Thursday, November 21, 2019

Moral Fundamentals Part 3: The Most Debated Concept

     I hope those Gentle Readers who’ve been waiting for this essay have not lost patience with me. It’s been simmering for a while now. I didn’t want to serve it before it was cooked all the way through.

     The previous two segments in this little series have laid groundwork upon which I intend to build a case for the most debated proposition in all of human thought: specifically, that there are laws of morality / ethics built into the very fabric of reality. This, at a time when the premise of the existence of an objective reality is itself under attack! From Part 1:

     The gospel of our era is relativism in all things: cultural, moral, logical, even scientific. Claims of absolute truth are sneered aside as conclusively refuted without trial. Feminist author Sandra Harding referred to Isaac Newton's three laws of mechanics as "Newton's Rape Manual," nor is there any reason to believe she was being facetious. Physicist Alan Sokal revealed the extent to which relativists will descend with a facetious article our cultural glitterati took quite literally.

     So those of us who, with Samuel Johnson, kick a stone and proclaim "I refute it thus" are in a distinct minority. In consequence, a debate that requires that one's interlocutor accept the existence of evil, a concept relativists categorically reject, is problematic from the start.

     But I intend to immunize my contentions against the frequent objection that “it’s all just about cultural customs.” From Part 2:

     The root of moral is the Latin word mores, which means customs. When Cicero exclaimed “O tempora, o mores!” he was bemoaning what he saw as a deterioration in the customs of the Roman people, not their moral choices as we English speakers might have imagined. To English speakers, moral pertains to the rightness or wrongness of a given decision.

     To compound the damage, the societies from which America was germinated often confused matters of right and wrong with considerations of what “simply isn’t done.” The notion of behavior that’s morally neutral but “simply isn’t done” conjures up images of Victorian England and the straitlaced customs to which the upper classes were expected – and “compelled” by the prospect of social disapprobation – to conform. But here context matters; Victorian customs about what “simply isn’t done” involved the setting and the persons who would witness the deed in question. Many a thing about which the Victorians would say “That simply isn’t done” most certainly was done, by many persons and quite often, in other circumstances and with other participants.

     As you can imagine, I have my work cut out for me. But then, I don’t do the easy stuff.


1. The Nature Of The Beast We Hunt.

     As I stated in Part 1, a moral fundamental – i.e., a principle of right versus wrong in human action – must perforce be a premise. Therefore it cannot be reached by deduction, for all deduction proceeds by implication from previously agreed premises. While we do need certain premises to attain our goal, deduction isn’t the mechanism by which we employ them.

     A useful premise must be tightly tied to observable facts. If observable facts contradict the premise, it’s flatly false. This is the uber-premise of an objective, metaphysically given reality, which cannot be changed merely by the exercise of opinion or willful disbelief. The Berkelian idealist, whose metaphysics is indistinguishable from solipsism de facto, must therefore be excluded from this investigation, no matter how furiously he pounds on the door.


2. The Danger Of “Why?”

     Many years ago, a professor of philosophy assigned as in-class reading material the Biblical story of Cain’s murder of Abel. When the students had had a few minutes to read the tale, he asked them, “Why was it wrong for Cain to kill Abel?”

     Let’s leave aside the virtually guaranteed allegorical nature of the Old Testament Book of Genesis. It was intended from the first to teach certain moral lessons, rather than as factual history. What was the moral lesson in that story about the murder of one brother by the other?

     The professor fielded several answers from his students, and showed the fault in each one. At last, an exasperated student said, “Well why, then?” The professor smiled and said “Because it was.”

     “Why,” when applied to a moral premise, is an attempt to justify it through its consequences. That’s not entirely invalid, but it’s open to counterfire. For example, the consequence of Cain’s act was exile. He didn’t suffer a penalty comparable to his crime. Indeed, many present-day murderers are never caught or punished. Therefore, we cannot soundly “argue” that one “shouldn’t” commit a murder because of the inevitable negative consequences to oneself. A moral premise must have a firmer foundation than that.


3. Rejections.

     It’s always possible to reject a premise, if one is willing to accept the consequences. The Berkelian, the relativist, the social-constructionist, and the solipsist cannot be “compelled” in any sense to accept moral premises that clash with their metaphysics. However, such persons almost all live as if they accept the moral premises on which Christian-Enlightenment society is founded. The consequences of doing otherwise are repugnant to them, regardless of the philosophical problem that causes them. Occasional exceptions, such as were once found among the Oneidans and the Doukhobors, have generally suffered for their willfulness...but not always.

     It’s permissible to draw conclusions from this...but only for one’s personal use!


4. Useful Data.

     One implication of an objective reality is the availability of useful data that can be gleaned from observation and accumulated over time. This, of course, is essential to the sciences, which operate on a combination of observation, inductive inference, hypothecation, deduction, and experimentation. While it’s also useful in probing for the existence of moral fundamentals, it has a weakness best illustrated by the tale of Plato and the “plucked chicken.”

     In Plato’s effort to define the human being, at one point he proposed that Man is best defined as “the featherless biped.” According to the accounts available today, that spurred Diogenes the Cynic, who considered himself a Socratic, to present Plato with a plucked chicken and exclaim “Here is the Platonic man!” We may take it that Plato resumed his quest for a workable definition immediately afterward.

     Plato’s error was a focus on nonessential aspects of Mankind. Diogenes could have presented him with a kangaroo to the same effect, were any to hand in classical Greece. Despite that, he was engaged in a worthwhile effort: an attempt to summarize human nature in a useful fashion. Reality does provide enough data to distinguish Man from other creatures, though “featherless biped” fails to capture our essence.

     My point here is simple: As it is Man who inquires into such things, then if there are moral fundamentals, they would apply to Man, but not to any lesser order of creature. Thus to settle on moral fundamentals, we must know ourselves – Man as a species of creature – rather than the entire order of Nature.


5. Essence, Accident, And Exceptions.

     Definitions apply to categories: groups of real items that share:

  • A genus, or base category of which they are all members, and:
  • A differentia, a characteristic that applies only to members of the newly defined category and not to other members of the genus.

     This presents a problem to those who seek an intensive definition of Man, for there are exceptional members of the human species that challenge any definition that has yet been proposed. In some ways the problem is a lot stiffer than posed by Diogenes’s chicken.

     Consider Ayn Rand’s attempt to define Man as “the rational animal.” Rand had an agenda, into which her proposed definition fits nicely. However, it omits persons of defective mind, including imbeciles and small children. That leads to unpleasant possibilities, for example that the omitted persons’ lives may be sacrificed without moral weight. We recoil from this notion from visceral repugnance, even though Rand’s thrust comes closer to capturing human nature than most others that have been proposed.

     It is the essence of Man that matters to moral fundamentals. This must include the presumed destiny of his children as moral agents. Neither should it exclude those whom accidents of genetics, gestation, or post-natal experience have deprived of one or more qualifications for inclusion.


6. Today’s Breakpoint.

     Whether human nature is “real” is indeed “the most debated concept.” We must settle on a widely applicable concept of human nature as it pertains to human behavior before we can sensibly discuss moral fundamentals. To be of any importance, moral precepts would apply to human action, though not necessarily to all human action. We would be willing to judge the actions of a man “in his right mind,” but would shy back from similarly judging the actions of a man who was deeply asleep, or who was in the grip of a hallucinogen. (We might question the moral validity of his decision to take such a hallucinogen, but that’s an exploration for another time.)

     Thus, we cannot avoid considerations of perception, volition, and context. However, these things don’t muddy the picture. Rather, they compel us to be precise in the application of any moral standard we might propose.

     More anon.

Quickies: Evidence Versus “Presumption”

     To this point in the “impeachment inquiry” sessions, the anti-Trump forces’ “star witness” has been Gordon Sondland, the U.S. Ambassador to the E.U. Sondland has striven to give the impression that President Trump had decided to “tie” American military aid to Ukraine to investigations by Ukraine into Burisma and its connection to Hunter Biden, son of former vice President Joseph Biden. Indeed, this impression Sondland has been at pains to leave is the sum and substance of the Democrats’ case for impeaching President Trump.

