Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Optimists, Pessimists, And Realists

     Yes, Gentle Reader, it’s yet another year’s-end roundup column! Except, of course, that as it’s from the mind and fingers of your favorite Curmudgeon, it’s...not.

     At this moment I’m unsure where this essay will go, but I’m perfectly sure where it will not go: to a review of the major events of 2019. There are many such columns out there, and I’m innately averse to doing what others have already done perfectly well. I think this will be something different: a congeries of thoughts on a topic of perennial interest...well, to me, at least: how resolutely we refuse to understand ourselves.

     There are many “important books,” and which ones make any particular commentator’s “most important” list will be a matter of priorities and taste. On my list of “most important books,” one that I’ve cited frequently over the years stands exceedingly high, above perhaps everything else on it except the Gospels: Helmut Schoeck’s masterwork Envy: A Theory of Social Behaviour.

     Professor Schoeck’s treatment of this critical yet under-studied influence on human behavior is so penetrating, and so definitive, yet so accessible, that I lack the words to do it justice – and when you see a writer say that about another writer’s work, mark your calendar. If you’ve read the New Testament but haven’t read Envy, for the love of God get yourself a copy – yes, it’s available for the Kindle – and get busy! You will learn a great deal. Moreover, while the experience will be less than pleasant, it’s likely that much that you’ve suspected will be confirmed.

     I first read Envy more than thirty years ago. I’ve recurred to it often since then. My estimate of its importance has only increased. It delineates both why envy is dominant in human social and political interactions, and why we dislike to take note of it. It pulls no punches in doing so.

     Once you have read and comprehended Envy, you will nevermore be baffled by the human tendency to destroy freedom in the name of a specious, inherently unattainable “equality.” As a bonus, you won’t feel any need to read my drivel henceforward.

     Another book of significance to me, though it doesn’t make my “most important” list, is Gregory Benford’s early novel Against Infinity. Professor Benford wrote that the tale arose from his own childhood. This suggests that he had a singular childhood indeed, but I’ll let that pass. While it’s probable that he had many themes in mind in the construction of this unusual story, the one that screams most loudly to me is this one: There are processes in motion that Man cannot stop nor materially affect – nor should we try. Some of those processes are embedded in our nature as human beings.

     I hope Professor Benford will allow me to reproduce a long passage from Against Infinity as an illustration of the thinking of the “advanced” socialist. It’s essentially a lecture by one such to a young man who has come of age in a quasi-anarchist society on Ganymede, the moon of Jupiter:

     “Why doesn’t Earthside keep their chingado faces out of here?”
     “Why, they cannot. It is implicit in the dynamics of society. Earth is fully socialist. Earth understands itself scientifically—the first society to do so. Let me tell you how to look at these things, Manuel.”
     Manuel gazed out over the oval garden with its stands of slender trees and the baked, hard-packed sandy soil. He had come here to watch the light, had looked forward to it all day. It was a thing you had to watch carefully. The eclipse of the sun by Jupiter had come, bringing amber glows, and he had missed the change. Gutiérrez went on.
     “Every civilization up until now has evolved because of internal contradictions—conflicts within it that forced change. Capitalism proceeded by contradiction to produce socialism—it was inevitable.”
     “Uh-huh.” He was watching the light.
     “The Marxists thought that under socialism, alienation and class warfare would stop. They ignored the fact that the dialectical model of change never predicted an end to contradictions, or to evolution. Socialism requires a bureaucracy, and that means an administrative class. The administrators faced a problem Marxism never discussed: how well socialism works, versus capitalism. What is the good of being exactly equal to everybody else, if that means you have to be poor? The last century has taught us—or rather, Earth—that socialism is less efficient than capitalism at producing goods.”
     “So to stop socialism from sinking into the mud, the bureaucrats had to promote expansion—off-planet, out into the system. But socialism is an historical necessity that arises when you get a certain density of population. Once people spread out…” He opened his hands. “The population density in the new worlds is low, of course. The dynamics of economics drives them to adopt individualist, capitalist measures. They must, to survive and prosper in harsh places. So the internal contradiction of socialism is that it must expand, to make up for its own inefficiencies. Expansion, though, produces capitalism at the frontier. Your Settlement is really a small, communal capitalist unit. It interacts with Earthside through a market, not by edicts.”
     The waiter came, and Manuel reached eagerly for his drink. This was worse than he’d thought it would be. The waiter put down the rum and Gutiérrez corrected him. “It wasn’t rum adopolc,” he said helpfully but severely. “I wanted mulled wine.”
     “It’s all right,” Manuel said. “I’ll take the rum. I’ll pay. Bring what he orders now, please.”
     “What I ordered,” corrected Gutiérrez.
     The waiter returned quickly with the mulled wine. They sat in silence, one drinking of the cold, bronze, finely textured infusion, with its malty aroma and sweet-clean, yeasty flavor; the other lifted the cup of swarming warmth and drank off half of it in one long swallow, his Adam’s apple bobbing. Manuel hoped there wouldn’t be much more of the social theory—it all sounded like Earthside chat. Gutiérrez was influential, he knew, and it was a puzzle why the man paid any attention to a petroworker from an obscure Settlement. There was the Aleph thing, but Manuel refused to talk about that and he hoped that everyone had by now forgotten it.
     “And therein lies the true comedy,” Gutiérrez went on, picking up the thread as if there had been no interruption. “You see, the Marxists always assumed the next step would complete the cycle of contradiction and change. It is so amusing! Because they could imagine no further change beyond socialism, they assumed—without thinking—that there would be none. They didn’t notice that the dialectical model predicts no Final Revolution. From a materialist perspective, there need never be a Final Revolution. There is instead an equilibrium between the two forms. So we get humankind—with refined, humanitarian socialism in the older, crowded core. And capitalism sprouting up like weeds at the edge.”

     Indeed. The “advanced” socialist is aware that socialism fails as a mechanism for producing anything people actually want. Socialism needs capitalist societies to feed on. Similarly, Smith, the man of little ability who envies his more productive and prosperous neighbor Jones, hates him for that but doesn’t want to destroy him; he wants to mulct him. And by hook or by crook, mulct him he shall!

     Unfortunately, owing to the dominance of the human psyche by envy and cupidity, Gutierrez’s projection of how the steady increase of population density causes a society to move away from capitalism and toward socialism is also on the mark. Our cities are excellent illustrations of the process.

     Envy and cupidity are the driving forces behind the destruction of free societies. Yet neither can be expunged from human nature. That being the case, the only prospect for the preservation of freedom lies in controlling them. The failure to control them is bad. The tendency to pander to them is even worse, for neither envy nor cupidity can ever be satisfied, and any degree of success at gaining their ends sharpens their appetite for more.

     Hearken to “John Galt,” from the first edition of his book Dreams Come Due:

     Although envy is never absent from any society, it becomes most pervasive and counterproductive when it gains control of government and then of the “law,” which subsequently sets itself above the rights of property. As laws of envy (redistribution of wealth through “legal” plunder, such as the progressive income tax) multiply, so does the emotion, because like all forms of neurosis, envy cannot be satisfied. Various envious entities continually find new “inequalities” that must be rectified by more government plunder, and thus less individual freedom....

     A free economy (i.e., an economy that controls envy through custom, religion, and law) ensures hope for the future and ever greater prosperity as people work voluntarily to expand and share an ever growing pie. This constantly improving standard of living helps keep envy from becoming a divisive and counterproductive force. Everyone has a chance to improve his own situation, and no one is plundered by “law.” But once an economy begins to receive “help” and “direction” (i.e., socialism) from a government that has surrendered to envy, it begins an inevitable decline, and positive feelings are supplanted by worry, despair, fear, hatred, and ever greater envy. The question of how to divide (read: plunder) an ever shrinking economic pie becomes an overriding concern as various “public interest” groups fight to seize control of the government and the “law” for their own purposes.

     Every word of the above is golden. But note what the author did not say: Once envy and cupidity are released from control, and government becomes a pure instrument of plunder, those who “have” must turn their attention from production to politics out of self-defense. But the dynamic of power-seeking is a corrupting dynamic. It guarantees that sooner or later every player in the “game” will be “dirty.”

     Custom will not endure. Law will be seized and perverted. What remains?

     I am old. I have seen much, including much that I would rather not have seen. And I have come to a conclusion that many will reject: some out of intellectual pride; others out of a surly unwillingness to be told what to do and what not to do; others still because they cannot imagine how something as natural as their desire to take what others rightfully possess could possibly be wrong, as long as “the government” acts as their hired hand.

