Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Should We Pay Attention to Polls and Other Indicators?

Based on this theory, probably not.

The Spiral of Silence is a theory that predicts the likely outcome of situations when an individual's opinion are a minority viewpoint. Most chose to conceal their opinions, so as to reduce friction and fit in. That tendency varies according to ethnic or national background - not surprisingly, those from conformist societies, such as Taiwan, are more likely to hide their contrary opinion.

I didn't see this in that study, but I'd be surprised if women were not more likely to censor themselves, as most women are anxious to conform to a group. Likewise, Black and other minorities might be more likely to echo the majority viewpoints.

Polls conducted by phone (the most common scenario) magnify this tendency. Both in-person polling (one of the most expensive forms) and online polling reduce it. Knowing this allows us to place more credence on the online polls - while still having some reality issues, in this aspect, silencing minority viewpoints, they may be more accurate.

Absent another catastrophic incident, such as 9/11, I doubt we will see another political re-alignment in the near future. There will be some movement of the less-committed, but no major flood to the Trump side. So, every vote counts - particularly in the larger cities, where alien voting and voter fraud are issues.

In other news, apparently Trump acted in his role as President, which outraged the Leftists/Progressives (I will be SO relieved when the Leftists drop that Progressive label in favor of the unvarnished truth - it will save so much time).

Bookwormroom has some insight into the history of the Middle East that shows the power of the unelected bureaucrat.
Did you know that it was British bureaucrats, determined to keep their jobs at all costs, who sparked Arab nationalism in Palestine, creating the dangerous Middle East that consumes the world today?
 If you're not reading Watcher of Weasels, a collective blog that includes Bookworm Room, you're missing a treat.

I'll be on the road for the next few days, so my blogging will be sporadic.

Down Time

     I dislike to do this – regular Gentle Readers are aware that I don’t do it often – but I need to take some time away from Liberty’s Torch. Tragedies and assorted less-than-tragic difficulties are being heaped up around me. Losing my best friend was only the beginning. I’m finding it difficult to cope with all of it and still produce reasonably coherent drivel for this blog.

     I’ll be back when I’ve cleared some quiet space around me. I have to settle enough of the Sturm und Drang to be able to think without immediately needing to get on my knees and pray for deliverance. Meanwhile, enjoy the emissions from Colonel Bunny, Linda Fox, and my other, all-too-seldom Co-Conspirators.

     All my best,

Finally! An honest definition.

Of “austerity.”
Now that we are entering the euro’s third decade, it is worth noting that Portugal, Spain, and Greece are all governed by radical socialists who have abandoned the concept of fiscal responsibility, which they call “austerity policy.”[1]
God willing there will still be enough money to make African and Muslim immigrants as comfortable as possible.

[1] "Sinn: Twilight Of The Euro?" By Hans-Werner Sinn, ZeroHedge, 7/31/18 (formatting removed).

The murderers are among us.

H/t: Postcards from Paris & elsewhere.

Monday, July 30, 2018

Some Implications of Designer Babies

This post sparked some speculation, on my part, of the features and bugs that would naturally accompany tweaking with genes to produce 'superior' chldren.

Not stated is a good definition of what would constitute a 'superior' being? Would it include/mandate:

  • Height - generally, most parents in America prefer their offspring to be on the tall side. This is not from a quirky desire to produce NBA-worthy children, but, because, whether the goal is romance or a good job, the taller candidates have a strong edge in the competition.
  • Intelligence - there is some indication that moderately high intelligence (1 - 2 standard deviations from the norm) is a plus in academics, jobs, choice of life partners, and other variable aspects of life in the modern era. Extreme intelligence is less favorable, as anecdotal evidence abounds with tales of geniuses who have limited social skills (and, who, despite their intellect, fail to thrive in either work or romance/friendships). So-called social or emotional intelligence may be even more important in business relationships.
  • Artistic giftedness - the genetic components are not yet known, except for a small subset. Perfect pitch is inherited, yet musical talent is not so easily produced.
  • Temperament - this is one aspect of human beings that can be bred for (just as it can in animals). Easy-going parents produce sunny-tempered children. The anxious and irritable have similar offspring. Studies have pretty well accepted that temperament is inborn, and little changes throughout life. Similar with introversion/extroversion traits.
  • Athleticism/Grace - body type is highly correlated with this - the loose-jointed have a tremendous advantage in those sports/dance types that depend on flexibility. The muscular are best channelled into activities that demand strength. You can improve your skill level, and conditioning can maximize your potential, but - the basic framework determines your limitations.
The article points out something I hadn't thought about - the role of government/corporations in modifying human genetics. If they put the money and time into building these New Humans, would they not naturally want to patent their work? That would make it necessary for them to engineer in incompatibility with other human breedstocks. Wouldn't want that genetic change to enter the public domain.

I'm out of town, so may not be able to post much over the next few days. I've been attending a summer institute for physics teachers - www.aaptptra.com - and will be presiding over a session on Monday for the Women in Physics committee. And attending some committee meetings, some socializing, and some fun sessions (Gravitational Waves is one I'm looking forward to).


Anarcho Department:
Undercover police officers admitted they were given stand-down orders and watched as hundreds of Trump supporters were beaten and brutalized {See Here} A lawsuit was filed against the city of San Jose {See Here} and the officials who coordinated the planned response. City lawyers have been trying to get the lawsuit dismissed:
"Federal Appeals Court: Trump Supporters Lawsuit Against San Jose California Will Proceed…." By sundance, The Last Refuge, 7/27/18.

Western abuse of “humanitarian” aid in Syria.

Till now, French humanitarian actions were targeted exclusively at the “rebels”, that is, those living in the areas controlled by the jihadists.

Numerous Western Humanitarian forces and French forces in particular, served as a cover for handing over military equipment. This is why the Syrian Arab Republic requested authorization to search the cargo on board the convoys.[1]

That may seem fantastic, that Western governments would endanger the integrity of their aid efforts by permitting them to be used as a cover for military purposes. But it’s even more fantastic that supposed humanitarian activities by the French would not include people in government-controlled areas. Are they any less affected by the war?

If the French where on the up and up, their humanitarian aid resources would benefit all victims of war. The fact that this was not the case is compelling, if not conclusive evidence that there was nothing humanitarian about French aid activities.

[1] "Russia brings France back to Syria." By Voltaire Network, 7/28/18.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Putting Indians to the Head of the Line

I'm against this - this is special pleading for a favored group to get access to jobs in America. It's an attempt to do an end-run around the system.

Why is that a bad idea - after all, Indians have long been regarded as an almost "ideal minority" - they have stable family structures, low crime rates, their children typically do quite well in school - shouldn't the USA encourage that?

Well, no. Favoring one group over another, particularly one that is prone to practicing endogamy, will NOT lead to a better situation for those Americans already here.

According to this writer, approximately 90% of American-born Hindus marry within their religion. In practice, this means that almost all Indians marry another Indian. Any wealth or advantages accumulated will stay within that group.

Broken Bridges

     Apologies for the lack of a piece yesterday, Gentle Reader. I was too consumed by the sense of loss to write intelligibly.

     In pondering how best to memorialize my friend Joe, about whom I wrote here, I decided that a subject to which he returned often – one that animated many of his own efforts to learn and to master new fields and skills – would be my choice. That subject is the severance of the bridges of knowledge and skill that link contemporary civilization to the preceding ones that brought it forth.

     Virtually everyone with an interest in freedom and the economics thereof – capitalism, free enterprise, and the free market – is familiar with Leonard E. Read’s classic essay I, Pencil. This simple yet piercing essay about the division of labor illustrates better than many a Nobel laureate’s lecture what the uncoerced cooperation of free men can achieve: improvements to our common lot that no single individual could possibly replicate.