     But yesterday, we heard this:

     And this:

     Between them, Congressmen Mike Turner and Jim Jordan completely destroyed that “presumption.” Yet CNN – with the encouragement of Adam Schiff, no doubt – trumpeted in a headline that Sondland had testified to President Trump’s imposition of a quid pro quo.

     The Democrats’ drive to remove Donald Trump from the Oval Office has foundered yet again. That’s their third failure in three years, by my count. How many more iterations of this envy-and-fury-driven farce will America be subjected to?

     Assuming the Left doesn’t contrive to blow up the entire country before then, the 2020 Presidential election will be a landslide victory for Donald Trump and an epic disaster for whoever the Democrats nominate. Indeed, we might see the first major-party nominee in more than a century decline his party’s nomination. No one with any sense would willingly stand against the most successful, and most unjustly assailed, president of our time.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Quickies: A Fourth Amendment Conundrum

     Automobiles in public places have long been objects of legal controversy. Cops are eager to have them treated as outside the protections of the Fourth Amendment. However, current case law holds that without probable cause that a crime has been committed or is in the process of commission, a privately owned car is as protected against arbitrary search and seizure as is any privately owned building. One of the consequences is a form of police misconduct that’s very difficult to prosecute: the convenient “I smell marijuana” allegation. Cops have often used that dodge to compel a private citizen to submit to a search of his vehicle and person.

     But recently, something new has been added to the mix:

     Back in 2012, the US Supreme Court ruled that it's illegal for the police to attach a GPS tracking device to someone's car without a warrant. But what if you find a GPS tracking device on your car? Can you remove it? A little more than a year ago, the state of Indiana charged a suspected drug dealer [Derek Heuring] with theft for removing a government-owned GPS tracking device from his SUV. This month, the state's Supreme Court began considering the case, and some justices seemed skeptical of the government's argument. "I'm really struggling with how is that theft," said Justice Steven David during recent oral arguments.

     At trial, Heuring's legal team argued that the search had been illegal because the police didn't have probable cause to believe their client had committed theft. The defense pointed out that the device could have fallen off the car by accident or simply malfunctioned. Even if Heuring did take the device off the vehicle, he couldn't have known for sure that it belonged to the government. It wasn't exactly labeled as the property of the Warrick County Sheriff's Office. Most important, it's not clear that taking an unwanted device off your car is theft -- even if you know who it belongs to. With the case now at the state Supreme Court, the stakes are high. If Heuring can show that the police lacked probable cause to search his house, he could get all of the evidence gathered in the search thrown out -- not only evidence of GPS device theft, but evidence of drug dealing, too.

     It would certainly be ruled a Fourth Amendment violation were the police to attach a listening device to the wall of a private home. How is putting a GPS tracker on a private vehicle materially different? Though I doubt it, perhaps the state of Indiana will have a novel argument that sidesteps existing case law about the privacy protections of such vehicles. But no matter the verdict, the case will have implications for other police practices.

     For example, consider the “Denver boot:” a device used to immobilize a car or truck, the removal of which only occurs after the vehicle’s owner has paid a fine. So far, the use of such devices has not been successfully challenged in court. But should the placement of a GPS tracker on a car be ruled illegal, the underlying principle might extend far enough that the vehicle owner could destroy the boot, freeing his vehicle without legal penalty.

     This is a case worth watching.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Business Models And #Woke: Corporate Charity

     There are few things less rational than the prioritization of irrelevancies – social, political, or otherwise – in the operation of a business. A business that tolerates the inclusion of non-business priorities in its decision making is dancing barefoot at the edge of a blazing fire. Non-business priorities have a terrible tendency to eclipse business priorities, such that the whole point of creating and running a business – that’s to make money, for those who haven’t tried it – is lost. This has been demonstrated many times by the #Woke phenomenon.

     Mind you, few publicly traded companies in America haven’t done the very thing I’m railing against. Pick up the stock-market pages of your preferred publication, randomly select a company from the listings, and the odds will be 99 to 1 that the selected company has included one or more non-business priorities among its regular practices, and has trumpeted it in an attempt “to burnish the company’s image.”

     But what can a company buy with its “image?” I don’t know of any market where the goods are priced in that particular coinage. I would question the sanity of any executive who pursued “image” in preference over profit...yet huge numbers of them do that very thing.

     The most common form of this commercial sin is corporate charity. Virtually all the companies traded on the New York Stock Exchange practice it. So do most of those on the NASDAQ system. To me it looks like a crime against the stockholders: the folks who’ve invested in the company and have a legal expectation of dividends from its profits.

     Far too many CEOs prefer to give from the corporation’s coffers, their rationale being that it helps to “burnish the company’s image.” In these latter years of the Republic, that invites all manner of challenges from those who are unsatisfied with the company’s dividends, or who differ with the company’s charitable choices. These days a lot of the flak originates from activist groups rather than from the stockholders.

     The moral case against charity by a publicly traded company is absolute. The practical case against charity by a privately held company is equally strong...by which route we come to the news about Chick-fil-A:

     LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – U.S. fast-food chain Chick-fil-A said on Monday it had stopped funding two Christian organizations, including The Salvation Army, that have come under fire from LGBT+ campaigners.

     The fast-food chain’s charitable arm, Chick-fil-A Foundation, donated millions of dollars over a period of years to The Salvation Army and to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), which opposes same-sex marriage.

     Chick-fil-A said on Monday it no longer funded these organizations and would instead focus its giving on “education, homelessness and hunger”.

     “We made multi-year commitments to both organizations and we fulfilled those obligations in 2018,” a spokeswoman for Chick-fil-A told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

     The family-owned company said in statement that it would no longer make multi-year commitments and would focus on partnerships annually to “allow maximum impact”, which could include faith-based and non-faith-based charities.

     That LGBT activists have railed against Chick-fil-A for its charities – and for its founder’s convictions about same-sex marriage – is not news. They’ve been at it since the restaurant chain became generally known. It’s part of their sociopolitical and cultural strategy that no one who disagrees with their stances, however insane those stances may be, is permitted to go unscathed. Remember what happened to Sweet Cakes by Melissa, to Memories Pizza, and to Brendan Eich, formerly the CEO of Mozilla.

     The great irony here is that what a company’s management does with the company’s profits has absolutely no bearing on the quality or efficiency of the people who do 99% of the company’s work. It certainly has no bearing on what the line employees do with their bodies, property, or spare time. Yet activist groups’ favorite tactic, the heavily publicized boycott, does far more injury to the line employee, the guy who spends eight hours per day making sandwiches for customers, than to the CEO and his direct subordinates, who make the decisions about the company’s charitable giving.

     If I were a corporate CEO, and had charitable impulses to satisfy, I’d give out of my own pocket. If my company were publicly traded, the company’s stockholders would be unable to accuse me of spending their money on my notions of good works. But even if my company were my personal property, my charitable choices might still be attacked by activist groups. The earnings and well-being of my employees would probably take most of the damage...if I were vain enough to let my giving be made public.

     But if I were to follow the advice of a certain Jesus of Nazareth:

     Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven. Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly. [Matthew 6:1-4]

     ...my charitable giving would be unknown to anyone, including the beneficiary organizations. No one would know that I had done it, nor to whom my gifts had gone. I would be immune from the attacks of activists, as would those who work for my company.

     This is not a reproach of Chick-fil-A or its owners. The company has earned its customers’ respect. Its owners’ hearts are definitely in the right place. But they would have been better advised to separate their charities from their commercial enterprise, and to keep their giving entirely private insofar as that’s possible. No one can target what he knows nothing about.

     To the real-life CEOs out there: You will be targeted by charitable organizations, which will importune you for contributions. If you permit them access to you as the CEO of your company, you will regret it. Chick-fil-A is already regretting it. Even if you permit them to approach you as an individual, there are dangers – and not just to you, but to your employees. The only way to avoid the assaults of the #Woke crows is to do your own research into worthy charities, choose one or more of them, and donate to them anonymously. Don’t imagine you have a need to dress up your “image,” or that of your company. It’s a phantasm and always has been.

