Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Had It

     I think I’ve reached my limit.

     For twenty years I’ve been writing analyses and opinion about various matters of public policy, political dynamics, the various premises, the rational processes, and the emotional substrates that produce those things. The time and effort involved in producing these pieces are considerable. No one does such a thing except in the hope of improvement. But there’s been none. Not one BLEEP!ing thing has changed for the better. Every element of our sociopolitical malaise has worsened. America continues to slide toward totalitarianism – a totalitarianism that defies election results.

     I’m beginning to think that it’s due to cowardice on the Right. Virtually no one with his head on straight will speak plainly.

     Today, the worst of America’s bad actors rule our streets. They’re open about it. They make YouTube videos about their success at violently suppressing gatherings of conservatives and talks by conservative spokesmen. Yet supposedly Right-aligned commentators, including nearly all the prominent ones, can’t bring themselves to condemn the Left’s Brownshirts. Rather, they apologize for the Right’s existence.

     I probably read more in a single day than 99.9% of the American populace – including most of the aforementioned commentators – reads in a month. The greater part of that is news, analysis, and opinion. But with all that I read, I almost never encounter a statement about the plague of street violence – politically motivated street violence that's afflicted this country for more than a year – that places the odium squarely upon those who consciously set forth to initiate it.

     Instead, we get stuff like this:

     Monday morning, Ken Cuccinelli, former Attorney General of the Commonwealth, appeared on CNN’s “New Day” program opposite Symone Sanders, former press secretary for Bernie Sanders. They spoke about the Charlottesville events, and the President’s underwhelming, confounding response to them. Things got out of hand. When Cuccinelli didn’t seem contrite enough of behalf of Donald Trump (because, being a conservative, he’s clearly Trump’s biggest fan, because REASONS) and wouldn’t initially condemn Robert E. Lee as “emblematic” of white supremacy and racial hatred, Sanders continually talked over him and interrupted, with host Chris Cuomo’s passive cooperation. Cuccinelli eventually had enough of being interrupted and talked over, and said “…can I finish Symone, will you just shut up for a minute and let me finish?” Sanders became apoplectic, as if her civil rights were being violated by being asked to ‘shut up.’ The height of irony was Sanders, doing her best impression of a screaming harpy, demanding ‘decorum’ from Ken Cuccinelli, in almost every instance a thoroughgoing gentleman, who in this case was pushed to his limits. Sanders has no sense of fairness, decency, or decorum of her own. Chris Cuomo, of course, being Chris Cuomo, jumped in and remonstrated with Cuccinelli for using the phrase, “shut up” and did nothing to address Sanders’ antics, including using the same phrase herself.

     So far, so good, right? But we’re not quite finished:

     Cuccinelli, being the gentleman that he is, apologized, even calling Sanders after the fact.

     Why did Cuccinelli apologize for demanding to be treated with respect – reciprocal respect, at that? Had Sanders been a man, a true gentleman would have demanded a pre-dawn accounting: pistols or swords, sir; your choice. A woman exhibiting that sort of conduct is beneath contempt.

     At this point in our devolution, contempt is too good for the Left. Yet our luminaries continue to treat them with undeserved respect – and equally undeserved mercy for their outrages – while castigating the Right for daring to attempt a counteraction.


     I’ve also had it with “Fox News.” The best of its productions, Bret Baier’s Special Report, has become completely unwatchable. The appearances of supposedly Republican, supposedly conservative office holders, are so irritating that I’ve begun changing the channel to Animal Planet or The Food Network upon the instant one such appears on-screen. Not one of them ever gives a straight answer to a simple question. “Yes” and “no” seem not to be part of their vocabularies. However, the panel segments are its worst feature: an appalling display of Establishmentarianism and pusillanimity. The most regular panelists have been “in the business” for far too long. They’ve too obviously had their consciences numbed and their spines ripped out, and ought to consider a retirement trade; perhaps begging on street corners. The occasional guests, being mostly younger, tend to be somewhat better, but the regulars routinely outweigh them.