     Yet, as inspiring a vision as that is, it’s equally a warning. It addresses the “horizontal” division of labor: the distribution of specialties among men at a given point in time, which when combined can produce something no individual could make unaided. But it also points silently to the vertical division of labor: the aggregate of knowledge, skills, and effort that, as time has passed, has advanced our technologies to the betterment of all.

     Consider, if you will, the transistor. This indispensable device required extensive knowledge of physics to envision. It required still more knowledge of materials science to evolve a practical concept for it. And it required great skill at fabrication to produce it reliably, and to ensure that it would be reliable in operation.

     Today, we make transistors out of small clumps of molecules and pack many millions of them onto a single integrated circuit. We can thank such multi-million transistor ICs for our computers and much else that we use, freely and without thought for their provenance, every day. But the knowledge and skills that gave birth to the transistor are much harder to find.

     I could not bring this essay to you without the transistor. Before the transistor and the “solid-state revolution” it enabled, computers were huge, unwieldy devices that could do very little. It was unthinkable that an individual would own one. Were some atavistic millionaire to purchase one, he’d find that a word processing program for it was unavailable.

     Today, the knowledge and skills required to produce a transistor from a standing start are so rare as to be essentially unavailable. Let’s not even think about the personal computer.

     That’s not all. The conditions that allowed John Bardeen, Walter Brattain, and William Shockley to converge and to produce the first practical transistors rested on a technological foundation of great depth and complexity. The transportation and communications capabilities that brought them together had to be invented by prior generations of visionaries and innovators. Those earlier ones had to know a great deal, too. Even if we omit consideration of the electrically powered starter motor, the automobile unites a huge amount of knowledge and innovations based upon it. As for the telephone, parts of that story are well known. However, they don’t address the range of bits of knowledge Alexander Graham Bell had to master to produce it.

     Much of that foundation of knowledge is no longer taught anywhere. Neither is the knowledge that preceded it. Those who mastered it are steadily dying off. Their deaths are breaking the bridges to the world that gave birth to the one in which we live.

     In the event of a major catastrophe – global nuclear war; impact by a “world-killer” meteorite; virus of 99% lethality; election of Bernie Sanders to the presidency; take your pick – the reproduction of the technological base that gave rise to the above items, each of them critically important to the civilization of 1968 would be problematic, to say the least...and that, for the arithmetically averse, was fifty years ago and innumerable innovations before today.

     “We'll be saying a big hello to all intelligent lifeforms everywhere, and to everyone else out there, the secret is to bang the rocks together, guys.” -- The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

     The world of Idiocracy was doomed before Joe Bowers climbed out of his suspended-animation pod. Not all the electrolytes in a million gallons of Brawndo could have saved it. The critical knowledge he restored to that world had been lost.

     It’s not possible for any one individual to know enough to recreate civilization as we know it from a standing start. But not even by searching the whole world could we amass the knowledge and skills that produced the first transistor, the first automobile, the first telephone, the first lead-acid battery, or much else upon which we rely without a moment’s appreciation. That bothered Joe greatly. His lifelong effort to acquire more knowledge and more skill at more things was in part powered by the realization.

     Joe Flamini might not have been able to reproduce the technologies of 2018 singlehandedly. He’d have been doing phenomenally well to recreate the technologies of 1948. Nevertheless, I think that even if he couldn’t have done it all, he had what it would take to do quite a lot of it. He’d certainly have given it one hell of an old-school try. With his passing unto the next life, one more reservoir of knowledge and skill – to say nothing of the optimism and energy that powered them – is lost to us.

     How many more remain?

The Benghazi Brief.

Alternate media at their best:
The “Benghazi Brief” remains the most controversial research report we have ever produced. The brief contains over two years of research and hundreds of very specific citations supporting it.

The Brief has also been challenged and with extensive vetting factually withstood all scrutiny. The report, while exhaustive in detail, remains the strongest summary of events surrounding the two years leading up to the Benghazi Libya attack on 9/11/12.

"The Benghazi Brief – Three Year Anniversary…." By sundance, The Last Refuge, 9/12/15.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

The fundamental objective of the left: mindless destruction.

The reason “left-wing extremism” has not caught on is that it is redundant. The essence of the left, its very nature, is the relentless desire for the complete overthrow of all time-honoured institutions, traditions, and order.[1]
The left has succeeded so dramatically everywhere in the West that it’s a rare Western government that can be seen to be looking out for the interests of its citizens. African males crawl over barbed wire fences to get into Spain but authorities do not forthwith show them to the nearest exit at gunpoint. No. They not only do nothing to prevent their entry but treat every foot on Spanish soil as the signal for all manner of legal and economic rights to descend upon these primitives. Somehow this is set in stone.

The future cost to be borne by Spanish citizens is enormous both in monetary and security terms but citizens’ interests in an orderly, Spanish nation are simply ignored. An irrelevancy. The destruction of Spain must simply be endured as the next higher stage of Spanish civilization.

In the U.S. it’s the same. The southern border is studiously left virtually wide open. The president will not fight for funding for his famous wall. AntiFa runs wild in the streets, a constant danger to law-abiding citizens. Our attorney general is absent without tidings. Five more years on the lam and we can declare him legally dead.

Elections are controlled by fabulously wealthy individuals, not voters. Economic decisions have favored foreigners, enemies, and parasites who have been happy for us to play the chump.

It’s a rare citizen who can say that the U.S. government is looking out for him and state governments are no better, as witness the pension fund catastrophes brewing in New Jersey, Illinois, and California, among other places. The only thing that’s for sure is that the taxpayer will be required to pay more to take care of the privileged official class.

[1] "Russia, The Royal Martyrs, and Revolutionary Modernity." By Gerry T. Neal, Throne, Altar, Liberty, 7/19/18 (emphasis added).

Leftist vandalism, threats, harassment, assaults.

"Rap Sheet: ***538*** Acts of Media-Approved Violence and Harassment Against Trump Supporters." By John Nolte, Breitbart, 7/27/18.

H/t: Gunslinger Journal.

Friday, July 27, 2018

The Hardest Time

     This is a piece I wish I didn’t have to write.

     A dear friend of mine is about to depart from this life. He took a bad fall some weeks ago, and the consequences have proved far worse than anyone could have anticipated. He’s being kept alive just now by artificial means. However, he’s not fully conscious and never will be again in this world.

     His name is Joseph Flamini, and only my wife Beth could be dearer to me.

     Joe has been an engineer, a physicist, a security entrepreneur, and a law enforcement officer. In the practice of those occupations he’s visited virtually every country in the First World and has amassed an international reputation. For the past thirty years he’s lived in a redoubt near the summit of the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, in a compound he built and equipped entirely with his own hands and skills. He spoke many times of the great joy his homestead brought him. “I have my wife and my mountain,” he would say. “What more could I possibly need?”

     You’d have to know Joe personally to grasp the full import of that statement. He was so knowledgeable and talented that I’m convinced that he could rebuild Western Civilization – largely out of parts he already has on hand. And we who love him are about to lose him forever.

     We would have done anything short of murder to keep Joe with us. But there is nothing we can do. The physicians caring for him are at a loss. They cannot restore him to us, even in a reduced state. His body is so badly damaged that even with the most aggressive possible life support, he has only a day or two left to live.

     This is the hardest time for us. The time when love and willingness are impotent. Joe’s future is set beyond human power to alter it.

     The Moving Finger writes; and having writ,
          Moves on: nor all our piety and wit
     Shall lure it back to cancel half a line,
          Nor all our tears wash out a word of it.

     All that remains is to pray.

     Godspeed, Joseph. May He clasp you to His bosom, where you belong.

Quickies: The Uses Of Anger

     I often find myself itching – no, not from my eczema, though that certainly doesn’t help – to grab a politician by his lapels and shake him until his brains start to work. In several cases that might be a very long shake, but on occasion a pol will display a readiness for the therapy:

     Secretary Pompeo was almost there. His responses to the odious Chris Murphy were excellent returns to Murphy’s political tendentiousness. But what Murphy (and most of his Democrat colleagues) really deserve is not polite, wholly factual responses delivered in uninflected tones, but to be publicly whacked across the chops with their biases and their ill-concealed agendas.

