Sunday, May 31, 2020

Anarcho-Tyranny On Parade

     On the very day a team of brilliant engineers catapulted two brave Americans into space, for the first time using launch and life support systems designed and built by a private American corporation, to thunderous nationwide cheers and celebrations, it appears that the collapse of the Republic has truly been set in motion.

     The rioting afflicting Minneapolis is being mirrored in several other cities. All those cities are currently under Democrat administrations. Coincidence? Perhaps...and perhaps not.

     It’s not about the death of George Floyd, no matter who says otherwise. No death, however unjust, could possibly justify the looting and burning of private property. Yet the rioters have done a great deal of that, along with the usual “liberating” of valuable portable goods from the places they’ve attacked.

     There are conflicting reports about the rioters. Some have said they’re almost entirely black, and there’s video to that effect. Others have said they’re largely white, and there’s video to that effect as well. Some say the rioters are mainly locals; others say they’re being bused in. It will be difficult, at least for a while, to sort through the competing claims.

     What’s beyond dispute is that in those cities and districts overrun by the rioters, the social order has vanished. We’re back to Hobbes’s state of nature once more. Only those ready, willing, and able to defend themselves and their property stand against the tide.

     But wait: isn’t this why we have law enforcement institutions? Doesn’t this sort of madness justify using the National Guard – and possibly the regular Army as well – to put down these insurrections? For insurrections, against law and the orderly social processes it’s supposed to safeguard, are plainly what we’re seeing. Moreover, the coordination among the afflicted cities is impossible to dismiss as mere coincidence.

     Yet in the riot-afflicted cities, the “forces of order” are largely passive. They weren’t passive in Detroit in July of 1967. Those riots threatened to destroy what was then called “America’s city of cathedrals,” and honored as one of the most beautiful urban areas on Earth. Michigan’s authorities appealed to the federal government for assistance in putting down the rioters. They got it, complete with an armored column to reassure Detroit’s peaceable residents that no further disorder would be tolerated.

     Tucker Carlson, as impassioned as usual (and justifiably so), asks us why the rest of us continue to “follow the rules.” He has a powerful point, one that has been foreshadowed by writers who’ve warned of “the coming middle-class anarchy.” Yet he has nevertheless failed to use the one word that would clarify our entire situation: anarcho-tyranny. Our “leaders” don't act against the rioters for a positive reason: the threat the rioters represent helps to keep the rest of us cowed -- "in our place," one might say. The irony is profound: we kowtow to the State, unto the minutest minutiae of licensure, inspections, permittage, and endless nuisance fees, out of the belief, carefully inculcated by all manner of propaganda systems from kindergarten onward, that it and only it stands between us and utter chaos...even as the very chaos we fear is unleashed among us, with the passive connivance of the State.

     Few are willing to say least, few who have a mass audience. It goes against The Narrative: i.e., that it’s about “racism.” This is a complete inversion of the truth that no verbal denunciation could punish sufficiently. Yet that Narrative commands the airwaves. Racialist hucksters promote it relentlessly. Leftist politicians endorse it; those in the Right fear to contradict it. And many Americans have swallowed it uncritically.

     But the realities on the ground in Minneapolis, Atlanta, Seattle, Brooklyn, and elsewhere will prove otherwise. Indeed, it’s borne out by the behavior of the rioters themselves. And as I’ve said far too many times already, word gets around. What people need to know, they will know, sooner or later.

     I can’t see where the sense lies in repeating myself endlessly. There will be a terrible reckoning, for which no decent man would wish. If it should come without totally destroying what remains of our Constitutional order, it will be a miracle comparable to the founding of the Republic itself.

     It's been said many times, by many voices, that “there is no voting our way out of this.” I'm beginning to believe it.

Moral Narscissism -The Root of Virtue Signaling

I just started a new book (I've been hitting my library's e-book collection hard lately).  It's Roger Simon's I Know Best: How Moral Narcissism is Destroying Our Republic, If It Hasn't Already I found it through a link on PJ Media.

The definition of Moral Narcissism is brought in early:
What is moral narcissism anyway? The short form is this: What you believe, or claim to believe or say you believe - not what you do or how you act or what the results of your actions may be - defines you as a person and makes you "good". It is how your life will be judged by others and by yourself.
If that isn't a perfect description of how many - if not most - in our society see themselves, I've not read anything closer.

But, the most dangerous part of that self-image is:
...those ideas and attitudes are "reflected" in the following narcissistic manner - if you intentions are good, if they conform to the general received values of your friends, family, and co-workers, what a person of your class and social milieu is supposed to think, everything is fine. You are that "good" person. You are ratified. You can do anything you wish. It doesn't matter in the slightest what the results of those ideas and beliefs are, or how society, the country, and in some cases, the world suffers from them. It doesn't matter that they misfire completely, cause terror attacks, illness, eath, riots in the inner city, or national bankruptcy. You will be applauded and approved of. 
I think Simon has hit on something. It does seem to explain how people can simultaneously do the most awful things, and yet think of themselves as a moral actor. It allows people to display complete disengagement from the actual consequences of ruinous actions, and continued preening about their moral superiority. It has people replacing the hard work of improving life for their fellow Earth inhabitants, and replacing it with posturized chanting and posing for the cameras.

Sort of a Group Selfie, Duck Lips Optional, but 'revolutionary T-shirt and mask' required.

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Back to Space

I'm pumped! I'm excited! This is a great day - America, with the partnership of the SpaceX company, is back in space.

I'm a true child of the 60s. I was hooked on the whole Race to the Moon thing. My dad had read science fiction as a kid, and was completely captivated by the idea that man could explore outer space. Dad hadn't even riden in an airplane till the mid-60s. But he believed in the possibility.

I used to listen to Dad and his brother talk; Uncle Junior worked for a Columbus-based part of Bell Telephone (not sure just quite what his job was, but he'd visit and tell Dad of all the incredible things they were doing at work). Uncle Junior was the one that first got me excited about ham radio; it was after his funeral that I decided to follow up on a long-held dream of getting a license.

But, I, like so many of my classmates, was fascinated by the astronauts and the many engineers and technicians that worked together to make the missions happen. We would be sitting in class, and the teachers would turn on the radio, and we'd work (or pretend to), while we'd listen for that 5-4-3-2-1 countdown that signaled another launch. I guess I was geekier than I realized; most of the other girls were ho-hum about the whole thing.

One of the high points of my father's life was when we, along with a dozen or so of our neighbors, sat in our living room, and watched Neil Armstrong land on the moon.

I was at work, serving lunch when Apollo 13 returned to Earth. After that, my personal life took precedence, and I barely noticed the space program's slow death. I was teaching science when the Hubble was launched, and during the ISS completion and early days of use. So, my involvement in following it was related to what I taught. NASA was always a great resource - we lived in Cleveland, OH, and could easily access lots of materials and curriculum from them.

I've toured NASA, including the back parts of the facility - it helps to be a science teacher.

With any luck, before I die, man will have reached Mars, and begun to establish colonies. Obviously, the moon would be where the kinks are worked out in procedures, equipment, and protocols. It's where experiments with growing food, providing water and fuel, and other needed supplies would be figured out.

But, yes. Mars, please. And soon.

The Madness In Minnesota

     No one’s going to like what I’m about to say. Hell, I don’t like what I’m about to say. But it must be said, and loudly at that, so here come the big letters:

If Libya Is A Failed State,
Then So Is Minnesota.

     At this point, Minnesota’s “forces of order” cannot or will not restore order in its largest cities. Moreover, the violence is swiftly spreading beyond its origins. The prospects for statewide chaos are grim – and should it be permitted to continue much longer, it will endanger other states as well. A comparable variety of unrest is manifesting in several other cities as we speak.

     The Constitution authorizes Congress to federalize “the militia” – in this case, the National Guard is the closest approach – in case of war or insurrection. (Article I, Section 8, paragraph 15) If Congress fails to do so of its own initiative, President Trump should call a special session and put the question openly before it. Should Congress still fail to act, the president would have the same authority to act that President Washington exercised to put down the Whiskey Rebellion, and President Cleveland used to suppress the Pullman Strike.