     The nadir arrived in this past Monday’s exchange between regular panelist Steve Hayes and occasional panelist Mollie Hemingway, over the nature of the events in Charlottesville. Hayes led off with a cringingly apologetic statement that condemned “white supremacists” and “neo-Nazis” as the reasons for the violence. When Hemingway dared to disagree – and not entirely, at that – Hayes actually tried to shout her down, insulting her unforgivably in the process. It was grotesque beyond my powers of description. Charles Krauthammer’s contribution added to the abuse of Hemingway in a predictably Establishmentarian fashion.

     Hayes’s behavior might be explicable. He might be angling for a billet at CNN or MSNBC, both of which are in desperate need of token “conservatives.” Krauthammer has no excuse. The experts required to raise him from his coffin and make him look lifelike in time for every evening’s fifteen minutes of breathless filibustering blather are under exclusive contract to Fox.

     It seems that those who predicted that Fox would swiftly deteriorate with Roger Ailes’s resignation were correct.


     The bastions of hard evidence and sound reason are being worn away. Whether it’s from fatigue or fear, they whom we trusted to be our public voices are failing us. It would be better for them to retire, but there’s precious little money or fan mail in that.

     For twenty years I’ve strained to add a microdecibel or two in favor of freedom and justice. I just don’t know whether there’s any point. Maybe there never was.

     It’s time for me to sit back and take stock, but before I close, have a giggle. A dear friend is about to issue a T-shirt design through Cafe Press. He told me about it a couple of weeks ago, and is currently deciding upon the final design. It’s likely to bear the following legend:

White Men:
Bringing You Western Civilization For 3000 Years

     ...over an image of a cathedral. I can’t wait to order mine...that is, if Cafe Press has the stones to accept his design and offer it for sale.

     We shall see.

To serve and defect.

It’s worth remembering that Charlottesville did everything it could to prevent the demonstrations, issuing permits only after being sued by the ACLU. And when push came to shove—literally—on Saturday, police and National Guardsmen were to be found only on the periphery of the brawling. Indeed, the Virginia ACLU reported that police were refusing to intervene unless specifically ordered to do so.[1]
Shades of Berkley when cops similarly did not intervene to stop AntiFa violence.[2]

Notes
[1] "Avoidable Mayhem. Why did Virginia’s political leadership order the police and National Guard to stand down?" By Bob McManus, City Journal, 8/14/17.
[2] H/t: The Burning Platform.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Action And Reaction

     As my regular Gentle Readers will surely know (and if they don’t, they can learn about it here), I have a Newfoundland. The Newf is a very special breed of dog. It was developed in the 17th and 18th Centuries to be a sailors’ companion: i.e., to perform water rescues in the icy North Atlantic where a sailor who fell overboard was in as much danger from hypothermia as from drowning.

     Needless to say, pulling grown men out of the ocean isn’t a job for something the size of a Chihuahua. Newfs are big — they average between 120 and 160 pounds at maturity – and proportionately strong. They were bred that way. But the bigger a dog is, the more important it is that he be gentle and unaggressive. So Newfs were also bred, quite carefully over many generations, to be gentle, affectionate, and generally unthreatening toward humans.

     Yet despite all that careful selective breeding, a Newf will revert to the feral, all-out violence of the wild when mistreated, or when a member of “his pack” – i.e., a member of the family to which he’s bonded – is threatened. And Newfs being big and strong, a Newf on the warpath will be very destructive. Plainly, the last thing any Newf owner would want is for his Newf to turn violent.

     Why yes, this is about Charlottesville. However did you guess?


     The Left has made substantial inroads into the American order by the well-known technique of gradualism. Mark Steyn noted the power of this technique, when shrewdly applied, in his masterpiece America Alone:

     If it were just terrorists bombing buildings and public transit, it would be easier; even the feeblest Eurowimp jurisdiction is obliged to act when the street is piled with corpses. But there's an old technique well understood by the smarter bullies. If you want to break a man, don't attack him head on, don't brutalize him; pain and torture can awaken a stubborn resistance in all but the weakest. But just make him slightly uncomfortable, disrupt his life at the margin, and he'll look for the easiest path to re-normalization. There are fellows rampaging through the streets because of some cartoons? Why, surely the most painless solution would be if we all agreed not to publish such cartoons.