     There is only one enduring countermeasure to the power of envious cupidity, and therefore only one countermeasure to socialism. And here it is:

     And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?
     And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? There is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.
     He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

     [Matthew 19:16-19]

     Note that Jesus omitted the last of the Ten Commandments:

     Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour's. [Exodus 20:17]

     Ask yourself why.

     The Year of Our Lord 2019 saw many attacks on Christianity. Some came from the adherents of other “faiths.” Others came from persons who fancy themselves “bright” specifically because they lack faith. Yet only the Christian faith holds out a hope of controlling envy and cupidity.

     Cupidity, of course, is the desire for more than what one already has, absent a willingness to earn it. But Thou shalt not steal! Envy, the only emotion explicitly mentioned in the original Ten Commandments, is essentially beyond our ability to suppress by a mere forbidding. Our only recourse lies in Christian love of neighbor: that is, to treat one another’s rights, prerogatives, and aspirations as equal in importance to one’s own.

     Thomas Stearns Eliot, greatest of the Modernist poets, was prescient when he wrote:

     “It is against a background of Christianity that all of our thought has significance. An individual European may not believe that the Christian faith is true, and yet what he says, and makes, and does will all spring out of his heritage of Christian culture and depend upon that culture for its meaning.…I do not believe the culture of Europe could survive the complete disappearance of the Christian faith. And I am convinced of that, not merely because I am a Christian myself, but as a student of social biology. If Christianity goes, the whole culture goes.”

     That is exactly what is happening to Europe as we speak.

     To close, a few words about the title of this piece. The colloquial interpretations of those three terms are relatively simple:

  • The optimist believes that things are pretty much guaranteed to get better;
  • The pessimist believes that things are pretty much guaranteed to get worse;
  • The realist has no fixed opinions about the future; he takes it as it comes.

     Like the blind men fondling different parts of the elephant, the optimist and the pessimist are partly right and partly wrong. However, the realist is more important than either. He knows from history that improvement is possible. He also knows, both from history and from his knowledge of Mankind’s tendencies, that deterioration is possible – that in the absence of adequate efforts toward constructive ends, it’s guaranteed. Thus, he cannot style himself either an optimist or a pessimist. Nevertheless, he knows what he wants and is willing to work toward it. He maintains his belief in the three virtues critical to all advanced and advancing societies:

  • Faith: That life can be better, or at least no worse, if only he sees clearly and acts rightly;
  • Hope: That he will not be ruinously impeded by forces beyond his control;
  • Charity: That he can act in his own interest without infringing on others’ rights, and vice versa.

     You may have seen those three virtues mentioned in another context. Perhaps it was here:

     When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity. [1 Corinthians 13:11-13]

     Saint Paul fired quite a few duds, but in the above he scored a dead-center bull’s-eye.

     Happy New Year, Gentle Reader. May the Year of Our Lord 2020 bring you closer to Him, for all our sakes. May it be filled with all the good things life has to offer. I’ll see you after the revels are over and the hangovers have eased. Until then, be well.

All my best,

Common decency v. groveling before the rotten left.

There is a big difference between being kind and not adding to the pain of people with real issues, and with being forced by drag bullies and their allies to publicly affirm what everyone knows is false.
"Schlichter: Here's What's Going To Happen In 2020." By Kurt Schlichter, ZeroHedge, 12/30/19.

Did you know?

Monday, December 30, 2019

There's Something About a Brand-New Year!

I've been looking at the last year, and found lthat it contained a LOT of Promise, and very little Result.

Not Trump. Me.

I had planned to exercise more. I was making decent progress, until April, when I broke my ankle. That led to knee problems, respiratory problems, and just no-energy problems. It wasn't until early December that I finally did what I SHOULD have done, and made an appointment with the Ortho guy. The problems healed up within a week.

Similarly, my eating habits were shot to hell during AEP, when I was spending too much time sitting, or driving around the county.

I'd originally planned on spending more time with family, but... With all the health issues, I wasn't traveling much.

So, for 2020, I'm taking change slow, but measurable. General health improvement - you never know when an insurrection will break out, and it would be tragic to be sidelined by poor health.

Writing - I've sent another short story (that may become a chapter in a longer piece) to be beta-checked. I've also made plans to print out WIP, and proof it for continuity issues. I just can't seem to do that effectively electronically

Organization. I've talked to my husband, and committed to specific weekly goals of time spent getting the house and paperwork in shape. I started before I left, starting with my desk. He put a lot of time in on clearing out a small closet in the office, and there is space to put things, at last.

What are your goals?

One Item Of Knowledge To Take Into 2020

     Over the course of this year that’s about to end, anyone who pays attention to events would have seen and heard a lot of stuff that would make him shrug and say, “So what’s new?” Indeed, 2019 was a year of momentous non-events, mostly the continuation of previously established processes and trends of which any reasonably well informed American would have been aware on 1/1/2019. However, among the discrete events of the year, one thing was established so firmly that there can no longer be a reasonable doubt about it:

The major media are wholly enlisted with the Left.

     Marta Hernandez of Victory Girls has compiled a list of candidates for the ten most egregious “media fails” of 2019. It’s quite a list: a good memory refresher for anyone who’s lost track of some of the media’s hijinks in the Democrats’ service. I’d recommend keeping a copy somewhere for future reference. You know, just in case some shill tries to claim that the media are “watchdogs over government,” or “the guardians of truth in our Republic,” or some such bilge.

     When a fraudulent organization becomes aware that the public is onto it, it tries its best to delegitimize those who have caught it in its deceits. In the case of the major media, that would be the alternative media: those that function primarily and somewhat informally over the Internet. And indeed, that has been one of the themes of major-media commentary in recent days:

     On Sunday, NBC News political director Chuck Todd dedicated the final Meet the Press of 2019 to insisting President Trump had brought about a “post-truth society.” The same network that pushed the totally-bunk Steele dossier for years and tried to sink Justice Brett Kavanagh’s nomination with the ridiculous allegations from Julie Swetnick, wanted to lecture the public about falling for and spreading lies and misinformation. In the process, Todd lashed out at Christians for believing in “fairy tales.”

     “This Sunday, alternative facts. The assault on truth (…) This morning, Meet the Press takes an in-depth look at our post-truth society and how a changing media landscape has created chaos out of order,” Todd indignantly announced during the opening tease.

     Of course, what Todd really dislikes is that thanks to the rise of “citizen journalism” and the World Wide Web, “the news” is no longer a single harmonious tune sung by all “newscasters” from the same page of the same preapproved hymnal. That takes the bullets out of his gun; he and his cronies can no longer “set the agenda” for the national conversation. Note that Brian Stelter at CNN feels much the same:

     The major media’s bias can no longer be concealed. So if you were ever in any doubt about the probity and competence of these “journalists,” Gentle Reader, you can relax now: they are not to be trusted.

     Should you therefore trust those whose journalism – citizen or otherwise – runs against the trends in the major media? No, you should not. Assume, as the default condition of judgment for everything you read or hear that the writer / speaker has an agenda. Assume that he will at the very least be tempted to frame his coverage, or choose his terms, to support the imperatives of that agenda. What’s outside his frame might matter more than what’s inside it. What he writes might be the most tendentious possible way of addressing the subject matter. And of course, there’s always a chance that he’s flat-out lying to you, particularly in his presentations of “statistics.”

     Once again, I must present my favorite quotation from Siddhartha Gautama, better known to history as the Buddha:

Believe nothing,
No matter where you read it,
Or who said it,
No matter if I have said it!
Except it agree with your own reason
And your own common sense.

     Happy New Year.

Of COURSE They Think We're All Stupid!

The headline says it all. But, you need to read the rest to see just how BAD the media is.

On Victory Girls, the Impeachment PAC is examined to see who is behind it. Naturally, ACT Blue is a large part of that funding.

But, it takes more digging to find out that Tom Steyer - yes, THAT guy - put a significant amount of money into the PAC - AND took the mailing lists from that funding, along with a lot of the staffers, when he folded it.

I've learned, however, that bringing up these facts is a waste of time for those who oppose Trump - NO fact will overcome their "Orange Man Bad" bias. Anything that contradicts their worldview is derided as a "conspiracy theory".

We MAY be able to find some on the fence people, or some who leaned generally Left, but had experienced some doubts, from their own experience.