     This sort of development was explicitly contemplated by the Founding Fathers, and provisions made for it in the Constitution. Indeed, it’s one of the two inarguable justifications for the maintenance of a federal armed force. If there’s no will to use that force, there is no justification for the federal government whatsoever.

     I told you up front that you wouldn’t like it. I don’t either. But facts are facts.

Friday, May 29, 2020

Untitled 2020-05-29

     As I begin this piece, I have no idea what it will eventually be titled. It will have a title, of course; I just can’t conceive of an appropriate one at this moment. For the most appropriate title, the perfect title, would succinctly express all the following:

     There’s video, and plenty of it. For those who don’t have the time or inclination to watch those videos – available on YouTube — have a summary of the high points:

  • The rioters attacked retail stores, which they looted and burned.
  • Thereafter they attacked and destroyed police vehicles.
  • They invaded a police precinct headquarters and set it on fire.
  • The rioters were almost 100% black.

     Yes, George Floyd was black. Yes, the officer who killed him deserves to face justice for it – twenty years to life’s worth of justice. Yes, given his prior record of misconduct, police oversight authorities ought to have taken Derek Chauvin’s badge and gun away from him long ago. There are many in the Minneapolis city government who should be called to account...though given the political state of affairs in that city and in Minnesota generally, there’s considerable question whether any of them will be.

     But that does not justify a horde of rioters and looters wreaking widespread destruction on the city of Minneapolis. It does not justify calling rioters and looters as “protestors,” as if they had merely assembled to “peaceably petition for a redress of grievances,” and thus equating them to wholly peaceable citizen groups who’ve assembled to protest the lockdowns. And it’s a whole universe distant from justifying encouraging the rioters by attributing their lawlessness to “racial inequality.”

     I will entertain absolutely no dissent on this.

     George Floyd is being made into another Trayvon Martin, another Michael Brown ...another Freddie Gray. All four men were black. All four were lawbreakers. And in their deaths all four have become useful to those who seek power and profit from the incitement of racial violence.

     But don’t you dare, you ofay honky paleass oppressor, you, to doubt the “legitimate grievances” of “African-Americans” over “inequality.” Don’t you dare to voice a word of dissent about The Narrative as it issues forth from Our Pious Cadre Of Mainstream Commentators. Your opinions are invalid, and deserve no hearing. Your very skin color convicts you of the most heinous crimes imaginable, so who would listen to you?

     I keep telling these idiots – the black savages doing the rioting and the white racialist mouthpieces that seek political advantage by striving to exculpate them — exactly what they’re courting. I can see it; why can’t they? Well, yes: some of them are literally of sub-rational intelligence, but surely not all. What makes the ones with three or more functioning brain cells think that, when the pustule finally bursts and white Americans decide they’ve had enough, they will be spared? Those who have excused – or worse, encouraged – the black miscreants doing their level best to persuade us that the white and black races cannot possibly share a nation will share the fates of those miscreants, despite their shortage of melanin.

     There will be a reckoning. No one will like it. But some of us will like it better than others...and some much less.

     Yes, I’m angry. I had a special affection for Minneapolis. I’ve done business there. I still have friends there. I can’t imagine what the decent and law-abiding residents of the city have been thinking. Just as happened in Ferguson, Missouri, and Baltimore, Maryland, their city has been transformed into a war zone.

     To anyone who doubts that there’s a race war in progress: I hope you’ve been paying attention. The battle lines are getting clearer by the instant. Make sure you know which side of them you’d prefer to be on – and then make sure those you regard as your allies know it.

     Damn it all, I still don’t have a title for this piece. Oh well. Have a nice day.


     When you live in a household that has more animals than humans in it (four cats and two – soon to be three – dogs), certain problems arise that other households might never consider. One of them is keeping the beasts out of any food that’s been taken out of the refrigerator. For example, it’s proved hazardous simply to leave a frozen hunk of lasagna on the kitchen counter to defrost. Keiko, our Chow Chow / Black Labrador mix, capitalized on that error by jumping onto the counter, peeling back the noodles, eating all the ground beef and sliced sausages, and considerately leaving the rest for us. So we’ve taken to keeping such items in the oven or microwave – turned off, of course – until it’s time to cook them. The C.S.O., in a spate of whimsy, has taken to calling the oven and microwave the greater and lesser food safes, respectively.

     That gave rise to the following exchange when I briefly left a foil-wrapped item on the counter:

CSO: No! Fluffy can open the foil! Put it in a food safe!
FWP: Oops, right. The greater or the lesser?
CSO: Doesn’t matter. You know we can’t just leave it out.

     As I moved to comply, Beth spoke again, in a tone of deep reflection:

CSO: You know, given these safes (gazes thoughtfully at the oven and microwave), I can’t imagine why we need that giant steel thing.
FWP: Yeah, it practically screams “The stuff you want is inside me!”
CSO: It’s like marking a document Top Secret, isn’t it? “This is worth stealing!”
FWP: Think we should keep our gold and silver coins in the oven?
CSO: Well, a burglar would never think to look there.
FWP: I’ll get on it after we’ve showered.

     Yes, Gentle Reader. The conversation above took place in the Fortress’s kitchen, at 5:06 AM Eastern Daylight Savings Time this very morning. Really.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Some Behind-the-Scenes "Nudging" of the 2020 Election

The usual suspects, plus a few lesser known Democratic supporters, are working hard to take over the 2020 Election planning, organizing, and vote-manufacturing.

The New Billionaires are far more hands-on involved in the process. As most of them are Tech Billionaires, they naturally feel as though their technical expertise is superior to the political experts. They have been working to set up 'Shadow' election machinery - GOTV campaigns, voter registration, databases with their own mining experts, and even media outlets.

...the funding of ideological news sites is another battlefield where Democratic megadonors are mimicking Republicans. Democratic donors outside of tech tend to fund television ads. But the Silicon Valley set is uniquely seeking to build a digital world optimized for 2020, drawing lessons from the right-wing media ecosystem that conservatives built and Trump capitalized upon in 2016.

“For far too long right-wing media has dominated our discourse and Facebook news feeds,” said Tara McGowan, the founder of Acronym, a political group backed by Powell Jobs and Hoffman. “We can’t sit by another cycle and watch a one-sided battle play out online.”

Behind this, more than anyone else, has been Hoffman, whose team has funded projects that defenders say are a savvy way to take advantage of how information is distributed in the 21st century. Critics say they exacerbate political divides and sometimes push misinformation.

But that hasn’t deterred Hoffman: His aides have indicated that setting up partisan news sites that masquerade as journalism is one of the priorities of its group of allied donors.

 This is one of the most misunderstood facets of the Left/Right Media Divide. The Left truly believes that non-Left bloggers and other media creators are being set up by nefarious Right-Wing Rich Guys, and told what to do.

As if.

And, for that matter, if folks like me are being paid big bucks to promote the non-Left (Normal, as Kurt Schlichter terms us) point of view, all I can say is:

Just Kidding - my opinions aren't for sale.

Or, even for rent.

'Course, some small token of appreciation WOULD be nice.

What can we take from all of this?
  • The Rich Left is scared - petrified that their unfair advantages in business will no longer be supported by government. Their use of the H1-B visas to cut costs and discourage unionization, their sweetheart deals that steer government contracts their way, their flouting of the anti-trust laws and pirahna-like attacks on smaller competitors, and favorable tax treatment for their estates, to name just a few, would be in jeopardy. As we know from history, desperate people do stupid things.
  • The Rich Left is just about out of patience with a corrupt machinery that refuses to take advice from people who believe they understand technology's potential better than the Democratic machine. They have set up competing businesses and organizations, funded them, and will likely expand their use in the 2020 election. All of which is likely to muddle the process more than help. Kind of like trying to take the advice of both your wife and mistress - their interests are opposed to each other's success.
  • This will bleed off money that previously was directed towards Saving the World. A lot of NGOs are going to be laying off people. Some of those dumped may have interesting stories to tell (Particularly women - that old thing about a rejected woman spilling her guts, even if it ultimately hurts her? Completely true - they WILL cut off their nose to spite their face, yelling all the time about how it's YOUR fault they had to do it.).
  • Companies/organizations/media outlets left hanging in the wind by the Left's Tech Wars? Well, let's just say that some job interviews might unearth some Very Interesting Information in the process of talking to them. Those who've been tossed to the street will be angry, and in the mood for payback. If you find someone in that position, listen empathically, and leave the recorder on.
A last concern - widespread mail-in voting. While absentee ballots for shut-ins and others who cannot be physically present at voting time are reasonable, the Left's use of fraudulent ballots, multiple casting of ballots by the same person, and 'stuffing the ballot box' are legendary - AND not just an urban legend.