     Steyn was, of course, thinking specifically about way Islamic militants worldwide have gone about intimidating the peoples of civilized nations into kowtowing to Islam. Yet his observation has far wider force.

     When the Taliban of Afghanistan took political control of that country, there was no immediate reaction from the West. We remained disengaged even when they began to execute women and children for the heinous crimes of being Christians or learning to read. They destroyed the Bahamian Buddhas, priceless historical treasures, and we continued to watch passively. It took Black Tuesday – September 11, 2001 and the loss of 3000 American lives – to awaken us. And of course, once the U.S. is awakened, it’s the rankest folly to stand against us.

     So it is also with the Left and its campaign to destroy what remains of the American Constitutional order.


     Leftist street demonstrations, sometimes including vandalism, have occurred in the U.S. before. However, the organizers have recently grown far bolder than their predecessors. The events of Donald Trump’s campaign and presidential inauguration went well beyond anything Americans would passively tolerate...were they fully informed about them. The major media, which is heavily Left-biased and aligned, did its level best to prevent accurate reportage about those events. Indeed, they strained to make Trump and his supporters into the villains of any story about any such development.

     Yet some things slipped through. There were too many eyewitnesses, and too many video-enabled phones, to prevent some actual depiction of the facts from reaching the public. A threshold was crossed. Popular anger over the Left’s tactics swelled to a decision point. Men headed to a Trump rally began to arm themselves, mostly with sticks or clubs, in preparation for an attack on them. While the Left continued to press, its efforts yielded less and less of the intimidation it sought.

     Other facts came to light: the alliance between the “Antifa” and “Black Lives Matter” gangs; their organizational techniques; the instructions their street thugs received; the sources of their funding; and the regularity with which the major media deflected attention from any disclosures about those things. Perhaps emboldened by their media support, the Left’s thugs decided to double down. Any gathering of conservative-minded persons for any reason became a target for violent disruption. Popular conservative speakers were compelled to flee the venues at which they were scheduled to appear. The attendees of pro-Trump rallies were regularly attacked, particularly women and the elderly. Apparently the response from the Right wasn’t uniform enough or dramatic enough to deter the Left. (It didn’t help that many Right-aligned spokesmen lacked the courage to point squarely at the Left and its backers and denounce them unambiguously, preferring merely to rail abstractly against “violence” and “hate.”)

     But as I’ve said many times here and elsewhere, word gets around. If there’s some item of information that it’s important that people know, sooner or later they will know it. No one can suppress the communication of important facts indefinitely.


     If the videos I’ve seen of the events in Charlottesville are accurate, the violence there, though initiated by the “Antifa / Black Lives Matter” combine and worsened by the actions of the Charlottesville police, was roughly isotropic. The counterforce, whose embryo was a modest number of conservatives carrying sticks and clubs to Right-aligned gatherings, has swelled to meet the Left’s shock troops on approximately even terms. The racial component of the contretemps, aggravated recently by proclamations from various Leftists to the effect that “whiteness” itself is a crime against humanity, has germinated a white-identity reaction that will swell the counterforce still further.

     These are good developments. No one is morally required to stand mute and passive while his race, his religion, his property, his freedom, or his person is being attacked. Once a collective has formed and demonstrated aggressive intentions, the alternatives are two: to be subjugated, or to fight back.

     Conservatives, Christians, and whites have decided to fight back.

     The Left has the media and a goodly portion of the political class on its side. Those forces can make it appear that the Right is doomed, that American Caucasians should surrender and submit, and that the Constitutional order has been irrecoverably overthrown. Indeed, even Fox News’s commentators are kowtowing to the forces proclaiming that white racism and fascism have caused the disturbances.

     But word gets around. And “the word” is that it’s time for conservatives, Christians, and whites to fight for our lives.

     In physics, we’re taught that “action equals reaction.” In sociopolitical matters, action can provoke reaction, but the two are not compelled to be equal in magnitude.