But for most people, an emotional appeal works best. Rationality is NOT a factor. The thing is, although we have tended to use rational arguments as our go-to, there are plenty of emotional appeals the GOP could make:

  • The inherent unfairness of pre-judging Trump by House members - many since shortly after the election.
  • The good economy - although expect an effort to manipulate the markets by Soros and other ultra-rich Leftists.
  • Lost freedoms may well be a big factor. Many older Americans remember an America that didn't try to completely run your life. Ads should show scenarios of kids and women doing everyday things, and Nanny-types scolding them and forcing them to pay for their "sins". I'm thinking petty irritations like paper and plastic bans, straw bans, fines for failing to properly recycle ONE item, being reported for using a "wrong" pronoun, etc. Make it clear that errors are punished as severely as deliberate acts.
  • Show the increase in minimum wage, and have the people affected by the layoffs/closed businesses expressing their thoughts. I'm anticipating that women and Blacks will be most affected.
  • Show the effect on the CA writers, Uber drivers, and other workers in the gig economy, of regulations/laws limiting their hours.
  • Show the lost opportunities for other minorities of illegal immigration. Show the recent targeting of Jews, military, and the perps involved. They could create an uncomfortable commercial of a news report of a terrorist act, along with the people watching trying to blame anyone but the terrorists.
But, when you're talking to someone, don't start with the facts of a situation. Start by getting agreement with a basic principle, like keeping your paycheck from being reduced any further than it already is, or that health care shouldn't be so expensive that you can't use it, or that your kids are YOUR responsibility. Figure our the core principle of freedom that is being violated, and build on that.

Salesmen do this all the time. They begin by getting you to agree with them, and gradually lead you to agree with buying their product. Trump, I'm sure, knows this. He should work to get the GOP ads to reflect this.

A Few Words From Some Astute Observers Of The West

     I found these pithy observations at the Spectator:

     Progressives hate this, but the extraordinary influence of the Bible on history — and Western civilization in particular — is undeniable. The Bible gave rise to Western law, government, art, literature, and science. According to sociologist and Pulitzer Prize nominee Rodney Stark, because the West believed in a God of logic and order, they believed his creation was likewise logical and orderly and should be explored, subdued, and studied. Stark writes, “Most non-Christian religions do not posit a creation at all … it is without beginning or purpose, and, most important of all, having never been created, it has no Creator. Consequently, the universe is thought to be a supreme mystery, inconsistent, unpredictable, and arbitrary. For those holding these religious premises, the path to wisdom is through meditation and mystical insights, and there is no occasion to celebrate reason.” Eminent mathematician, philosopher, and agnostic Alfred North Whitehead is again instructive here on what set the West apart: “When we compare the tone of thought in Europe with the attitude of other civilizations when left to themselves, there seems but one source of its origin. It must come from the Medieval insistence on the rationality of God.” This faith in rationality catapulted the West ahead of the rest of the world culturally, militarily, technologically, and economically. So intrinsic is Christianity to the fabric of the West, wrote T. S. Eliot, that “It is against a background of Christianity that all of our thought has significance. An individual European may not believe that the Christian faith is true, and yet what he says, and makes, and does will all spring out of his heritage of Christian culture and depend upon that culture for its meaning.… I do not believe the culture of Europe could survive the complete disappearance of the Christian faith. And I am convinced of that, not merely because I am a Christian myself, but as a student of social biology. If Christianity goes, the whole culture goes.”

     Christianity, the only faith that posits both unbreakable natural laws and the benevolence of God, is the foundation upon which the whole of the Western edifice – what I’ve often called the Christian Enlightenment — is built. Remove Christianity and you undermine the lot: individual rights, political freedom, reason and science, good will among men, the belief in the possibility of progress, and all the things that go with them.

     Now reflect on the influence the following incursions into Christian-Enlightenment societies have had:

  • Solipsism / Social-constructionism
  • Gender-war feminism
  • Deconstructionism and associated theses
  • The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis
  • The Frankfurt School
  • Islam

     Leave your thoughts in the comments.

Pearls of expression.

If I ever get to meet the Apostle Paul, I’m hoping to have a little chat about some of the things he wrote.

It’s not that I disagree with him. It’s just that I wish Paul had been a little clearer at times. Especially when he wrote the original King James version of the Bible ;)

"No, Romans 13 is not about obeying the governing authorities." By Craig Greenfield, 5/11/18.

Sunday, December 29, 2019


     First, a few words of warning: When social and political affairs seem to be sliding through the gray zone from “traditionally unsettled” and toward “I fear she’s about to shake herself apart, Captain!”, it pays to watch for portents of certain kinds. A dear departed friend, who was more sensitive than most to such conditions, counseled a policy of restraint by default. As best I recall, this is what he said:

     If you go out on your front step with your musket, and you can see from there that your neighbors have done the same, then it’s time to march. But if you can see that you’re alone in having done so, go back inside and close the door.

     There’s a lot of wisdom in there, yet it overlooks a particular need: in every case of a great change in the affairs of men, regardless of how in the aftermath it seems to have been a spontaneous mass uprising, someone – some specific individual – is first to commit himself. The odds are against it being you, but it just might turn out to be your job.

     That having been said, caution is always advisable. Don’t step up to the plate unless you’ve pondered the potential consequences yet are ready, willing, and able to swing.

     Sarah Hoyt has become concerned about some portents she’s observed:

     Disinformation campaigns – it has become obvious that there are several disinformation campaigns going on. The Steele Dossier might be the most innocent of those because it was aimed at the press and high level political stuff. But look, in a global world, where trolls can be had for very cheap abroad, and where the opinion making is moving off the main stream media and onto blogs and websites, the enemies of the US both internal and external (FYI most of them are a continuum, honestly) WILL use cheap trolls for disinformation but more importantly to shape mood and influence reactions (Facebook ran studies on this since 2015. WHAT do you think it’s being used for?)

     We’re no longer in the land of the copy-pasta trolls we’ve all known since 9/11. These are highly sophisticated and can make softheads of some fairly smart and influential people.

     You can tell it’s a campaign though through several signals:

     The first and most important is that it comes LITERALLY out of nowhere. I.e. it might be a perennial issue, and one the right roughly agrees on, but suddenly it’s EVERYWHERE at once.

     The recent “ahhhhhh porn!” campaign is typical of this. Suddenly, it was everywhere. Friends (okay, okay, acquaintances. Those people are nuts) who are on the chans tell me these are tested there first, and from there appear in fringe blogs that are … uh…. not necessarily what they seem to be. Or at least some of them aren’t.

     And then with amazing suddenness it’s everywhere, including the most respectable sites on the right/libertarian spectrum.

     She’s right. The recent gambits about trying to get pornography banned are exactly that: thrusts by agents provocateur intended to induce statements and acts of unwisdom in the pro-freedom ranks. I commented on it myself:

     Consider for a moment the reinvigorated issue of pornography, which is more easily obtained today than ever before. Recently op-ed articles have appeared claiming that scientific evidence has established that porn is harmful to its consumer, irrespective of his age, sex, or orientation. The proponents have claimed that this constitutes an argument for outlawing porn. Now, that’s not a complete argument for outlawing something; if it were, cigarettes would have been outlawed decades ago. But it does at least suggest that the sober-minded citizen should review the evidence, if only for his own sake and the sake of his dependents.

     However, at the time I had not thought about the thrust in tactical or strategic terms. Sarah did:

     It was a campaign designed to divide the right, specifically; one that’s hard to answer, because honestly who is PRO porn; and one that was designed to weaken the first amendment, which is congruent with the left’s aims. (Give government a chance to regulate porn, and everything from “gun porn” to “religious porn” can be forbidden. In fact, China bans “unrealistic” stories under that heading. Think about it.)

     Also, note, when most of the right from libertarians to conservatives went “wait, what” the entire topic went away, very rapidly.

     But mostly, mostly, the main thing to look at is “What in heck brought this obsession about?” “What brought this up, all of a sudden?”

     Those of us in the pro-freedom Right who pride ourselves on seeing widely rather than narrowly “should” have realized that at the outset. Many didn’t – and in “many” I must include myself.

     Such attempts to shock the enemy into making a mistake are portents of note.

     If you’re unfamiliar with the Nolan Chart, Wikipedia has a pretty fair article on it. David Nolan composed it in 1969: 50 years ago. In its original form it looked like this:

     At the time of its composition and for a while afterward, it was a pretty good pictorialization of the attitudes of the four ideological families indicated in the four quadrants:

  1. Liberals were promoters of personal freedom but hostile to economic freedom;
  2. Conservatives were promoters of economic freedom but hostile to personal freedom;
  3. Authoritarians were hostile to all freedom;
  4. Libertarians were promoters of all freedom.

     (NB: The graph does omit considerations of foreign policy and international dealings, but for near-term purposes we may neglect this.)

