Friday, May 31, 2019

No Rain In The Forecast

     The above title both expresses my fondest wish for the coming week, and is coupled to a prediction that, sadly, strikes me as a sure bet.

     The New York Metropolitan Area, which includes (unfortunately) Long Island where the Fortress is situated, has been getting soaked this spring. It’s caused the usual train of inconveniences and irritations: dampness in the basement, grass that grows faster than I can cut it, and worst of all, the postponement of Yankee games. Fortunately, we’ve just had a spot of waterproofing done where the worst of the moisture used to seep into our abode, plus new and better gutters for the whole house. However, that does nothing for the lawn, and the Yankees haven’t suffered this many postponements in thirty years. So I and my neighbors are all praying (it’s a Catholic neighborhood) – for a nice long stretch of dry, sunny weather so we can scrape the moss off our north sides and keep it off.

     But there’s one area of current interest where a good “hard rain” would be my fondest wish:

     The skies are growing dark and increasingly ominous for dirty officials at the top of Obama-era law enforcement and intelligence agencies. Leading the “I’m really worried” list are James Comey, John Brennan, James Clapper, Loretta Lynch, and their senior aides, all political appointees. They expected Hillary Clinton to win in 2016 and bury any traces of malfeasance, just as they had buried hers. It didn’t work out that way.

     Now they need protection themselves. House Democrats and anonymous leakers are busy providing it. Many are delicately called “current and former senior officials” by the New York Times, Washington Post, and other legacy media. Gee, I wonder who they are?

     These defenders of the old guard are sliming Attorney General Bill Barr, who heads the investigation into their actions. They have good reasons, if not clean hands, for their attack. First, they want to keep as much secret as they can. Exposure can only harm them. Their main argument is that any disclosures will damage U.S. national security. Second, they want to paint the disclosures and forthcoming indictments as President Trump’s revenge, the illegitimate use of powerful agencies that should be nonpartisan. That, of course, is precisely what they are accused of doing.

     Barr won’t be deterred. He did not return for a second stint as AG to pad his résumé or protect Donald Trump. He returned to clean out the Augean Stables. He needs to muck out the mess left by his predecessors and find the horses that left it.

     If only. There are at least two reasons why the malefactors that ignited the “Russian collusion” hoax against newly elected President Trump will face no penalties. First comes the “collegiality” armor worn by every member of the Washington Establishment. (Britons would call this the “a member of my club” defense.) Damned few Republicans and no Democrats will agree to the prosecution of these people. Virtually everyone in Federal office is guilty of some abuse of power and position. Thus, to see their former colleagues and cocktail party guests in orange jumpsuits would strike too close to home. The pressure they’ll put on Attorney-General Barr to refrain from pursuing criminal indictments would turn coal into diamonds.

     Second, and even more potent a deterrent, is the array of mechanisms these formerly prominent Federal officials could use to take revenge. They range from revealing secrets their tormentors cannot afford to have revealed to the incitement of FBI, CIA, and NSA campaigns of harassment against them, their loved ones, and their professional associates. Those three agencies have been shown to be above the law de facto. Their middle managers and low-level workers can get away with virtually anything. If Ruby Ridge and Waco may be admitted as data points, the mass murder of innocents is entirely within the spectrum of possibilities. And while Comey, Brennan, Clapper and the rest are no longer in high office, they continue to command the loyalty of many within their former demesnes…in some cases for the same reasons their nominal enemies fear them.

     An organization that stands “above the law” is an unstoppable weapon in the hands of whoever controls it. The best known such agencies are state and county-level “child protective services” and “family courts.” These answer to no one, can treat their targets as guilty until proven innocent – yes, really – and are unbound by any of the strictures the Constitution and Anglo-American legal tradition place upon normal jurisprudence. The IRS looks upon the power they wield with envious eyes – again: yes, really.

     During the “Red Scare” years, the FBI often harassed persons who declined to testify to the House UnAmerican Activities Committee, as was their right, out of jobs, homes, and marriages. Employers feared what the Feebs could do to them far too much not to bow to the threat implied by an FBI visit to their places of business. It was a grotesque abuse of power – and the FBI got cleanly away with it in every case. Today, with the legal cover of the PATRIOT Act and the information-gathering power of the CIA and NSA at its disposal, there is no doubt in my mind that the FBI could arrange for the incarceration without trial of any American it might choose to target.

     Therefore, my money is on there being no penalties for any degree of involvement in the “Russian collusion” hoax, the pervasive and totally unwarranted spying on the Trump campaign, or the various acts of fraud and deceit under oath the involved persons have committed in the defense of their positions and reputations. I could be wrong. Indeed, I hope I am. But if so, I also hope that Bill Barr and everyone else in the Trump Administration are braced for impact. Any “hard rain” they drop on the anti-Trump conspirators could fall just as hard, though undeservedly, on them as well.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

An Important Omission

     In the foofaurauw over the Mueller investigation and Mueller’s ponderous, tendentious, meandering report, the critical facts are all too often glossed over:

  • The extent of “Russian interference” in the 2016 election was a modest amount of entirely legal advertising, mainly on Facebook.
  • Robert Mueller could not show that any American had colluded with any Russian agent or agency.
  • Therefore, Mueller could not establish that any crime had been committed.

     The investigation began, not because a crime had demonstrably been committed, but because of the Democrats’ allegations of such. They could produce no evidence to that effect; they merely shrieked it at the top of their collective lungs until Attorney General Jeff Sessions unwisely decided to recuse himself. That allowed the acting AG, Rod Rosenstein, to appoint a special prosecutor. What followed departed radically from normal prosecutorial procedure.

     Consider: If Smith were to allege that Jones had committed a prosecutable crime – i.e., an offense defined by the penal laws of the United States or one of its interior jurisdictions – he would be expected to provide the district attorney’s office with substantiation that a crime had indeed been committed. If Smith were to allege a murder, he would have to offer some evidence that a murder had occurred. If he were to allege a robbery, he would have to present a credible victim who could at least show a loss. And so on, for whatever accusation Smith might lodge against Jones. Lacking such substantiation, neither the police nor the D.A. would be disposed to get out of bed.

     President Trump’s accusers could not provide any such substantiation. Indeed, over the three years they’ve been screaming for his head, nothing of any relevance to the possibility of a crime has come to light – and you may be sure that Robert Mueller, as much an Establishmentarian as anyone in the Washington orbit, looked most diligently for it.

     President Trump was justifiably incensed about the smear against his victory. He said so on many occasions. Yet he did not do one single thing to impede the Mueller group’s operations. He did stand on his right not to testify against himself, as any American in legal jeopardy is entitled to do. Otherwise, he merely criticized the investigation as what it has proved to be: a fishing expedition whose true aim was to undo his unprecedented national victory against fearsome odds.

     So Mueller’s recent statement that he could not prove that the president had not committed obstruction of justice is both laughable and contemptible. What event occurred that could be construed as an impediment to the investigation?

     That hasn’t silenced the Democrats, of course; nothing could. They want Trump out of the Oval Office at any cost. They’re terrified not only that he’ll win a second term, but that the national mood, owing to his successful implementation of his policies, will be so good in 2024 that he’ll be able to pick his successor. So they’ll continue to shriek until they lose the assistance of the media and the attention of the general public: events about as likely as the Earth crashing into the Sun this coming Tuesday at 9:15 AM Eastern Daylight Time.

     David Horowitz summed up the Democrats’ allegations rather pungently: they can’t establish that he committed the crime they allege, but he’s obviously guilty of protesting his innocence, so hang him anyway. Welcome to American “politics,” 2019 edition.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

An Oldie, But Worth Re-Reading

The Flight 93 Election.

The election in 2020 will likely not be as critical. Many people have no idea how close to the edge of the cliff we were at that time. That does a lot to explain the enduring appeal of Bernie Sanders, and the rise of AOC.

Look, those guys aren't BAD people - just unbelievably clueless. They are - morally speaking - people of good intentions, people with generosity of heart, people who strive to live their lives with purpose and sincere desires to improve the world.

They are also quite dangerous.

Because, they don't recognize the evil that permeates the atmosphere around them. They assume that everyone acts from honest and pure good intentions.

The wonder of the last several years is that many citizens GOT IT - enough of them to elect Trump. They had that defining moment when they clearly saw the reality - and Trump was the response to the perceived danger. I don't know about anyone else, but my expectations of his performance were low. As long as Trump didn't actively work AGAINST America, I was gonna support him.

He has exceeded my expectations. He has reversed the decay of the institutions, put America's interests FIRST, and continued attacking on a variety of fronts. When they block him with one tactic, he feints, then parries with another. He is not a one-trick pony - years of working against opposition - strong opposition - have honed his skills. He is not afraid to get his hands dirty.

Accidentally, we elected a Guy Who Knows How to Get Things Done. He isn't always going to win - some of his failures are spectacular - but he isn't afraid to get into a fight.