     Anger properly used can humiliate your enemy, making him slink off with his tail between his legs. Properly deployed and modulated, anger can leave your foe knowing that he’s been overmatched so completely that he’ll deem a return engagement out of the question.

     When Murphy asked, querulously, how to know “which of [Trump’s] statements are policies,” Pompeo replied, entirely calmly, “Look at the policies.” While that was the exactly correct factual answer, it needed a dash of tabasco for maximum effectiveness. Perhaps like this:

     (face clouding with contempt) Well, Senator, if it isn’t too much trouble, you could try looking at the policies. That might clear up your confusion.

     Or imagine what Pompeo could have done with this:

     (smirking) Tell me, Senator, who was it who said “After my election, I’ll have more flexibility” -- ?

     The implication that Murphy is callously wasting the time of the Secretary of State, an official critically engaged in international negotiations right alongside President Trump, should hang in the air like a particularly noxious fart. The undertone, of course, should be While you’re doing your pitiful best to besmirch my boss and his administration, I have important national business to conduct.

     A man is entitled to be angry about the waste of his time to answer stupid questions, especially when it’s being wasted for political purposes. It’s high time Republican officials began to display such anger. It would help to make clear exactly what’s going on.

     Ironically, Barack Hussein Obama was rather good at delivering this kind of angry public riposte. His media handmaidens often applauded him for them. They might not cheer a Trump appointee, but who cares? Didn’t we elect Trump in part because he’s straightforward, especially when he’s angry?


     The portion of the basement of the Fortress of Crankitude that we use for storage is filled with a number of things. Excess dishes and mugs, special-purpose appliances, bits of sporting equipment unused since the Deluge, and the sort of stuff departing children leave behind and parents can’t bring themselves to discard. However, some are more functional, such as my ever-expanding collection of power tools. Recently, owing to a cabinetry chore, I added a Milwaukee cordless screwdriver to the pile, which brought about this exchange:

FWP: I think I now own one of every power tool ever invented.
CSO: No you don’t! You don’t have a bandsaw.

FWP: Well, unless you have a band that needs sawing...
CSO: Or a pneumatic nail gun. Or a...a...a jackhammer!

FWP: What would I use a jackhammer for? They’re only good for breaking up concrete.
CSO: You could use it to make holes in the streets.

FWP: Naah, we get those gratis.
CSO: Hm. Good point.

     Ah, marriage! What a wonderful institution! (Are you ready for life in an institution?)

Fascist France.

More and more comments at the [French] websites I visit declare that France is finished and that it is too late to stem the onslaught of calamity. Other comments a bit more “optimistically” predict a bloody war in the streets of France, but I do not see that happening at all. I see instead a tightening grip on the people by a government rigidly determined to control everything, to punish dissent, and to employ the services of the media as the oracle before whom the terrified people bring their offerings.
"Macronism: avoid the essential, align with the enemy." By Tiberge, Gallia Watch, 6/3/18.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Quickies: Upcoming Free Fiction

     My novel Chosen One, the first volume of the Realm of Essences series, will be free of charge at Amazon on Saturday, August 4, 2018:

     From his earliest days, Louis Redmond proves to be a prodigy: brilliant, powerful, and great-souled, a trailblazer of the spirit and a natural leader of men. Armies would follow him into the mouth of Hell. Yet tragedy dogs his steps, depriving him of family and friends. Hammerblow follows hammerblow, giving him little time to recover.

     But Louis is watched over by one who knows all the ways of Man: Malcolm Loughlin, immortal grandmaster of all things martial, who’s trained the world’s great warriors for two millennia. His wisdom, enough to elevate Louis to the throne of the world, is available to Louis, for a price...

     A price even a Titan would shudder to meet.

     But on August 4, you won’t have to pay any price. So mark your calendars! I’ll repeat this announcement on that day.

Quickies: The Song Remains The Same, As Does The General Tone-Deafness

     Longtime reader and friend Pascal sent me the following video:

     There are the innocently uninformed, and then there are the willfully blind, and then there are the useful idiots. Decide for yourselves, Gentle Readers, in which category the young woman – apparently a schoolteacher – at the start of that video belongs.

     I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve said or written this, but apparently it needs to be repeated:

The Problem Is Islam Itself.

     Here’s why:

  • Violence is a core element of the Islamic creed.
  • Terrorism is only one aspect of Islam-powered violence.
  • Religious warriors never accept defeat; they win or they die.

     It simply doesn’t matter that you know a couple of peaceably-inclined “moderate” Muslims, or have a seemingly agreeable Muslim family in your neighborhood. The Koran is on the side of the terrorists and fanatics. Honest imams will admit this; others will attempt to talk around it.

     Moreover, those peaceable Muslims you know are part of the terrorists’ support network. Knowingly or otherwise, they fund the terrorists' efforts through Islamic "charities," the majority of which are proven contributors to HAMAS, Hezbollah, and the Muslim Brotherhood. Were the terrorists to come to their door and demand refuge, they would provide it, plus whatever material support the terrorists might require. Not only does their religious scripture prescribe this; the “moderates” are fully aware of the consequences of not providing it: being adjudged heretics and therefore deserving of death.

     A militant minority will always dominate a pacifically inclined majority. When the militants also have the explicit dictates of their religion on their side, it’s impossible for the “moderates” to resist them. In this connection, Brigitte Gabriel has a few things to say:

     Please also refresh your memories of the following three essays:

  1. Instruments
  2. Naughty Words
  3. Essential Ingredients

     Apologies for being so tiresome about this. It’s just a minor matter of the survival of Western Civilization. Silly me for being overly concerned.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Wednesday Whimperings

     Just a few musings “triggered” by various items in the news.

1. “Normalizing socialism.”

     As an example of doctrinaire Leftist thinking, this exchange between Joy Behar and Meghan McCain is worth reading in its entirety, but here’s the critical snippet:

     BEHAR: They have given this enormous tax break to the very very wealthy in the country. That tax break doesn’t have to be so generous to those really rich people. Does it? Because if you don't give that money to them, what happens to that money. Better schools. Better post offices. Better garbage pick ups. [ Cheers and applause ]

     MCCAIN: If you think the government is so [good at running] things — the Post Office is so great run business? The VA? I’m sorry, comparing America to a small country in Europe is delusional! And I’m sorry, some of us do not want socialism to be normalized in this country.

     Behar, of course, is incensed over the Trump tax cut bill. It doesn’t matter that the “very very wealthy” she slanders are undefined, nor that the reduction in tax rates was for persons in the middle-income band. It was a Trump initiative; that’s all she needs to go ballistic over it.

     But note this as well: According to this shrieking, fact-challenged harridan, for the government to “keep” the money instead of “giving it” to those who’ve earned it by their labors would automatically result in “Better schools. Better post offices. Better garbage pick ups” – a proposition for which there is no evidence whatsoever. Indeed, there’s quite a lot of evidence that overfunding a “public service” causes a deterioration in the services it provides. The “public” schools are a good example of this.

     But the Leftist flackster has her marching orders, they’re explicit, and she won’t disobey them. Her backers would disapprove.

2. “Need to know.”

     When I worked in defense engineering, one of the things we were regularly beaten over the head about was that mere possession of a security clearance does not authorize access to classified information: you must have “need-to-know.” That is, the information you seek must not only be classified at a level equal to or less than your clearance level; you must also have a demonstrable need for it that flows from what you’ve been assigned to do.

     The current foofaurauw over the security clearances retained by John Brennan, James Clapper, James Comey, et alii is about everything but their need-to-know. Now that they’re no longer government employees – indeed, now that they’re actively working to undermine the Trump Administration – what need-to-know can they claim for any item of classified information?