     A majority of Americans are patriotic and at least moderately conservative. Seventy percent of us are Caucasians of European descent. Seventy-four percent of us are Christians.

     Will the Left “do the math?” Your Curmudgeon reports; you decide.

     For further reading:

Monday, August 14, 2017

Left Rites

     [The reactions of so many Democrats and allied spokesvermin to the Charlottesville atrocity – specifically, their unanimity in blaming President Trump for the violence and disorder there this past weekend – have prompted the revivification of the piece below. It first appeared at the old Palace Of Reason on June 24, 2003. -- FWP]


     Certain behaviors of our political families, and of the flacksters and interest groups that swarm around them, are highly regular. For example, you can count on the Sierra Club and the Natural Resources Defense Council to predict imminent doom whenever a large corporation is granted a permit to build a plant, expand an existing one, or sink a hole in the earth for any reason. You can count on Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton to scream "racism" whenever some racial set-aside is challenged, or whenever a white candidate edges out a black one for a high-profile position. You can count on NOW and NARAL to scream about the abridgement of women's sacred "right to choose" whenever a state government proposes a law requiring parental notification when an underage girl seeks an abortion.

     You can also expect Democratic presidential candidates to pander to special interests at every opportunity.

     The decisions handed down yesterday in the University of Michigan racial-preferences cases before the Supreme Court satisfied very few. On the Right, where preferences have been excoriated for decades, the reaction was muted, almost resigned. The Court's delegitimization of UM's "point system," which gave black applicants a huge edge over white ones solely because of their race, was viewed favorably, but with a bittersweet edge. In the pattern of the Bakke case of twenty-five years ago, the Court maintained a qualified approval of "affirmative action" and the desirability of universities extending preferential treatment for the sake of "diversity."

     On the Left, as represented by Democratic seekers after their party's presidential nod, the reaction was practically hysterical:

  • Richard Gephardt: "Any effort to deny our nation's compelling interest in ensuring diversity is short-sighted and wrong....When I'm president, we'll do executive orders to overcome any wrong thing the Supreme Court does tomorrow or any other day."
  • Dennis Kucinich: "If this president doesn't want to let us be one nation, then it's time to elect a president who will let us be one nation."
  • Howard Dean: "The president has divided us. He's divided us by race by using the word 'quotas.' There's no such thing as a quota at the University of Michigan, never has been."
  • John Kerry: "We deserve a president of the United States who doesn't call fairness for minorities special preferences and then turn around and give special preferences to Halliburton or to Enron to write the energy policy."
  • Al Sharpton: "Clarence Thomas is my color, but he's not my kind."
  • Joseph Lieberman: "It is wrong; it is un-American."

     (Quotes courtesy of Fox News, reporting on the Democratic presidential candidates' comments at the annual Rainbow / PUSH convention in Chicago.)

     This sort of stridency might be better reserved for decisions such as Dred Scott. Yes, that was a long time ago.

     Note how four of the six candidates directly referred to the president in commenting on this development. It's not that they're unaware that President Bush doesn't sit on the Supreme Court. President Bush is their opponent; therefore, whatever they say from now until November 2004 must somehow connect to him. If Osama bin Laden were to nuke Tokyo, these candidates would strain to color it as somehow Dubya's fault.

     Plainly, the significance of such outbursts is not rational; it is political. Since World War II, the strategy that's worked best for the Democratic Party has been to pander to the special interest groups, particularly the ones that have already been successful at getting special privileges written into the law. This is in keeping with an ancient bit of wisdom about advertising: it's most effective when applied to something that's already selling well.

     Palace readers who find these emissions unpersuasive should take comfort. They're aimed at galvanizing the already persuaded. They don't even acknowledge your existence. In Thomas Sowell's pungent formulation, you're considered "benighted," suitable only for re-education to bring your premises and convictions in line with those of the Left.

     But do they "energize the base," as the candidates seem to hope they will? Could the allegiance and activism of the interest groups thus addressed possibly be jacked up any higher by anything a Democrat might say?