Monday, May 27, 2019

A Proper Memorial

     Notwithstanding the quibbling over the differences among “wars,” “police actions,” and “operations,” here is a partial list of the military actions in which Americans have fought:

  1. The Revolutionary War
  2. The War of 1812
  3. The Mexican-American War
  4. The Civil War / War Between The States
  5. The Spanish-American War
  6. World War I
  7. World War II
  8. The Korean War
  9. The Vietnam War
  10. The Grenadan Invasion
  11. The Panamanian Invasion / Operation Just Cause
  12. Persian Gulf War I / Operation Desert Storm
  13. The Afghan War / Operation Enduring Freedom
  14. Persian Gulf War II / Operation Iraqi Freedom

     Those are merely the ones I can remember at this early hour. There have been others.

     Four of the clashes enumerated above involved fighting on American soil. If the fourth is eluding you, it was World War II. Hawaii was an American protectorate even then, and the Japanese did assault Attu and Kiska in the Aleutian Archipelago as well. The other ten, and the smaller military operations whose names are absent from the list owing to my inability to remember them, were fought elsewhere.

     Many of the public service pitches about Memorial Day include statements that Americans who fought in our wars did so “to protect our freedom.” Even if we leave aside the question of just how much freedom remains to us in this Year of Our Lord 2019, it is morally imperative that we ask, seriously, and with due consideration both for possibilities that did not materialize and for the feelings of those who lost family members in them:

How do you figure that?

     America’s armed forces are the finest that have ever existed. The young Americans who populate it, regardless of their individual reasons for taking the oath, are the very best of us. When called upon, they go where they’ve been sent and do what they’ve been told – superbly. In every combat action on record they’ve performed prodigies that have baffled the military minds of other lands.

     We’ve lost a great many of those young lives. If the Civil War be included, the count is well over a million. Any decent person must pray that they were not wasted, in some ultimate sense. And to be perfectly fair, most of the combats in which American forces have taken part were more popular than not. Yes, even World War I and Vietnam.

     But it takes a severe stretch of the terms involved to propose that the World Wars, the Korean and Vietnamese conflicts, and the later actions were “to protect our freedom.” They may have been geostrategically wise, though there is legitimate disagreement about several of them. They may have protected various extraterritorial interests, or the interests of nations allied to us. But they correlate with the diminution of Americans’ freedom, not with its preservation…and certainly not with its expansion.

     If the subject of interest is the motivation behind American engagement in those combats, let it be said, plainly and at once: the protection of Americans’ freedom was nowhere near the minds of those who sent them forth to do battle.

     Over and over, our men at arms have gone forth. They fought, suffered, bled, died – and prevailed. Words cannot express the praise and honor we owe them. But the political classes that dispatched them to foreign combats cannot reasonably be thought to have been concerned with Americans’ freedom.

     We owe our fallen men at arms a grateful remembrance on Memorial Day. But let us also be mindful of something less praiseworthy: the willingness of old men in suits, seated in comfortable chairs in places well removed from the hazards and terrors of armed combat, to send them forth for reasons about which they have been less than honest.

     The armed power of our nation is not a toy. It consists of lives: mostly young lives, filled with possibility and promise. It ought not to be flaunted or brandished for reasons not vital to our nation. It certainly ought not to be flung about for “prestige,” or to establish or defend a “zone of influence.”

     I have a number of young friends who are at arms. I don’t ever want to read about their deaths, especially not if they were sent forth for “prestige,” or for the protection of some country whose citizens disdained to defend themselves.

     Consider this powerful line from Michael Bay’s movie 13 Hours, spoken by John Krasinski playing security contractor Jack Silva:

     “What would they say about me? ‘He died in a place he didn't need to be, in a battle over something he doesn't understand, in a country that meant nothing to him.’”

     Four Americans died in Benghazi, Libya, fighting to protect the lives of other Americans. Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods were former Navy SEALs; Christopher Stevens and Sean Smith were civilians. Imagine the grief of their families. Try, though you must fail, to imagine what their families must have suffered over those deaths in places they didn’t need to be. There have been far too many such deaths, and far too many such families.

     Remember and reflect.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Prognostications And Recommendations Dept.

     The young of our glorious nation supposedly face a dearth of employment opportunities – at least, opportunities that would tolerate their degrees in Comparative Oppression Studies and would pay well enough to allow them to defray their educational loans. I sympathize, having feared much the same as I approached graduation, lo! these many moons ago. But a spot of brightness is available, for those with a shortage of inhibitions (or unusually strong stomachs).

     The synthetic sex partner industry offers possibilities that even those who have worked hardest to advance it have yet to grasp:

     AI doll manufacturer Realbotix has recently fitted new models with Wi-Fi, enabling high-speed synchronising for voice and animation.

     They also stand to benefit from 5G, which is poised to give us vastly superior mobile internet data.

     This means sex robots will be able to connect and update without needing to be near an internet router.

     But sex doll collector, Brick Dollbanger, believes this technology will make them so realistic, we won’t be able to tell them apart from humans.

     Brick, who has close ties with Realbotix, told Daily Star Online: "Anytime you can get a steadier flow of information from software to hardware activation, you are going to get better syncronisation and smoother more lifelike movement from your hardware.

     "That’s the key to synthetic evolution. Not just movement, but humanlike movement to the point of being indistinguishable from actual humans."

     “Brick Dollbanger?” Brick Dollbanger? That can’t be the name he was christened with. It made me check the article thrice for signs of parody. But no, it’s a legitimate article from a kinda-sorta legitimate source of news and opinion. Anyway, let’s get back to the job prospects.

     The sex robot developers have concentrated on physical similarity to humans, not on the emotional aspects of human interaction. This is understandable, as anyone who remembers the advice of his grammar-school teachers to “do the easy problems first” will immediately see. So fidelity to appearance and tactile responses is getting better all the time – so I’m told — but a sex robot that behaves like a human partner is still some distance away. And whether they’re candid about it or not, most sex-robot customers would like a “product” that convincingly simulates a human woman in behavior as well as “look and feel.”

     For simplicity (and because I’m a heterosexual male) let’s focus on the problem as it pertains to female sex robots.

     Will sexbot Alice want to cuddle and coo love-talk afterward, such that purchaser Smith can’t simply turn over and get some well-earned sleep? Probably not. What, after all, does cuddling do for an android? To say nothing of the tenuous connection it has to sex.

     Will Alice be programmed to regale Smith post-coitally with what her friend Susan heard from her cousin Joan about the outrageous things Joan’s apartment-mate Frieda’s boyfriend Jones said to her over dinner? Doubtful. AI is unlikely to be programmable for that behavior. Anyway, without adequate knowledge of real Susans, Joans, and Friedas in Alice’s data store, verisimilitude would be elusive, and where the hell is she going to meet them?

     Will Alice be programmed to compel Smith to shop with her? To spend hours in boutiques while Alice tries on garment after garment, most almost indistinguishable from one another, in search of the perfect “look” for “the office,” while Smith struggles to comprehend the all-important difference between mauve and fuschia or the “message” transmitted by three-and-a-half inch heels in contrast to that from four inches? This approaches absurdity. A sexbot with a realistic interest in such things would probably never be found in bed, vitiating the entire point of the acquisition.

     As for programming Alice to complain every time Smith leaves the toilet seat up, it’s ridiculous to imagine that the AI programmers would even think of it.

     So if left to her programming alone, sexbot Alice is unlikely to convince anyone that she’s a real girl. That’s a problem; actual men want women, after all, despite the baggage they bring into any relationship. Compared to the emotional vacuity, the spit-or-swallow thing pales into insignificance.

     But there is that WiFi connection…

     I predict the emergence of a new industry: the sex worker behind the sexbot. Such positions could be extremely remunerative, though obviously they would demand a certain kind of personality…and the ability to multiplex conversations (and shopping trips) among many Smiths simultaneously, as a one worker per sexbot ratio would be cost-prohibitive. The preferred applicant would be sexually knowledgeable although not necessarily deeply or widely experienced, would possess a convincing female personality, and would be just as incapable as a typical young woman of saying exactly what she means.

     Hm. It seems the personality behind the sexbot would have to be a young woman (or a really weird guy). Well, at least she wouldn’t have to do the “icky part,” which, after all, is the reason sexbots have been developed. So young women of America: get into training! As there will surely be intense competition for these new, demanding, but probably highly lucrative positions, prepare yourselves early for your place in this new and challenging field. Among the spinoff benefits, that way you won’t need to maintain your figure or develop expertise at any other positions. That part, we can confidently leave to the engineers.

The citizen as despised cash cow.


. . . Roosevelt was able to raise the average income tax from 1.35% to 16.56% during his tenure—an increase of 1,100%.