It's time to shut down that liberalization of the process that facilitates fraud.
  • Start with a "No" on ballot harvesting - the potential for taking advantage of the elderly and mentally disabled is huge. There are no checks on the practice.
  • A person living away from home - such as a college student - should have to PROVE that they are not signed up to vote simultaneously in another state. In fact, anyone living in temporary housing should have to show proof before being registered to vote.
  • Same with changes of address. A standard part of that process should be verification of disenrollment in the previous place. In writing. Signed by an official of the Board of Elections in the disenrollment state/location.
  • At SOME time before voting, a person should have to present proof of identity. If they have no photo ID, they should have their picture/thumbprint taken by the registering authority before allowing them to vote. They can have that data expunged if they return with photo ID (verifiable photo ID - real ID or similar).
  • Those opposed to photos for religious reasons need to have their identity verified by a government official/church official who will swear, in writing, under penalty of criminal felony, that the person is who they claim to be. Their address/residency still needs to be verified.

Because They Can?

     There are a number of observable patterns about power, those who seek it, and those who attain it that the Wuhan Virus “crisis” has thrown into sharp relief. A great many Americans are taking notice of those patterns at long last. No small number or persons are straining to deny them, whether out of the need to wish them away or the recognition that they threaten oneself.

     One of those patterns pertains to the enjoyment of power. As I wrote about five years ago:

     The evil man, once he has some degree of power, will use it to acquire more, for power is a drug that doesn’t sate. However, the enjoyment of power requires that it be used. For, as O’Brien said to Winston in 1984, to enjoy your power, you must be actually coercing your victim at the moment:
     ‘How does one man assert his power over another, Winston?’
     Winston thought. ‘By making him suffer,’ he said.
     ‘Exactly. By making him suffer. Obedience is not enough. Unless he is suffering, how can you be sure that he is obeying your will and not his own? Power is in inflicting pain and humiliation. Power is in tearing human minds to pieces and putting them together again in new shapes of your own choosing.’

     In this regard, it becomes vital that we understand how political power – power over others – differs from ability and / or the rightful possession of resources:

     Political power – i.e., power over others – is relational in nature. Its wielder requires victims upon whom to exercise his power. If he has no victims, his power is illusory. But by extension, the magnitude of his power can be measured by the number of his victims.

     Combine the above with the emotional structure of him who seeks power above all other things:

  • He sees himself principally – perhaps even exclusively – in relation to others.
  • Therefore, he is perpetually in competition with those others.
  • Defeating them is more important to him than any independent aspect of his accomplishments. Without them to measure himself against, he would feel his life to be meaningless.

     Now, that structure is not exclusive to the power-seeker. Persons in other fields exhibit it as well. They’re well represented in those fields where great achievement is celebrated by some highly publicized prize. But unlike one who seeks fortune and glory for a constructive achievement in the arts, sciences, commerce, or what-have-you, the power-seeker needs victims to reify his “victory.”

     This insight is what led me to the study of politics and government.

     Today we have a number of state governors determined to maintain their “orders” to close down all activity in their states to the point of madness. The term most often applied to these sweeping closures is “lockdown,” a word borrowed from the practices of high-security prisons. They have no Constitutional authority to do these things...yet they do them. There is no fact-based rationale by which to justify even a polite request that their residents remain immobile in their homes. Moreover, when confronted by any degree of resistance, they become enraged.

     Attempts to reason with the Gavin Newsoms, the Andrew Cuomos, the Gretchen Whitmers, and so on have all met with failure. Indeed, it could not have happened any other way, for no matter what “reason” a Newsom, Cuomo, or Whitmer might offer for a “lockdown” order, we are guaranteed that it will not be the real one. The real reason is the miscreant’s enjoyment of the exercise of power: “Because I can.”

     The dead giveaway is the governor’s self-exemption, and his exemption of those in his circle of intimates and favorites, from the rules he has decreed. No sincerely meant rationale about “keeping you safe” could be squared with allowing their loved ones to violate the rules intended to safeguard the rest of us. When caught in such a contradiction, they squirm visibly. If they cannot manage a deflection, they’ll counterattack with an ad hominem or a counter-allegation of evil motives.

     “By their fruits shall ye know them,” said the Redeemer, and indeed it is so. The fruits of these insanely protracted stay-at-home orders are entirely poison. Not the least of their bitter yield is the conditioning of millions of Americans to the notion that a government-declared “emergency” justifies executive dictatorship: abuses of power that would have had the Founding Fathers taking their muskets out of storage.

     Far too many of our countrymen have proved as unthinkingly submissive as sheep.

     There may be no way back after this. I’m not hopeful. In my admittedly minority opinion, violent rebellions against state governments that have acted this way would be fully justified. Yet to this point, the totality of the resistance to such tyranny has been simple defiance of the orders to remain closed.

     Where’s that planetoid, damn it? It’s badly needed and way past due.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Remember When...

     ...the disgracefully gleeful face of Adam Schiff – forever assuring us that he had seen evidence of Trumpian high crimes and misdemeanors – seemed to be everywhere?
     ...virtually every nightly news story that referred to the Trump Administration began with “the beginning of the end” or “the walls are closing in” – on President Trump?
     ...pundit after pundit predicted that President Trump would be impeached, convicted, and removed from office – possibly sparking street violence from Trump’s supporters?

     Of course you do! How could anyone forget such lurid reportage, such apocalyptic predictions of so titanic a downfall? And if you were inattentive to the actual, factual developments you might even have begun to believe all those prognostications. It would be a historic moment were President Trump to be forced from office, to be sure, but a sad one as well.

     But upon occasion, the annelid completes a circuit:

     Heh, heh, heh!

     Throughout 2015 and 2016 media figures scoffed at the Trump for President Campaign as a “joke.” They repeatedly assured their audiences that the real-estate developer and reality-TV star had no chance of prevailing against the “superbly qualified” Hillary Clinton. Trump’s victory sent them into a state of shock that swiftly morphed into denial: Trump must have cheated! And because their faith in their own foresight was impenetrable, they seized upon any suggestion, however dubious, that might support that contention.

     But no evidence of Trumpian misbehavior ever materialized. Indeed, those who were most vocal about having “seen the evidence” said the exact opposite when called to testify under oath. The “Mueller team,” as zealously partisan a group of witch-hunters as has ever been assembled, could produce nothing even of marginal substance. They were caught falsifying FBI interview reports — the famous “302” documents – in the attempt to bring down Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, regarded as the key entering wedge in the campaign against the president.

     The dreams of headhunting glory and of the indulgence of a grateful re-Establishment dissolved like a predawn mist before the rising sun. All their hopes were ashes, ashes everywhere. Nowhere was there a mouthful of compensation to be had.

     The Usurper Trump would have to be unseated electorally. But how? He was proving both effective and popular – and not merely among Americans. And by whom? The Democrat Party had no figure with national recognition who didn’t possess serious negatives. Where to turn?

     They settled upon former Senator and Vice-President Joe Biden as the antidote: the “moderate” Democrat with broad support who could unseat the usurper. They touted him at every opportunity, even before the primaries had delivered a definite nominee. They did not anticipate the gaffe parade, the many well documented deceits, or the endless video clips of their chosen one’s gropings. They did not expect Biden’s various flip-floppings on policy to be so closely analyzed. They certainly did not expect the Ukraine Affair to become national headline news.

     Great is the media’s downfall, and delicious the Schadenfreude among the president’s supporters.

     As the saying goes, “Don’t get cocky.” There’s still a broadly hostile media to contend with. There’s still election fraud to be prevented. There’s still the economic damage from the Wuhan Virus to be recovered from. And there’s still the Republican Establishment, much of which has never cottoned to Trump and would be willing to lose the White House just to see him expunged and control of the party restored to their grip.