     But much time has passed since then. There have been attitudinal changes of significance that I would call “a rotation of the axes:”

  1. Liberals have gradually moved away from the promotion of personal freedom, especially freedom of expression;
  2. Conservatives have gradually moved toward the promotion of personal freedom, including freedom to use, nourish, and drug one’s body as one pleases.

     Mind you, this axis-rotation is hardly a uniform matter. However, among vociferous liberals – mostly they call themselves “progressives” these days – there has been a trend toward censorship in the name of suppressing “hate speech,” and a trend against freedom of assembly that manifests itself whenever Right-leaning groups attempt to hold a gathering for any reason. Similarly, conservatives have found themselves moving toward the unqualified defense of freedom of expression and assembly, while softening their traditional opposition to recreational drug use, sex for hire, and the tolerance of sexual variations. These trends are visible in many venues where such groups speak their minds.

     When one asks “Why,” he encounters a chicken-or-egg problem. It is possible that the changes in liberals’ and conservatives public stances are purely tactical – attempts to secure a greater purchase on popular sentiment. But it is also possible that in each case considered separately from the other, the changes arose from a dawning realization that some of their previous stances could not be maintained without undermining their positions on something they valued more highly.

     This sort of melding of the families – on one side toward complete authoritarianism; on the other toward complete advocacy of freedom – is a portent of importance. It’s the kind of event that augurs the drawing of battle lines just before a real, flying-lead battle.

     I’m not trying to frighten anyone; I’m just doing my usual thing, tracing out important patterns as they become visible to me. But I must admit to being frightened for my own sake, as an old man with a diminishing ability to defend the people and places he loves.

     To me, the portents suggest that the New Year will feature steadily intensifying social, economic, and political combat. Thrusts of all kinds – rhetorical, electoral, legislative, and executive – would become ever more vicious. It could erupt into a low-grade war, in which persons on the Left are literally at cudgels with us in the Right, rather than figuratively as it’s been up to now. We’ve already had enough assaults by “AntiFa” on persons in the Right who assembled to express themselves. Remember, also, that various commentators on the Left defended those assaults as somehow “justified” in opposition to “hate speech” or “fascism.”

     The elections of November 2020 will be pivotal. If either President Trump or his Democrat opponent ekes out a narrow victory, or we have another split between the national popular vote and the Electoral College, it will intensify the likelihood of violence, especially in urban and semi-urban areas. However, if either side wins by an indisputable margin – a landslide or near to one – the probability of an interval of peace will be strengthened. (No, the losers wouldn’t be happy, but the recognition that “their moment” was yet to come would persuade them to pull in their horns for the time being.)

     So depending on how likely you deem each of those possibilities, you might want to start looking for a mountaintop to fortify, as all the easily refurbished abandoned missile silos have been taken. In any case, do try to have a Happy New Year.

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Clusters And Bubbles

     I was musing over a handful of topics for a column when I came upon this Chris Muir strip:

     Chris’s gift for portraying important (albeit unpleasant) truths in pictorial form is one I’ve envied for a long time. Those three frames are equivalent to a really long essay – and as a bonus, they make one laugh. Amazing!

     I hope he won’t mind if I add a few words of my own.

     Time was, the houses of Congress were in session for only a few weeks per year. The rest of the year, the Senators and Congressmen were in their home states and districts – and not to do “constituent service.” The nation’s legislators were working people, in contrast to the “professional politician” of today.

     As time passed and Congress arrogated more and more power to itself, Congressional sessions were lengthened. Today they occupy by far the greater part of the year. That creates a rationale for federal legislators to live in the District of Columbia or nearby. In consequence, their social circle is – drumroll, please – one another, rather than the people of the districts that put them in their offices.

     I’m not aware of any book that traces the emergence of the social and political environment the members of the federal power elite inhabit. I’d love for there to be one. It would be my first hardcover purchase of 2020. For as Chris implies in the above, it was the concentration of power-mongers in a small geographical region that gave rise to the “Washington bubble:” the sense that the consensus among D.C.’s political class is what really matters, rather than the rights, prerogatives, preferences, and opinions of private American citizens. A delineation of how that mindset evolved within the clustering confines of Washington would be instructive, to say the least. It would also point the way toward the dilution thereof.

     The same effect is visible in other bubbles that have clustered geographically. One of the most obvious is the media bubble. Media types associate almost exclusively with one another. What they “know” consists of the consensus among their fellows. They have little contact with private Americans who might differ with them. To a large extent this is a consequence of their concentration in three left-liberal urban enclaves.

     What other occupations exhibit such clustering tendencies? Correlate them with the social, economic, and political opinions prevalent therein. What does the pattern tell you?

     President Trump’s recent move to push a major executive department out of the D.C. area suggests that he’s aware of the consequences of clustering and has decided to act against them. It might not prove entirely effective; after all, social circles once established can be rendered portable. But it’s a nice experiment, a first strike against one of the most pernicious tendencies in American sociopolitics: the “Us versus Them” effect that arises from the identification of political-class members with one another rather than with the interests of Americans generally.

     Of course, the political class hates him for it. How could it be otherwise? They’re jealous of their lifestyle and perquisites, which they would strain to replicate once moved from D.C. to Wichita. And to be surrounded by all those commoners! How would they transmit their ruling-class attitudes to their progeny, that the kiddies would be properly prepared to ascend into the halls of power in their turn? Think of the children!

     It only sounds satirical, Gentle Reader. The cluster makes the bubble possible. If we destroy the cluster, we have a chance to make the bubble burst. Not a guarantee, mind you – and all taken with all, I’d prefer to see something more wholesale. But a chance is better than continuing to wring our hands over the status quo.

A Counter-Intuitive Action

For nerdy types, that is.

Ask yourself - what am I feeling about this? - when you start seeing the "everyone agrees with us" meme starting to spread.

Sarah Hoyt brought this up on her blog today. She was concerned about the trolls that have taken up residence on her site, but it also applies to the persistent tactic Leftists use. Cass Sunstein wrote about it favorably - he called it a Nudge.

What is a Nudge? It's the cynical use of a long observed phenomenon - most people, when faced with choices, take the path of least resistance. Those wanting you to sign up for their email ads use it, by making the default choice a checked box. You have to take an action to opt out.

When given 3 choices, people generally choose the one that is intermediate - selecting the medium Coke, for example. Or, the middle-of-the-road politician, like Mitt Romney. Both major parties try to position their preferred candidate as the middle choice between extremes.

Are you finally understanding why Bernie has hung in so long? Without him, both Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg would be more easily seen to be Leftists. However, compared to Sanders, they look ALMOST normal.

By using media to initiate a Blitz of Bullshit, making a previously ridiculous idea seem to be the issue of the moment, the Left works to normalize their goals. Hence, the over-the-top painted Drag Queens in Libraries. They are MEANT to cause revulsion.

Later, when a bland Pete Buttigieg asks for your vote, you are so relieved at his seemingly normal appearance and surburan lifestyle, you accept his agenda as completely OK.

It's a concept called Moving the Overton Window. Put out a REALLY extreme idea (use the media to push it everywhere), and later, bring in a slightly-less extreme variation. By contrast, it seems to be reasonable.

All of this, sa Hoyt points out, uses the emotional part of the brain. I know, I know - most of us who gather here are not touchy-feely types. We tend to function in more-or-less rational mode on a day-to-day basis.

Unfortunately, the more logical Spockian types are particularly vulnerable to emotional appeals - IF you can bypass the rational filter by flooding it with distasteful images. That leads to revulsion, and triggers a more ancient response system to threats.

Once you actually get these unemotional types to react, they will work overtime to justify their response by explaining the rationality of that reaction. The more you point out that it is illogical, the harder they will push back.

Hence, the anti-Trump hammering down on issues/incidents that try to trigger that visceral response:

  • Pee-pee rumors.
  • "Trump admits sexual assaults" that involve no actual assault, admission, or offense, other than a very twisted interpretation of his words to a kid.
  • Headlines that insist Trump's actions will "kill children", "starve people", and put them in cages.
  • Insistence that Trump is racist, anti-gay, and abusive to women. No proof, but the meme hits all of the Left's favorite tropes.
Expect the Left to increase the pressure on your emotions.

Pearls of expression.

Did your wife catch you ogling a bit too long at Kate Upton's latest Instagram post? Maybe she got a bit upset after she found you passed out drunk on the couch this morning after saying you'd be right home to clean out the gutters? Are you taking heat because she noticed a credit card charge at the local titty bar from that day you said you were stuck working late at the office?

Our suggested response: "Hey, at least I’m not George Conway."

George Thomas Conway III, best known as the husband to White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, has done the impossible and made husbands across America look great.