     Concentrate on putting out an excellent product and making money.

Monday, November 18, 2019

For Indie Writers: A New LitFire

     I just received a call from an outfit that styles itself Your Online Publicist. The caller spoke haltingly, and with a heavy accent, though I couldn’t place the origin. The characteristic buzz of a call center was audible in the background. She expressed interest in “promoting your book The Sledgehammer Concerto internationally.” As that’s one of my older novels, and has never been particularly popular, my danger flag was all the way up the pole. I quickly typed the firm’s name into Google, and the result confirmed that I’d been targeted for a scam.

     “Your Online Publicist” is based in Miami, Florida. Its phone number is (786) 915-8878. You might want to record the name, locale, and number for your own protection. If you receive a call from that number and locale, regardless of the name the caller gives, be aware that it’s a scam outfit that seeks to milk you, the writer. It will not aid you in promoting your books. A quick look at its website should provide all the evidence you need.

Old Jane vs. New Jane

Fonda, that is.

I've been hearing about her "amazing" looks for a long time. Her recent appearances on the red carpet seemed to support the idea that she sold her soul to the Devil, long ago, for an ageless face.

Alas, a candid photo of her, at the Washington climate protests, puts the lie to that appearance.

Yeah, she's aging just like the rest of us. That apparent youthfulness was Smoke & Mirrors. Appearing in normal sunlight puts the lie to the illusion.


Persuading the Black Community to Vote Their Values

There's a lot of crap said and written about Black people/families. Too many Whites treat the non-White communities as a Lost Cause, filled with sub-normal inhabitants.

They are individuals, and many have similar values to those of any American.

  • They value their children
  • They want their kids to do well in school
  • They want their kids to be capable of getting, and holding, a decently-paying job
  • They want their kids to have successful lives
  • They don't want their kids' immature decisions to ruin their lives
  • They live their Christian values - not focusing on the sin, as much as helping the sinner to be redeemed
To that end, they often vote for those politicians who promise to help them attain their goals.

And, according to these two Black women, that's their first mistake. They point out that the GOP should be 'in the hood', working to help voters see that the party and the voters share many values.

Yeah, VALUES, not "what can you do for me" - bribery, by any measure.

For too long, the Republican Party has been trying to win over voters by telling them what material things they can receive, in return for their vote.

They do it with the corporations. They do it with the local businesses. They do it with military servicemen. They do it with special interests.

Trump does it - he hammers down on how the economy has improved (which, it has, generally - that DOESN'T go into what the failure to handle the deficit means for the future). The rebound to a more normal economy, without the artificial limitations the Obama administration put on it, has returned my retirement account to normal levels. For that, I'm grateful.

But, the essential thing for the Republican Party to talk about, from now through the next election and beyond, is VALUES.

Guys, I know the party's limitations, but - we have no other viable choice, at this time. We need to plan a takeover of the core leadership, and oust the RINOs - permanently. We need to make the kind of takeover that the Leftist wing of the Democrats did with their party.

It's not about 2020 - although, if we lose that one, the Dems will use every illicit means they have to ensure they never lose again - IF they continue to allow elections (I think they will, in some form, as it lends a veneer of legitimacy to their coup).

Let's be honest, the plan to disarm the American population is in progress. The money they pushed into local and regional police/sheriff departments has corrupted them - probably beyond repair. The local gendarmes are armed to the teeth, and will use that weaponry, if they fear loss of power.

So, yeah, 2020 is a must-win.

But, it's only a holding action if we don't act to loosen the stranglehold the Left has put on our ability to offer opposition to their plan to take over everything.

ONE major action that would starve the Left is to reduce the size of government. Don't try to fire the Deep State, but identify the Core Functions of each Department/Agency, and reduce the money available.

Do this publicly - list the Core Functions, along with the money that WAS available, and what will be available in the future. Don't be chintzy - provide at least as much as was available before, and preferably a smidge more. All other parts of government will bring in the guys to shut things down, FIRST removing access to computers, and insisting on a physical inventory of everything electronic.

Offload ALL government documents in a dated doc-dump. Use to compare available files after the RIF. Prosecute all who have permitted documents to be destroyed, whether on government servers, "missing" laptops, or "lost or destroyed" cell phones.

BTW, bill all employees who've been negligent in their securing government-provided equipment for that "loss".

Offer immunity from jail time ONLY (you're still gonna insist on an admission of guilt) for those pleading to a FELONY, voluntarily giving up their pension (any contributions will be returned, with interest), and agreeing to refrain from employment in ANY level of government - for life.

The agreement will be sealed, as long as the employee abides by all provisions. No need to destroy their ability to earn a living, but put teeth in that agreement.

Cut down the leadership of the employees unions by putting their leadership in the crosshairs for misuse of union funds (I'd be willing to BET my own pension that MOST of them are guilty of this), violations of the Hatch Act, accepting bribes to sell their people out (again, a REAL likelihood - which I've seen in my own years as a reluctant union member), and any other prosecution that will tie them up in litigation for an extended period of time. The idea is to gut the union, and keep them from using their power to fight back.

Dirty pool?

Yeah. I'm a big believer in NOT following the Marquis of Queensbury rules with thugs.

DoD? Reduction of rank, for at lest 1/2 the brass. If they wanna stay at a lower wage, great. Otherwise, don't let the door hit you on your way out.

The paper-pushers and auxiliary staff?

Assign them to guard the border. We don't need combat troops, we need bodies - witnesses to the slow-mo invasion. Some of those troops may find their eyes opened to the reality of the situation when they see it happen, without the filter of the media.

Some of them will rebel. Administratively deal with that, and begin using this as a way of identifying those who need to be separated from service.

Don't allow the newbs to form separate units - disperse them within existing ICE personnel. Hopefully, those who have some value to justify their keep will have an opportunity to prove it. Those who are an SJW waste of space will also 'out' themselves.

News That Should Trump The Impeachment Farce

     If the possible corruption of public officials is a big deal, why is it that the “respectable” media leave it to the “fringe” media to cover it?

     Corrupt actions by the former Obama-era vice president and secretary of state are coming to light after new leaked documents surfaced. In a bombshell tweet, activist and entrepreneur Michael Coudrey released a series of leaked documents from the Ukrainian General Prosecutor’s Office, which allegedly detail a so-called ‘slushfund’ collecting large sums of money from foreign sources.
     Leaked transaction and bank records indicate an influx of large payments from Ukrainian energy company Burisma Holdings Limited to Rosemont Seneca Bohai LLC, in what appears to be monthly payments of $83,333.33. pic.twitter.com/BZXi61NnOO

     — Michael Coudrey (@MichaelCoudrey) November 14, 2019

     The report claimed this fund is owned and operated by former Secretary of State John Kerry and Hunter Biden, the son of former Vice President Joe Biden.

     Please read the rest. We should be grateful that One America Network has taken up the mantle of actual news reportage. In our time, the “respectable” media seem to regard their task, in Jim Treacher’s formulation, as suppressing news of any sort, however serious, if it might reflect badly on important Democrats. Nor can this be dismissed as a penny-ante heist. With $1.8 billion of American foreign aid “missing,” the media ought to be digging furiously...but they’re not.

     There are several aspects of this report yet to be addressed:

  • Will Ukraine’s government confirm that the leaked documents are its authentic, unaltered products?
  • Can the ownership interest of then-Secretary of State John Kerry in Rosemont Seneca Bohai LLC be confirmed?
  • Is there a “money trail” that connects Kerry to the slush fund, as Hunter Biden is connected?

     But don’t hold your breath waiting for the “respectable” media to take the ball from One America Network and run with it.

     When the National Enquirer broke the story of U.S. Senator and vice-presidential candidate John Edwards’s extramarital affair and illegitimate child, it would have been reasonable to expect that the “respectable” media would blush a bit at having been scooped by a supermarket checkout-line tabloid. It would have been reasonable to expect that they’d strive to improve their performance, at least cosmetically. The opposite has happened instead. Why?