     Note also this particularly risible argument for allowing them to retain their clearances. If I were asked to advance such an argument on network television, I’d laugh my slats off...and depart forthwith, as it’s one of my firmest principles never to argue with an idiot. (They drag you down to their level and beat you with their superior experience.)

3. “Freaks”

     This Flannery O’Connor quote really rang a bell for me:

     “All fiction is about human nature…Whenever I’m asked why Southern writers particularly have a penchant for writing about freaks, I say it is because we are still able to recognize one.”

     If I were asked “What aspect of contemporary society frightens you the most?” I would reply that we are no longer willing to call a freak a freak. Indeed, considerable pressure has been mounted on ordinary Americans to celebrate freakhood and applaud those who flaunt it. I could go on a rant about the perversion of the virtue of “tolerance,” but as it’s a nice day, I’ll spare you.

     It occurred to me that in recent years most of my fiction has been about radical departures from the prevailing norms. Some of those departures, such as the ones depicted in my futanari stories and my novel Innocents, would qualify as freaks from a strictly biological perspective...yet I’ve received a great many incredulous comments about how normally those young women think, feel, and act. But the reverse of the coin is even more striking: the great many comments I’ve received about biologically normal characters who impose rigid constraints upon themselves in the name of their Catholicism. That, according to a number of my correspondents, is at least as freaky as being equipped with two X chromosomes but male genitalia.

4. The hazards of the “payoff.”

     If there’s an instructive aspect to recent discoveries of venality and peculation, it would be that the cover-up is worse than the crime. Even a hint that you’re trying to conceal something from your past, no matter how legal or innocent it may be, is deadly to your future. The smallest drop of blood in the water can summon sharks from miles around. This is particularly the case as regards our media “sharks.”

     The current, largely manufactured flap about President Trump’s dalliances with women other than his wives is a case in point. Trump’s a womanizer. He likes beautiful women. He particularly likes their physical attentions. This is consistent with the tastes and preferences of the male half of Mankind. Given the womanizing records established by Warren Harding, Franklin D. Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, and William Jefferson Clinton, one could say that Trump was merely one of many men of power and wealth who indulged that taste and who subsquently attained the presidency.

     But there is some evidence of a cover-up, at least with regard to one supposed paramour. Had that attempt to conceal the (alleged) affair not occurred, there would be far less chatter about it in the gutter press. Trump could have waved the allegation aside, regardless of the facts of the matter. The cover-up is what has the attention of the press.

     Were these women paid off? Were payoffs even discussed? More to the point, why does it matter? It doesn’t. Trump was legitimately elected president by an electorate that knew he’d had two previous wives and, in all probability, a lot of other fleshly fun along the way. The voters preferred him for reasons completely disconnected from his sexual proclivities. All else is mere fodder for titillation.

5. “It can’t be true because I haven’t heard about it.”

     Finally, ponder well this vignette from Nitzakhon:

     I engaged a married couple in friendly parental chit-chat. Somehow my blog came up; generically as I didn’t identify the slant of my politics or the website’s name, just the fact of it. In response to a question about the orientation of my blog, I did state that I was “hard core Conservative”. Both then identified themselves as being on the other end of the spectrum. Fair enough. Unlike the Borgleft* I don't demand that people agree with everything I say or believe.

     They did press somewhat, and for the most part it was a civil, if not necessarily friendly, conversation… but then, in the course of the discussion, I mentioned Hillary’s 30,000 emails that had apparently been forwarded to a foreign email address (with some supposition it was Chinese).

     Without missing a beat the husband said “That’s not true", and added "It can’t be true because I haven’t heard about it."

     There are still many millions of Americans who refuse to believe anything that doesn’t arrive through a “respectable” medium, where they define “respectable” according to their reading, listening, or viewing habits. Yes, there are now other channels for the distribution of information, claims, and opinions. But not everyone tunes into them, and a great many people dismiss them altogether.

     Of course, some persons will reject anything that doesn’t accord with their prior convictions, regardless of what medium has provided it. For example, there’s still a current of belief that the events of Black Tuesday, September 11, 2001 had nothing to do with planes crashing into the World Trade Center but were engineered by the Bush the Younger Administration, specifically to provide a casus belli for war in the Middle East. What about the forensic evidence, you might ask? What about United 93? What about the FAA recordings of the radio exchanges with the terrorists? All faked, they would reply.

     Yet those very same people routinely ridicule “young Earth creationists” and the proponents of intelligent design. Nitzakhon’s term Teflon intellect isn’t broad enough to cover the ironies involved. Perhaps there’s no term that would do so.

     That’s all for today, Gentle Reader. I have a list of chores that would choke an elephant, so enjoy your Wednesday and be well.

Pearls of expression.

Obsessing over irrelevant, unsolvable problems in remote parts of the globe is how liberals prove they are intellectuals.
"Putin Is Killing Millions of Americans!" By Ann Coulter, AnnCoulter.com, July 18, 2018.

H/t: Nicholas Stix.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Ugly Mascots

     This past Sunday, the city of Toronto experienced a mass shooting. From the reports, the shooter fired a handgun into a number of restaurants and cafes in a spree that lasted for several minutes. He killed two people, one of them a ten year old girl, and injured at least thirteen others. His rampage ended when he was killed by Toronto police.

     Toronto Mayor John Tory immediately announced that the shooter’s motive was “unknown.”

     On Monday the shooter’s identity was released to the press: Faisal Hussain, a 29 year old Muslim. His family was quoted as saying he suffered “severe mental health challenges:”

     Our son had severe mental health challenges, struggling with psychosis and depression his entire life. The interventions of professionals were unsuccessful. Medications and therapy were unable to treat him. While we did our best to seek help for him throughout his life of struggle and pain, we could never imagine that this would be his devastating and destructive end.

     I have not yet learned what sort of mosque Faisal Hussain attended, or what literature has been found in his room, or what sort of statements he’d recently made to other Muslims. But I have my suspicions. And I do know this: Canadian law makes it a felony for someone diagnosed as mentally ill to acquire or possess a gun. So what was its provenance? And the extra, fully loaded clips for that gun, and the rounds in them: where did he get those?

     The silence is deafening.

     Traditionally, a mascot was an animal whose adoption was supposed to confer good luck upon its adopters. However, that’s not the function of a political mascot. That sort is intended to display the adopter’s “good intentions.” The Left has made mascots out of the most repulsive groups in our country:

  • Muslims
  • Criminals
  • Psychotics
  • Drag queens
  • The “homeless”
  • Disease carriers
  • Militant feminists
  • Violent street gangs

     Moreover, it’s probed ever deeper into realms of repulsion and savagery. Most recently, its balloon has floated toward the embrace of pedophiles. Perhaps the Left is consumed by an overpowering need to emphasize its unequaled “tolerance.”

     Or could it be that the prime qualification to become a mascot-group of the Left is a hatred of Western civilization and its norms? That would be consistent with its vilification and steadily intensifying assaults on we in the Right, whose mission is to conserve those norms.

     The evidence points toward one firm conclusion: Ugliness, dysfunction, depravity, and danger are no bar to winning the Left’s affection. They might even help.

     In his landmark work The Vision of the Anointed, Thomas Sowell declaims as follows:

     The ideals of “a government of laws and not of men” and “equal protection of the law” are at the heart of American constitutional law and the democratic process. Yet, increasingly government has come to be seen as a way of benefitting particular groups adopted as mascots, often without much regard for what that does to other groups or to the integrity of the system as a whole. Groups disliked, distrusted, or feared by the general public are particularly eligible to symbolize the superior wisdom and virtue of the anointed.