     But for a little while at least, we who have been greatly heartened by Trump’s America First stance, by his aggressive attitude toward our problems, by his pugnacious responses to his assailants, and by his demonstrated fidelity to his promises can enjoy our satisfaction. He whom we chose to right the nation, though stormed at with shot and shell, remains unbowed. What remains is to get him four more years to complete the deal. We must also find and prepare his successor, for choosing a successor to the most successful president since Coolidge will be no small task. Reagan botched it; we must not.

     Remember in November.

Always Remember, the Villains Don't Think of Themselves as Villains

I'd not seen this film, about the work of the East German Stasi. That organization, whose mission was to use spying on its own citizens, intimidation, social control, and nearly unlimited power to enforce its edicts, was a large part of what made life in the Communist-controlled part of Germany so grim.

But, I'm convinced that most of the Stasi, if asked, would have said that their work was necessary to assist their government in persuading its citizens to act appropriately and help the nation to become a world leader. That, thanks to the effort of the Stasi agents, East Germany would run efficiently, provide for its citizens, and take its place in the ranks of world leaders.

All GOOD aims. NOT evil.

OK, so they had to act somewhat - forcefully - to make all those wonderful things happen. But, as Arnold Schwarzenegger said in True Lies, when asked if he killed people as part of his spy job, "Only the BAD ones." It was acceptable for him to kill, because his goal was a GOOD one.

So, likewise, are the SJWs and Leftists convinced that their methods are justified by the saintliness of their objectives. This thought occurred to me when I was reading (for the first time) the Tom Clancy book, Rainbow Six. In that book, the environmental Leftists commit horrible crimes. 

Those crimes, however, don't count, because their heart is pure.

The same thinking permeates the ethos of many antisocial political movements. Initially, it's something small that the members are asked to do - scrawl graffiti on a wall, break an 'unjust' law, use their collective actions to intimidate a bureaucrat.

It escalates from there. Larry Grathwohl wrote about his experience as a FBI informer, embedded with the Weather Underground (Weathermen) radicals. His descriptions of how Bill Ayre and Bernadette Dohrn (now married) used psychological techniques to break down their followers' resistance to immoral acts and/or illegal acts provide some understanding of the many ways the Left uses deviations from normal conventions to twist their group into conforming to a New Normal.

In doing so, they create a cohesive identity in their group, who begin thinking of US (the GOOD guys) against THEM (the BAD guys). This process in an essential part of creating a ruthless machinery that will not hesitate at any act, to push their agenda.

Individual thinking is discouraged. The good of the group is what counts. Any act that promotes the good of the many is appropriate.

Pretty soon, unspeakable acts - bombings, kidnapping, torture - can be used against ideological opponents, without mercy.

And, of course, this is all justified. They are the Good Ones, whose aims are so sanctified that their methods cannot be questioned.

Hoo-Boy! This Does NOT Look Like a Good Idea!

In the winter of 2019-2020, China's Wuhan lab apparently got a little lax with its Life-Threatening Microbes. That's assuming that it was an accident, and not a first strike at bioterrorism.

I cannot be the only person who thinks this is a really, really bad idea.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Yet Another Reason to Distrust China

YAR-DC, in fact.

Xenophobic? Piffle. I like individual Chinese people (and other Asians) just fine.

But, I do distrust those living here, who have left hostages in China, or other countries. They should NOT be in charge of research, nor employed by research facilities without strict controls over their access to proprietary information.

America was the source of many of the technological inventions/discoveries of the late 19th and 20th century. In too many cases, China is now the manufacturer of products that developed out of those advances. In some cases, companies made deals with China under the gun - either share the info with China, or lose it through industrial spying. At least by making that deal, the company got a portion of the profit.

We need to continue with these investigations. It's worth it for the federal government to partner with the companies (although, charging the companies for the government's assistance in rooting out the spies, and prosecuting and deporting them, might be reasonable).

One major conduit for spies - the research universities - may be ending. Require any foreign student used for that purpose have an investigation of their background, and keep them under surveillance for the duration of their stay in the US.

Make it harder for companies to hire foreign nationals of ANY country. That includes the many, many Indian workers that inhabit the tech industry. Require that they be hired at standard industry pay, WITH bennies. Any extension of their visa must be accompanies by proof of recruitment of American workers. Use the "disparate impact" standard - if Americans do not constitute a fair portion of the employees in every job category, the company has engaged in illegal practices in hiring, and will lose their ability to hire those with visas.

The goal is to limit - severely - any use of visas, until the 3% level of unemployment is hit.

Westphailure: A Memorial Day Reflection

     [This is a repost of a column I wrote three years ago. It seems to me to capture the essential tragedy of Memorial Day better than anything I’ve written before or since. I find that I cannot improve on it. In our time of wholly artificial, politically useful fear and widespread, ever intensifying animosity between private citizens and political Establishments, it strikes me as uniquely appropriate. – FWP]

     Over the past two decades there have been a number of articles, whether scholarly or written for a lay audience, to the effect that the end is in sight for the Westphalian nation-state. Some analysts have treated the subject with alarm, others with glee. Some focused upon specific enemies of the nation-state, such as creedal or ethnic particularism or “non-state-actor” terrorism. A few have attempted to predict what forms of political organization (if any) would follow. And occasionally a visionary has speculated upon the possibility that political organization itself might vanish.

     Yet few of those who spent their efforts on the matter could cope with the two questions that loom above all the others:

  1. Why do nation-states exist at all?
  2. Why do some nation-states appear endangered while others do not?

     More grist for a Curmudgeon Emeritus’s mill.

     The emergence of the political entities we recognize today as nation-states was a drawn-out process. The 1648 Treaties of Westphalia, though widely regarded as seminal, was really the start of a gestational process that continued through the 1713 Treaties of Utrecht, the American Revolution, the French Revolution, the politically neglected Napoleonic Wars, and the Congress of Vienna. Each of those things had a role to play in the birth of the nation-state as we’ve come to understand it.

     Whereas the Treaties of Westphalia were largely concerned with established religions, the subsequent events addressed a supremely practical issue: the desire for an enduring conception of sovereignty, including a sovereign’s authority to determine and enforce the law in his domain. During those tumultuous decades the question of who should have the power to make law, and by what mechanisms and upon what terms it should be enforced, was paramount in the minds of many Europeans. Revolutions had toppled regimes in England, France, and America. Innovative concepts such as individual rights, freedom of speech and religion, and the consent of the governed appeared to threaten sovereigns worldwide. Above all, the unbridled war-making power the Treaties of Westphalia had reserved to the sovereign appeared to threaten the basis of human society.

     Power itself needed a new basis. Sovereign absolutism would no longer serve the purposes of the West. But to proceed from that point required that those purposes be enunciated and clarified. Moreover, the royalty of Europe could no longer reserve those purposes to themselves.

     The major desideratum that powered the emergence of the nation-state was stability. The economy of Europe had been ravaged by endless wars and struggles over jurisdiction among monarchs and nobles. The further advancement of civilization, a foretaste of which was visible in Eighteenth Century England, required that the quarreling cease. The accelerating assertiveness of the common man suggested that the old basis of absolute monarchs and nobles sworn to fealty would no longer do the job.

     I don’t mean to suggest that the movers of the development of the modern nation-state were animated by a sense of civic responsibility or anything comparable to it. They merely wanted to enjoy their positions and the pleasures and conveniences made available by an advancing economy. They realized that they couldn’t have those things if Europe were to remain an eternal battlefield. The defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo opened the possibility of putting an end to the strife.

     Consensus emerged, albeit tacitly, that the aggressive Continental imperialism of the two centuries past, most recently represented by Napoleon, must end. Borders must be stabilized; ruling powers must agree to respect them. Diplomatic intercourse must replace warfare in all but the most serious disputes between sovereigns. More – and ultimately far more significant – the possibility of provoking a bottom-up revolution must be kept in mind in all political operations.

     None of these things were explicit parts of the treaties made during those years. Yet they loomed behind most of the maneuverings of Metternich, Talleyrand, Wellington, Tsar Alexander I, and the rest. Though it appeared that the rise of republicanism had been dealt a setback, the hundred years of relative peace that followed allowed the common man to rise to a stature that would ultimately make it impossible for a European ruler ever again to assert overt, absolute, and unbounded authority.

     The nation-state as the principal guarantor of peace, stability, and orderly commerce had emerged.