     If there’s a credible explanation other than the complete conquest of the “respectable” media by the Left, such that they no longer function as a news source but rather as organs of disinformation and propaganda, I haven’t heard it. The evidence for that contention is piled awfully high. The media’s complete suppression of any news about the many scandals in the Obama Administration should be conclusive – especially now that they’ve enlisted in the effort to remove a Republican President from the White House on the most ludicrous charges imaginable.

     If there’s an irony cherry to top this corruption confection, it would be that the media once played up Joseph Biden’s habit of riding the train from his Delaware home to D.C. for his work in Congress. The idea, of course, was to emphasize his integrity: to underscore the cleanliness of his hands at a time when service on Capitol Hill was the most reliable route to riches in the known universe. Needless to say, the same media have nothing to say about the “golden triangle of corruption” that has sunk deep roots into federal Washington: i.e., the use of non-office-holding relatives as conduits for ill-gotten gains:

     Corruption in modern D.C. is shaped like a triangle. A person or entity seeking a favor doesn’t hand the money directly to the politician or public official. Instead, the money goes to a trusted family relation under a vague “consulting” or “speaking” arrangement. This golden triangle of corruption appears over and over again in the Russia collusion hoax.

     The Clinton email scandal and the Biden/Ukraine scandal have a lot in common. Both originated with snooping into high-level triangle schemes but morphed into a counter-scandal against Trump. In Clinton’s case, she deleted 30,000 emails that likely contained more evidence of favors to donors and friends. The process was so formalized that one Clinton Foundation official actually wrote a memo bragging about how the foundation work led to lavish speaking fees for Bill Clinton. As an example, he obtained speaking fees for Clinton from UBS in the amount of $900,000, $750,000 from Ericson “plus $400,000 for a private plane.” The memo author bragged that he negotiated a $1,000,000 fee for a one-hour Bill Clinton speech in China. When Clinton lost to Donald Trump in 2016, she no longer had influence to sell and the donations to the “charitable” foundation dried up.

     But there have been several other triangle arrangements. Consider the Ohrs. Then-Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce Ohr, a very senior attorney in the Justice Department, lent his credibility to Hillary Clinton’s opposition research contractor by sponsoring it to the FBI. The same contractor, Fusion GPS, paid Bruce Ohr’s wife tens of thousands of dollars to work on the same project.

     That’s from another please-read-it-all piece. The practice is pervasive. It’s an open secret. But we only read about it in the “respectable” media when they can hang a Republican out to dry for it.

     The Republic, it seems, is ruled by some of the very worst men in the world. Men to whom power is merely a trade good, by which they can acquire great riches and other “perquisites.” But the only official the “respectable” media are interested in pillorying is the one who has explicitly renounced the possibility of even trivial monetary gain from his office: the 45th president of these United States, Donald J. Trump.

     I think I’ll spend some time playing a video game. Shooting imaginary villains through the head has proved politically analgesic before. Perhaps it will do so again.

Quickies: The Ultimate, Finally-The-Last Word On Colin Kaepernick And The NFL

     Paul Mirengoff of Power Line provides it:

     During a recess late in a trial where the plaintiff alleged he had been fired due to his race and/or his age, a federal district court judge said to his law clerk:
     Sure, this guy was discriminated against. But he wasn’t discriminated against because he’s black and he wasn’t discriminated against because he’s over 40. He was discriminated because he’s an a**hole.

     Please read the rest.

     The C.S.O. and I stopped watching NFL football when the “anthem kneeling” protests erupted. We were unwilling to abuse our eyes with the spectacle of millionaire prima-donna athletes whining or pantomiming about “racial discrimination” in a league that’s now over 50% black. The Kaepernick foofaurauw was minor by comparison – but the NFL’s willingness to grant him a tryout, with representatives from 25 of its 32 teams in attendance, has confirmed the wisdom of our decision. That Kaepernick pissed all over it was merely a toxic icing for an already inedible cake.

     If there are any actual, self-respecting men remaining in the NFL, I must ask them, both honestly and candidly: Why are you still there? Don’t you realize what your associations are doing to your reputation? Are you really unaware that we are judged, far more often than not, by the company we keep – and that this applies to star athletes quite as much as to anyone else?

     Should this sort of lunacy ever overcome baseball and ice hockey, I’ll give up on organized sports completely.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

How Fake News is Created

With the eager assistance of Leftists in the Tech Community, taking advantage of tools created to capture information and archive it.

I'd urge you to read the article at the link. It highlights ways that the Leftists not only target Trump and Conservatives; it also show their spiteful side, 'outing' celebrities they think are gay, using language that would normally land them in court for defamation, and continuing lost battles, such as the Kavanaugh fight, in the same way that your ex will spread gossip to everyone in her vicinity, years after the divorce.

There is no reason to smear the First Lady. It's just mean-spirited abuse of a woman who is better-looking than 95% of us. It's a new low in hate.

In other 'news', the Flaky Jeff Flake, famous RINO from AZ, hasn't changed a bit. More evidence that the only good RINO is a dead RINO.

Hey, Jeff! Still waiting for your response to the 2008 removal from State of all the GW Bush ambassadors. Because, you know, should have triggered Impeachment proceedings.

From the Breitbart coverage of the hearings:

10:16 A.M. — Yovanovitch states that when she was told Giuliani was going to “do things, including to me,” that “in hindsight that meant removing me.” 10:14 A.M. — Yovanovitch says she felt threatened by President Trump’s remark to Zelensky that “she’s going to go through some things”“It kind of felt like vague threat,” she adds. She says her colleague told her that the “color drained from my face.”

Eric Swallwell is one of the most over-the-top, histrionic, dishonest politicians I've ever seen.

And, I lived through the Clinton and Obama years.


Murder?

Murder?

Sweetie, when a New Yorker threatens to have you 'swim with the fishes', there is no question about it. Unlike your overblown claim.

Finally, as a check on Eric Swalwell's integrity and fairness (LOL! I laugh!), consider this attempt to taint the Impeachment "Inquiry" results by referring to closed door testimony - a practice that, I believe, is called "leaking".


Isn't that the illegal practice of Tainting the Jury Pool? Lawyers, is my understanding correct?

This David Holmes - who appears to be a hanger-on in the State Dept. - may have SOME knowledge of the phone call between the President and Sondland. This occurred, according to Holmes, when a phone call initiated by Sondland was partly overheard by his nearby staff.

Keep in mind that the President was apparently being sandbagged by Sondland, who made the call in the presence of his staff, and permitted them to hear parts of the President's conversation, even holding his phone away from his ear to allow them to eavesdrop. The call wasn't on speakerphone, but also was not conducted in a way that the President would know about the presence of these 'sort of' witnesses.

Gee, it ALMOST sounds as though Trump's concerns that the State Dept. was trying to sabotage him. Hmmm. Must be evidence of Trump's paranoia, 'cause we all know that these career public servants represent the policies of the Unites States, no matter who is President (you know, that person that actually SETS the foreign policy).

Kudos to CNN, which, at least, put the copy of the paper showing Holme's opening statement on record. I'm still reviewing the information; that it was apparently a photo/scan of the document is slowing me down in the process. I want to go through it again, slowly, and put it into context with public statements. The statements is hedged with copious "apparently", "seemingly", and 2nd hand conversations, so the accuracy of it is likely to be questionable, as is his closed-door testimony.

Atomization Chronicles

     Most of what I write, whether it’s fiction or op-ed, is powered by a worry. I’ve got a lot of them, and they surge to the front of my consciousness as and when they – not I – please. It’s probably just an aspect of being old. The old typically do more worrying than the young. Our greater experience militates toward it.

     “Why should extensive experience conduce to worry?” I hear you ask. There are many reasons, of which three stand out from the rest. First, we know how many more ways there are for things to go wrong than right. Second, we’ve seen wishful thinking in operation for long enough to know its power. And third, we know the seductive power of evil.

     Aha! I caught you glancing up at the title of this piece. No, this isn’t a “rumination.” It’s a condemnation of a supposed technological advance, for which my former occupation is responsible. That “advance” has proved so pernicious that it verges on making me wish that the trade I plied for five decades, which brought me fame, fortune, and a great deal of personal satisfaction, had never existed.