     He cites a truly horrifying case later on:

     A classic case of the rights of particular mascot groups overriding the rights of others are cases involving people with contagious diseases, including fatal contagious diseases. The landmark Supreme Court case in this area involved an elementary school teacher with active tuberculosis, who was fired because of fears that she might infect the children she taught. The teacher sued, charging discrimination against the handicapped, in violation of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
     A majority of the Supreme Court ruled that it was indeed discrimination because tuberculosis could be considered a handicap.

     Here is the majority opinion in the case, written by left-liberal Associate Justice William Brennan:

     We do not agree with petitioners that, in defining a handicapped individual under Section 504, the contagious effects of a disease can be meaningfully distinguished from the disease’s physical effects on a claimant in a case such as this. Arline’s contagiousness and her physical impairment each resulted from the same underlying condition, tuberculosis. It would be unfair to allow an employer to seize upon the distinction between the effects of a disease on others and the effects of a disease on a patient and use that distinction to justify discriminatory treatment....
     Allowing discrimination based on the contagious effects of a physical impairment would be inconsistent with the basic purpose of Section 504, which is to ensure that handicapped individuals are not denied jobs or other benefits because of the prejudiced attitudes or the ignorance of others.

     What does this sort of “reasoning” say about the rights of children, their parents, and their associates to avoid infection by a deadly disease? What does it say about the reach of “anti-discrimination” law? What does it say about the cavalier attitude toward the rights and well-being of others the Left displays by its choice of mascot groups?

     Never mind all that, the Left’s luminaries would say; it’s the principle that counts! Discrimination is evil! Thou shalt not discriminate! All the best people say so. But then, the “best people” tend to live in gated communities guarded by men with guns...guns they don’t want the rest of us to have.

     If normal people animated by normal convictions and healthful preferences are against it, the Left is for it. If often seems that no other consideration matters. The key shibboleths are “discrimination” and “oppression.” Moreover, the Left will champion it with “pride” parades and other sorts of spectacle. The accumulated evidence is unambiguous.

     In light of the Left’s demonstrated intolerance toward conservative, libertarian, and patriotic sentiments, its repeated proclamations of an obligation to “tolerate” all manner of disruption, destruction, and disease ring tinnily in the ear. The accelerating recognition of this contradiction is powering a wave of disaffiliation from the Left and the Democrat Party, best expressed in the burgeoning “#WalkAway” movement the Left has been at such pains to dismiss.

     At the base it’s fairly simple: you cannot repeatedly violate the rights or sensibilities of others in the name of a non-principle such as “non-discrimination” or “oppression” without reaping the consequences. Clinging to the belief that it’s possible has already cost the Left electorally. I predict that it will do them even further damage in 2018. Should present trends in their leadership continue, that will only fuel their efforts to find other forces and villains on which to blame their setbacks.

The Atlantic Council on Syria.

From Frederic C. Hof, resident senior fellow with the Atlantic Council's Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East:
If Netanyahu’s response [“we’re keeping the Golan forEVER, K-Mart shoppers”] was regrettable, the attempt itself was ironic. The Syrian defense minister who presided over the territorial loss [of the Golan Heights] in 1967 and the Syrian president who chose violent repression of his people over negotiating the return of real estate in 2011 share the same last name.[1]
Yes. Incredible irony.

Civilization on the march.
Bashar al-Assad and the Syrian people certainly chose violent resistance when it came to the presence of tens of thousands of foreign jihadi scum from Chechnya, Saudi Arabia, France, Sweden, Xinjiang, and Iraq, among other places, all financed by Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Britain, and, of course, the United States. Repression is what leaders do to their own people for their own purposes, like to criminalize free speech to stay in power, like, um, German, France, and the U.K. But . . . it’s hardly “repression” when foreigners, or even locals, take up arms to turn your country into a benighted Salafist cesspool and you do more than say "Oh, dear."

But the Atlantic Council wants to sell the “a regime personifying corruption, incompetence and brutality”[2] angle so legitimate defense against invasion and insurrection is now “repression.” According to this view, Stalin engaged in it when the Red Army fought the Wehrmacht and its Vlazov allies.

Note to Frederic Hof. This is what the Syrian people think of Assad’s “repression”:

[1] "What Bibi Should Have Said About the Golan Heights." By Frederic C. Hof, Newsweek, 4/22/16.
[2] Id.

One of life’s great ironies.

The ultra-left, prog, globalist, open borders, diversity crowd are presently apoplectic about supposed Russian “interference” with American electoral politics. Oh em gee. Russia, Russia, and more Russia. This is all the more comical as, obviously, there’s no there there. I don’t know what those diabolical ads the Russians supposedly paid for said but, regardless, it was apparently a modest “buy” in advertising terms, to be compared to the $100,000,000+ spent on behalf of Hillary. Where that money came from is an interesting question but our political weasels are supremely uninterested in interesting questions.

Donna Brazile and the Democratic National Committee did more to keep a thumb for Hitlery on the electoral scales in 2016 than any Russian did on behalf of Trump. But the ultra-left and various Republican toads can NOT get enough of the “Russia threat” and play it like a one-note ukulele. It’s like a Terminator movie. No matter how many times Arnold shoots or burns the robot killer, that sucker just gets back up. Evvvvery damnnnnnn time. Implacable. Eternal.

This is all in delicious contrast to the behavior of the left in the bad old days of Sen. Joe McCarthy who wondered, not unreasonably, why the federal government employed so many known communist agents in the service of, well, Russia (but with a new fancy name then). That was an entirely different matter and anyone who pointed out this inconvenient situation was a threat to “our values” and every virgin in town. Any mention of Russian infiltration of the actual government itself (in contrast to attempting to influence things American from 10,000 miles away) marked the speaker as a handmaiden of Satan.

To summarize. Today: Russia, Russia! Yesterday: Do not insult me with the word “Russia.”

Monday, July 23, 2018

Quickies: The Perfect Critique Group

     Writers need one another. First, to read our stuff, as no one else will, certainly not our families and friends. (Not that we’d be so foolish as to force our fiction on family members or friends; that’s the express route to permanently alienating them, and we need them, too.) Second, to reassure us that we’re not terminally insane for putting so much time, energy, and emotion into such a thankless enterprise. And third, to catch and point out our mistakes, high, middle, or low. For this reason, we form critique groups. For other reasons beyond the scope of this screed, they tend to meet no more than once a month.

     There are many criteria by which to determine the composition of a critique group. The first, and arguably the most important, is this one: How large should the group be? Extensive research buttressed by masses of empirical evidence have delivered a definite answer: A critique group should be limited to seven persons at most. Fewer than seven members guarantees an insufficient variety of talents, styles, and opinions. More than seven members is a reliable predictor of unhappiness for all, as there are bound to be squabbles over whose story goes next that cannot be resolved before the chips, dip, and coffee run out.

     But for optimal interpersonal dynamics and maximum utility, a critique group (sometimes called a “writers’ circle,” by persons who consider the word critique just too judgmental) must be carefully populated. Certain specialties are indispensable. A critique group that lacks them will do no one any good:

  • The grammar, spelling, and punctuation nitpicker. Every group should have one...and he should be restricted by group consensus to only five minutes’ speaking time per meeting.
  • The “show, don’t tell” maven. His function “should” be “obvious,” but as I’ve said many times before, obvious really means overlooked. Consider how it’s actually used.
  • The guy who notes flaws in second-level mechanics: bad symbolism, inept similes and metaphors, fractured parallel structure, and the unwitting – surely it was unwitting, wasn’t it? – use of hoary old cliches.
  • The gal who focuses on timing and cuts between scenes. The adept handling of these things can take forever to learn. Some writers never do.
  • The guy on the lookout for “Mary Sue.” No one can afford a Mary Sue character. It destroys plausibility faster than any other error in character construction.
  • The PC patrolman. His job is to object to violations of political correctness – and to be whacked across the snout with a rolled-up copy of The Nation or Mother Jones every time he flaps his lips. Vital for morale.