     Shortly before he died, the great Herbert Spencer, aghast at the return of social invidiousness and national animosities that characterized the currents of the close of the Nineteenth Century, predicted that the Twentieth would be “a century of socialism and war.” Twentieth Century Europe would prove him correct. National governments, both hereditary and elective, turned once again to warfare to “get what’s rightfully ours.”

     In a way, the famous remark of German Chancellor Theobald von Bethmann-Hollweg:

     "The world will be plunged into the most terrible of wars...all for a word -- 'neutrality'...all for a scrap of paper." -- Theobald von Bethmann-Hollweg, Chancellor of the German Empire, referring to Britain's decision to go to war over Germany's violation of Belgium's neutrality, which had been guaranteed by Britain, France and Germany in an 1832 treaty.

     ...revealed the cause of the failure of the Hundred Years’ Peace. That peace had been held together by nothing but “scraps of paper:” the treaties and less formal agreements of the Westphalian, Utrechtan, and Viennese periods. The nations hadn’t renounced their arms; indeed, they’d amassed them to a greater height than ever before. What brought about World War I was the dismissal of the peace made possible at Westphalia, Utrecht, and Vienna as supreme above all other considerations.

     Governments, both hereditary and elective, gave notice that peace, stability, and orderly commerce aren’t their major goals after all.

     Once the Great War was over, it became clear that the ascent of the common man to economic potency ultimately made the Viennese system of 1814-15 untenable by the standards of the European political elite. The collapse of the German, Austro-Hungarian, Russian, and Ottoman Empires underscored the danger to ruling elites. A dramatic revision of the political basis of the nation-state became inevitable. Sovereignty must descend to the proletariat at least in appearance, else the commoners would displace the elites once and for all.

     Great Britain and France were already sailing that course. In the wake of the Treaty of Versailles, the other nations of Europe embarked on it in various ways. However, the seeds of popular dissatisfaction with government generally had been planted deep. Watered by the acceleration of the socialist movement and the three great exploiters thereof – Mussolini, Hitler, and Stalin – the shoots would overturn European stability again only twenty years later.

     Over the century since the Great War, it has become appallingly clear to ordinary private citizens that no matter their representations or the formal structures of their governments, the ruling elites of nation-states are in business for themselves. Their interest in the peace, legal stability, and orderly commerce common men so enjoy is secondary to their interest in maintaining their power, stature, and perquisites. They will provide true service to those things only insofar as it serves to support and maintain their positions. At other times, lip service will suffice.

     Scant wonder that the nation-state as an institution is under attack from all sides. The common man, now empowered beyond all the emperors of old taken together, has become dissatisfied with it. Whether his principal allegiance goes to a neighborhood, a race, an ethnicity, a religion, or his own wallet, he’s no longer willing to support the political status quo without reservation. Indeed, he’s actively interested in possible alternatives. Could the best of us, the young men who enlist in their nations’ armed forces knowing that it puts their lives at risk – knowing that their fathers and grandfathers were sent forth to bleed on foreign soil for causes many of which have proved futile at best, evil at worst – be far behind?

     The dynamics of the thing deserve further study. Remember the fallen.

Monday, May 25, 2020

Some Changes Needed to Bankruptcy Laws/Courts

Something occurred to me when reading about the Hertz car company failure.

We need to allow/require judges to negate any asset sales to foreign companies (perhaps multinational, as well). Has to be an American company. Otherwise, China and other countries will own us.

Could that change be a DOJ rule change? Or, other administrative, rather than legal, change? I don't know.

Any lawyers reading this? Please comment.

“Just Because You’re A...”

     No known force has had as much influence on human affairs as religion. Moreover, no imaginable force could compete with it. After all, if you sincerely believe that the Supreme Authority of Existence has commanded that you do this and not do that, and will sentence you to an eternity of unspeakable torment should you disobey, you’ll toe the line.

     Ideologies that posture as above question – we might call them secular faiths – have similar effects on their allegiants, though they’re not quite as compelling and certainly aren’t inescapable. A secular faith is discernible by its resistance to evidence and reasoning that contradict its tenets. Eric Hoffer would say that it attempts to impose a “fact-proof screen” upon the believer. Some such faiths are rampant among us today, Marxism of all varieties (including “progressivism”) being the foremost examples.

     Note that a secular faith is inherently hostile to other kinds of faith. Such opposition is natural between two belief systems, each of which proclaims itself to be the ultimate authority. You’ll occasionally find a Marxist who gives lip service to some religious creed, but when the religion contradicts the dictates of his Marxism, the latter will win the day.

     Ironically, the Marxist is prone to dismiss the contentions of the non-Marxist with a kind of ad hominem: “You just say that because you’re a Christian / conservative / libertarian / [insert your own competing creed here].” It’s a bemusing sort of thrust. Isn’t the Marxist open to the same accusation? At any rate, it constitutes evidence that there’s no point in continuing the conversation.

     I’ve faced that thrust on several occasions. It can be massively irritating. A provocation to behavior that would be considered “untoward.” I haven’t always exhibited restraint at such times. My admiration for one who can maintain his composure in such circumstances is unbounded.

     Which brings me to the actual subject of today’s tirade: the highly impressive new White House press secretary, Miss Kayleigh McEnany.

     McEnany has rocked the White House press corps onto its back foot. She seems always to be prepared for anything and everything. She delivers ripostes to their “gotcha” sallies that leave them reeling, embarrassed, and angry. In this she displays a degree of political and public-relations acumen that few of her predecessors could claim. Robert A. Heinlein’s prescription to answer a hostile question with a sharper and even more hostile question is obviously a conscious part of her approach.

     The gentlemen of the press deem this as an affront to journalistic prerogatives. They get to ask the leading, embarrassing, tendentious questions; the press secretary is supposed to stand there and “take it.” Were there any credibility to their pretense of non-partisan “objectivity,” they might have a case. However, in such circumstances, counterpunching such as McEnany has practiced would be absent from the scene. Honest, courteous journalists do not operate as the White House press corps has done.

     So of course the Left’s pet commentators, and the NeverTrumpers allied with them de facto, would like to see McEnany boiled in oil. They share the belief that it’s the press corps’ prerogative to ask the hostile questions and the press secretary’s job to “take it;” it was embedded in their psyches long ago. This video provides a recent sample of typical NeverTrumper reactions.

     President Trump has chosen well...which has his opponents in the media riled to the max. The “She’s doing it because she’s a fanatic Trump loyalist” thrusts at McEnany are already accumulating. They allow no possibility that she sincerely believes in her presidential employer’s policies, positions, and administration and is determined to defend them to the best of her ability. No, it must be because of her competing faith – and that, in the sadly degenerated Jonah Goldberg’s opinion, renders her “grotesque.”

     Judging by her performance to date, I predict that McEnany will have a long tenure – as long as she wants to be there – as President Trump’s front-line representative to the press. She’s shown more resilience in the position than Sean Spicer or Sarah Sanders, both of whom I liked but neither of whom possessed McEnany’s impenetrability by the press’s barbs. Indeed, McEnany seems to be enjoying herself. That would be appropriate. A truly gifted duelist enjoys displaying his strokes. He glories in the cut and thrust between him and his adversary. A press secretary who can face down an overtly hostile press corps as McEnany has done should take pleasure in her performance.

     As for the carpers in the Punditocracy, appalled that a presidential press secretary should display serious cojones, their gasps and exclamations of disapproval say more about their own insufficiencies than they do about the articulate, well prepared, impeccably poised, and (by the way) quite beautiful Miss Kayleigh McEnany. Though I do wish she’d lose the false eyelashes; they don’t go with the rest of her look.

Just Two Marines on an Ordinary Night

The perfect post for Memorial Day.

We're not Marines in my family. We tend to be the temps - those guys who enlist for the duration of a war, then return home. Almost all of them Army. My dad was Artillery (his hearing, in those pre-protection days of WWII, was gone before middle age), his brother Signal Corps in Korea, my brother was Electronics Repair in Vietnam (a vital part of the mission - the Army needed their mobile phones). In this generation, my son served in the Navy repairing the communications hardware, my daughter performed Quartermaster's duty in the Guard.

All returned to civilian life safely.