     Perhaps you already know where I’m going with this and are disinclined to follow it further. If so, feel free to leave off and turn to the comics page, because I’m about to set out on a Jeremiad.


     I’ve railed about the phenomenon of “absent presence” frequently enough in the past that Gentle Readers of long standing will already be familiar with my sentiments about it. It was bad twenty years ago. It’s approaching fatal dimensions today. The symptoms are visible to all who are willing not merely to look but to see.

     Perhaps you’ve already seen the following public service pitch:

     Or perhaps this one:

     Or perhaps this one, “starring” Will Ferrell:

     Yes, they’re mildly funny. They’re also cries in the wilderness: a wilderness of portable digital devices to which the people of the First World have become so addicted that they no longer take more than passing note of the people and events around them.

     Not long ago, a woman my age, who was a guest at our home, came to our dinner table with her smartphone in her hand. I summoned my “special voice” – it once frightened a policeman into apologizing to me in front of a crowd – and told her to put it down at once. Her reply: “Just let me finish this text.” I blew my stack, she looked up and saw my expression, and she finally got the message. Her husband, a retired deputy sheriff, glanced at me...and nodded in approval.

     I forbore to ask him why he had never done any such thing...because it was clear that he hadn’t.


     Courtesy of David Drake, here’s another straw in the wind:

     Restaurants are doing away with dining rooms as consumers increasingly order food deliveries through apps such as Uber Technologies Inc's Uber Eats and GrubHub Inc.

     The newest Chopt Creative Salad Co location, which opened Tuesday in New York, is unlike any of the chain's other 61 sites. It has no cash registers or tables for customers.

     Atlanta-based Chick-fil-A Inc has similar sites in Nashville and Louisville, where customers order and prepay online with the option for delivery or pickup.

     Chick-fil-A is also trying something different, opening three pilot 'delivery kitchens' this year - in Chicago, Los Angeles and near San Francisco. The latter is run by delivery platform DoorDash Inc.

     The article mentions only restaurants of the fast-food variety. I have no doubt that the trend will soon spread to restaurants of the more traditional, sit-and-eat variety. The reason isn’t that diners are “rushed,” or can’t leave their homes for some practical reason. It’s that there’s no point to going out to dine with other people when you can stay comfortably at home with your smartphone. Besides, a lot of restaurants forbid the use of cellphones in their dining rooms, and we can’t have that. We might miss something critical on Twitter or Facebook!

     Am I the only American remaining who senses the danger in these trends? Is no one else willing to raise his voice and say “Put it down or lose me forever!” — ?


     About now there will be Gentle Readers saying to themselves that “Fran’s losing it,” and surfing away. Not all of them will be smartphone addicts. Some will say “But I need it for my work!” And the majority of those will probably be honest and sincere. But that doesn’t justify enslaving oneself to what was once styled a “personal digital assistant.”

     We’re being parted from one another by our digital devices. We’re paying no more than minimal attention to our immediate surroundings and the people in them, including family and friends. We’re treating ringtones and smartphone alerts as possessing a higher priority than in-the-flesh interaction with persons we claim to love and value.

     It’s killing us. It’s killing our society.

     Employers are part of the problem. We’re allowing them to usurp every moment of our waking lives through those damnable digital leashes. Many employers command their serfs to leave their smartphones turned on at all times. You thought wearing a pager was bad? That pager your smartphone replaced couldn’t track your movements, now could it?

     One more video clip, this one from Paddy Chayevsky’s brilliant 1976 movie Network:

     That was about the use of television to misinform and indoctrinate. The point was a good one. It remains valid. But television wasn’t nearly as destructive back then as the smartphone is today.

     Turn off your smartphone. Then put it in a drawer in your desk or bureau. Don’t take it out again until you need to make a call – and it had better be a call that must be made from your smartphone. When the call is finished, don’t use it to “check” Twitter or Facebook. Turn it off again, put it back into the drawer, and indulge in present-world, present-time reality.

     What’s that you say? You don’t need grubby old reality with all its noise and complications and mess? Reality is a crutch for people who can’t afford smartphones? Oh, very funny. But what if reality should decide that it no longer needs you? Whose opinion do you think would prevail then, eh, hero?

     Give it some thought – without your smartphone to hand. We know what it would say.

MP Stéphane Ravier on the Great Replacement in France.

Here is a rare but courageous voice speaking out about the insufferable immigration disaster that has taken place in France. Substitute the name of any Western country for "France" and the picture is the same, Hungary and some others being rare bastions of hostility to the Soros-globalist-Spectre-ultra-leftist anti-white agenda.

Click here to see the video.

The interruption of the presiding official just after the 5:00 mark was not, as I first thought, because of unhappiness over the content of Mr. Ravier's speech but because he had gone over his allotted time.

The video can be found on Vlad Tepes's blog here:

"Amazing speech in the French parliament where the words are spoken aloud: 'The Great Replacement'."

With choice comments as always.

H/t: Remus at Yer Ol' Woodpile Report .

Saturday, November 16, 2019

The Gluttony Gazette 2019-11-16

     For those unacquainted with my part of America: Long Island has three “zones,” broadly speaking. To the far west there are the boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens. These constitute the marches of the Big Cancer that dominates New York State commercially and politically. On the eastern end is the county of Suffolk, where I’ve made my home for more than five decades. Between east and west sits the county of Nassau, a forbidding place that contains a rough preponderance of Long Island’s commerce and, sadly, most of its better restaurants.

     Mind you, it takes a lot to motivate me sufficiently to journey westward, and a hell of a lot to get me to go into Nassau. Most points of interest in Nassau County aren’t conveniently accessible by the Long Island Rail Road. The roads are pretzelly, few are properly marked, and the traffic is awful. I need a really good reason for the trip. But not long ago, the C.S.O. discovered one.

     Yes, it’s a restaurant. A steak house, to be exact. And like all steak houses, it’s painfully expensive even to walk in and be seated. For example, a glass of White Zinfandel is $16.00 – and it takes quite a few glasses of WZ to anesthetize me against the cost of a meal there. The waiters are supercilious snobs who view you as an imposition on their time. They toss menus at you with a Frisbee-like flip, mumble the specials in a tongue that barely resembles English, and flee before you can order a drink or an appetizer, as if they were late for the fifth race at Belmont. And the steaks are nothing to write home about. Indeed, I found the filet mignon to be tough and chewy, which filet mignon is not supposed to be. But to go to a steak house and not order a steak is simply not done. Men have served long prison sentences for less.

     So what could motivate me to drive forty miles into the wilds of Nassau, a place I cordially detest, to go to this unnamed, multiply deficient restaurant – and not once, nor twice, but thrice?

     You’ll laugh. You’ll pitch a fit of hysterics. You’ll question my sanity...or at the very least, my priorities. Yet I could name several other persons who’ve done the same thing, and have overcome the same obstacles and dissatisfactions, for the same inducement.

     It’s the creamed spinach.

     This restaurant is home to the very best creamed spinach in the Milky Way. It accompanies all their entrees, a point of pride for the establishment and those who cook there. It’s so good, and so well known, that upon hearing that we were headed there, colleagues, neighbors, and friends have asked us if we might bring home part of our servings of creamed spinach to share with them. (“Just a spoonful, Fran. Please?”)

     No one has been able to reproduce it. The staff cooks at this restaurant are bound by a code akin to omerta. It’s possible that members of their families are being held hostage to guarantee their silence. The C.S.O. has tried to “reverse cook” the recipe, and has come nowhere near to the glory of the real McCoy. My own skills at the stove fall far short of the required level of expertise.

     So the day before yesterday, at the conclusion of an otherwise disappointing lunch there, we bought ten pounds of the creamed spinach. I plan to ferret out the nine best culinary detectives in America, to send each of them a pound of this precious stuff, and to plead for insight into its concoction. I’m thinking of offering a monetary reward for success, just in case the glory of the achievement isn’t sufficient incentive to undertake the quest.