"2019 Man of the Year: Kellyanne Conway’s Husband." By Washington Free Beacon Staff, 12/26/19.

What our love affair with collectivist solutions has wrought.

Thus, what is at stake [given the abandonment of the virtuous cycle of work, saving, and investment in favor of negative interest rates and the political and economic pathologies that preceded them) is not only the world economy, but the accelerating decline of Western culture, which, based on liberalism (personal freedom and private property rights) and Christianity (personal responsibility), laid the foundation for a decentralized Europe that allowed for competition of goods and services but especially the competition of ideas. This dangerous decline is nothing new, either, as it began after World War I, when Europe turned towards a more centralized approach, with all sorts of collectivist ideas causing all kinds of schisms that we still see today in modern societies. Today, we see a rapid acceleration of this decline, as our economic system can barely remain standing, and as our politics and our societies devolve even faster into tribal or more precisely into political identity groups, fighting each other [in] meaningless feuds. All the while they are distracted from the real threat, the one that governments and central banks pose to their future and to their children’s future.

As long as people are afraid of liberty and falsely delegate their self-responsibility to a central authority, hope is dim. It’s time to think independently about whether today’s centralized system really makes sense, if it is sustainable, and for how much longer. If the answers to these questions scare you, it is pointless to expect solutions to come from above. It is then time to act directly and responsibly, with a solid plan, hard physical assets privately owned, and a long-term strategy that does not depend on the whims and caprices of those in charge.[1]

I've often thought of the terrible curse that descended on the world when the idea of revolution took hold in the human mind deeply rooted in an insufferable hubris. The French Revolution was the first real example of destroying the old and substituting in its place something entirely new. Soon thereafter this insanity was followed by the Marxist/socialist/progressive variants with primacy always for the vaporous ideas of really, really smart people who, it turns out, didn't have the common sense that God gave a duck.

The Founders took a shot at political revolution, true, but what they devised really sat firmly on the existing foundation of Christianity, the common law, a limited franchise (excluding thereby the lunatic voices we hear around us in our own time), and the experience of millennia of Western political experience with which they were quite familiar. They attempted to avoid the very centralized, all-powerful federal government that plagues us now, and the day after the ratification of the U.S. Constitution was like any other day without, most definitely, blood in the streets or violent upheaval.

Fast forward to the tyrant Lincoln with his idiosyncratic ideas of the Union and his forcing a unitary government down the throat of the nation. Then another leap to the progressive era and we were off to the races with elite, savior politics with a generous helping of communist experimentation, and subversion in the form of cultural Marxism. In our time, it's been taken to the next level with the elites' adoration of globalism and their lunatic embrace of open borders and multiculturalism, last-nickel cost discovery as the apotheosis of corporate practice, and complete abandonment of anything remotely resembling representative government or devotion to salus populi.

It is instructive to look back at this bit of stained glass art you see below from a 1910 design possibly by George Bernard Shaw. It celebrates the Fabian Founders and their approach. There you see two men, Sidney Webb and Shaw, with hammers raised to smash the world globe with the nearby captions, "Remould it nearer to the hearts desire" and "Pray devoutly. Hammer smartly." One of the figures along the bottom holds a book with the title New World for Old. The Fabian logo over the globe in the background shows a wolf in sheep's clothing, revealing the understanding of the subversive nature of their thinking and of their intention to deceive. H. G. Wells is among the other 10 figures (far left). Nine of those 10 at the bottom are depicted worshipping not God but sacred works of political and social commentary and "Fabian tracts and essays." Worship of false gods anyone?

All told, you see the disdain for the existing world, the determination to destroy utterly in favor of what could easily come out of a sophomore seminar in the School of Social Work at Wellesley, embrace of deception not honest debate, and worship of the human mind not God and His order.

Well, hold me back! A vision for the ages. Yet, there you have a rough but still accurate representation of the thinking of our political class for the last 100 years . . . . with results to match. Custom, tradition, law, the ancestors, experience – all out the window without a thought for the consequences. Worship of abortion, sodomy as a sacrament, disdain for God's creation, and utter human confusion and despair.

And do note at this link that in 2006 Prime Minister Tony Blair acknowledged "New Labour's intellectual debt to the Fabians."

Ms. Glass is correct to single out our obsession with collectivism. However, it's the opposite of collectivism that's shouted to the sky. Our exceptionalism, our freedoms, our economic dynamism, our Constitution, our "democracy," and other hog swill. In fact, these are aspects of that sheep's clothing beloved of the Fabians. Underneath is a contemptible, dishonest (it's not a tax but, wait, it's a tax) illiberal reality that is but a nearly-completed race to autocracy and the prefect fulfillment of the destroyers' dreams. If you think they are benign, think again. Shaw was once quoted as saying that in the Soviet Union troublesome workers (Tony Blair call your office) are taken down to the basement where they become no longer troublesome. And you have to have been in a coma for 30 years not to understand that civil internal war in all the West is the heartfel desire of the elites, for it is truly said that people intend the natural consequences of their acts.

[1] "How Today's Central Bankers Threaten Civilization." By Claudio Grass, ZeroHedge, 12/26/19.

Ave Maria ultima

I've posted this one over at my own websty before, maybe more than once, so I thought I'd wander over here and let you folks have a look and a listen yourselves, just in case anybody might have missed it. It's a truly wondrous performance of a true musical miracle, Franz Biebel's gorgeous setting of the Ave Maria, the story behind which goes thusly:
Biebl was organist and choir master of a parish in Fürstenfeldbruck, Bavaria, and of a men's chorus there, for which he composed many works and arrangements. He composed Ave Maria before May 1959, when it was performed in a Maiandacht. It was written for men's chorus, and this version was published by Wildt's Musikverlag in 1964. However, it was not performed often, since German men's choirs generally did not perform religious music. On a 1970 tour in Germany, the Cornell University Glee Club from the U.S. met Biebl, who was working for the broadcaster Bayerischer Rundfunk, responsible for choral music. Conductor Thomas A. Sokol received several of Biebl's compositions which he performed in the U.S. When the Chanticleer vocal ensemble made Ave Maria part of their repertoire, it gained popularity. They first performed it in a charity event on 4 December 1989 at the City Hall in San Francisco, and presented it in the following holiday concerts, and also in their tour program the next year.

Biebl wrote arrangements for mixed choirs in 1985 and 1998. It was published in the U.S. by Hinshaw Music in 1992, and became one of the publisher's best-selling items, the four versions selling over 670,000 copies between 1992 and 2016.

The story behind the video is better still. As told by Cantus member Paul Rudoi:
Cantus has always been in Chanticleer's shadow. How could we not? Chanticleer was one of the main catalysts for Cantus' existence, their 12 members influencing Cantus' early days as a student ensemble, their classic sound a perfect reference for Cantus on their student recordings of the late 1990's, and their full-time employment a dream on which to build a fledgling non-profit company....In recent years, there was overlap between the ensembles with auditionees, members, gigs, and even some repertoire, but there still, still had not been a meeting. Until now.

On one of our longest tours to date, we received a text from one of our former members Blake Morgan, now a tenor in Chanticleer, asking if we wanted comps to the Chanticleer show at Ferguson Center for the Performing Arts in Newport News, VA. He knew both ensembles were on tour, and knew that we'd both be in the area at the same time. Cantus had an education outreach that day in the middle of a long drive between Durham, NC and Norfolk, VA, but the timing seemed right. We raced to the venue and showed up just in time to hear Nico Muhly's new commission, "Over The Moon." We loved hearing Chanticleer's signature sound in person, together, for the first time, and we enjoyed seeing our colleague Blake alongside so many of our friends-from-afar for so many years: Cortez Mitchell, Kory Reid, the indelible Eric Alatorre, Adam Ward, and so many others. At the end of the concert, Brian Hinman began an introduction to their encore, Shanendoah, with a shoutout to Cantus. We were so happy to be included as part of their evening, and we didn't want it to stop there.

Rumors of a bar attached to Chanticleer's hotel circulated through the 21 singers, and we trickled over to the spot. It seemed vacant but still open, the wait staff happy to see us and have something to do on a Tuesday evening. With burgers, salads, and drinks in hand, no two members of the same ensemble were sitting next to one another, all of us realizing we didn't have to explain anything about our careers, our full-time salaries and benefits, or our musicmaking: These were the few people in the world who finally knew very well what it was all about. After some time, a couple of us started singing Barbershop tags (yet another common ground between the ensembles) and it occurred to us… If this was such an overdue meeting, we should make the most of it. Everyone was on board with the one song that, of course, immediately came to mind: Franz Biebl's timeless Ave Maria.