Everyone now pays an income tax in addition to all the other taxes. In most Western countries, the total of direct and indirect taxes is over 50%.[1]

Think of that. The progressive/leftist/socialists who have undermined our constitutional republic, destroyed liberty, crippled productive society, flooded the land with hostile, resentful foreigners, deified destructive minorities, involved us in ruinous, pointless wars, and made utter lunacy the main topics of public discourse have their hands in our pockets to the tune of 50% of what we earn. Do out and out criminal protection rackets dare to demand that much? Yet the essence of "good citizenship" in this very hour is to submit to unbelievable exactions that finance activities and ideas that we find abhorrent.

Bimbo eruption.
Our criminal levels of taxation fund programs and buy votes according to the whims, needs, and social, economic, political, financial, and fiscal delusions of our political elite – utter strangers to us, buffoons in not a few cases, and people who have engineered the rolling catastrophe that is 21st-c. America. They are people who despise the people who founded and built this country and who make it run even today despite enormous government theft and mismanagement.

Our government is completely out of control and in the hands of grifters and idiots. The idea of representative government is laughable and the essence of America now is theft and stupidity. Our republic is indeed just "so much smoldering goop in a national dumpster fire" in the words of Jim Kunstler. Crushing taxation to fuel decay, subversion, third-world invasion, surrender to Islam, and war.

[1] "Doug Casey: Comparing the 1930s and Today." By Doug Casey, International Man, date not indicated, presumably May, 2019.

Huawei thievery.

Here's an alarming story about Chinese thievery. I hope those bastards get nailed to the wall:
Huawei "Spent All Their Resources Stealing", Stunning New Exposé Shows." By Tyler Durden, ZeroHedge, 5/25/19.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

A Stretch Of Quiet

     No doubt the regular Gentle Readers of Liberty’s Torch have noticed that things have been a trifle static here for the past few days. One of my reasons for encouraging various other commentators to join me here as Co-Conspirators was to avoid such a stretch of stagnancy. By and large the tactic has worked well; when one of us was otherwise occupied, the others would still be contributing. But as any sports fanatic can tell you, there will be days when all the games are interrupted by commercials simultaneously, and there is nothing to be done about it.

     Just now Linda Fox is in Cleveland. Colonel Bunny is busy with private matters. Mike Hendrix appears to be focused elsewhere. We haven’t heard from Scott Angell or Patrice Stanton in a dog’s age. And I, who’ve been Mr. Essay-A-Day for something like twenty years, have been fixated upon completing Novel #14, to be titled The Wise and the Mad.

     The final stages of a novel-project always drain me dry. The sense of having shot every round in my arsenal, with the concomitant need to sit back a while, “rearm and reload,” is difficult to countervail. While I can’t speak for others, it’s part of the price this novelist pays for his antisocial habit. Lawrence Block once compared it to finishing a marathon. Few persons who reach the finish line immediately start lifting weights or doing calisthenics.

     To be somewhat more concise, writing is hard work, at least for those of us who take it seriously. The fatigue it can induce is as serious as the social, cultural or political events and trends upon which it’s focused – and such things are the only inducements to composition that can animate me.

     So, with the very recent completion of the aforementioned novel, I decided to “kick back” for a few days: to pen the occasional funny piece or brief personal reflection, but to let the “little gray cells” (Agatha Christie) have some time to relax and recuperate.

     Times of repose are not necessarily times of idleness. Some of the very best relaxation comes not from sitting still but from switching tracks. In my case, that can mean anything from hopping into Joy, my red 2009 Corvette convertible, lowering the top, and zooming around New York in a totally frivolous, expensive, and unproductive manner, to rereading the collected works of Herbert Spencer, to meditating at length upon matters of faith and the spirit.

     I’ve spent much of the past few days doing something no one who knows me at all well would expect from me: redecorating my home. When I first moved in here thirty-nine years ago, the Fortress of Crankitude was a pretty Spartan place. I had very little furniture, few “creature comforts,” and little inclination to think about esthetic factors. I was spending about sixty hours a week at my day job, and the Fortress itself needed too much work for me to spend time on irrelevancies. I was kept hopping just from the work involved in earning a living and keeping the roof over my head...well…over my head.

     Time brings changes. Today I no longer work for wages. I spend most of my time at home. That has elicited a desire to make that home as pleasant and convenient as possible, short of hiring a fleet of servants. But I’ve delegated the heavy stuff to a handful of professional contractors. That leaves me time to gussy up the place in smaller ways.

     Of course, some of the seemingly smaller ways can come with large price tags. $6000 to build Beth the office of her dreams. $3100 for a lighting system. $2000 for having the living room floor refinished and stained a beautiful dark walnut. $5200 for a new leather sectional. And here’s the latest absurdity:

     Hey, we have an empty corner in our newly refinished and refurnished living room! I have to fill it with something! (Beth originally suggested a “bar globe” that you can keep whiskey bottles in, but we eventually decided that would be tacky.)

     The Fortress is approaching a state in which no further improvement is conceivable. I suppose when that point is reached, I’ll have to sell it and move.

     Anyway: Yes, I’m okay. Yes, there will be a return to normal levels of dynamism here at Liberty’s Torch. No, that won’t occur right away. I need a day or two more to recharge, to fiddle with the placement of furniture and tchotchkes, and to think about Life, the Universe, and what major fiction challenge to tackle next. But you shouldn’t worry. Unlike this celebrated bird:

     …I really am just resting. I’m sure Linda, the Colonel, et alii will also be back in due course.

     Be well. Be free and happy. And keep the faith. Remember: it might be even money that the light at the end of the tunnel is the headlamp of an oncoming train, but that means it’s even money that it’s not, too. So look on the bright side. Until you get run over, at least.

America, the dumpster fire.

In 1913, citizens of the Western world had every reason to hope that the future would hold nothing but gradual but constant improvement in the quality of life. They had not the faintest idea how degraded and poisonous life would become in the "advanced" West.
Not long ago, few Americans of the thinking persuasion might have imagined that such a well-engineered republic, with its exquisite checks and balances, sturdy institutions, and time-tested traditions would end up as so much smoldering goop in a national dumpster fire, but such is the sad state-of-the-union moving into the fateful summer of 2019.[1]
We are a feckless nation that is utterly ignorant of the jewel that we inherited from our ancestors. We have found 10,000 ways to foul our own nest and cannot manage to handle the most basic of societal and governmental functions. Complete scum undermine out most basic institutions. Government response? None.

[1] "The Golem Strikes Back." By James Howard Kunstler, 5/24/19.

Everybody's bitch.

Acting Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Kevin McAleenan confirmed to Congress this week that his agency is merely acting as a checkpoint for adults crossing the United States-Mexico border with children, as “100 percent” are being released into the interior of the country.
"DHS: ‘100 %’ Border Crossers with Children Being Released into U.S., Given Work Permits." By John Binder, Breitbart, 5/24/19.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

“Kings Play Chess On Funny Green Squares”

     Carl von Linne, better known to us of the present day as Linnaeus, was born on May 23, 1707 in Rashult, Sweden. It would be only a few years longer before he started rearranging everything in his parents’ closets.

     The young Linnaeus drove his mother half crazy with his unending and unanswerable questions. “Why do you keep the dinner plates and the saucers in the same cabinet when they’re so obviously of different ranks?” “How can the dish towels belong in the linen closet with the bath sheets?” He was even more disturbed by having to keep all his playthings in a single chest, despite there being no discernible relation between the building blocks and the toy swords.

     Child therapists were mystified, but continued to take the Linnaeus family’s money for several years. They decided to desist when the young man entered grammar school. His teachers, they reasoned, would be better equipped to free him of his obsession. But it was not to be. The boy persisted in sorting his classmates by gender, height, and their relative interest in the sciences. He was often found pawing through the contents of their desks and clucking over the intimacy of pens and pencils in the same pocket.

     Relief would come only when young Carl was introduced to the horrid mess of pre-scientific biological classification. There he found a fertile field for his “gift,” and he exercised it to its fullest. In consequence millions of students of later generations have had to memorize the title of this piece, never grasping why it should matter to anyone…or what sort of absurd not-quite-chess, not-quite-checkers game is played on a board with green squares.

     Linnaeus’s later life was marked by a seemingly endless flood of arguments about whose wife belonged with whom and where to stand in line. Despite the many controversies attendant upon his erratic behavior, he was eventually recognized as a titan of sorts, to be classified (despite his estate’s posthumous but strenuous objections) as on the same plane as the nameless genius who wrote the Alphabet Song.

     Linneaus has been proposed as the Patron Saint of Obsessive-Compulsives. However, rather than pursue the canonization process, several popes have elected to “kick the can down the road” to a more orderly time.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Quickies: Efficiency Has Its Limits And You’d Bloody Well Better Respect Them

     If you read nothing else today, savor this incredibly funny tale of home maintenance gone badly wrong by the great Gerard Vanderleun. But do make sure you’re securely seated, seat belt buckled and tray table closed before you do.