     What do you think, Gentle Reader? Should I send a pound to the Food Network, and another to America’s Test Kitchen? Would they be as entranced and energized by the mystery as I? How likely would those glamor-boys and glamor-girls of the culinary arts be to crack the puzzle?

     For one way or another, I must know. Nature, they say, is an open book...but apparently, that book doesn’t contain the recipe for The Ultimate Creamed Spinach. The kings of the food sciences must be marshaled and galvanized to this investigation! Among other things, a reliable, home-reproducible recipe would save me the irritation of having to eat another unsatisfactory steak while fortified with insufficient alcohol to mute the pain.

     (What’s that you say? Why am I committing only nine pounds of this irreproducible delight to the pursuit of the recipe? What’s to become of the tenth pound? I’m going to eat it, of course. Slowly. Did you really need to ask?)

Narrative Engineering In Brief

     Via Mike Hendrix comes this beautifully compact exposition on what the Democrats are doing with their “impeachment inquiry:”

     Pretend you’re starving for food. You want to talk about getting yourself some food, but I take the conversation somewhere else by telling everyone you like to kick puppies. So you offer gobs of evidence that you don’t like to kick puppies and, as a result, everyone ends up believing you and thinking I’m a liar. Nice work. Now we can talk about getting you some food. Right?

     Wrong. Because next I say that I was mistaken about the dog thing, but I have good evidence that you like to step on cats. In a sane world, at this point people wouldn’t believe me and we’d all talk about getting you some food.

     But that’s how powerful the media are. Because now, instead of talking about getting you some food, we’re going to spend the next several months making you prove that you don’t like to step on cats. You might win that conversation also, but in the meantime you might die of starvation.

     That’s exactly how it works: pollute the national discourse sufficiently and the true difficulties and challenges facing us will be ignored in favor of “the Narrative.” The point isn’t argument. It certainly isn’t anything President Trump has actually done. It’s about denial by delay.

     C. Northcote Parkinson has told us that “delay is the deadliest form of denial:”

     Instead of saying “No,” the Prohibitive Procrastinator says “In due course,” these words forshadowing Negation by Delay. The theory of Negation by Delay depends upon establishing a rough idea of what amount of delay will equal negation. If we suppose that a drowning man calls for help, evoking the reply “In due course,” a judicious pause of five minutes may constitute, for practical purposes, a negative response....

     Where the urgent matter requires remedial legislation, delay takes on a dimension. The judicious pause will correspond, nevertheless, to the life-expectation of the man from whom the proposal originates....When a useful reform takes place, as must occasionally happen, this is the result of the Reformer’s living and working for years beyond the limits of reasonable expectation. The Reformer may thus outlive the Prohibitive Procrastinator, whose especial hatred is of reformers younger than himself....Delays are thus deliberately designed as a form of denial and are extended to cover the life-expectation of the person whose proposal is being pigeon-holed.

     Deep State bureaucrats, whose tenures in office are essentially infinite, have known this for a long, long time:

     [United States Senator from Oklahoma David L.] Boren, formerly a state legislator and governor, went to Washington expecting to make some changes. “What impressed me most is the great power of the bureaucracy compared to that of elected officials. All the talk about growing control by the bureaucracy is not exaggerated. The shift in power is very real.... There is almost a contempt for elected officials.”...

     Senator Boren found, to his surprise, that a Senator has great difficulty even getting phone calls returned by the “permanent” employees, much less getting responsive answers to his questions.

     The voters can’t “throw the rascals out” anymore, because the main rascals are not elected but appointed....

     Regulatory bureaucrats have extra power because they can outlast the elected officials. “Often,” Boren explains, “I’ve said to a bureaucrat, ‘You know this is not the president’s policy.’

     ‘True, Senator, but we were here before he came, and we’ll be here after he leaves. We’re not in sympathy with his policy. We’ll study the matter until he leaves.’”

     [Armington and Ellis, MORE: The Rediscovery of American Common Sense.]

     Is it really that surprising that Congressional Democrats, who are collectively the Deep State’s biggest supporters, should have noticed that tactic and elected to emulate it?

     If there’s an effective countermeasure, it would lie in nullifying the power of the Narrative. There’s only one way to do that, given the Left’s dominance of the major media. We must refuse it our attention:

  • Don’t read, watch, or react to the major media’s stories about it;
  • Don’t talk about it with others;
  • When it comes up in conversation, do your damnedest to change the subject.

     The prerequisite for the establishment of a Counter-Narrative is to clear the nation’s conversational channels of the existing Narrative. Is that possible, or have we succumbed so completely to the grip of the media that there’s no longer any escape but bloodshed?

The fate of modern Western man.

To be ruled by scum.
“I’m a pro-immigration politician,” [Boris Johnson] the Tory leader declared on the BBC on Friday morning, shaking two clenched fists and adding: “I think immigration can be a wonderful thing.”
"Boris Declares He Is ‘Pro-Immigration’, Will Not Commit to Capping It." By Jack Montgomery, Breitbart, 11/15/19.

Friday, November 15, 2019

Whistling in the Dark

The Blogs are just about dead. So few of us remain, that we have been sidelined.

The other social media - Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, et al - have used their platforms to silence opposition. When I have, in the past, stated something quite unarguable - such as the FACT that Hunter Biden, completely unqualified for any position of responsibility, has managed to COINCIDENTALLY work for companies that have interests with entities who would benefit from his father's help - those who hear it are completely dismissive of it.

They wave their hands, saying "conspiracy theory" and "alt-right" and "where did you hear THAT?".

They aren't, in one sense, dismissing what I say. They honestly have NEVER heard about those issues and controversies.

Their sheltered world of social media, televised news, and personal associates keep such 'ridiculous' ideas away from them, more effectively than garlic keeps away vampires.

They aren't being mean when they ignore what we say or write. They think of themselves as being kind - you know, like when you politely listen to the garbled thinking of the Alzheimer's patient.

They really do think we're not that bright. We're not just uninformed, we're deluded by those oogity-boogity Fascists that lurk around every non-approved corner.

They are that far into The Matrix.

A Distribution Of Motives

     It’s commonplace for private-citizen observers of political squabbles to assume a uniformity of motives on each of the contending sides. However, it’s seldom that way. It certainly isn’t that way in the “impeachment” foofaurauw currently dominating the news from Washington.

     For a first mouthful, have some observations from Tucker Carlson:

     Carlson’s take on the motives of those such as George Kent and William Taylor, career State Department functionaries, is almost certainly a bull’s-eye. Over time, individuals in the “permanent government” – what we’ve more recently been calling the Deep State – come to believe that they’re more important, vested with more authority, than they really are. For example, Kent and Taylor have argued, without being perfectly explicit about it, that they’re empowered to make foreign policy, rather than just to carry it out. But that’s not their role.

     The United States of America’s head of state – the individual who speaks for our country in our dealings with other lands – is the elected president. Within the constraints of Constitutional and legislated law, it is he who determines American foreign policy. He may ask others, from the State Department or elsewhere, for their knowledge and opinions, but he is not bound by them.

     It’s become clear that President Trump’s decision to de-emphasize distant conflicts in which the U.S. has never been more than a third-party participant has rankled the foreign-policy establishment. They want control; Trump has wrested it from them.

     It put me in mind of a segment from an old movie: Harrison Ford’s star vehicle Air Force One:

     Far too many “experts,” career diplomats, and assorted “advisors” would react just as did the national security advisor in the clip. It offends them that the President is the true holder of foreign-policy authority. Many of them will strive to usurp it from him...just as William Taylor and George Kent appear eager to do.

     But the motives of those careerists are essentially “rice bowl” motives. They’re trying to protect “their turf.” The motives of the Congressional Democrats conducting the impeachment farce are quite different. They are all too aware that President Trump’s foreign-policy changes have been both beneficial and popular. Those changes will be assets to him in his bid to be re-elected: an effort that appears destined for a smashing success. Indeed, one of their current glamor-girls has already admitted it:

     Some commentators believe that the impeachment attempt will rebound to the Democrats’ detriment. Some of those commentators are on the Left. That suggests that there’s a division within the Democrat Party: possibly a more serious division than the visible fissures in the GOP. Time might yet reveal infighting the Democrats’ top management has been anxious to keep en famille.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Watergate Deux

I remember the original Watergate hearings. I was working as a waitress/bartender, and attending college. LOTS of free time, particularly in the afternoons.