Not the Gold Star Families' experience. We saw a documentary yesterday - I cannot praise it enough - Bringing the Fallen Home. They follow, not just the soldiers who died, and their families, but also the people who provide the services - escort, getting the uniform ready for the funeral, preparing the body, notifying the family, supporting the family through the process - all are shown to be incredible examples of sensitivity and compassion, and aware of the gravity of their jobs.

I highly suggest watching the film this weekend.

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Quickies: A Great Voice Speaks From The Grave To Us Of The Present

     Great men have foreseen the extreme danger that Islam and its militancy pose to the civilized world. One such great man is Hilaire Belloc:

     The story must not be neglected by any modern, who may think in error that the East has finally fallen before the West, that Islam is now enslaved — to our political and economic power at any rate if not to our philosophy. It is not so. Islam essentially survives, and Islam would not have survived had the Crusade made good its hold upon the essential point of Damascus. Islam survives. Its religion is intact; therefore its material strength may return. Our religion is in peril, and who can be confident in the continued skill, let alone the continued obedience, of those who make and work our machines? ... There is with us a complete chaos in religious doctrine.... We worship ourselves, we worship the nation; or we worship (some few of us) a particular economic arrangement believed to be the satisfaction of social justice.... Islam has not suffered this spiritual decline; and in the contrast between [our religious chaos and Islam's] religious certitudes still strong throughout the Mohammedan world lies our peril.

     -- Hilaire Belloc, The Crusades

     Ignore Belloc at your peril. Europe already has.

How Do You Do “It?”

     Well? How do you? Are you thorough or slapdash? Do you consult the requirements first, or do you “wing it?” Do you plan your work? If so, do you adhere rigidly to the plan, or do you sometimes make adjustments to it in light of previously unaddressed considerations and unforeseen developments? Do you do “it” all at one go, or a little at a time? Do you do “it” according to your upbringing, your community standards, the current state of national opinion, or your personal preferences? Do you have any concern for the preferences of others? If so, whose preferences matter to you? If not, are you prepared for the consequences of doing “it” without first conciliating “them?”

     In the hoary old Curmudgeon Emeritus tradition, I’ve titled this piece to provoke the question “What the BLEEP! is he thinking?” Alternately, “What does he mean by quote-marking ‘it?’”

     Of course “it” as used above is a wildcard. Insert in its place any particular thing you do. Then the inquiry might start to make sense. Might.

     The subject is a tough one to summarize neatly, which is why the preceding is a bit vague. But that’s also part and parcel of the way I do “it.”

     My launching point for today is this mildly satirical article, in particular the following assertion:

     I am aware that the phrase “like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic” has become shorthand for “a task rendered useless in the face of overwhelming circumstances.” Well, here’s another phrase for you: “how you do anything is how you do everything.”

     Quite a striking prescription, eh? I’ve seen it in other forms and settings, though the choice of the Titanic, perhaps the most famous of all commercial maritime disasters, makes it particularly poignant.

     There’s a grain of truth to the assertion. “How you do anything / everything” is your style. People’s individual styles tend to be highly consistent. We’re known to others, in large measure, by our styles. They cause some to gravitate toward us and others to be repelled by us. While style isn’t quite the whole man, the notions of the Comte de Buffon notwithstanding, it does express one’s individuality in the fashion most accessible to others.

     However, the desire to maintain consistency in one’s style does not confer an exemption from the priorities of place, time, and circumstance.

     Let’s take that fellow on the Titanic. Imagine for a moment that he had no assigned duties other than tidying up the deck, keeping everything neat and orderly. But the ship is sinking. It’s become evident that the lives of all aboard are in danger. Quick action might save others who would otherwise die in the frigid waters of the North Atlantic. Was there nothing better he could do with his remaining time on Earth than fiddle with the deck chairs? Did he feel no obligation to his fellow men? Did he not even think to go to the aid of others who might not be able to help themselves?

     Of course, the counterargument could be made that the fellow in question was unable to provide constructive assistance...if that were indeed the case. But if it wasn’t, what then?

     Style is important only when nothing else is. You cannot use style – “how I do ‘it’” – as a justification for ignoring matters of clearly higher priority. If you know your neighbor to be in distress, you are obliged to act. His distress – at least if it’s a non-trivial matter to which you could contribute usefully – trumps your need to adhere to your style in all cases. Only a conscienceless bastard would imagine otherwise.

     But as usual, the most important word in the paragraph above is if.

     As well as his astronomical and cosmological researches, the late Sir Fred Hoyle wrote science fiction. In some regards it wasn’t really good science fiction. Nevertheless, he occasionally made piercing, important observations about Mankind and the behavior of men. Here’s one such snippet from his novel The Inferno:

     A light tapping on the door caused Cameron to awake. Glancing at his watch he saw the time was only 6.30 p.m.
     ‘Yes, what is it?’ he shouted.
     The housekeeper’s voice replied saying there was a gentleman to see him. Cursing that he hadn’t gone to an hotel where they couldn’t find him, Cameron twisted a dressing-gown over his shoulders, and yanked the door open with a vicious pull. He found Mallinson standing outside.
     ‘May I come in?’
     ‘I hope it is both urgent and meaningful, Henry.’
     ‘The Prime Minister would like to see you.’
     ‘Another committee?’
     ‘He has asked you to dinner. I understand there will also be the First Physicist, Sir Arthur Mansfield and Guy Renfrew who is the Professor of Radioastronomy at Bristol University.’
     ‘That the full crew?’ asked Cameron as he started to shave.
     ‘I’m sorry, but your display this afternoon was quite inexcusable.’
     ‘Ah, the poor simple man,’ said Cameron to himself in the mirror.
     ‘And what might that mean?’ [Mallinson said.]
     ‘It means you’d better stop playing the fool, Henry. You’re likely to be dead in a couple of weeks, man.’
     ‘Which makes it all the more necessary to go on behaving in the way I’ve always behaved.’
     Cameron finished shaving and began to dress. ‘There’s something to be said for your point of view,’ he admitted. ‘But it implies you’ve always been doing the things you want to do.’
     ‘Haven’t you?’
     ‘Partly yes, partly no. I’ve done the things which have been open to me.’
     ‘Haven’t we all?’

     Context matters. On the previous day Cameron, a physicist of irascible disposition, announced to a government environmental committee that in light of the recently detected explosion of the core of the Milky Way Galaxy into a super-quasar, which seems to entail the destruction of all life on Earth, all its deliberations are irrelevant nonsense. In other words, Cameron allowed himself some “plain speaking,” to the extreme discomfiture of some “highly placed persons.” His visitor, Sir Henry Mallinson, is himself a “highly placed” person – a Cabinet secretary.

     Mallinson is determined to remain with his personal standards of deportment and the treatment of others. Cameron, who foresees the deaths of billions, probably to include his own, has departed from such standards. Yet while he doesn’t regret his earlier actions, as he grooms himself to go out in public he says to Mallinson that “There’s something to be said for your point of view.”

     Which of them, given the circumstances, has the better case?

     “How you do ‘it’” is of significance under some circumstances. However, it is not a license to ignore higher priorities, at least if one can make a useful contribution to their resolution. Thus, Emily Flake’s epigrammatic pronouncement that “how you do anything is how you do everything” cannot and must not be made into an all-embracing credo.

     Style, while it expresses one’s individuality, is of significance only in those adequately peaceful and orderly contexts Americans call normality. (NB: once more, with feeling: not “normalcy.”) “How I do ‘it’” must always be subordinated to “What the BLEEP should I be doing?” The application to our current Reign of Error is left as an exercise for my Gentle Readers.

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Emily Litella Lives – And She Has A Byline!

     If you’re old, cranky, and possess a near-perfect memory, among the things you’re likely to bitch about on occasion is the descent of comedy into the depths of banality and vulgarity. One who remembers Monty Python in its heyday, or the great comedians of the Fifties and Sixties, is unlikely to be impressed by most of today’s “comedians.” A generation that remembers Milton Berle, Joey Bishop, Sid Caesar, Jimmy Durante, Jackie Gleason, Bob Hope, Jan Murray, Red Skelton, Danny Thomas, and Dick Van Dyke will not cotton to contemporary “humor.”