     Your Curmudgeon thinks not. It seems far more likely that the candidates' statements, made so soon after the decisions were handed down, were a form of ritual propitiation, offered to the interest groups as reassurances, to prevent disaffection and disaffiliation.

     The most successful interest groups are those that have learned how to reinforce politicians' behavior effectively: to reward that which they favor and punish that which they dislike. Politicians dislike punishment, especially when their eyes are fixed on vistas of new power. So, when they can't act to favor the blocs that support them, they're likely to preclude any change in their allegiances with pandering statements.

     The interest groups appear to be mollified by such statements. Given how much some of them have gained from the Bush Administration, it might seem a bit odd, but perhaps that only increases the importance of frequent, strident reassertions by Democrats of who their real friends are.

     There appears to be no end in sight, unless the continuing fractionation of the country into ever more topically concentrated voting blocs should completely exhaust the Democrats' pandering energies. One can only perform so many obeisances per twenty-four hour day. Failing that, we can expect to see such kowtowing, as semantically empty as it might be, continue into the indefinite future.

     Now, if your Curmudgeon could only figure out how to turn a profit on it...

Sunday, August 13, 2017

The Collapse Of Public Order

     It’s here. In truth, it’s been here since the inauguration of Donald J. Trump as the 45th president of these United States. Last night’s events in Charlottesville, Virginia only make it impossible to ignore.

     I’m not acquainted with Jason Kessler or Richard Spencer. I know very little about the “Alt-Right,” and would not presume to speak for that movement or any of its supporters. Here is what I know:

     Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. [U.S. Constitution, Amendment I]

     As an integral part of the Constitution, the First Amendment is the supreme law of the land, quite as much as any of the Constitution’s other prescriptions or proscriptions. If there’s any point to having “law enforcement officers” paid out of the public treasury, it’s to have them enforce the law. Yet the Charlottesville Police Department (CPD) refrained from doing anything of the sort. Indeed, in one respect -- i.e., by forcing the “Unite the Right” protestors to move single-file out of Emancipation Park and into the throng of “Antifa” thugs awaiting them – the CPD seemed eager to provoke the violence that occurred last night.

     While I cannot be certain that the “Antifa” thugs who forced violence upon last night’s “Unite the Right” rally were in the pay of the far-left Charlottesville city government, I am certain that the CPD encouraged the mushrooming violence, both by forcing the groups together and by standing by passively as violence erupted. Therefore the CPD is complicit in the death and the injuries that occurred. It should be brought to account for them, but it’s clear from the aftermath that that won’t happen.

     When the supposed “forces of order” do nothing to preserve order – when their actions conduce to violence, bloodshed, and chaos — what are we to think of the “government” over us? What possible good can we rationally expect from this institution that possesses the pre-indemnified privilege to use force in upholding the law, but refrains from doing so?


     Concerning the above matter and much else, T. L. Davis deposeth and sayeth:

     The USA is a failed state. It was charged at its founding to protect and defend the borders. Fail. It was charged with securing the rule of law. Fail. It was charged with securing the right of the people to be secure in their papers and effects. Fail. It was charged with protecting a citizen’s right to a fair trial, a thing lost in the current judicial system of trumped up charges and plea bargains. Fail. It was charged with requiring the popularly elected House of Representatives with making all legislation, that does not exist where 90% of all new legislation is considered "rules" and "regulations" and is originated and passed in committees of bureaucracies. Fail.

     There is no area in which one might look where the language and intent of the Constitution is honored. This is more than just a problem, it is indicative of a failed political state. That there are those who benefit from this dysfunction is a fact, but it is not indicative of a functioning government. It is a government evolving from its intent to the opposite of its intent. Yes, it functions, but not to its purpose, which is to say if a tire is blown, with a big hole in it, it might still be used as a child's swing, but it no longer functions to its purpose.

     He’s absolutely correct on all counts. The purpose of government in the U.S. was set out by a memorable bit of prose:

     We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

     Those purposes are in agreement at all points with what radio host Gene Burns likes to call “the birth document of the United States of America:”

     We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

     Yet today:

  • There are no rights;
  • There is no security;
  • And there’s damned little happiness.