I admit it.

I was a Watergate Junkie. I OD'd on the hearings for many months.

Fortunately, life got busier, and I eventually maintained on evening news recaps.

Not this crap. Fortunately, with the wonders of the Internet, we can get the highlights (the REAL highlights, not that "we're the Official Media and we'll tell YOU what's important") every day on Twitter, YouTube, and other social media.

And the blogs - definitely the blogs, with some analysis and commentary.

Some of those highlights:
2:12 P.M. — KENT: “You can’t promote anticorruption action without pissing off corrupt people.”
 Gotta love a man who has no problem saying it straight out. Why, yes, Kent, Trump HAS pissed off some corrupt people.

Oh, that's not what you meant?

Another interaction, this time with Taylor. This should be put on 24/7.

I can see why Rep. Taylor was put in charge of questioning - he is pointed, clear, and effective.

Some jousting about the Rules of Evidence. Rep. Mark Meadows uses his Twitter account to bypass the biased media.

Oh, honey! Based on just ONE day's hearing - a small portion of it - this is NOT your Grandfather's Impeachment Hearing! Social Media is gonna HANG the coup plotters, AND their allies in Congress.

Scalise's Summary.

I think Trump is right - skip the hearings. At the end of the day, watch/read the highlights that manage to NOT make the evening news.



They Don't have to Throw Us in the Gulag...

...they just have to represent a threat to our livelihood, to get us to disavow our allies.

VA just took over the statehouse - in 1/4 of the races, the Democrat ran unopposed.

Why did that happen?

Well, you have to understand just how gets elected to most state legislatures:

  • Local businessmen and Chamber of Commerce heads
  • Insurance agents/brokers
  • Real estate agents
  • Teachers
  • Pastors
  • Farmers and ranchers
In short, those people who have many ways to experience pressure to vote a particular way. That pressure is bad enough in normal circumstances.

We don't live in Normal Times. We live in The Age of "We Will Destroy You, Your Family, and Your Way of Earning a Living".

Hard to get people to run if they fear retribution for supporting He Who THEY Are Trying To Impeach.

But, come on!

We WILL fail if we don't, at least, make an effort to provide an alternative to the Borg. We cannot give up before making at least a token effort of a fight.

I realize that, for some of us, who depend on our jobs to keep us alive, it's a scary thought to place that in jeopardy. The very threat of losing all that we have in various courts (the Left's favorite place to fight), throwing away our hard-earned cash on lawyers, is sufficient to cause us to back away, saying, "find someone without something to lose".

There is no such person. We all have family who WILL suffer - either directly, as the President's family have, or indirectly, through the constant abuse of you.

I repeat - there is no one without something to lose.

Guys. This is it. This is the time. This is when we need to man/woman up.

America is on the line.

The Forces of Darkness have their power in our fear of them. When we actually step up, put our name and reputation on the line, we see that the worst they can throw at us is not all that much.

The American Revolution was won by people who - knowing the might of the forces arrayed against them - pledged:



Not:



If their sacrifice is to mean anything, the people have to respond to this attempt to subvert the 2016 election.


For Christ's Sake, dare to risk a little discomfort.

The Outage

     [A short story for you today, as I’m still working on the next segment in the Moral Fundamentals series. As the C.S.O. loves to remind me whenever I start to bitch about Long Island, there’s nowhere you can move that doesn’t have its downside. New York has traffic and high taxes. Florida has hurricanes. Oklahoma has tornadoes. California has Californians. So choosing a locale in which to settle is mostly a matter of choosing your poison. -- FWP]


     “How long do you think it will last?”
     She looks more worried than usual.
     David tried his best to sound reassuring. “They seem to be getting shorter, dear. The last one was less than an hour. We probably won’t have that long to wait.”
     Selena’s expression softened microscopically. She continued to light candles. Michael, their nine-month-old son, seemed to be reaching for the bank of little lights from his carrier.
     “I know it’s a little...paranoid of me,” she said after a moment, “but it seems like every time they announce an upgrade we have another outage. You’d almost think they were engineering them into the system.” She met his eyes. “Do you think the system will ever be finished?”
     He smirked. “I doubt it. You know what engineers are like. We love to tinker. Even with stuff that’s already working fine. Sometimes there’s nobody sensible around to stop us.”
     He rose and went to check the meters. The outdoor thermometer read minus thirty-five. The fuel gauge had dropped by forty-five gallons in ten minutes. He congratulated himself on serendipitously having thought to have the tanks topped off the day before...and reminded himself that a thousand gallons was well short of infinite. He turned the thermostat down to fifty-five degrees.
     Better to shiver a bit now than run out of fuel before the outage ends.
     Dad said during the really long one, back in oh-four, his neighborhood was forced to huddle in one house and burn furniture in the fireplace. It was that or freeze to death in the dark. We’ve never had one that bad.
     At least we don’t have electric heat. I can’t imagine how the Tomlinsons will cope.
     Selena lit the last of the candles, returned her igniter wand to the drawer under the coffee table, and turned to check on Michael. The baby appeared to have fallen asleep. She tucked his covers around him with special care and moved to snuggle into her husband’s side. He looped an arm around her.
     “Times like this,” she murmured, “I really miss Virginia.”
     He hugged her gently. “Times like this, so do I. But they needed what I do here, and the cost of living—”
     “I know, I know,” she said. “But were we really so badly off in Blacksburg?”
     “At the moment we decided to move?” he said. “No, of course we weren’t. But the writing was on the wall. The demand for my work was dropping like a rock. Heading for a locale where the demand was high before the bottom could fall out seemed like the smart thing to do. Besides,” he said, “we wanted to start a family, and this way you could be home with Michael.”
     “I guess you’re right.” She grinned wryly at him. In the glow from the candles she appeared wraithlike, a creature of gossamer and wisps. “It’s just...when you called it pioneering, I thought you were joshing me.”
     He hugged her again. “We didn’t have outages like this in Blacksburg, now did we?”
     She chuckled. “Like this? No. It would have caused talk.”
     “Sure would have,” he said. “It’s how our minds work. Something that reliable comes to seem like a guarantee. A God-given right, even. If you lose it, you start looking for someone to sue.”
     “Well,” she said, “at least here, we would know who to sue.”
     He nodded.
     For all the good it would do us. Damned power monopoly.
     He rose to check the gauges again. The outside temperature was stable. The fuel gauge had sunk another forty gallons.
     I could have gone with gas. Maybe I should have. The trucks aren’t going to be making deliveries in this.
     As he made to return to his wife, there came a glimmer of light. It flickered, stabilized, and swiftly rose to normal levels. He glanced at the thermometer. It had begun to rise. Minus thirty-four...thirty-three...thirty, and still rising.
     “Looks like they got it back on line,” Selena said.
     “And only twenty minutes this time,” he said.
     Thank you, Lucifer Systems. And thank You, God.
     He moved to the window, swept the heavy insulating curtains aside, and peered out at the renewed sun. It seemed as bright as it had been before the outage struck, but no brighter.
     Selena moved up behind him and wrapped her arms around his waist.
     “‘Paradise on Proserpina,’ the brochures said,” she murmured. “Expanding economy, low taxes, carefully engineered neighborhoods and living systems. Just a few little gotchas now and then. Like almost freezing to death when the sun goes out.”
     “A few people did freeze to death, back in Dad’s time,” he said. “He mentioned it when I told him we were thinking of moving here.”
     “Didn’t it give you any worries?” she said.
     “Of course it did. But he swore it was safe. Said they had almost all the bugs out of Lucifer. Just a short outage now and then.” He turned and embraced her. “Besides, he said, think of the pay rate for a topflight laser tech.”
     “Should we convert to gas, David?” she said.
     “I was thinking about it,” he said, “but Lucifer Systems owns the gas lines, and the price has been going up. So I think we’ll go multi-fuel. Oil when we have it, gas when we don’t.”
     “There should be a law about that sort of thing,” she said.
     He grinned. “There was a law in Blacksburg. There were plenty of laws. Wasn’t that part of why we moved?”
     She nodded. “Yeah, I guess.”
     Michael awoke and emitted a thin wail. Selena looked over her shoulder at their son.
     “Time to feed him,” she said. She peeled away two layers of fleece and one of wool to bare a breast. A shiver ran through her. “Turn up the thermostat, would you please?”
     “Of course, love.”