     After filling the specialist slots listed above, there’s one space left: yours. So what are you waiting for? Grab it before someone else does!

Got Her!

In previous posts, I mentioned one of the tactics that Progressives used against their opponents - targeting them for economic and career destruction. They work to get people fired, sued, harassed, shunned, and otherwise driven from any connection to society.

One 'activist' that has been in the news lately is Lillian Green, of Portland OR. She was the woman who, after being denied service after hours, took her fight to media and social media, and succeeded in getting the 2 clerks fired for following store policy.

This was no accident. She deliberately chose to distort her experience, with the aim of exacting maximum damage.

"I'm going to put this on Facebook and I'm going to blast their ass," Green says. "They can live that life but they're about to get all blasted on Facebook." Later, from home, Green made another video. "I want to tell you about a disturbing, heart wrenching experience I had," she says. She then talks about how the neighborhood has changed, details what happened at the bakery, and calls for a boycott.
 The owner's response to the furor was craven.
“In this situation it doesn’t really matter that the two staff members working are not themselves racist because the call they made to deny Lillian service caused her to feel like she had been discriminated against,” the statement read, “Sometimes impact outweighs intent and when that happens people do need to be held accountable. Since both Lillian and the clamoring public were demanding that these staff members be fired that it is what we did putting these two young women out of work.”
 But, it's not simply the actions of that PUBLIC EMPLOYEE (Lillian Green) that caused the whole MINOR INCIDENT to flame into a 'real crisis'.

That would be the actions of Yet Another Race Hustler - Cameron Whitten - who worked his magic to make this a BFD.
Perhaps ironically, a few weeks before being accused of racism, Back to Eden had agreed to host a "Reparations Happy Hour," in which white people donate money to an event for people of color only. That event was organized by Cameron Whitten, an activist in Portland, who, in 2012, protested in support of low income housing by staging a 55-day hunger strike in front of City Hall.
Whitten told me in a phone interview that the day after Green was denied service, Blomgren called him and asked for advice on how to respond to the crisis. Whitten says he offered to help the bakery craft their message (or even to do it for them) but the owners didn't listen, and instead, later hired a white man to serve as the company's interim CEO and do their PR. This, Whitten says, was a mistake. "White people don't have the lived experience to speak to black people," he says.
On June 2, several weeks after the incident, Whitten posted a nearly 50-minute video on Facebook, about "why you can't trust the wolf in sheep's clothing that is Back to Eden Bakery."
So, it would seem that Whitten's attempt to force cooperation upon the hapless baker was not accepted, and, therefore, the bakery would be doomed to die in the fiery hell of public opinion deliberately manipulated for Progressive Activism. Andy Ngo details the efforts here. Andy deserves this year's Andrew Breitbart award (assuming there is such a thing) for this heroic reporting.

And, what of the instigator of this entire episode? It turns out that she is a public employee, and, as such, vulnerable to public outrage. Complaints about this person, who, after all, represents a state agency, and should have demonstrated better judgement and a cooler head, should be directed to the Oregon Early Learning Division.

If you SHOULD contact them, consider using something like this:
I am writing to express my concern about the continued employment of your Equity Director, Lillian Green. She recently chose to create controversy over a supposed slight by employees of an Oregon bakery. Those employees - who were following store policy - informed her that they were closed, and could not provide her service at that time. They continued to serve those customers who were in the store, then closed and went home. Ms. Green created a social media mob, that resulted in the two employees losing their jobs. This exaggeration of a small incident, with the slur that the denial of service was racially motivated, shows extremely poor judgement on the part of Ms. Green. That, combined with her inability to empathize and relate to persons whose race is different from hers, as well as her targeting of the Gay owners of that establishment, make her unsuitable for continued employment in her position.
Feel free to cut & paste, or modify in any way. Add your suggestions in the comments.

Cats And The Bags They Exit

     It’s easy to predict that an established trend will continue. However, as Baron Philippe de Rothschild said, “Trees do not grow to the sky.” He who keeps predicting that a trend in progress will continue is guaranteed, some day, to be wrong.

     That having been said, what of the interminable, unfocused, ever-shifting “Russian collusion investigation?” It’s been going on for more than a year. Yet it has produced no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government, was prosecuted by persons openly biased against the president, and has been revealed, as Doug Ross has noted, as founded on a FISA warrant that combined fraud and unverified gossip. Now that that’s out in the open, how can it continue?

     The simple answer is “moving the goalposts.” Robert Mueller now realizes that he cannot make a case against the Trump campaign, much less against President Trump himself, that would withstand public scrutiny. Henceforward his efforts will be directed toward smearing as many Trump associates and employees as he can coax under oath into revealing something he can use against them. The blanket rationale will be obstruction of justice.

     Shall we ask the critical question? Let’s do so here and now: What “justice?” What crime was committed, the investigation or prosecution of which has been obstructed? No one has pointed to any such. Even the original “charge” of collusion with the Russian government isn’t criminal under any statute. Those who want to see the Mueller farce continue, in the hope that it will somehow derail the Trump agenda or weaken the president’s re-election campaign, don’t want you to dwell on that niggling little fact.

     But it’s “of a piece” with the Left’s strategy for regaining power in these United States.

     The Democrats have been so determined to unseat President Trump that they’ve allowed, nay encouraged the Mueller group to destroy the life of anyone they think might be persuaded to “turn:” i.e., to testify to wrongdoing by the president in exchange for a relief of the pressure. Fleeting Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen are the best known of those targets. One has been in solitary confinement for months. Months! Our penal institutions wouldn’t do that to a serial killer. The other has had his entire life turned upside down by police-state tactics designed to eject him from his profession, on the basis of claims from a porn star about private matters which, if they occurred, were against no law.

     When the Left decides to destroy someone, it recognizes no limits to its methods.

     Yet to this point, none of it has worked. It calls into question what additional villainies Mueller and his henchmen can visit upon their targets. Physical torture? Loved ones as hostages? At this point, those measures are no longer beyond the pale.

     The right and decent thing to do would be for Attorney-General Jeff Sessions to put a halt to the “investigation” at once. Why he hasn’t done so already is a mystery. He has ample justification, whereas Mueller and his goons have no objective evidence at all that supports their continuation.

     Yet it’s all but certain that the farce will continue awhile longer. I’m tempted to start a betting pool on when it will be halted.

     The Mueller nonsense is the pinnacle of Leftist machinations these past few years. We’ve seen much else of lesser magnitude but equal malice. Remember Memories Pizza? How about Sweet Cakes by Melissa? And this more recent case against yet another Christian baker?

     Those cases are already being effaced from public consciousness by the Left’s handmaidens in the media. They ended badly...for the Left. The public outpouring of sympathy and support for their targets was overwhelming. Those who took notice were reminded how Americans will rally to the side of the unjustly persecuted. However, apparently, the “being mean to homosexuals” theme has been played out. This one is the latest in the series: a deliberately planned provocation designed to tar the target with an accusation of racial discrimination.

     It’s well to remember that Rosa Parks was also an activist, and was selected to commit her historic-if-planned provocation.

     There’s a well-traveled saying, attributed to many, that one should “Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.” While it has some application, this maxim underweights the existence, persistence, and agency power of malice. Hatred has powered many evils. Indeed, there is no way to explain the crimes of many well-known monsters except as having proceeded from hatred.

     The easiest way to distinguish occasions of stupidity from acts of malice is to look for a unifying pattern. Stupidity tends to strike either randomly – i.e., incidents of thoughtlessness – or uniformly and without regard to any consideration other than the dimbulb at the center. Malicious acts are patterned: in the choice of victims, and in the methods employed.

     The patterns in the Left’s campaign of malice against the Right for the offense of having prevailed electorally are on brilliant display. The planners and organizers are not stupid people. They know their business. More important, they know their objectives, and will countenance any method whatsoever to get nearer to them. It is no longer possible to doubt those things; the evidence is too copious and too consistent. The cat is well and truly out of the bag.