Beers in hand, bartenders and wait staff watching, we began the chant together, the sound of male voices drifting through the wooden rafters. Having had no rehearsals with the other ensemble, the cues and tuning were rough, but as we sang, something amazing happened.

And THAT, people, is an understatement. But hey, don't take my word for it; see for yourselves.
A spellbinding, glorious moment indeed, thankfully preserved on video for the ages. I've listened to and watched this one a thousand and one times, and it still raises goosebumps; by the closing "Amen" I'm fully choked up and teary-eyed, each and every time. With this video in existence, my patience for atheism is badly strained. I mean, how can anyone watching this seriously deny God's existence...WHEN IT'S PERFECTLY OBVIOUS THAT THIS IS GOD'S OWN VOICE WE'RE HEARING?!?

Enjoy, everybody.

Friday, December 27, 2019

Quickies: Quotidian Brilliance Dept.

     Glenn “Instapundit” Reynolds doesn’t write a lot at his famous blog, but every now and then he shoots off an important, eloquently-phrased bit of insight:

     PROFESSOR JACOBSON: Trump As Human Shield: Trump may not be the only thing standing between “us” and the deranged Resistance mob, but he’s one of the things.

     Of course, just as law enforcement is there not so much to protect us from the criminals as to protect the criminals from us, the “human shield” thing goes both ways. There are a lot of people in America eager to string politicians from lampposts, and Trump’s presidency makes that less, not more, likely. But the beneficiaries are not equipped to appreciate that.

     I couldn’t have put it better.

Iran Slipping into Power Corridors in the US Government

I've noticed this - Iran, particularly, has been quite busy for some time, getting their people placed in government offices. This article focuses on the recently elected - and quite noisy - representatives in Congress.

But, with Valarie Jarrett, who was strongly connected to many people in Iran, the issue was front and center.

It's not just Iran. The IT guys that had untrammeled access to Congressional computers, and that allowed/facilitated loss of both hardware and data (the last to foreign governments), were from Pakistan (Pock-is-stan, as Obama used to say). Time and again, when you see nefarious/shady practices in government, foreigners have their fingerprints all over it.

When I say foreigners, I mean those people, from countries other than the USA, who may have attained permanent residency, or even citizenship, but whose actions promote other countries than us.

Access to classified information should be strictly limited to native-born Americans. Those who immigrate AND take citizenship may be granted access, but should have strict continuing oversight. Those Americans with significant connections to other countries (Vindman?) should only be given conditional access - no access to higher levels of security.

Like this guy.

He's a STAFF officer. His advice should be listened to, but not used to shape foreign policy. He thinks WAY too much of himself.

BTW, LT. COL. - correcting elected representatives about your title is the very definition of Conduct Unbecoming. As long as they speak politely, you take it and smile. It is NOT your job to prissily insist on your rank being used in conversation.

BTW, EX-Senator Boxer - the same went for your snotty comment about the use of the term "ma'am" by an officer testifying in Congress - it WAS the correct way to refer to you, just an alternative way of addressing you rather than using your status as a Senator.

BOTH of you - there is a reason we specifically won't allow titles to be given to Americans. It's because those citizens - rather like you two did - would take those titles as evidence of their superiority.


Thursday, December 26, 2019

VDH Analyzes the Battle of the Bulge

And, once again, hits it out of the park.

And, via Kurt Schlichter at Townhall, comes this link to some bright news from FL - new GOP voters are TWICE the number of new Dem voters. This is something that needs to be repeated, state by state, until election 2020 - AND after.

Choosing The Wrong Devil Figures

     Good morning, Gentle Reader. I hope your Christmas Day was as merry and blessed as ours here at the Fortress. To start the day, we had crisply fried bacon with Challah-and-Eggnog French toast, a combination to give any food ascetic a terminal sugar rush. We concluded it with Beth’s Galactically Famous Sauerbraten and Latkes with her homemade applesauce, washed down with Willamette Valley Vineyards’ extraordinary “Whole Cluster” Pinot Noir. (You won’t believe it could be this good until you’ve tried it yourself. And yes, they ship. That’s Willamette Valley Vineyards, 8800 Enchanted Way SE, Turner OR 97392, or call 1-800 344-9463, or go to their Website to order some. What’s that? Yes, we’re part owners. Why do you ask?) In between we streamed a fantastic rendition of Handel’s Messiah by the Sydney Philharmonia and its 600-member chorus while relaxing with our dogs and cats. So suffice it to say that we’re in a very good mood, though we’re still digesting.

     However, I still got up at 4:00 AM this morning, damn it all. (I intend to leave a large endowment to a foundation dedicated to researching the problem of Morning Dog Nose. Nothing known to science is more effective at rousing a sleeping Curmudgeon. So far, I have discovered no countermeasure, but research will continue. It must.) And of course, the very first thing one does on St. Stephen’s Day in this age of the Internet is...to check the news. Whereupon I found this article at the Federalist about the colossal failure of the Democrats’ impeachment shenanigans to win popular support:

     In the midst of declining popular support, is it any surprise that this nakedly political grandstanding failed to win over a single elected Republican, including those highly critical of Trump, while a few Democrats broke ranks and voted against impeachment because they couldn’t bring themselves to vote for impeachment on such a flimsy basis?

     Unfortunately, even this political disaster won’t actually be the end of the Democrats’ impeachment crusade. Trump’s free-market policies have fostered a booming labor market benefitting a broad cross-section of Americans. Trump’s success is an existential challenge to the leftist mantra that that more and more government is the most effective way to improve peoples’ lives. Coming on the heels of the Obama era’s government expansion, Democrats find Trump’s success particularly galling.

     Yes, they’re in a panic. (They’re accompanied by a slew of “NeverTrump” pseudo-conservatives whom Trump’s successes have reduced to sniveling to one another over their Dos Equis.) But their failures haven’t persuaded them of anything, nor will they. Their goals are evil, but worse (from their perspective), they copied their tactics from an unsuccessful totalitarianism that’s already been relegated to the ash-heap of history.

     One of the keys to effective power-mongering is choosing the right devil figures. It’s easy enough to claim credit for anything that goes right; finding the right targets on whom to blame whatever goes wrong is critical. Moreover, for your choice to be successful, they must cooperate with you to some extent. This is the Democrats’ problem in a nutshell.

     Think about it! If your goal is power, and if you have a program by which you hope to secure it, you’ll need to win the willing compliance of the majority of the public. Whatever you can cast as a success will be an asset in that effort. However, every power-accumulating program of any sort will generate failures as well – and it is vital that your propagandists lay the onus for such failures on forces outside the regime. Thus, you need a devil figure – more usually, a set of them – onto whom to shovel the odium.

     The right devil figures must possess certain qualifications:

  • They must form an identifiable group;
  • They must be susceptible to caricature;
  • They must have a weak position in the media;
  • They must be aware of all the above, such that adverse propaganda can intimidate them into surrendering or accommodating.

     Hitler’s choice of “the Jews” was brilliantly successful. Pre-war Germany’s Jews fulfilled all four of the qualifications above. They were essentially unable to counter the demonization the Nazis laid upon them. Given the spinelessness of the other major powers of Europe, it is possible that the Nazis could have held on to power for a very long time, had Hitler only refrained from going to war.

     The Soviet Communists refrained from using the USSR’s Jews in the same fashion, though the reason is unclear to me. Instead they focused on a supposed external enemy: “capitalist imperialism.” That was a mistake, though its wrongness wasn’t immediately apparent. News of the liberation of former European colonies and the mushrooming improvements in the lives of ordinary people in the world beyond the Iron Curtain consistently undermined the Soviets’ strategy for quelling resistance. After the 1980 election of Ronald Reagan to the presidency ended the Democrats’ appeasement of the Soviet regime, the copier alone was sufficient to bring the rotted edifice of Soviet Communism crashing to earth.

     The Democrats of our time have made a similarly bad choice of enemy: a man who means what he says about working to improve the lives of working-class Americans. Perhaps they made that choice in the belief that the electorate had been foolish to trust him – that he is as complete a hypocrite as any of them. If so, they were wrong and the electorate was right.

     The central political fact of the three years immediately behind us is this: President Trump’s policies are delivering the results he promised. Even the border wall construction program, though impeded by Congress’s refusal to fund it, is having a salutary effect. Thus, the Democrats cannot blame President Trump for anything that will “stick.”