     Gerard’s tale nearly killed me, as I own three vacuums: two Eureka baglesses that are impossible to empty without turning the environs into a Superfund site and an Oreck upright that's the bane of my existence. Gerard has taught me something that, perhaps, I should not have learned.

     I also own a Bissell carpet steamer, a Bissell steamer for tile floors, and a Bona sanitization unit for hardwood – no, we do not eat off the floors here at the Fortress, but it never hurts to be prepared – and I sometimes wonder where I acquired this urge to own every floor-cleaning device in existence. I'm certain that it wasn't from my mother, who regarded housecleaning as beneath her. Neither could it have been from my father, who couldn't even turn on a vacuum without injuring himself. Sigh, Maybe there are some things Man was not meant to know.

     (With that, it’s back to my labors on The Wise and the Mad, which I hope to complete this month. There are no, repeat no vacuuming, steaming, or other floor-cleaning scenes in this novel. There are, however, a lot of food-related scenes, so remember to take properly modest bites and keep your chin over your plate. See you later. 23 Skidoo. Cheers. And stuff.)

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

The Form Of Our Destructor

     Many look; far fewer actually see.

     I’m going to do a terrible thing here: I’m going to quote from an explicitly Marxist website:

     [T]he oppression of women, their marginalisation within society, and the repression of their sexual behaviour emerged, reducing them to mere instruments of reproduction (caring for the household and children), and became structural and embedded historically, together with the evolution of various family and social structures. Attitudes towards sexual behaviour that falls outside of reproduction within the monogamous family, on the other hand, depends on how much they are considered as a threat to the family as an institution. Homosexual love between women has been subject to varying degrees of repression at different periods in history (we have only mentioned a few above). We can argue, however, that as long as the monogamous family is considered the fundamental cornerstone of society and the only model for legitimate emotional and sexual behaviour, it will be impossible to overcome social discrimination based on sexual orientations.

     The struggle against sexual discrimination is linked to the struggle against class society in general for several reasons. The first, as we have explained, is that only the abolition of class society can create the material economic basis and cultural drive sufficient to dismantle the model of the monogamous family as the only basic unit of society.

     Note the title of that scrofulous essay: “LGBT: Liberation and Revolution.” Then proceed to this even more strident one:

     Arguably the most infamous demand of The Communist Manifesto is the “abolition of the family.” The family, Marx and Engels noted, was where patriarchy and capitalism worked in tandem to produce willing, alienated workers, where women became little more than “instruments of production” for the men who lorded over them. Radical queer politics in the 1960s and ’70s added to their critique of the bourgeois family when activists challenged the heteronormativity of familial relations….

     It’s a central idea to feminism anyway, that mothers aren’t natural entities; they’re making choices to look after this other person. It’s not some sort of mechanical, automatic process; it’s a practice of grounding sociality. Mothers nurture, but they also kill and abuse their wards. That’s why it’s so valuable to denaturalize the mother-child bond. To do anything otherwise is to devalue that work. That’s the horizon that I think opens up the space for a revolutionary politics.

     Again, note the title: “Want to Dismantle Capitalism? Abolish the Family.”

     Any problems tracing the common thread here, Gentle Reader?

     The “thinking” exemplified above has been going on for a very long time. Every Communist regime has labored like Hercules to undermine and destroy family bonds. Communists have targeted virtually every institution that families participate in together, seeking to outlaw it if they couldn’t “denaturalize” it. They’ve had their successes, despite the power of family attachments and parental love. Many of those successes have arisen from economic pressures. We’ve seen a fair amount of that in these United States, as the two-income family gradually supersedes the older one-income model as the norm.

     Yes, unrestricted abortion is part of it, but that’s the fish-in-a-barrel class. More subtle, and therefore far more threatening, is the combination of predatory taxation, persistent inflation, the “war between the sexes,” careerism among women, the consequent diminution of family sizes, and the proliferation of “day care” institutions, some of which reach all the way to early infancy.

     No doubt there are several reasons the Powers That Be have encouraged those developments. In his excellent and ominous first novel The Hidden Truth, Hans G. Schantz outlined a “game plan” that combines them into a sinister paradigm. The pattern is so similar to the economic, social, and political developments in post-World-War-II Western societies that only the willfully blind could miss it. The more recent promotion, almost entirely by the Left, of non-reproductive, family-averse behaviors such as homosexuality and transgenderism fits into the pattern very well. While there are conservatively inclined, family oriented gays and transgenders, they’re a small (but brave) minority. Moreover, they get no breaks from Nature; they must struggle with the clash between their yearnings for family and their other desires.

     Patterns matter. Even those that ultimately prove to have formed out of sheer coincidence should be studied as closely as human intellect permits. Considering that, as Arne Stromberg has said, the family is the essential building block of every stable society, this is a pattern that deserves the closest scrutiny:

     “Families are the fundamental building blocks of a stable society. Extended families -- clans -- are the best conceivable environment for the rearing of children, the perpetuation of a commercial forte, and the germination of new families and their ventures. A clan like yours, Miss Albermayer, conserves a brilliant genetic line and a priceless medical specialty at the same time. A clan like yours, Mr. Morelon, makes possible a benign agricultural empire and produces natural leaders one after another while connecting Hope to its most distant origins. And all healthy families, which cherish life and bind their members to one another in unembarrassed love, can find far more to occupy and amuse them than they need.

     “When Earth's regard for families and their most fundamental function deteriorated, her people ceased to enjoy the sorts of ties that had held them together throughout the history of Man. Without families, and especially without children, they groped for other things to fill their time, whether to give them a sense of purpose, or to distract them from the waning of their lives. Some invested themselves in industry or commerce, but without the sense of the family line to be built up and made prominent, those things failed to satisfy. Others immersed themselves in games, toys, fripperies, and increasingly bizarre forms of entertainment, which palled on them even faster. Still others made a fetish out of sex; there was a substantial sex industry on Earth, though it tended to operate in the shadows and was seldom openly discussed. They needed emotion and substance, but all they could contrive was sensation and novelty, and they pumped an ever greater share of their effort and wealth into seeking them. That's my thesis, for what it's worth.”

     Ponder well, Gentle Reader.

     One more thought before I close for today: the articles I cited in the first segment are both explicit about their animosity toward free market economics, a.k.a. capitalism. Their hostility toward the family is instrumental: it is intended to be principally a stroke against capitalism. This reveals them to be users of the homosexual and transgender communities. They are not allies from conviction but exploiters of those communities, in the belief that their enlargement would assist in the destruction of capitalism. Is their belief correct?

     I think it is. Family bonds and obligations provide good men the most powerful of all incentives to be producers and earners. Were those incentives to be subtracted, a great deal of the fuel would be removed from the economic engines of capitalist societies. Note that this is observably the case in those nations where birth rates have fallen below replacement levels: e.g., Japan, Russia, and the entire continent of Europe.

     Yet I have also said (and I continue to believe) that it is virtually impossible to get people to reproduce for the sake of a future they don’t expect to see. People in First World societies who have children do so for the sake of having children; no other desire participates. The demotion of children from an economic asset to a luxury good forces them to compete with other luxury goods – and children have been losing that competition for decades now.

     Food for thought.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Oh, I Do Declare! The Old South is...

...still there! The NY Times is aghast to discover that the Deep South is still traditional in its culture.

Full disclosure: I'm an Ohio transplant to SC. I've lived there for 14 years, and I have made many friends. Still, in many ways, I'm a foreigner. I still am a passionate Cleveland Indians fan (Go Tribe!!!!), my husband still roots for the Cleveland Browns, and I never seem to get my vegetable/flower garden in early enough. For me, Easter is the earliest planting season - most years, we have at least one sub-freezing day, if not more, in early April.

But, I've grown to think of the South as an adopted home. My kids tease me about the slight drawl I've acquired. I'm more tolerant of guns than I was when I lived in a Northern urban region.

I was always a Christian believer (Catholic version), even as a high school graduate. Later, in college, and after, my husband and I were regular attendees at church. So, the pro-religious tendencies of Southerners didn't upset me.

In schools across the South, the Pledge of Allegiance is recited each day, followed by a moment of silence - both are observed respectfully. True, in the New South urban areas, this tradition is not always strictly observed - but that's also true of many other traditions.

I had an easier adjustment to the cultural differences between North and South than my husband. My dad was raised in WV, and, on visits with relatives, I became accustomed to hearing a different point of view. The boy living next door to me in Lakewood, OH, was a rabid Civil War buff - he had a full Yankee uniform (not the NYC kind). By default, in any board games or re-enactment, I was Gray Confederate. I was 10 when the Civil War Centennial  commenced, so my exposure to the controversies - and to the reality of the Civil Rights fight - was a major part of my childhood.