     T. L. Davis’s assessment of the U.S. as “a failed state” is confirmed. Moreover, it’s the governments we hoped would “effect their Safety and Happiness” that are the culprits. Worse yet, they have enlisted groups such as “Antifa” and “Black Lives Matter” in their efforts.


     The aim of the High is to remain where they are. -- George Orwell

     It should be clear by now that the members of the political class, at whose whim the “forces of order” really move, are uninterested in anyone’s rights. Their paramount desire is to maintain and (if possible) increase their power over us.

     There can no longer be any justification for faith in the benevolence of the State. It has revealed itself all too clearly as a parasitic organism. It’s grown so large that the health of the host is now in mortal jeopardy. The elevation of a complete outsider to its highest office seems not to have dampened its lusts. Now, by assisting outright thugs and criminals in the suppression of peaceful dissent, the political class has declared war on the private citizenry.

     Do not expect what will follow last night’s evil to be confined to locales far from you. Go armed at all times. Cultivate the sharpest situational awareness possible. At all costs stay out of crowds and places where crowds are predicted. The thugs are everywhere...and the “forces of order” are aligned with them.

     Pray.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

The Yars’ Revenge Motif

     If you remember the best-selling Atari 2600 video game Yars’ Revenge, you must surely remember the “free-roaming mines that hunt the player's ship.” If you don’t...or if you’d rather not admit to being that old...here’s a brief description.

     The player controlled the “Yar.” The mission was to destroy an enemy called the “Qotile,” which was protected by a thick barrier. To make that possible, the Yar had to erode the barrier a block at a time. The player did this by pressing the Yar against it. However, there was a limit to how long he could do that at any given time: a slow-moving “free-roaming mine” would home in on the Yar and pursue it unceasingly across the screen. Needless to say, if the mine were to catch the Yar, it was “game over.” So the player had to combine his assault on the Qotile’s protective barrier with continuous awareness and evasion of the mine.

     No, this isn’t a throwaway column about old video games. It’s an abstract disquisition on the Google / James Damore episode and Robert Conquest’s Second Law of Politics.


     There’s nothing terribly deep about the behavior of the Left. It seeks total power over all things and in all venues. Its ideas are trash, multiply debunked over the centuries and around the world. Therefore it cannot win the power it seeks in the arena of civil discourse and debate. And therefore, it must use the other methods available to it.

     As I’ve said several times here (and innumerable times elsewhere), any hierarchical organization offers a kind of power to him who can contrive to ascend through its hierarchy. Leftists, being obsessed with power, will pursue such opportunities assiduously. Their single-minded lust for power gives them an edge over other contenders. Once they attain command altitude in an organization, they use their authority to prevent anyone “not of our kind” from rising to challenge them. The struggles within the Science Fiction Writers of America ought to have demonstrated this process beyond all possible doubt.

     Thus, the following outline applies to hierarchical organizations and their “life cycle” at this time. (NB: The outline can also be applied to noncommercial organizations. Consider the parallels in the clergies of the various Christian denominations.)

  • The beginning: enterprising persons conceive the conceptual “zygote” of the organization-to-be.
  • The newly conceived organization goes to work developing the product or service it has imagined. We may call this the “embryo” stage. In the course of doing so, it may bring in persons who weren’t part of the “zygote.”
  • Commercially valuable talent being only loosely correlated with political alignments, as the embryo develops it may incorporate persons with a Leftist bent. However, in that early period, those persons must possess the skills and the drive the young enterprise needs.
  • The embryo completes its first offerings and puts them in the market.
  • If the early offerings succeed, the organization’s growth accelerates. Its ranks will expand as it gains market share. It will also develop a hierarchy.

     Let’s pause here to look at the dynamics. To this point the enterprise has been concerned almost exclusively with commercial assets: the talent and energy required to establish itself in the marketplace. Nothing else has mattered to whoever does the recruiting. However, the emergence of a hierarchy alters the dynamic subtly. The division of labor makes it necessary that some direct others. Thus, new hires are no longer chosen solely on the basis of their skill sets and dedication. They must show a willingness to do as they’re told.