     Moreover, it is beyond concealment that the core of the Trump program is not the expansion of federal power over Americans’ lives and occupations, but rather the reverse. Reduced taxation, reduced regulation, the dismantling of ObamaCare, the slow reduction of the power of the alphabet agencies, the de-emphasis of military intervention, the renegotiation of international agreements, and other elements of his agenda are plainly retractions of earlier administrations’ accumulations of power. People know it, and are correlating it with the improvements in the economy and in America’s foreign relations. That’s a quarrel through the heart of the Democrats’ agenda, which Barack Obama expressed openly in his 2009 inaugural address when he proclaimed that “only government can get us out of this.”

     So the Democrats have resorted to the impeachment crusade. But they’re getting nowhere with it, as one might hope in the case of an assault founded entirely on deceit, misrepresentation, and slander. Considering that the major media are entirely enlisted in the Democrats’ cause, that’s somewhat surprising. It speaks of an underlying skepticism in Americans’ attitude toward the media, which has manifested at exactly the right time. We’ve chosen to believe what we can see for ourselves, rather than the media’s tendentious interpretations.

     Doing it harder hasn’t aided them. That damn devil figure still refuses to cooperate! But there’s still a year to go before the 2020 elections. They’ll keep up the impeachment bludgeon in the hope that it will gain some traction before then, perhaps from a Trump mistake or overreaction. It’s a dismal prospect. Still, no one is actually required to read the news...except for those of us ejected from a warm bed at 4:00 AM by a cold wet nose, that is.

Insolvency masked with liquidity.

Easy credit, easy money, and a debauched currency is what this article is about, with respect to an economy.

But, if you talk about low rates given that the worlds biggest banks are sitting on a toxic time bomb, well it's a whole different conversation. The Fed NEEDS low rates, or it's underlings go poof. The fed is not trying to stimulate [stuff] and they could give a rip about the average persons' welfare..... the Fed is only trying to stop bankruptcy from occurring as a result of all the toxic garbage on the banks' balance sheets, overinflated property included.

Two results: Aggressive immigration to keep new blood entering the loan markets, and an aggressive foreign policy to keep FedBux worth something.

There is no economy. There is insolvency masked with liquidity so that we don't have bankruptcy. The Fed is crying for inflation when it knows damn well it can never admit there is any inflation as measured by traditional interest rates, otherwise it's game over.

And that is why I think all bankers are completely incompetent [swine] to our world, because they dug humanity a hole they'll never admit nor face. I truly do wish the day comes when [bad things happen to bankers].

Comment by Chupacabra-322 on "Peter Schiff: The Most Reckless Combination Of Monetary And Fiscal Policy In History." By SchiffGold, ZeroHedge, 12/23/19 (emphasis added).

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Merry Christmas! And Good Thoughts for the Future!

We're getting near to the end of the calendar year. Recently, we passed the Winter Solstice, the day of the year in which the days are the shortest (Northern Hemisphere). So, naturally, we turn to contemplation of the future.

If you believe a teenage scold, the climate will get us before we can fully collect our Social Security. Which, might be a GOOD thing, for those concerned about the national debt. For the rest of us, not.

We're still being conned into putting off/avoiding conception. Despite the US being near (or below) replacement levels, the hysteria about "OMZ, babies are so BAD! They will DESTROY your life!" continues.

Look, I get it. There have always been women who would sooner eat a live porcupine than get pregnant. The problem solves itself, as those women die off, never having passed on their unmaternal genes. And, yes, I do believe that at least some part of the unwillingness to become a mother is genetic. Unmotherly mothers exist in every part of the animal kingdom. Most of their offspring die, which keeps the species favoring good mothering.

Not so with humans. As a society, we work to keep their unmotherly mothers from killing them, whether by choice or neglect.

The same with fathers. There have always been those men who have no desire to set up a home. A culture that discouraged women from selecting those men lessened their impact on the gene pool.

Today, women suffer no penalty for selecting those men to procreate with, so in some populations, their numbers are increasing.

But, is the concern about overpopulation justified?

According to this writer, probably not - and his reasons appear to be valid. Check it out for yourself, and decide whether we had better get serious about changing the culture to support family creation among the self-supporting Normal people.

OFF-TOPIC (sort of):

Please follow this link to read about how Christmas card production has been used by China to oppress prisoners. I'm looking at places to donate to next year, and any organization that investigates Chinese manufacturing abuses is going to be high on my list. The information needs to get out.

Immigration problem.

“There Were Shepherds Abiding In The Fields...”

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.
And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.
And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.
And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.
But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.
And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.

[Luke 2:8-20]

     Hearken to the late, great Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen:

     When God came to Earth, there was no room in the inn, but there was room in the stable. What lesson is hidden behind the inn and the stable?

     What is an inn, but the gathering-place of public opinion, the focal point of the world’s moods, the residence of the worldly, the rallying place of the fashionable and those who count in the management of the world’s affairs? What is a stable, but the place of outcasts, the refuge of beasts, and the shelter of the valueless, and therefore the symbol of those who in the eyes of public opinion do not count and hence may be ignored as of no great value or moment? Anyone in the world would have expected to find Divinity in an inn, but no one would have expected to have found it in a stable….

     If, in those days, the stars of the heavens by some magic touch had folded themselves together as silver words and announced the birth of the Expected of the Nations, where would the world have gone in search of Him?

     The world would have searched for the Babe in some palace by the Tiber, or in some gilded house of Athens, or in some inn of a great city where gathered the rich, the mighty, and the powerful ones of Earth. They would not have been the least surprised to have found the newborn King of Kings stretched out on a cradle of gold and surrounded by kings and philosophers paying Him their tribute and obeisance.

     But they would have been surprised to have discovered Him in a manger, laid on coarse straw and warmed by the breath of oxen, as if in atonement for the coldness of the hearts of men. No one would have expected that the One whose fingers could stop the turning of Arcturus would be smaller than the head of an ox; that He who could hurl the ball of fire into the heavens would one day be warmed by the breath of beasts; that He who could make a canopy of stars would be shielded from a stormy sky by the roof of a stable; or that He who made the Earth as His future home would be homeless at home. No one would have expected to find Divinity in such a condition; but that is because Divinity is always where you least expect to find it….

     The world has always sought Divinity in the power of a Babel, but never in the weakness of a Bethlehem. It has searched for it in the inns of popular opinion, but never in the stable of the ignored. It has looked for it in the cradles of gold, but never in the cribs of straw – always in power, but never in weakness.

     [From God’s World and Our Place In It]

     Merry Christmas, Gentle Readers. And really, why not be merry? Why not rejoice and be glad? For the Savior of us all has come into the world: not as the son of royalty, laid in a gilded crib and wrapped about with silks and furs, but as the Child of two poor travelers, who birthed Him in a stable and laid Him in a manger. For He came not to counsel the great nor to lead armies into battle, but to heal our souls: to make us worthy of eternal life in His nearness, if only we accept Him and His gift.

     Peace on Earth, and good will toward men!

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

For Under Your Op-Ed Tree

     Apologies for the spotty posting, Gentle Reader. I’m grateful that my Co-Conspirators Linda Fox and Colonel Bunny have kept the place hopping, because I’ve been mired in a morass of difficulties, the details of which I’ll spare you. And of course, tomorrow being Christmas Day, I’ll be celebrating rather than blogging. So have one more “assorted” column, nicely boxed in glittery red and green Christmas bunting, before I hit the eggnog.

1. Bitten Biters Bite Back.

     My Futanari novels were, in part, an exploration of the “transgender” phenomenon and its ramifications. They’ve elicited a variety of questions from a number of readers, the most common of which is this one or a reasonable facsimile thereof: “Do you think a transwoman is a woman in truth?”

     I allowed Holly Martinowski, a character in The Wise and the Mad, to answer that question in my stead:

     [Walsingham] nodded. “It is a disorder, you know. A man once born cannot become a woman in truth.”
     “Agreed,” Holly said. “Yet it is not impossible for one born a man to present as a woman. Hormones, minor surgery, cosmetics, and diligent study of the personalities and mannerisms of women will suffice for those who already have feminine inclinations and aspects of appearance.

     Those are my sentiments: If you can convincingly present yourself as the sex opposite to your birth sex, and if you conduct yourself in a manner appropriate to that presentation, you’ll have no trouble with me. Just don’t violate the penile penal code and we’ll get along fine. Problems arise from the politicization of transgenderism, not from das Ding an Sich.

     This morning a story from Britain demonstrates that politicization can cut many ways:

     A transgender woman facing disciplinary action over a T-shirt stating that she is still biologically a man has been accused of “hate speech”.