I live in a well-integrated city - more so than most Northern cities or towns, and considerably more than the new developments that most New Southerners live in. These high-income homes are economically segregated, and few People of Color live there. For that reason, few of the New Southerners have Black neighbors. But, despite this, they are the experts on How Black People Think.

North or South, most people socialize with family, school friends, and neighbors. School friends, for non-college graduates, might include some people of other ethnicities - but, for those in fraternities/sororities, there is usually a sharp division between those for Blacks, and those for Whites. Black social clubs seldom include White members. These clubs are where the New Southern Elite are found.

What differentiates the South is the preference for Tradition, and a strong Culture that supports it. The South has its ways, from open and public display of religious feeling, to teaching your children to call adults Ma'am and Sir, and to showing respect for those in the military. Across social and economic classes, I have always been treated with courtesy - you might say it's in their DNA.

The dominant religion is Christian, mostly of the Protestant kind. For several years, in the Low Country, I attended a mission church (about 50 families) - Catholics were that rare in the county seat I lived in. Although fewer of the young are church members (almost 1/3 of those brought up in the New Southern cities are nearly completely ignorant of ANY religion).

The standard Christian theology of the South is Old School, and solidly against abortion. Which puts them in sharp conflict with Those New Southerners Who Scoff at Our Backward Ways. Like our contentious regional ancestors, we may be destined to lose in a Glorious Cause, but that won't stop us from throwing ourselves into the fight with all we've got.

The Left has sharply over-reached with their insistence on legalizing abortion until birth (or, even a smidge later). They are making it impossible to stay on the fence about this issue. And, unlike the earlier fight to loosen abortion restrictions, this time the culture is tipping against the Pro-Aborts. Those who've come to regret an abortion choice have access to healing ministries - most notably, Project Rachel, which helps women wrestling with pain after their abortion to find healing. Contrary to the image of the Catholic Church as judgmental and hostile to those who've had an abortion, this ministry is strongly supported.

Younger women are LESS likely to support abortion than their mothers. According to a CBS poll, 72% of women from 18 to 35 are supportive of at least some abortion restrictions.

Don't count us out in GA or AL. We may lose, but the other side will know they've been in a hellava fight. And, the fact is, even if we lose, we may win - in the hearts and minds of people.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Feeling And Not Doing: A Sunday Rumination

     Imagine along with me, if you please, a history other than the one recorded for us. Jesus is born in Nazareth, labors alongside Joseph as a carpenter during his early years, then at age thirty becomes a preacher whose message is exactly the same as in the Gospels…but he never cures the sick, never restores the sight of the blind or the mobility of the lame, and never cleanses a leper. Moreover, he does not travel: he preaches from a fixed base, not far from where he lived his first thirty years. Nor does he journey to Jerusalem, attract the ire of the Sanhedrin, and suffer execution. He lives a comfortable life, and dies old and well respected for his preaching.

     Would that Jesus of Nazareth have transformed the world as did the historical Jesus?

     I can’t see it. The Christ of the Gospels lived His message. Whoever appealed to Him received whatever gift He could bestow. Even had He not suffered His Passion and demonstrated His divinity at the Resurrection, He would still be a standout among the figures of His day. Add the Resurrection and you have the Son of God made Man. (No need to shake well.)

     So when He said to His disciples:

     Little children, yet a little while I am with you. Ye shall seek me: and as I said unto the Jews, Whither I go, ye cannot come; so now I say to you. A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. [John 13:33-35]

     …He had something more than just an emotion in mind.

     A wholesome philosophy of any sort must exhibit (at the very least) the willingness to tolerate those of other creeds, as far as possible without accepting subjugation or suicide. A better creed would mandate not merely tolerance but benevolence: to wish others well regardless of their divergent views. Christianity goes still further. In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus commands us to beneficence: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

     That’s love as He loved those who came to Him. It’s the foundation for the Christian encouragement of its communicants to the works of mercy:

  1. Corporal works of mercy (i.e., ministering to the body):
    • Feed the hungry.
    • Give drink to the thirsty.
    • Shelter the homeless.
    • Clothe the naked.
    • Visit the sick and imprisoned.
    • Bury the dead.
    • Give alms to the poor.
  2. Spiritual works of mercy (i.e., ministering to the soul):
    • Admonish the sinner.
    • Instruct the ignorant.
    • Counsel the doubtful.
    • Bear wrongs patiently.
    • Forgive offenses willingly.
    • Comfort the afflicted.
    • Pray for the living and the dead.

     Is there anyone who would not want to be the beneficiary of such beneficence should the need arise?

     Christ commanded us to do all the above, most explicitly, in several Gospel passages. Merely to feel a pleasant benevolence toward others is not enough. When a sincere Christian encounters someone who is in genuine need, he is required to do what he can for that person.

     Christian love of neighbor isn’t just something you feel.

     It’s possible to overstress this concept. We are not commanded to range far afield in search of persons upon whom to perform acts of charity. (We’re also not commanded to impose ourselves on persons who are handling their own difficulties and ask only to be left alone. Indeed, that’s forbidden.) But most of us will find, in our paths at various points in our lives, persons in genuine need of assistance whom we are equipped to help. A Christian is expected to do what he can in such circumstances.

     Note in the previous sentence the qualifying phrase what he can. The beneficent Christian is not expected to endanger himself or his family. He is not expected to endure abuse. And he is not expected to give what he does not possess. God is just.

     God asks only that should the opportunity arise, we validate our professions of love with the appropriate action.

     This is not to denigrate the extraordinary lives of service to others exemplified by such persons as Albert Schweitzer and Mother Teresa of Calcutta. These lives transformed into acts of charity were surely laudable. Yet a just God would not demand them of all of us. He designed our lives as He did because we are allowed to live as we please, subject only to our acceptance of the Two Great Commandments and the Ten that follow from them.

     Still, they who came to Him while He wore the flesh always found that His love was sufficient unto their needs, whatever those were. He did not merely commiserate with His supplicants; He acted. In this His year of 2019, as the Easter season progresses toward Ascension Thursday and the mighty feast of Pentecost, it’s something to bear in mind.

     May God bless and keep you all.

Shocker! Criminals Are Likely to Lie!

I know, I know. It's perplexing. It's counter-intuitive.

But - there you are - "migrants" (PC-speak for illegal aliens) are likely to lie to bolster their claims.

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Why "Broken Windows" Works

I lived in cities before, during, and after the Guiliani years. Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and Rock Hill, SC - none of them as big as NYC, but, having many of the same problems and pathologies as the biggest cities did. Much of what was discovered by testing out solutions during those years also applied to what has happened in schools during those same years.

This link takes you to Instapundit, which excerpts a longer piece on the topic. For many people without personal experience in dealing with these counter-attacks on disorder, the solutions - cleaning subway cars, stopping panhandling, and arresting turnstile-jumpers - seem petty and ridiculous. But when you analyze them individually, the logic of using these particular targets makes a lot of sense.

To begin with, subway graffiti, along with other forms of appropriation of public spaces, is NOT art. It may demonstrate skill in using spray paint to create intricate designs, even approaching a level of skill higher than many artists, but it ain't art.

It's vandalism of property. And, free advertising for gangs.

If you wouldn't argue for billboards that advertise the local gangs, why would you support their use of public property to do the same?

But, it's more than that - it eliminates a reason for young men to wander around public transportation lines late at night. That reduces the number of people hanging out after dark, who have connections to gangs. It makes late night travel safer for working people and patrons of local dining and entertainment establishments.

The second solution - keeping panhandlers from accosting people - also has hidden purposes. It keeps the "guys on the street" from heading out to block people's way, and aggressively demand money in return for not bothering them further.

Why the hell should anyone have to turn over their hard-earned cash just to travel the streets?

The panhandlers and their cousins, the 'cleaning rag' guys - who would try to hit up drivers paused in traffic, using the excuse of providing an unasked-for service - not only contributed to congestion, but created a hazard by blocking car movement.

The last one, for many people, seems ridiculously petty - really, arresting a kid for jumping the turnstile?

Think about it - those kids, if they had to pay for their wandering around the city, wouldn't. They'd stay home if they didn't have a specific purpose. That habit of just hanging out puts people without money or purpose loose in the city, and leads to the infamous Idle Hands scenario. Unemployed young men commit most of the crime. They have little to lose. They may gain status among their peers for daring activity. And this all adds to the number of aimless people on the street who are bored and looking for excitement, which criminal activity provides.

So, yes - seemingly small changes can improve, or destroy, a civilization.

Friday, May 17, 2019

"Wokeness" And The Great Labeling

     Imagine this, if you will: A human society is getting along tolerably well. It’s not a utopia, mind you. There are still persons who struggle to make ends meet. There are still persons who are excluded from various things for bad reasons. There are still persons who suffer wounds to their dignity from the speech or conduct of others. But it’s getting along, owing to the universal recognition of individuals’ rights, and the willingness of the many to help the less fortunate few when the need arises.