     However, the general public has not yet accepted this conclusion. Men of good will continue to “do as you would be done by,” in the fine American tradition of trying, sincerely, to transform enemies into friends. Those of us who chronicle the events of our time must persist. We must not overlook any incident, however trifling it may seem. We must report every detail, however small. In working to inform persons animated, by and large, by kindly inclinations, everything counts...especially honesty.

Why Are People NOT Getting Furious About This?

I understand that there are many items of news floating around - you can't possibly get aroused about all of them. So, most of us pick a few to get furious about, a few more that we keep tabs on, and, for most of the news, we essentially ignore it. We read about it, think, "tsk, tsk", and move on to more important things.

But, THIS?

This egregious violation of law, ethics, and supposed impartiality of government employees? How can people NOT become enraged, to the extent of rising up, cudgel in hand, to beat the felons into insensibility?

I'm reaching the point where I'm beginning to realize that the citizens of our country have devolved into uncaring, unknowing, slugs. Whom the original patriots of this country would - rightly - be ashamed of.

The Founders took major chances to gain our freedoms. They spent themselves into poverty. They risked death, imprisonment, and loss of family. They could have lost, and turned their family names into a synonym for traitor.

And, today's 'citizens' won't even take the trouble to learn about the Shadow Party's overreach and plotting, draw reasonable conclusions, and demand that they be thrown out of their jobs, and indicted.

The only thing that gives me ANY hope, is that, when I studied the American Revolution in college, I remembered that many in the Colonies were equally apathetic and uninvolved. They had other concerns. They did not act for a long time, until the continual repetition of abuses began to wear a groove in their brains.

Even then, only about 1/3 were actively involved, in any way. About 1/3 were the equivalent of today's Zombie Democrats.

The last 1/3 just ignored the whole thing, as much as they could, and went about their lives.

The power of today's government is, in one way, greater than King George's. They are imbedded in almost every facet of American life, most notably in their reach into educational institutions. That's their stronghold, from pre-K through college. And, to let them have control was one of the most stupid decisions that normal people ever made.

It will be the work of many years to uproot them from their entrenched positions. The process of getting control will cause disruptions and pain to many innocents - like the many teachers who DON'T agree with their positions.

Home schoolers led the way. Many, if not most, are relatively conservative people, who sacrifice much to retain primacy over the influences that they allow to reach their children.

Charter schools were the next crack in the wall. Their rise was facilitated by the fact that they have been, generally, more effective than the public schools, for minority children. Public schools have tried to co-opt them by starting 'public-private' charters.

Most have been as successful as the public schools they replaced. In other words, not at all.

The monolith of Progressive Public Education is cracking. Who can predict just which swing of the hammer will cause its collapse?

But, collapse it will. And, citizens will need to be prepared to step in, and provide alternatives that are Conservative. Before the Progressives re-group, and insinuate themselves into the next generation of educational initiatives.

Don’t just do something, stand there.

The best way to honor our troops, the less than 1% of our country’s population who voluntarily put their lives on the line in service to our country, is by making sure that when they are sent into combat, it is the last option, not the first, and that the mission is worthy of their great sacrifice. They are not fodder to be used carelessly to live out the regime-change war addiction that has consumed Washington for far too long.[1]
~ Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI).

And on the topic of “regime change” the President of Iran correctly observed:

“Who are you to decide for Iran and the world?” Rouhani said in a statement published by Iranian state media on Monday [5/21/18]. “The world today does not accept that the United States decides for the world. Countries have their independence.”[2]
Iran is clearly the monster under Secretary Pompeo’s bed. Maybe Teheran isn’t like Omaha but if it’s something that civilized men around the world should hold at arm’s length, before we go to war against it, let's ask if it's worse than Saudi Arabia, which Gabbard describe thus:
The neocon Washington establishment continues to cozy up to Saudi Arabia despite their direct and indirect support of terrorist groups, and their continued global exportation of the extreme Wahhabi Salafi ideology that fuels terrorist groups like ISIS and al-Qaeda, directly undermining the safety and security of our country.[3]
Hardly. The “chief sponsor of terrorism” charge clearly is nonsense as has been ably pointed out.

We fawn over Saudi Arabia but why were Ukraine and Libya so much more awful than Saudi Arabia? U.S. foreign policy, supposedly the very distillation of historical insight and political wisdom, engineered a Ukrainian “solution” to whatever the Ukrainian problem was that involved snipers gunning down cops and civilians alike in the public square. Had the U.S. not interfered there would now be NO fighting in eastern Ukraine and Crimea would still be under Ukrainian control with Russia paying rent for its Black Sea naval base.

Gaddafi was not about to obliterate any of his own people but the U.S. said he was, so a now-compliant ruler who did a commendable job in providing for Libyans (and stemming the flow of Africans to Europe), was butchered like a hog on the side of the road and the country turned into a ghastly chaotic mess. Made in U.S.A.

And why is Bashar al-Assad the cause of so many U.S. hankies soaked with tears of the wise and beautiful people? Any video of an interview with him shows a rational, even-tempered man not some kind of animal or a caricature dreamed up in U.S. elite imaginings or the product of deliberate distortion. Terrible things have happened in Syria but it is not the obligation of national leaders to meekly surrender to foreign attack or domestic insurrection. Assad and the Syrian people fought back but, like Ukraine, not one thousandth of the death and destruction that have taken place would have occurred without U.S. aggression. No U.S. involvement? Easy victory for Assad, no mass casualties, no mass destruction, no refugee flood within and outside of Syria.

Iranian president Rouhani is on solid ground when he wonders how it is that the U.S. presumes to dictate to others when our enlightened interventions have empowered the filth in Syria and Iraq, caused us to ally with salafists missing links like Saudi Arabia and Qatar, and led to widespread death and destruction in Syria, Libya, Ukraine, and Serbia. “Widespread” hardly begins to describe the utter devastation visited on Syria by Operation Inherent Resolve in which we play such an integral part.

In the Great War on Terror we were bosom buddies with the real Syrian animals providing training, intelligence, weapons, ammunition, air support, and taxi services. We accomplished the hideous results in Syria for reasons that are vague and unspecified but it’s Assad who’s the animal, the “brutal dictator,” who must be removed from power. Moreover, it’s far from clear (I say by way of intergalactic understatement) that the Syrian regime is responsible for the sarin attacks in E. Ghouta in 2013 and Khan Sheikhoun in 2017 and U.S. claims of the Syrian people’s rejection of the Assad regime are belied by how Syrians actually vote, civilian refugee movements following jihadi successes, and civilian joy at being liberated from jihadi control. Evidence of international preparations for an insurgency that preceded the 2011 “uprising” in Daraa (or that soon followed it) conclusively show that the Syrian war was anything but local in origin.

In short, what Western observers assumed was an entirely secular uprising, demanding freedom and human rights in the Western sense, in fact had a very strong Islamist component, was managed by the Muslim Brotherhood, and had strong financial support from the Gulf countries that themselves enforced fringe, extremist versions of Sunni Islam on their own populations and wished to export the same in Syria. The use of phrases such as “councils” and “committees” and “revolutionary” coupled with video footage of protests and demonstrations using English slogans about freedom helped to obscure the largely Islamist nature of the uprising.[4]
“Popular uprising,” my foot.

So we have Gabbard’s well-founded disdain for “regime change” supplemented by evidence that the U.S. is clueless as to or indifferent to the consequences of its stupid, arrogant meddling. In Syria our greasy alliance with the worst elements of the Islamic world and our direct involvement in Syria in contravention of the U.N. Charter and our Constitution have led to a further debasement of our own government’s domestic integrity and visible evidence that we don’t know our knee from our elbow.

