down into oblivion...and they will have earned it.

     Kurt Schlichter is quickly becoming the go-to guy for penetrating snark:

     Some of you misguided young women (the non-misguided ones can ignore me) will resist the obvious fact that you need the romantic advice of a married, 53-year old retired Army officer who identifies as male. Well, judging from that Aziz Ansari story in babe.net, many of you sure need some guidance from someone. And since your fathers apparently went AWOL – or maybe you just didn’t listen – I’ll step in to help. Because I’m a helper. And because since so many of you are so utterly ill-equipped to interact with men, maybe you need a man to mansplain things to you.

     I know what’s coming: You’re condescending and patriarchal!

     Probably, but I’m still right.

     Please read it all. It gets better as it goes, and every word is home truth.

     “Home truth? Whazzat?” I hear you cry. Quite simply, it’s a truth one learns at home; in the old formulation, “at your mother’s knee.” More candidly, it’s a truth one is expected to learn at home. Because if you don’t, the moment you step past the threshold of your Olde Home Stead, that terrible nasty unfeeling thing we physicists call reality will chew you up and spit you out faster than a lump of Bazooka® or Dubble-Bubble®.

     Schlichter’s core home truth is this:

Others will judge you by your behavior.
There’s no way to prevent it.

     Or, as Schlichter says to “Grace,” who is almost certainly not paying attention:

     Let me break this to you gently, misguided Misses. If you want a guy for the long haul who will actually care about your feelings – because guys can do that, you know – you might not want to leave the guy with the impression all those observations lead to. It makes you not girlfriend (much less wife) material. It makes you a notch on a bedpost.

     And it is so.

     Way back in the Early Obscene – or was it the Later Moronic? I forget – I wrote a couple of essays for Eternity Road on the subject of “Sturdy Wisdoms:” my phrase du jour for a home truth. They were little bits of reality encapsulated in a thousand words or so. A fair number of my readers disliked them for their “I told you so” tone, and said so in the comments. I was unsurprised; in the usual case, the advice we least like to hear is the stuff to which we ought to pay proper attention.

     I expressed three such home truths in this essay. I thought I’d seen hate mail before that. How wrong I was!

     People hate to be told that they’ve been stupid – and that’s the message within any evocation of “I told you so.” But these past few decades a lot of people have been told that it’s their God-given right to behave stupidly and suffer no consequences. You’d think they’d aim their fury at those who misled them. You’d be wrong.

     We’re at the edge of another abyss just now. It was created by a federal government that has refused for decades to punish the miscreants within its own ranks. The technical term most commonly applied to that refusal is sovereign immunity.

     The doctrine of sovereign immunity – in the medieval formula, “the King and his agents can do no wrong” — has been used to protect criminal behavior by law enforcers, by bureaucrats, by elected and appointed officials...and by private citizens who were once elected or appointed officials. It’s a clear contradiction to the classical Rule of Law, which holds that a person’s status has no bearing on his culpability under the law. But as it’s the political elite protecting themselves and their confreres, the common citizen has had to watch in helpless frustration when such scum as Lon Horiuchi and Janet Reno commit open murder under color of law and go scot free.

     But our present moment, in which the FBI is blandly denying Congress a large amount of vital evidence of Justice Department corruption under a literally unbelievable rationale, has confronted those elites with a specimen of defiance that might just get them to reconsider:

     Maybe I'm just getting paranoid, but today's limp excuse is so lame that it almost seems as though there must be something more sinister going on here than simply failing to comply with a congressional investigation.

     What the FBI is doing is demonstrating its political power -- baring its fangs, if you will -- by showing in the most obviously unbelievable way that it will do what it please. The FBI wants the people who count to understand that the Bureau cannot and will not be held accountable....

     The FBI didn't come up with a lame excuse because that's all they could come up with. They came up with a lame excuse because they think that's all they need.

     And unless Congress steps up, they'll be right.

     FBI agents committed multiple murders at both Ruby Ridge and Waco...and the agents involved in both atrocities weren’t just protected from the just consequences of their actions, they were promoted. It would have been logical for FBI agents from top to bottom to conclude that if they could do what they did in those incidents and suffer no penalty, they could get away with anything. What will Congress’s response be today?

     I could go on for thousands more words, but I’ll spare you. The final home truth for the day will come from Ralph Waldo Emerson:

     The ingenuity of man has always been dedicated to the solution of one problem,--how to detach the sensual sweet, the sensual strong, the sensual bright, &c., from the moral sweet, the moral deep, the moral fair; that is, again, to contrive to cut clean off this upper surface so thin as to leave it bottomless; to get a one end, without an other end. The soul says, Eat; the body would feast. The soul says, The man and woman shall be one flesh and one soul; the body would join the flesh only. The soul says, Have dominion over all things to the ends of virtue; the body would have the power over things to its own ends....

     You cannot do wrong without suffering wrong....This law writes the laws of cities and nations. It is in vain to build or plot or combine against it. Things refuse to be mismanaged long. Res nolunt diu male administrari. Though no checks to a new evil appear, the checks exist, and will appear. If the government is cruel, the governor's life is not safe. If you tax too high, the revenue will yield nothing. If you make the criminal code sanguinary, juries will not convict. If the law is too mild, private vengeance comes in. [From Emerson’s essay “Compensation”]

     And it is so, and not all the “But I want” whinings of all the ages of Man can gainsay it.

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