     But soft! What’s this? There is a human characteristic, found in everyone who’s ever lived, that’s suddenly become a target for a gaggle of would-be tyrants. (C. S. Lewis called them “Conditioners.”) These persons have decided to label this characteristic, to denounce it roundly and continuously, and to mount a public campaign against it that involves shaming everyone who demonstrates it – or whom they can claim, however implausibly, to have demonstrated it!

     Excuse me! Did I imply that this labeling / public crusade involves only one universal human characteristic? My mistake; it embraces a great many of them, all of which are ineradicable.

     The campaigners against these things don’t merely afflict small pockets of society. They often seem to own the streets. They are making it impossible to have any sort of public discourse. They attack innocent persons on the basis of…well, you name it, but especially for their choices of words.

     These are “The Woke.” They are the scourge of America. Moreover, they’re fully aware of their own odiousness. They flaunt it like a badge of merit.

     Just as a plague of thieves would make property impossible, The Woke are making social intercourse impossible. And they’re proud of it.

     Yet their principal weapons, which ordinary Americans would never have dreamed could be made into a lethal bludgeon, are verbal: the labels they apply to ordinary human characteristics and inclinations. And to this point, almost no one has adopted the proper countermeasure against them.

     Bo Winegard’s essay on The Woke deserves to be cited explicitly at several points. First, Professor Winegard addresses why they do it:

     Because it allows a person priority access to crucial and coveted resources such as money and mates, the desire for status is probably a fundamental human motivation. And because that desire is primitive and powerful, many social practices and activities function at least partially to delineate status relationships. These can be analyzed as status systems and operate in predictable ways because, whatever its diverse manifestations, status has some invariant features. Most importantly, it is inexpansible. That is to say, its supply does not grow. Unlike the economic pie, the status pie remains roughly the same across time. Therefore, players in the status game inevitably inhabit a zero-sum world. If one person’s status goes up, then another’s must go down, which explains why people are exquisitely sensitive not only to gains in their own status, but also to gains in other people’s status. Another’s triumph inevitably rearranges the distribution of a finite and precious resource.

     Among other things, Wokeness appears to operate as just such a status system. This doesn’t mean that its only function is to adjudicate status competitions; but it does mean that one of its crucial functions is to do so. And it does this primarily by offering a signaling vocabulary which can distinguish educated elites from hoi polloi. The elites who thus benefit offer status to those who defend and legitimize the Woke narrative (the preachers); and they strip status from those who dissent.

     Note how closely this analysis of status in Wokeness compares to the Marxist conception of the economic pie. That which is greatly desired but fixed in supply tends to elicit destructive behavior. The Woke certainly produce enough of that.

     To sustain the eternal competition for status in Wokeness, the array of verbal cudgels must be constantly expanded and ramified, even if it means a descent into gibberish:

     Wokeness provides this kind of sophisticated argot for signalers. Those who preach its gospel often use bizarre concepts imported from postmodern theorists, infamous for their impenetrable prose. Terms such as “hegemonic,” “intersectional,” “phallocentric,” and “queerphobe” are regularly deployed, intimidating the uninitiated and impressing those who wish, in the future, to signal their erudition to fawning fans. Even Woke language for popular consumption is complicated by a quickly changing list of taboo epithets. Is it wrong to say homosexual relationship? Is it all right to say African-American? Will I be berated if I say Mexican-American? These changing prohibitions function well to distinguish elites from hoi polloi because they require devotion, erudition, and the right social acquaintances to understand.

     But even gibberish will serve the purposes of The Woke if the gibberish can be made to sound elevated – and threatening. It advances the progress of self-censorship, by which only the certifiably Woke are allowed to speak in an unencumbered fashion.

     However, the inevitable consequence of an inexpansible status system is the emergence of a hierarchy: Inner and Outer Parties, with a small circle of Anointed at the summit of the Inner Party and perhaps a Big Brother figure at the absolute apex. Not all who aspire to membership in the more rarefied circles will be permitted to enter them. This will cause resentment in the excluded, and a measure of guilt in some of the accepted:

     Status disparities cause resentment. And they often also cause guilt. Those on the bottom of the hierarchy become bitter, disdaining those on the top. And this resentment is a constant source of rancor and instability. Those on the top, of course, are generally happier; however, they often experience discord as well, especially perhaps if they are liberal: Why do I deserve this blessed life? Am I really better than those below me? Both problems—the bitterness of those on the bottom and the guilt of those on the top—can be ameliorated by a powerful legitimizing narrative, a narrative that explains why those on the top deserve their status while those on the bottom deserve their rather less charmed lives and, in fact, should be pleased simply to defer to their superiors. Those who provide such a narrative offer a valuable service; therefore, they are recompensed with approval and applause.

     Are these mechanisms eternally stable? Of course not; nothing is. But they might last long enough to destabilize the most successful human society in the history of Man.

     Professor Winegard’s analysis concludes with an opinion about the sincerity of The Woke – in my opinion, an excessively generous assessment:

     Before concluding, it is important to re-emphasize that many of the people in the Woke status system sincerely believe in social justice. And many of their moral concerns are entirely legitimate….The danger is that the status desires of these preachers will eclipse their moral concerns. (Some, of course, would claim that this has already happened.)

     The suggestion that The Woke are sincere about the phantasm of “social justice” runs counter to the available evidence. If there are any in that community who genuinely do care about the persons they supposedly champion – and who are they, specifically? — what are they actually doing about it, other than preening about their superiority to the rest of us? What real-world results, measurable enough to register on some scale of acknowledged significance, can they show us?

     The answer is unpleasant: They can show us nothing of the kind. The devolution of Wokeness from a putatively sincere concern with racial and ethnic exclusion, poverty, or other varieties of imagined “oppression,” into a competition for status has made objective gains of the sort others would admire, or at least respect as indications of sincerity, impossible. Today’s Woke are concerned solely with the status their methods can attain for them.

     It is a mistake to attribute to The Woke any degree of sincerity or integrity, especially as the “causes” they champion are mere fantasies, without exception.

     Of course, the principal concern of anyone who finds The Woke a nuisance, a blight upon civil society, an impediment to constructive discourse and an occasional temptation to murder, must be whether We the Normal and Sensible can do anything about them. The news here is mixed.

     I opened this diatribe with the assertion that at the heart of the matter stand certain universal human characteristics, and that The Woke’s crusades are essentially a practice of applying pejorative labels to these things, denouncing them, and castigating anyone who might exhibit a trace of them:

  • Racism.
  • Sexism.
  • A degree of xenophobia.
  • A belief in biological reality.
  • A preference for those of similar backgrounds and creeds.
  • The belief in personal responsibility; i.e., that “fate” doesn’t control one’s destiny.

     The implication is that these characteristics can be expelled from our species – that a new and better human being can be produced if we just work at it. It’s the purest nonsense. Yet The Woke demonize these things relentlessly, ironically without admitting to their own possession and exhibition of them.

     It’s not quite New Socialist Man stuff, as The Woke lack the power to enforce their wills by law. But verbal beatdowns sufficiently prolonged can affect a man, though the effect is more likely to be negative than positive.

     With the exception of the most elevated of their kind – those who know exactly what they’re about and make no pretense of sincerity even to one another – The Woke suffer a defect in the rational faculty: a mental disease. They have made their pursuit of a phantasm – the quest for moral superiority based on a mere difference of opinion – the core of their existence. And no known therapy is effective against it.

     They cannot be cured. They can only be detoxified. And as their weapons are verbal, so also are the appropriate countermeasures.

     Dismiss the labels. (“So what?”)
     Ignore the castigations. (“Yeah, sure.”)
     Laugh at the humorless scolds who seek to flail you with them.
     Deny them your respect.
     Smirk, flip a hand, and walk on.

     Short of confinement in an institution whose suites have padded walls, it’s all one can do for anyone afflicted with the disease of Wokeness.

     No, there is no cure. But there is hope.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Quickies: Circular Firing Squads Can Reverse Direction Very Swiftly

     There’ve been a number of articles on the Web these past few days about the exchanges of accusations among Justice Department and intelligence community figures who had some hand in the “Russian collusion” hoax that targeted President Trump. The most frequently cited names so far have been those of disgraced former FBI director James Comey and former CIA director John Brennan, who are now sparring over the prominence of their respective roles in the promotion and exploitation of the “Steele dossier.” Many in the Right have been figuratively rubbing their hands together with glee, anticipating a falling-out among highly placed persons involved in the hoax that could lead to all the details of the affair being revealed.

     This does seem a happy development. However, the seeming fusillades among these persons could have another purpose. It could be a tactic intended to persuade those capable of investigating the matter deeply enough to bring major miscreants to justice that “it’s too big” — that is, that a serious, determined plumbing of the cesspool would do unacceptable damage to persons or institutions that we “can’t afford to lose.”