Pure disaster has followed in our wake wherever we have intervened outside our borders all at ruinous expense and for purposes kept very, very far from public scrutiny. “The Cold War” justified a lot of sins as even U.S. mistakes were better than the alternative. Vietnam has gone on to be a livable country now but the aftermath of Hanoi’s victory was everything that decent Americans feared about communist takeovers.

Anyway, it’s passé now. Since 1991, “trust us” went a long way to forestall criticism of U.S. policy but that is for sure no longer acceptable to Americans, let alone the rest of the world, as a reason to wage war on Syria, provoke and insult Russia, or strive for some kind of global American supremacy. Rouhani’s view on American arrogance is a far better starting point for American foreign policy elites than the insufferable assumptions underlying demands for Iranian obeisance announced by the ass hat Pompeo.

Anything the U.S. is doing overseas now is exactly the wrong thing. What is the right thing is for us to let the world go about its business while we pay attention, as Donald Trump is doing in spades, to unequal trade arrangements, parasitic allies, jobs, migrant invasion, job theft, and welfare parasitism, and regulatory and tax relief. The Chinese and Russians have stayed far away from maintaining a major military presence outside their borders but we have done the opposite with a cost to us since 2001 – but to no other major power – of $32,000,000 per hour. That kind of money buys a lot of box wine down at the Brew Through and Americans are very curious now what is so all-fire important about who rules Syria. If Russians and Chinese want to bankrupt themselves with moronic foreign adventurism let them lay waste to their domestic economies and upend rational policies.

We have been there and done that. With no, zero, discernible benefit to us.

[1] "The (not so) New Neocons." By Tulsi Gabbard, Medium, 3/23/18 (emphasis added).
[2] "Pompeo Unveils Next Step in US-Iran Policy; Sanctions to Be 'Strongest in History.'" By Fern Sidman, The Jewish Voice, 5/23/18.
[3] Gabbard, supra.
[4] "Did Assad Deliberately Release Islamist Prisoners to Militarize and Radicalize the Syrian Uprising?" By William Van Wagenen, The Libertarian Institute, 2/28/18. See also "What does the battle of Deraa symbolise?" By Thierry Meyssan, Voltaire Network, 7/19/18: “John McCain is an elected US Senator, and is also president of one of the branches of the National Endowment for Democracy, one of the secret services of the « Five Eyes » (USA-UK-Australia-Canada-New Zealand) [1]. On 22 February, he was in Lebanon, where he tasked the transport of weapons in Syria to the Haririst deputy Okab Sakr. He also journeyed to Ersal in order to establish a future rear base for the jihadists.” And: "Episode #234 – ‘Manifest Destiny’ with guests F. William Engdahl + Treka (from Syria)." Host Patrick Henningsen, 21st Century Wire, 5/20/18 (cross-border tunnels built before uprising, 1:47:37 mark).

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Say Something Part 2: Overdoing It

     The responses to this piece (which also appears in this collection of essays on writing fiction, soon to be expanded, updated, and re-released) have been quite varied in focus. One respondent wanted to know whether it’s possible to “overdo it” with theme: i.e., to emphasize it to the detriment of the other virtues of a good story.

     Oh my yes. It most certainly is. That’s the malady that goes by the name of message fiction: a story whose theme is so grotesquely overemphasized that it’s really a preachment or a lecture, lacking in entertainment value.

     Much of the current contretemps in the speculative genres is about exactly this problem. Hearken to Scooter at Castalia House:

     What distinguishes message fiction from other kinds of fiction is that it is primarily agenda-driven. That is to say, message fiction is created first and foremost for the purpose of helping or injuring an institution, a cause, or a person. Since authorial intention is often unclear, we tend to only notice the blatant cases — the ones with long-winded preachy sermons by one-dimensional characters who are only heroic by virtue of their cause. Nevertheless, message fiction is propaganda within a narrative wrapper, where the story, whether well crafted or not, is merely the delivery mechanism for the message. This definition applies to message fiction that is conservative or liberal, Christian or pagan. A good story, i.e. one with a compelling plot, theme, characters, and style, can still be message fiction if and only if the author wrote it to deliver a message.

     Please note that message here is not theme, although a theme is a kind of message. Themes are universal, and can have philosophical, political, and moral associations. They can be general subjects, like the themes of Power and Domination in Lord of the Rings, or more pointed, like “you are a special little snowflake”, the theme of every commercial ever made. Most good writing allows the reader to synthesize the meaning of the theme for themselves.

     There are grades and varieties of message fiction. To embody an important theme is not necessarily to slough the other fictional virtues. Some of it manages to entertain and edify; consider C. S. Lewis’s Space Trilogy in this light. Some of it treads the danger zone: Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged comes to mind here. And some of it really should have been structured and conveyed as nonfiction.

     Unentertaining message fiction is characteristic of the monomaniacal ideologue. His agenda is essentially all he can think of. He populates his stories with characters specifically to act out the message he seeks to convey. The changes his characters experience – if any – tend to be unconvincing; their emotions seem plastered on. His protagonists seldom learn anything new; his antagonists are almost always pure evil (until the optional moment of enlightenment).

     Only another ideologue of matching convictions will enjoy the most extreme message fiction.

     In short: Yes, it’s possible to overdo it, and you must be careful not to do so. But how does one avert such a calamity? That’s what you’ve read this far for, isn’t it?

     Many a writer comes to his calling because of his desire to promulgate a particular idea or set of ideas. Again, C. S. Lewis presents a good example. This profoundly Christian man wrote far more nonfiction than fiction. However, except among his most ardent fans, his fiction is probably better known and appreciated. Yet Lewis’s fictions are one and all sermons on the overriding importance of Christianity.

     There are episodes in the Space Trilogy where Lewis edges near the abyss of overdoing it. He’s saved (albeit in one instance barely in time) by his love of a good story and his sense for what such a story demands.

     The dead giveaway to overdoing it is the tell.

     Every fictioneer and aspirant has heard the maxim show, don’t tell. Most of us get thoroughly sick of hearing it before we’ve finished our first novel. This is especially the case for those of us who have a powerful theme to convey.

     Herewith, how to recognize “the tell:”

     If you ever allow your narrator or a character – typically it’s a protagonist, though there are exceptions – to state your theme baldly at any point, you’ve overdone it. If you ever feel that you simply must do so – that not to do so would somehow be a default or a betrayal – you’re working in the wrong medium.

     That’s the thematic version of “the tell.” Rand stumbled into at several points in Atlas Shrugged. She leaped into it most notably in John Galt’s interminable radio speech toward the end of the book. It ruins the book, which possesses many other virtues, for quite a lot of readers.

     I find it particularly interesting to contrast the thematic with the characterological tell. The characterological tell appears when the narrator allows himself to speak directly to the reader about some character’s virtues, vices, talents, or faults. Here’s an example to demonstrate that “even Homer nods:”

     There is a seed of courage hidden (often deeply, it is true) in the heart of the fattest and most timid hobbit, waiting for some final and desperate danger to make it grow. Frodo was neither very fat nor very timid; indeed, though he did not know it, Bilbo (and Gandalf) had thought him the best hobbit in the Shire. He thought he had come to the end of his adventure, and a terrible end, but the thought hardened him. He found himself stiffening, as if for a final spring; he no longer felt limp like a helpless prey. [The Fellowship of the Ring]

     If J. R. R. Tolkien can stumble, anyone can.

     Obviously, the thematic tell won’t look quite the same. However, it will bear a common fingerprint: i.e., either the narrator or one of his Marquee Characters speaks baldly of the theme rather than portraying in his decisions and actions.

     I’ve done it too. Fortunately, I have an “alpha reader” who’s ruthless about whacking me across the snout for it. I shudder to think how badly wrong I could go without her.

     And so: Yes, say something. Have a conscious theme. But don’t overdo it. Be alert to your own weaknesses and the temptations that can cause you to indulge them. Entertainment must always come first...but then, as a reader of fiction, you already knew that, didn’t you?