     And then we have the original cast of Saturday Night Live. Great God in heaven, what a treasure trove it was! Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray, Garrett Morris, Laraine Newman, Jane Curtin, Chevy Chase, John Belushi, and the immortal (though sadly departed from this plane) Gilda Radner. Those folks could teach comedy: the centrality of incongruity, composing a skit, timing it properly, accuracy in caricature, and all the rest.

     Radner did several skits at the end of SNL’s “news” put-ons in which she played Emily Litella, an old woman who habitually got the news wrong and complained about it in a side-splittingly funny fashion:

  • “What’s all this fuss about the presidential erection?”
  • “What’s all this fuss about busting schoolchildren?”
  • “What’s all this fuss about eagle rights?”
  • “What’s all this fuss about violins on television?”
  • “What’s all this fuss about endangered feces?”
  • “What’s all this fuss about saving Soviet jewelry?”

     And so on. “Newscasters” Chevy Chase or Jane Curtin would correct Litella’s misapprehension, and Litella would then say “Never mind.” As predictable as the skit came to be, it was one of the funniest bits the SNL crew had in its repertoire, largely due to Radner’s gift for caricature.

     Know what else has become entirely predictable, Gentle Reader? The response of our “serious” news media to having their blatant, politically charged errors revealed to the public. They don’t “fess up.” They seldom present justifications for their misreporting. Like Radner’s Emily Litella, they say (though unlike Litella, under their breath) “never mind” and pass on to some new, equally erroneous and politically biased “story.”

     John Wohlstetter makes note of this in a compendious article on “Our COVID Future:”

     A major issue that will drive turnout of Trump’s base is countering efforts by mainstream media — nearly all leftist — to monopolize the coverage and interpretation of administration actions. On Feb. 22, 2017, MSNBC Morning Joe co-host Mika Brzezinski committed a major Freudian slip (full video clip, 2:14), complaining about Trump’s influence on his supporters:
     Well, I think that the dangerous edges here are that he is trying to undermine the media and trying to make up his own facts. And it could be that while unemployment and the economy worsens, he could have undermined the messaging so much that he can actually control exactly what people think. And that … is our job.

     Daniel Henninger’s Wall Street Journal Trump/Lysol video (4:05) shows blatant media bias aimed at helping defeat Donald Trump; Trump mused aloud during a coronavirus briefing that perhaps injecting disinfectant was “not a bad idea” but added that “it is up to the doctors.” That caveat was tossed aside by media enemies, and the falsehood that Trump advocates people doing this was spread. Not even Dr. Deborah Birx’s telling CNN’s Jake Tapper that the media should stop using Trump’s musings has dimmed their ardor. Henninger is right that Trump should not extemporaneously speak on medical matters, as adversary media can be counted upon to distort and exploit such talk. And it may, Henninger notes, cost Trump the election.

     Further evidence of media bias came when a reporter tried to quote-shame (1:27) the new White House press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, by confronting her with virus-related statements she made while serving as adviser to the Trump presidential campaign. She answered by reading quotes from various reporters and publications downplaying coronavirus. When she gets answers from them, she said, she would address the question.

     Even worse, mainstream media denigrates red-state governors who reopen their state economies as “anti-science,” whilst lavishing praise on blue-state governors whose states have the highest infection and death rates, as Robert Stacy McCain describes for The American Spectator. The one governor given regular open access to America on national TV is New York’s Andrew Cuomo, whose state is the worst basket case in America — and one of the worst on the planet.

     Sailors have a saying: “Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Three times? Sound general quarters.” The Old Media are far beyond that third occurrence.

     For us in the bleacher seats, there isn’t much to be done. Ignore the “mainstream” media to the greatest possible extent, for they have demonstrated an institutional agenda that has little to do with “reporting the news.” When a story with important implications floats your way, don’t merely accept its representations as stated; cross-check it as deeply as you can. Distrust opinion-mongers, for they exist to sway opinions, and many of them are allied with one of the major political parties or interest groups. Yes, distrust me too, for I have an agenda as well, even if I am open about it.

     Above all, remember what Buddha said:

     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.

     Your reason and common sense are more trustworthy than any “authority.”

La Revolution - She Begins

I'm gonna add to this list of revolutionaries-in-training as I find them.

In NV - a bar owner opens - GASP! - without the Overlord's permission.

In SC - a state which, largely, has few restrictions at this time (individual businesses may impose their own conditions for interaction) - I was out yesterday with my husband. We were doing some shopping for groceries.

I noticed that even the usually germ-phobic people (elderly, many Black people, Drama Queens) were less likely to be wearing masks. In some places, we were in the minority (Both my husband and I are over 60, and, due to allergy season, we're coughing occasionally. We wear the masks so as not to freak others out).

Later, at our church, we were with other volunteers who have been asked to monitor mask use and social distancing for the services to open this Saturday/Sunday (as well as some disinfecting after the mass). They went over the details, and we left, knowing that, no matter what, there will be glitches. Some were quite nervous about the details - there was one who seemed to be more than a little concerned - she is elderly, and disabled. Clearly, she feels vulnerable.

What I found touching about her volunteering is that she was willing to take a seemingly large risk, all for the benefit of having mass again. The government, and the Catholic church, has underestimated just how important that social gathering is to those in the pew.

Distancing - not just in interpersonal conversations, but in physical proximity, geographically, may determine the course of America's future. Read what City Journal has to say about it.

City Journal's Samo Burja may have something with this article. She makes her argument from a more social science-type point of view (which, as her points are based on normal, typical human experiences, is a perfectly valid viewpoint).
The trivial task of walking down a hall and carrying out an informal conversation can save hundreds of manhours of paperwork. The more physically integrated an organization is, the faster it can communicate with itself, and thus the faster it can respond to circumstances and succeed at whatever task it has set out to accomplish. Voice is a better carrier of information than a memo or email, and in-person communication is superior to a phone call. It’s easy to see why living in the right city, alongside the right people and organizations, is so valuable. The power of a city like Washington or New York is magnified many times beyond the sum of its parts. It is much more useful for Jeff Bezos to locate Amazon HQ2 near Washington than near Fort Lauderdale.
For all that new ways of communication have been used over the last few years, there is something about face-to-face interactions that cannot be replaced. I'm rather introverted, and often text rather than talk. However, even someone so atypical as I has found that there were time when I craved physical proximity to other people. It's even harder for my husband, who actually enjoys the social whirl.

Burja points out that Zoom calls provide irrefutable evidence of those conversations (can't wait to see what James O'Keefe will be able to make of those!).

What Burja doesn't touch on, and may be a bigger factor in the future is the effect that distance learning will have on an entire cohort of students. Not just in K-12 education (which will be likely to return, in some fashion, by the end of summer/early fall), but even more influentially for college/post-grad students.

In college, a significant portion of the experience is the interactions. Conformity pressures shape the typical college students' rapid metamorphosis from hometown and family values, to a tatted, binge-drinking, screeching echo of their professors and peers. If the college is Leftist (as most prestigious ones are), parents find they have little in common with the resulting grad.

At no other time in their children's lives are they so vulnerable to undue influence. They are surrounded, 24/7, with others who work hard to re-direct their thinking/actions to an outcome that matches the Goals of the Left. As the most influential time is in the first weeks, when the sleep deprivation, guided experiences that push unified actions, and absence of alternative viewpoint can mold students, just as a cult does. I would suggest watching the Canadian film "Ticket to Heaven", which shows how a 'religious' community takes an average young teacher, and, within a very short time, creates a zombie cult member.

The true scourge.

Tech giant censorship and arrogance are through the roof as any hour on the web will amply demonstrate. YouTube, Google, Facebook, and Twitter, among others, no longer make any pretense about principled control of content, not that there is such a thing, other than elimination of criminal activity. As the insightful Caitlin Johnstone correctly observed, free speech is not the freedom to say that butterflies are pretty and puppies are cute.

But, no. The tech giants are 100% about naked censorship to serve the goals of the globalists, the 1%, the plutocrats, and whoever has an interest in controlling information about the corona virus. Do not doubt me on this last point as it's clear that YouTube is clearly on a tear about what is or what is not the correct thing to say about it.

YouTube has been messing with Mr. Praveen Mohan, an intelligent and personable gentleman if ever there were one (much like myself let it be said) since 2017 interfering with his most interesting – and certifiably unobjectionable – content relating to Indian archeology. In a recent video he uncharacteristically chose to express an opinion about the corona virus and it was characteristically taken down by YouTube. He discusses it here.