     Do not doubt that that could result. The spanking-new FBI director, Christopher Wray, is already maneuvering to protect “his” Bureau from a housecleaning. Various prominent Republicans have displayed a great reluctance to “perpetuate the nightmare” for the sake of determining the responsible parties, bringing them to justice, and enforcing a thorough cleansing upon the agencies involved. Many highly placed persons, both inside and outside the corridors of power, have opined that the cost of restoring integrity to the Justice Department and the intelligence community might be too high to bear. Never mind what it might cost the country to allow them to remain corrupt. <

     Of course, it could also be about fear of reprisal. The old saying “it ain’t what you know; it’s who you know” is moderately misfocused. As Lawrence Block has observed, it ain’t who you know; it’s what you’ve got on ‘em. The FBI and CIA are fanatic collectors of such information, and have several times proved willing to use it for their own purposes. The IRS also collects dirt in wholesale quantities. As it’s still under the crosshairs for its suppression of conservative political activity, it might be persuaded to lend a hand.

     It’s been noted by many that Washington’s first priority is to protect Washington. The attitude is more pervasive than even a great many cynics would believe. This will bear close scrutiny…and possibly the most extraordinary reaction, should corrective action fail to materialize.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

The Song Is Over, Thank God

     Decades ago, I read a fair amount of traditional (i.e., “high” or “medieval”) fantasy fiction. You know, the sort Tolkien, Eddison, and Peake wrote. I no longer do, for the same reason I’ve lamented about at other times: the lack of originality the genre displays.

     The field started to slip in a noticeable way in the Seventies with Stephen R. Donaldson’s “Thomas Covenant” books and Terry Brooks’s interminable “Shannara” series. It was easy to see that these writers had nothing new to show us. They merely filed the serial numbers off Tolkien’s model, slapped on a fresh coat of paint, and offered it to us as if it were genuinely original. Robert Jordan’s “Wheel of Time” series sharpened my frustration: the first five volumes seemed moderately daring for trad-fantasy, but from number six onward it descended into tedium. Glen Cook was able to make his “Black Company” tales and his “Tyranny of the Night” fresh and original, but he’s the sole exception I’ve encountered to an endless parade of Tolkien imitators.

     The problem might be inherent in trad-fantasy, which is non- or pre-technological in setting and usually magical in motif. There isn’t much one can do to differentiate such a tale from others in its genre. Attempts to achieve freshness by adding just a little technology, or by giving magic a connection to a sketchy supernatural, quasi-theological scheme, usually fail, whether by violating the precepts of the genre or edging into another subcategory of speculative fiction such as “steampunk.” So for some time it’s seemed to me that trad-fantasy as a working field might just have reached its terminus.

     Then along came George R. R. Martin’s novel A Game of Thrones. While the usual lineaments of trad-fantasy were easy to discern, nevertheless there was something fresh about the tale. I read it with pleasure and looked forward to the continuation of the series.

     That sense of originality started to fade somewhere around the midpoint of volume three, A Storm of Swords. I slogged through volume four, A Feast For Crows, with considerable difficulty. I purchased volume five, A Dance Of Dragons, but I never opened it.

     HBO’s video productions of the Martin series have had the same effect on me. Unfortunately, the C.S.O. absolutely loves them – she’ll watch anything with a sufficiently high body count – so I’ve been compelled to suffer through them, pretending an equal degree of enthusiasm for the sake of domestic peace. We both look forward to viewing the final season, albeit for sharply contrasting reasons.

     And today we learn this:

     Many people are upset about the Villain Turn a character took last episode. I think that turn could have been decent -- if this had been a ten episode season, and we had seen the character descend into evil a little at a time, so that we would start anticipating it, then accepting it, and then seeing it as both organic and maybe even inevitable.

     But the way they rushed through this -- all major BULLET POINTS!!! with barely any dramatization around them -- makes this all feel like characters are now just doing things because the producers are bored and have been bored for years and want to move on to ruining another franchise (Star Wars, in this case -- which I'm not sure can be further ruined).

     David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have repeatedly stated that the crowning moment of this book series to them was the Red Wedding, and their major goal was just to do the show justice, and garner enough of an audience, to get greenlit into season 3 so they could film that.

     Well, they did.

     And that being their major goal -- they began getting very bored of the show by season 5 and had to start doing their own writing….Benioff and Weiss began improvising in season 5.

     And it showed. Martin's books might not have provided strong material but they didn't actually improve on his crap; they just made it shorter.

     I must concur.

     Mind you, George R. R. Martin has displayed considerable talent for unique, original stories and characters in the past. During the years he wrote mainly short stories, I would read anything he wrote. I particularly liked his early novel Dying of the Light. So this is not a writer I regard as a hack ab initio. But the “Song of Ice and Fire” series is not up to his earlier standard. Moreover, I think he knows it. I submit his failure to publish the culminating volumes in the series as Exhibit Two.

     There’s a moral in this. Some projects, however promising at the outset, have a dubious future. Sometimes those limits are perceptible early on. It strikes me that in trad-fantasy, that’s true more often than not.

     Had Martin limited himself to three books on the order of magnitude of A Game of Thrones, but with escalating development of plot and characters and a properly closed-off ending, he might deserve a better evaluation than “Yeah, yeah, more of the same.” The HBO series would have been more appealing as well, not the least because it would have ended sooner.

     In all probability, the deciding factor in all of this was money. Despite the endless repetitions of theme, plot, and core motifs, trad-fantasy sells well. Then again, so do romance novels that differ from one another mainly in the names of their characters and the details of their sex scenes. There’s an audience for them that seems impossible to sate, and where there’s a demand, a supply will emerge. It’s far more likely than not that money is what’s propelled Martin and HBO, much as it does the legions of writers churning out pink-and-purple-covered pabulum for Harlequin Books.

The sleep of reason.

[Prof. Mario Caligiuri:] How do you explain that Western countries do not question their alliance with Saudi Arabia, which is generative of Wahhabi ideology and terrorism in the world?

[Prof. Mario Caligiuri:] Sherlock Holmes would say: "Elementary, Watson." This clearly demonstrates that the economic interests, not only of States but especially of multinationals, prevail over the needs of citizens. This is the greatest weakness of democracies that may explode, as was the case in Europe in the twenties and thirties. The results of this era are still being felt today, almost a hundred years later, but we must consider that the degeneration of democracy is like the sleep of reason: it gives rise to monsters. Our mistake today is focused on the monsters and not on the causes of the degeneration of democracy, which, in my opinion, is mainly related to the selection of very inadequate ruling classes.[1]

The West's enfatuation with "democracy" and the mindless extension of the franchise to morons is finally bearing fruit – the enstupidation and degeneration of our civilization. Political debate is dominated by children, freaks, illiterates, and subversives.

[1] "Prof. Mario Caligiuri: 'The Degeneration of Democracy Is Like the Sleep of Reason: It Gives Rise to Monsters.'" By Mohsen Abdelmoumen, American Herald Tribune, 5/14/19 (emphasis in second paragraph added).

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

The Oldest Funny Subject Suddenly Isn’t Funny Any More

     "The pleasure is momentary, the position is ridiculous, and the expense is damnable." – Lord Chesterfield

     Certain things become easier with advancing age. One of them is the acquisition of a degree of calm – and a relaxed perspective – about sex.

     The quote above is supposedly from a letter Lord Chesterfield wrote to his son. I have no idea what the context was, but the truths in the quoted epigram are eternal. It suggests to me that Chesterfield had been married, and “of a certain age.” My sainted father, a veteran of both World War II and a stormy, ultimately failed marriage, liked to say that if he had to repeat one of them and was allowed to choose which one, it would be the former. (And please, don’t take “sainted” too literally; just about everything Dad said was liberally laced with expletives. Navy veterans are like that.)

     Allow me to retell an anecdote from some years ago:

     About twenty-five years ago, the C.S.O. and I had another family, the Hudsons, come to dinner at the Fortress: husband, wife, and two teenaged children. It was a pleasant evening, and dinner, cooking being the C.S.O.’s forte, was enjoyed by all. We were past the entrée and enjoying dessert when one of the teens, a charming young lady whose name was Kristin, asked a question of me that, as the saying goes, “brought down the house:”
     “Fran, what would you say is the biggest difference between teens and adults?”

     Kristin’s parents were immediately alert. Mind you, I wasn’t known in their household as some fount of eternal wisdom. Hell, I’m not known that way in my own household. But as you may have noticed, I do have opinions, and I tend to dispense them freely. Moreover, the way Kristin asked the question suggested 1) that she seriously wanted to know my opinion, and 2) that her parents had not provided an answer she found satisfactory. So I took the question seriously, and I decided to answer it seriously:

     “Well, Kristin, I’d say it’s what they’re most concerned about. Teenagers tend to be most concerned about sex. But as you get older, you tend to be less concerned about sex and more concerned about money.”