     Debbie Hayton, a physics teacher in the Midlands, lives as a transgender women after changing her gender from male to female in 2012. But unlike many people in the trans-community, she does not believe her sex can be changed and is vocal about the fact that she will always biologically remain a man.

     She is now potentially facing expulsion from the LGBT committee of the Trades Union Congress (TUC) for wearing a top adorned with the slogan: “Trans women are men. Get over it!”

     Talk about bearding the lion in its den! Hayton has chosen a provocative way of expressing an opinion many of us (including Holly Martinowski and I) share. As she is genetically male but has chosen to present as a woman, it’s a poke in the eye to other Britons who have made a similar choice.

     I’d call this unwise. However, by eliciting the ire of persons who “should” have been her supporters, Hayton has dramatized the hazards involved in allowing what could have been an entirely private decision to become a matter for public discourse. That makes it a public service of sorts. As always, your opinion may vary.

2. Cold Cash Conservatism.

     The consistent defense by “Conservatism Inc.” of Big Tech’s practice of silencing conservative opinion remains a hot topic. Ace rings in on one of its tawdrier aspects:

     First of all, all conservatives believe that economic incentives change behavior. That belief is the fundamental premise upon which every single tax-reform plan stands: that if we change the incentives towards socially benevolent behavior (like getting and staying married, like buying and keeping a home), we will get more of that behavior.

     But the same people who depend on this basic assumption for all their articles and white papers and propaganda efforts deny its existence when it comes to their own incentives and behavior.

     So, Google is funneling money to us and paying our salaries and making our fundraising dinners possible? So what? Those economic incentives don't change our behavior, not one whit!

     Oh really? Google is putting money directly into your pockets and you claim that does not change your behavior with regard to Google at all?

     Then what the hell are you always prattling on about regarding small rejiggerings of tax incentives and disincentives? If someone giving you Free Money, directly into your organizational accounts, and indirectly into the personal accounts of your writers and "thinkers" does not influence behavior or attitudes, what the hell difference will a 1.5% penalty make as far as marriage rates?

     If a politician told you that taking tens of thousands of dollars, or even hundreds of thousands or millions, from an industry pressure group did not affect their attitude towards that group at all, would you believe them?

     Of course not.

     But these second-order-politicians -- the politicians of paper -- claim that they can take any amount of dollars from Google and that won't affect their willingness to shill for Google at all.

     Get bent, liars.

     Ace delivers some telling blows in the above. However, his first step is something of a misstep: While an economic incentive can influence behavior, especially when regarded statistically, it is not capable of determining behavior in an individual instance.

     Here’s an example for you: Do you love your wife, Mister Gentle Reader? You do? Then how much money would it take to persuade you to kill her? What’s that? You’d never do such a thing? I salute you; I feel the same. So in this individual instance, the economic incentive of a large cash payment could not and would not alter your behavior. But were that offer generalized, such that any man who agrees to kill his wife – and produces conclusive proof that he’s done so, of course – could collect the bounty, some men would do so...including a few who are willing to be arrested and tried for the deed.

     So it remains possible that those who identify as conservative but defend the rights of Big Tech to suppress opinions they dislike are sincere, no matter where their funding comes from...though given the weakness of their arguments, I find it hard to believe. It’s also the case that many who defend those rights don’t get a dollar from Google, Facebook, et cetera...though I’m sure they’d be glad to accept them.

3. “Don’t Look Away.”

     Many Americans have chosen to retreat into quietism: to “bar the door” and refuse to engage in the political struggle of our time. It’s a natural reaction for those who feel incapable of correcting an unpleasant phenomenon. Most decent people are at least somewhat confrontation-averse. At any rate, every one of us could name something he’d rather be doing than arguing with a vicious Leftist shill or working to defeat some aspiring totalitarian in high office. Terresa Monroe-Hamilton wants us to fight:

     It is utterly bewildering to me why Americans would let the freest nation on earth get to this point… teetering on the edge of total collapse and subjugation to communists. We are now letting impeachment be used as a political weapon against the executive branch by the legislative branch. The Democrats have uninvited the judicial branch to the kangaroo court. So much for checks and balances. The Founders are rolling over in their graves and shouting for patriots to stop this insanity. We let these criminals walk free instead of screaming from the rooftops that they should be subjected to the same rule of law the rest of America is held accountable to.

     We give credence to these high-level criminals on the left and we insist on being civilized in the face of an all-out attack by the barbarians. That did not end well for the Romans and will not end well for us either. You can’t rationally talk your way into maintaining freedom with those that are intent on seizing and eliminating it in preference to totalitarian rule.

     These are not normal or rational people we are dealing with any longer. They are not well-intentioned or simply misled. They are evil. Their hatred of President Trump, Republicans, Christians, and the common man is so overwhelming for them it will now spill into the streets. So will the blood and death of many Americans if we don’t put a stop to this immediately.

     It’s a good, impassioned essay, but let’s be candid about the dangers. The Left is aware that it’s been defeated at the rational-argument level. Thus it’s adopted foul tactics: slandering, silencing, deplatforming, even physically attacking those who won’t fall into line with its agenda. If you’re at all vulnerable, speaking out will put you under their crosshairs...and most Americans are vulnerable.

     Matters have become so grave that to speak or work openly against these vermin is an act of considerable courage. (No, don’t look at me. I’m too minor a player for them to concern themselves with. Anyway, they have no way to hurt me.) Perhaps if we had been proactive about defending our rights and the integrity of our institutions half a century or so ago, things would be different today...but we weren’t, and they aren’t.

4. “And Don’t Get Away, Either!”

     I’ve lost the reference, but one of the more colorful stories about Lyndon Johnson says that he arm-twisted a Congressman who was outspoken against one of the “Great Society” programs by threatening to put a public-housing development into the heart of the Congressman’s constituency. The Congressman, immediately recognizing the danger to his middle-class constituents’ peace and safety, fell into line.

     The tactic may soon be employed again:

     Democrats in Virginia may override local zoning to bring high-density housing, including public housing, to every neighborhood statewide — whether residents want it or not.

     The measure could quickly transform the suburban lifestyle enjoyed by millions, permitting duplexes to be built on suburban lots in neighborhoods previously consisting of quiet streets and open green spaces. Proponents of “upzoning” say the changes are necessary because suburbs are bastions of segregation and elitism, as well as bad for the environment.

     The move, which aims to provide “affordable housing,” might be fiercely opposed by local officials throughout the state, who have deliberately created and preserved neighborhoods with particular character — some dense and walkable, others semi-rural and private — to accommodate people’s various preferences.

     But Democrats tout a state-level law’s ability to replace “not in my backyard” with “yes, in your backyard.”

     The much-discussed “flight to suburbia” of the postwar years was propelled in part by a desire for more space, but in larger measure to escape the mushrooming problems of crime, vandalism, and public nuisances that plague urban America. Needless to say, the problem would follow the perpetrators – and “public housing” has been one of their preferred domains for decades.

     Virginians thus find themselves needing to fight on two fronts. The assault on their right to keep and bear arms is already in progress, and its promoters will not be halted short of bloodshed. Ironically, the one thing likely to curb an attempt by Richmond to plant high-density residences for gangbangers and layabouts in the middle of peaceful, orderly Virginian communities is resistance by squads of armed Virginians. Amazing how that works, isn’t it?

5. “VIP.”

     And now, a personal peeve. A number of right-leaning sites I occasionally visit have been instituting “VIP” sections, access to which requires payment of an annually recurring fee. I find the practice faintly ominous. Some such as the Epoch Times have gone subscription-for-access. Some survivors of the halcyon days of Blogdom or yore, having gathered together for survival’s sake at PJMedia, have decided to “test the market” as well.

     That’s their perfect right. Perhaps they need to do it to pay their contributors; I wouldn’t know. (I also don’t know whether their contributors are paid.) However, I suspect that a fair percentage of their readers will be affronted by the notion, some sufficiently so that they’ll lose net patronage, especially those that produce mostly opinion pieces. An op-ed writer must always remember the Curmudgeon’s Anatomical Axiom:

Opinions Are Like Assholes:
Everyone’s Gotta Have One.

     And as any Gentle Reader will already know, I’ve got plenty of my own. Moreover, they’ll remain available to you free of charge for as long as I can keep stroking the keys. So while I’ll lament the loss of reading material, I shan’t be signing up to any “VIP” sections or paid-access sites, however much I may have enjoyed them in their previous incarnations. Please register your opinions in the Comments section.

     That’s all for today. Have a Merry and Blessed Christmas, Gentle Readers. It’s time to celebrate the birth of the Son of God and Redeemer of Mankind. I’ll see you shortly thereafter.