Something called "misinformation," "fake news," or "hate speech" is now a grave threat to mankind from which our eyes and ears must be protected by wise and benevolent ________.

Particularly on this virus deal, rational people can be forgiven for thinking that the lockdown strategy with its enormous economic and hence personal damage has a purpose that has nothing to do with efficient epidemiological control.


  • the prescience of Bill Gates on a virus epidemic a while back;
  • his sudden bizarre prominence as an epidemiologist cum vaccine fanatic;
  • Dr. Fauci's coincidental relationship with the Gates Foundation;
  • the peculiar "established fact" that there will be a vaccine, it will arrive with lightning speed,it will be effective in a way that all other flu inoculations have not, and that forced administration is just as constitutionally shipshape as anyone fanatically devoted to the cause of liberty can possibly explain;
  • that hydroxychloroquine, a drug safely administered to hundreds of thousands of patients over several decades, is now a sort of pharmaceutical strychnine; and
  • that media discussion of the merits of the official version of the "epidemic" is clearly being restricted and controlled by at least one of the tech giants.

I'm not selling anything here but it does seem to me that this has the earmarks of an agenda backed by a focused propaganda campaign.

But back to the main point. "Thoughts" that don't fit the Correct Narrative are instantly encircled and vaporized by a form of private tyranny. Our diplomats and military love to talk about Iranian proxy forces but our own domestic (and foreign) proxies are not in short supply. Operative hypothesis: the plutocracy uses tech giant censorship as an end run around the First Amendment. Hence the bovine indifference of the government to enforcement of the anti-trust laws and the use of "public utility" concepts to crucify the tech giant censors.

This while tidal waves of the most absurd, sappy, dishonest, deviant, creepy thinking can effortlessly sluice through the culture like [a barnyard image illustrating something that transits rapidly].

Why is that? The vile plutocracy in which we live now seeks to suffocate us with lies and destroy anyone who objects. When Solzhenitsyn warned us "Live not by lies" he probably thought that he had witnessed the ultimate example of a nation that did just that. When he later came to the United States, I think he realized that the Soviets were pikers when it came to lies and vicious control.

Our true scourge.

Friday, May 22, 2020

Personal Marginalia

     Yesterday was a difficult day. I was grateful for the two meaty contributions from Linda and Margaret, as they freed me from feeling an obligation to write anything for this site. However, in looking back on the day, it has occurred to me that bits of it might be at least slightly amusing to the Gentle Readers of Liberty’s Torch. Besides, I’m in no mood to blather about current events, so here goes.

     We keep a rather unusual schedule here at the Fortress. Most Americans would find it uncongenial. We’re normally in bed at around 8:00 PM and out of bed at or before 4:00 AM. That’s the product of many years commuting in Long Island’s legendary traffic. The habits formed during those years have proved impossible to break, so far.

     One consequence of that schedule is that when one of us has a hard time sleeping, it’s normal for both of us to sack out even earlier the following evening. Nothing unusual there, eh? Everyone needs to get enough sleep. But the problem is stiff, as it’s very difficult to sleep when the sun is shining, no matter how dark and dense your bedroom drapes might be. For that reason and others, completely sleepless nights are not uncommon here.

     Yesterday, because I’d suffered a series of such bad nights, I didn’t awaken until the unGodly hour of 5:20 AM. When my eyelids finally rolled back and I noted the time, I felt like some kind of degenerate. I stumbled out of bed, robed, and scurried to the kitchen for some cardiac starter fluid coffee, and found the C.S.O. perched before her computer. She was already at her day’s work.

     She gave me the proverbial gimlet eye and drawled “Well! Good morning, sleepyhead.” At 5:25 AM Eastern Daylight-Savings Time.

     Perhaps this happens in the households of dairy farmers. I wouldn’t know.

     We have a cleaning lady who comes in on alternate Thursdays. She spares us having to do the “heavy” cleaning that’s tough on old backs and joints. I’m grateful that we can afford such a service, and would not think to complain about any inconveniences involved...usually. But with New York not yet “open for business,” there are extra difficulties involved.

     You see, every cleaning lady – in my experience at least – comes with one or more eccentricities. I had one, back when I was “between wives,” who saw me as in need of her matchmaking services. (“I have this really nice friend, Fran...”) Shortly after her, I had one who wanted to rearrange my furniture and could not be dissuaded from doing so. Her successor had very definite ideas about what constitutes trash, and acted on them despite my repeated pleas not to throw stuff out just because she thought I no longer needed it. I’ve striven to adjust to such foibles for the sake of a clean home.

     Our current cleaning lady – I’ll call her Jane, which is not her name – is a talker. She’s from my parish and always has something to chat about that she’s certain I’ll find interesting. That’s not a serious problem under normal circumstances. However, currently the C.S.O. must work from home, her little office is near to the geometric center of the house, and she can’t stand to hear Jane gabble. So keeping Jane and the C.S.O. from clashing is part of my job – and just now, it’s four hours of hell every other Thursday.

     Yesterday was particularly trying. Jane really wanted to talk, and whenever I was within earshot she’d start to regale me with all manner of tidbits about the parish, her health, her other customers, the cleaning products she uses (she strongly prefers unscented Mr. Clean®) and how she uses them, and whatever else came to mind.

     After an hour of this, the C.S.O. grabbed me and said “Stay away from her! She won’t talk if you’re not nearby.” And so began a three-hour game of Yar’s Cleaning Lady’s Revenge, in which my goal was to stay as far from Jane as possible at all times – in a longline ranch in which Jane was moving erratically from one end to the other.

     I have seldom been as frazzled as I was when Jane finally departed.

     Writers’ problems aren’t usually of interest to non-writers, but this one might prove an exception.

     Shortly after Jane (see previous segment) departed, I sat to my computer fully intending to get back to my own work. At present I’m writing a romance, somewhat along the lines of my little novel Love in the Time of Cinema, whose working title is Love in the Time of Capitalism. Now, romances don’t often involve science-fiction least they didn’t until fairly recently. This one isn’t intended to involve any such...uh, make that wasn’t intended to do so, until yesterday.

     A writer friend – I’ll call him John, which is not his name – rang me up before I could get started on my book. John wanted to talk: about my recent near-future science-fiction novels, the characters and scientific / technological motifs in them, whether I had more uses in mind for them, and whether I would mind if he were to borrow a couple of them. When John gets charged up about a subject, he can keep you going for hours. And of course, as we were talking about my books and how they might help him with his latest project, I was willing to listen as he spun out idea after idea.

     When John and I finally rang off and I returned to my romance novel, I found myself conceiving of the two entirely mundane protagonists of what was supposed to be a fairly ordinary romance – one an aging singer, the other a venture capitalist – enmeshed in all manner of bizarre adventures. I imagined them involved with dangerous new technologies, an orbital habitat, a high-tech presidential assassination, and a brief, bloody war in space. No matter how hard I tried to pull my thoughts back to my original plot line, it eluded me maddeningly.

     There are days I’m strongly tempted to pull the phone out of the wall. Lately they’ve been in the majority.

     The day ended fairly normally: the two of us perched on the sofa with our dogs and cats clustered around us. I tried to read a competitor’s most recent novel – it’s not up to his usual standard, so I won’t besmirch his reputation by telling you more about it – while the TV droned some inane British mystery to which the C.S.O. likes to sleep.

     I’d had the dogs out for their last yard visit of the evening and was about to drag the C.S.O. off to bed when a phone rang: a smartphone I acquired recently out of sheer necessity, and which I keep forgetting to turn off. I hurried to where I’d left it, snatched it up, answered it and said “Hello?”

     There was a moment of ominous silence. Then a deep voice said, “Who is this?” in a tone of menace.

     “Hey, you called me,” I replied. “Who the hell are you?”

     “Never mind that,” my distant interlocutor snapped. “How did you get this number?”

     I was thoroughly befuddled by then. “What are you talking about?”

     “Damn it all!” he shouted. “You’ve ruined everything!” And he hung up.

     I looked at the screen. “Private Caller,” was all it said.

     Maybe I’ll find a use for it in a novel.