     You could have heard a pin drop. Kristin’s face lit as if I’d provided the Great Answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything. On the other hand, I think her parents would have looked less shocked if I’d hopped onto the table and dropped my pants. Plainly, by their lights this was something Kristin should not have heard from a respected elder. And yet it was my honest opinion. I believed it then and I believe it today.

     The get-together ended a few uncomfortable minutes later.

     Even the mention of sex in the hearing of the young can make the elders in the room distinctly uncomfortable. It’s not because the elders don’t want the young’uns to know about the process by which human life is generated. They know they’ve lost that battle by the time Junior is ten. But it might be because with the attenuation of their own drives, they’ve become embarrassed about what their sexual decisions have brought upon them.

     A lot of us make bad decisions in the heat of passion. Some of those decisions can have lifelong consequences, as Lord Chesterfield suggested. Meat Loaf would tell you the same:

     Bad decisions of that sort are a major impetus to the growth of the Men Going Their Own Way movement.

     Probably the worst recent development pertaining to the sexual decisions of Americans has been the politicization of sex and everything associated with it. I could list many manifestations. I shan’t, as it’s too early in the morning to chug yet another bottle of Maalox.® But you’re probably already familiar with most of them anyway.

     It’s my contention that mixing politics into an innocent human activity – and sex is innocent until proven guilty – is guaranteed to ruin it. Examples abound. Yet women tend to play the Lysistrata card reflexively when they don’t get what they want. Here’s a washed-up second-tier actress trying that gambit. Over abortion, of all things.

     Here’s Kurt Schlichter’s reaction:

     Let’s review. Alyssa Milano is not going to have sex unless and until you allow her to kill babies. I am unclear on what our reaction is supposed to be. Does she expect us to pull a 180 on pre-birth infanticide in order to keep the Alyssa Option open?...

     I am guessing that this innovative strategy probably won’t be successful in dissuading us from protecting the unborn. Scratching Alyssa Milano off our collective “To-do” list? We can live with that.

     Well, yes. But Milano’s screech does underline just how silly some of us can get about the whole deal. The silliness isn’t confined to actual sexual congress.

     Back during the early years of the Sexual Devolution Revolution, we saw many lampoonings of supposedly traditional sex-related convictions, such as this one:

     Now, I’m not going to say that pornography has no downside. It can warp expectations. It can unhealthfully divert the focus of the young. And yes, it’s had negative impacts on more than a few married couples. But it’s not responsible for rape, or the spread of venereal disease, any more than Grand Theft Auto is responsible for carjackings. There is no correlation among those things, as we’ve learned.

     That makes it rather strange that there should be a sudden surge of condemnations of porn, especially on the World Wide Web. The most common rationale for these condemnations is religious. That, at least, is understandable. The hierarchies of the major religions have all railed against sexual indulgence and any peripheral manifestations of it for many centuries; it’s an important competitor for the attention of the young.

     Allow me to cite a sensible man on the subject:

     The third morning after the system was installed Jill brought a letter, category “G”, to Jubal. The ladies and other females (plus misguided males) who supplied this category usually included pictures alleged to be of themselves; some left little to the imagination.
     This letter enclosed a picture which left nothing to the imagination, then stimulated fresh imaginings. Jill said, “Look at this, Boss! I ask you!”
     Jubal read the letter. “She knows what she wants. What does Mike think?”
     “He hasn’t seen it.”
     Jubal glanced at the picture. “A type which, in my youth, we called ‘stacked.’ Well, her sex is not in doubt, nor her agility. Why show it to me? I’ve seen better.”
     “What should I do! The letter is bad enough . . . but that disgusting picture—should I tear it up?”
     “What’s on the envelope?”
     “Just the address and return address.”
     “How does the address read?”
     “Huh? ‘Mr. Valentine Michael Smith, the Man from’—”
     “Oh! Then it’s not addressed to you.
     “Why, no, of course—”
     “Let’s get something straight. You are neither Mike’s mother nor his chaperon. If Mike wants to read everything addressed to him, including junk mail, he is free to do so.”
     “He does read most of those ads. But you don’t want him to see filth! He’s innocent.”
     “So? How many men has he killed?”
     Jill looked unhappy.
     Jubal went on: “If you want to help him, you will concentrate on teaching him that killing is frowned on in this society. Otherwise he will be conspicuous when he goes out into the world.”
     “Uh, I don’t think he wants to ‘go out into the world.’ ”
     “I’m going to push him out of the nest as soon as he can fly. I shan’t make it possible for him to live out his life as an arrested infant. For one thing, I can’t . . . Mike will outlive me by many years. But you are correct; Mike is innocent. Nurse, have you seen that sterile laboratory at Notre Dame?”
     “I’ve read about it.”
     “Healthiest animals in the world—but they can’t leave the laboratory. Child, Mike has got to get acquainted with ‘filth’—and get immunized. Someday he’ll meet the gal who wrote this, or her spiritual sisters—he’ll meet her by the hundreds—shucks, with his notoriety and looks he could spend his life skipping from one bed to another. You can’t stop it, I can’t stop it; it’s up to Mike. Furthermore, I wouldn’t want to stop it, although it’s a silly way to spend one’s life—the same exercises over and over again, I mean. What do you think?”
     “I—” Jill blushed.
     “Maybe you don’t find them monotonous—none of my business, either way. But if you don’t want Mike’s feet kicked out from under him by the first five hundred women who get him alone, then don’t intercept his mail. Letters like that may put him on guard. Just pass it along in the stack, answer his questions—and try not to blush.”
     “Boss, you’re infuriating when you’re logical!”
     “A most uncouth way to argue.”
     “I’m going to tear up that picture after Mike has seen it!”
     “Oh, don’t do that!”
     “What? Do you want it?”
     “Heaven forbid! But Duke collects such pictures. If Mike doesn’t want it, give it to Duke.”
     “Duke collects such trash? He seems such a nice person.”
     “He is.”
     “But—I don’t understand.”
     Jubal sighed. “I could explain it all day and you still wouldn’t. My dear, there are aspects of sex on which it is impossible to communicate between the two sexes of our race. They are sometimes grokked by intuition across the gulf that separates us, by exceptionally gifted individuals. But words are useless. Just believe me: Duke is a perfect knight—and he will like that picture.”
     “I won’t hand it to Duke myself—he might get ideas.”

     [Robert A. Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land]

     That passage has always made me laugh, As I’ve aged, the laughter has grown ever more self-referential.

     Jubal Harshaw, Heinlein’s fictional self-insertion into his most famous novel, is one of his trademarked “older and wiser characters,” used to provide the perspective of age that his younger, more action-oriented characters require for balance. In Heinlein’s oeuvre, the young tend to learn from the old, which is as it should be.

     But Heinlein, many will object, was dismissive of religion. There is some truth in this; he had had his fill of religious authoritarianism well before he wrote Stranger in a Strange Land. But being a sensible man, he didn’t discard the baby with the bathwater. He retained a lively interest in religious and supernatural questions lifelong. Both those things are plainly illustrated in his novel Job: A Comedy of Justice.

     Quasi-religious crusades against pornography – specifically, the visual or written depiction of sexual activity – as a specially threatening variety of evil are doomed to failure. They cannot succeed, for the same reason attempts to ban a religion only make it flourish. Jubal Harshaw’s approach has a better record at immunizing the young against sexual obsession…and getting them to see the humorous side of the matter.

     So we see sex, “the oldest funny subject,” being politicized from the Left and becoming a target (once again) among bluenoses nominally on the Right. That makes it hard to laugh about it. It also makes it treacherous to broach any subject connected to sex, even tangentially, in the company of persons of unknown attitudes.

     But we will laugh about sex, even if only in the company of those we know well. We need to laugh, especially today. And sex is both fertile ground for the incongruities that bring laughter and something nearly everyone knows enough about to see those incongruities. Which is justification enough to close with a joke:

     A weary traveler with time to kill before his flight home stopped into a tavern to waste some of it. He ordered a beer and, as he was hungry for friendly conversation and there were few others in the bar, he tried to strike up a little chat with the bartender.

     “You know,” he said as the bartender brought his beer, “some of the stuff going on in Washington—”

     The bartender stopped him with a glare. “We don’t allow political talk in this establishment. It leads to too many fights.”

     Chastened, the traveler subsided at once. A bit later, as he was finishing his beer, the bartender came over to ask if he wanted a refill. He nodded and said, “Sure. I was just thinking about something the Pope said—” And again the bartender silenced him with a wave and a glare.

     “We don’t allow religious talk in here, either,” the bartender said. “No one ever agrees with anyone, and we can’t afford the ill will.”

     “Well, then,” the annoyed traveler said, “do you allow talk about sex?”

     The bartender was mildly surprised, but after a moment he said, “Sure, everyone talks about sex.”

     “In that case,” our hero said as he rose from his stool, “go fuck yourself.”

     And I alone am escaped to tell thee.