==<O>==

     Copyright © 2019 by Francis W. Porretto. All rights reserved worldwide.

UPDATE: Feel free to download The Outage at Smashwords.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Free Fiction

     On Friday, November 29, my science fiction novel Which Art In Hope:

     ...will be free of charge at Amazon for the day.

     The Spoonerites named their newfound world "Hope", and the planet was a veritable Eden, except that it could wipe out human life within a season. They created a government free utopia, except that it depended for its survival on a secret that compromised every principle on which it was founded. Now a secret Cabal must choose one of two powerful psi talents to become Hope’s God and Savior: Armand Morelon, the wealthy scion of one of the most influential clans on Hope, or Victoria Peterson, who is beautiful, amoral, and a murderess. Meanwhile, a force of planet breaking power is moving underground. It is aware, frightened, and growing impatient.

“One of the very best sci-fi works I have ever read.” – Scott Angell.
“Once again another magnificent cast of characters answer the hardest questions.” – Andrew Ramos
“The start of a great science fiction series.” – Dean Kling
“As an avid Science fiction reader for over 50 years and having read thousands of novels and just as many short stories, this is without a doubt one of the best!” – Roy Benjamin
“This book touched my heart and mind....I will think about this story for a long time.” – Josh Hollis

     Which Art In Hope is the first volume of the Spooner Federation Saga, which continues in Freedom’s Scion and Freedom’s Fury. Mark your calendar!

Monday, November 11, 2019

This Must Go Viral

     Someone clever – probably not officially an associate of the Trump for President campaign – has made a terrific commercial for his re-election:

     Spread it around!

A Lost Commemoration

     If you’ve ever taken an interest in what was once called “The Great War” – it’s unlikely you have, as very few persons seem to know anything much about it – you might be aware of how it was concluded:

     Armistice Day is commemorated every year on November 11 to mark the armistice signed between the Allies of World War I and Germany at Compiègne, France, for the cessation of hostilities on the Western Front of World War I, which took effect at eleven o'clock in the morning—the "eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month" of 1918. The date was declared a national holiday in many allied nations, and coincides with Remembrance Day and Veterans Day, public holidays.

     Germany had approached the Allied Powers about an armistice, as with the addition of American and Canadian troops its forces were badly outnumbered, and the naval blockade of its major ports had brought its logistical situation near to catastrophe. The Allies dictated the date, time, and place of the armistice signing for the obvious symbolic value.

     World War I was one of my obsessions for much of my young adulthood. I studied its genesis, its inception, its many twists and turns, and its social, economic, and political outcomes for twenty years. My need to understand it paralleled physicists’ need to understand quantum mechanics and men’s need to understand women. All three are hopeless causes, but some needs know nothing of hope.

     A few years ago, I wrote:

     World War I remains the greatest man-made tragedy in all of history: a brutal, pointless, utterly avoidable conflagration that ended a century of peace and destroyed the optimism and confidence that had created the modern free world. Twenty million died during the war proper, including most of the young men of France and Germany. Twenty million more died in the influenza plague that followed.

     Fixated on symbolism, the Allied Powers demanded that the Germans sign the armistice agreement at exactly eleven o'clock on November 11, 1918: the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. One year later, the Treaty of Versailles that supposedly ended the war and established peace proved to be, in the words of General Ferdinand Foch, only "an armistice for twenty years." Perhaps it's for the best that no one remembers the "Great War" as a thing of patriotic glory.

     The “Great War’s” enervation of all of Europe was the soil from which the horrors of Nazism and Communism sprouted. The Old World wasn’t just war-weary; it was intellectually and spiritually devastated. Both sides had gone to war enthusiastically, in a nationalism-powered frenzy. Both sides expected a quick victory. Indeed, so did the analysts of the day, mostly for economic reasons. The shattering of those illusions, coupled to the war’s physical and demographic devastation, destroyed Europe’s belief in progress, human improvement, and the essential goodness of Man.

     Armistice Day – Remembrance Day, in the British Isles – was intended to honor the millions that had given their lives to the war. Many of those millions were conscripts. They had no choice and no control over their fates. They did what they were ordered to do, often knowing that it would probably cost their lives. The mass attacks of the Somme, Verdun, Ypres, and Passchendaele took lives at a rate incomprehensible to contemporary students of warfare. Those attacks were ordered by telephone, by generals who treated their soldiers’ lives as counters in a ghastly game. Few of those generals lost their own lives to the war.

     Today, we call November 11 “Veterans’ Day.” But we have no living veterans of World War I. No one who fought in that conflagration remains to tell us what it was like. All we have are written records, some photographs, and a few poems.

     I have a special fondness for Australia, for reasons beyond the scope of this essay. At the time of World War I, Australia was not yet politically independent; it answered to the demands of the British Crown and government. Accordingly, as the war dragged on, Australian forces were assembled and dispatched into the conflict at several points, most notably a uniquely horrible flesh-grinder of a battle at Gallipoli, in Asia Minor. Peter Weir’s striking movie about the event captures some of the horror the Australian forces endured.

     On a personal level, that horror is best captured in a song written by Eric Bogle:

When I was a young man I carried me pack
And I lived the free life of the rover.
From the Murry's green basin to the dusty outback,
Well, I waltzed my Matilda all over.
Then in 1915 my country said, "Son,
It's time you stop rambling, there's work to be done."
So they gave me a tin hat and they gave me a gun
And they marched me away to the war.

And the band played Waltzing Matilda,
As the ship pulled away from the quay
And midst all the cheers, flag waving and tears,
We sailed off for Gallipoli.

It's well I remember that terrible day,
How our blood stained the sand and the water
And of how in that hell that they called Suvla Bay
We were butchered like lambs at the slaughter.
Johnny Turk, he was ready, he primed himself well.
He rained us with bullets, and showered us with shell,
And in five minutes flat, he'd blown us all to hell,
Nearly blew us back home to Australia.

And the band played Waltzing Matilda,
As we stopped to bury our slain,
And we buried ours, and the Turks buried theirs,
Then we started all over again.

Those who were living just tried to survive
In that mad world of blood, death and fire.
And for ten weary weeks I kept myself alive
While around me the corpses piled higher.
Then a big Turkish shell knocked me arse over head
And when I awoke in me hospital bed
And saw what it had done, sure I wished I was dead.
I never knew there were worse things than dying.

For I'll go no more Waltzing Matilda,
All around the green bush far and free
To hunt and to pace, a man needs both legs,
No more waltzing Matilda for me.

They collected the crippled, the wounded, the maimed,
And they sent us back home to Australia.
The armless, the legless, the blind and the insane,
Those proud wounded heroes of Suvla.
And when our ship pulled into Circular Quay
I looked at the place where me legs used to be
And thanked Christ there was no one there waiting for me
To grieve, to mourn and to pity.

But the Band played Waltzing Matilda
As they carried us down the gangway,
But nobody cheered, they just stood and stared,
Then they turned all their faces away.

So now every April I sit on my porch
And I watch the parade pass before me.
And I see my old comrades, how proudly they march
Reliving their dreams and past glory,
I see the old men all tired, stiff and sore
Those forgotten heroes from a forgotten war
And the young people ask "What are they marching for?"
And I ask myself the same question.

But the band plays Waltzing Matilda,
And the old men still answer the call,
But year after year, the numbers get fewer
Someday, no one will march there at all.

Waltzing Matilda, Waltzing Matilda.
Who'll come a-Waltzing Matilda with me?
And their ghosts can be heard as they march by the billabong
Who'll come a-Waltzing Matilda with me?

     Have a nice day.