     Those who direct can influence the job satisfactions and livelihoods of those who must comply. As the organization acquires further levels of management, the complexity of the personal relationships involved ramifies and accelerates.

     An organization with four or more levels in its hierarchy will also acquire specialized authority-niches: sectors that serve the rest of the organization by taking responsibility for specific functions. Some of these, such as accounts receivable and payroll, are essentially benign. However, there are others that can become cancers capable of devouring the enterprise. The worst is the Human Resources (HR) department.

     Take a moment to review the fiction snippet in this piece. Then get yourself some more coffee. We’ve got a way to go yet.


     The ever more complex internal workings of a growing organization make it necessary to consider “chemistry” in assigning Smith to work with Jones and Davis: Will they get along? That is, are their personalities and occupational styles sufficiently compatible for productive collaboration? The answer can be critical to the success or failure of an effort. The division of the organization into departments, groups, and teams can only mitigate the problem to a limited extent.

     In the usual organization of substance, the HR department acts as a filter for applications for employment. Baldly put, if the HR department turns thumbs-down on a candidate, he won’t be hired no matter what his intellect, credentials, or experience. Moreover, the HR department is almost never called upon to justify a negative decision. That would destroy the separation of functions that gave rise to the HR department in the first place.

     But beyond that, the HR department is routinely tasked with the development of policy manuals that delineate required, acceptable, and forbidden employee behavior. In this as in its other functions, the HR department will receive very little supervision. No one actually wants to be involved in such things...except for those who really, truly, and ardently want to be involved in such things: they who are dictators by nature.

     Seldom will even top management take the trouble to review HR’s policy manuals and rule on their fitness. Thus, HR can put out essentially anything it wants, and can later justify its decisions and decrees as “standing policy” founded on “the company’s experiences.” It’s not unknown for an HR department to retroactively alter a policy manual, claim that the alteration was the real policy all along, and use it to discipline employees for behavior that was previously deemed acceptable, in a corporate analogue to an ex post facto law.

     It should come as no surprise that the power-seekers of the Left regard the HR department as their first target, whose infiltration and conquest are essential to its broader aims.


     Outside the special HR bastion, the process of Leftist colonization develops almost imperceptibly. Much of it occurs through the policy manuals and the procedures HR institutes to arbitrate conflicts between employees. As we can see from the James Damore / Google incident, it can reach a point after which the expression of disapproved opinions – which need have no explicit political coloration – can result in the purge of the “offending” employee. The rationale is almost always along the lines of “after this, no one will want to work with him:” a prediction that cannot be reviewed objectively.

     My Gentle Readers might be wondering why this phenomenon penalizes only those whose views are disapproved by the Left. Quite simply, we in the Right prize capability and efficiency. We regard minor differences and frictions as “just what happens” when significant numbers of people must work together; we work around them rather than allowing them to obsess us. We’re more interested in commercial achievement than power. Contrariwise, politics and power are everything to the Left.

     Of course, the “progressive” campaign to make every sort of “tolerance” except tolerance of conservative opinions, and “victims” out of every imaginable identity group except white men and Christians, is a large component of this dynamic. Yet even without that trend, the Left would pursue power over others in every sort of context just as determinedly as it does today. Like the “free-roaming mine” that relentlessly pursued the Yar, it’s “the nature of the beast.”

     A beast will always act according to its nature.


     Lately I’ve been asked by several Gentle Readers to turn my attention to remedies and solutions: less “where are we” and more “what should we do.” I appreciate the input, really I do, but some problems don’t have straightforward solutions. Moreover, as I’ve said before, the only effective counter to a dynamic is an equal or stronger opposed dynamic. Just now, I don’t know of one.

     Robert Conquest’s Second Law of Politics presents the only hope I can find:

     Any organization not explicitly right-wing sooner or later becomes left-wing.

     As older organizations allow their commercial orientation to be diluted and displaced by political considerations, they will grow commercially weaker. That will render them vulnerable to competition from new companies that reject the “progressive” orientation and the dynamic it imposes. The new companies will have a natural edge...but only for as long as they successfully resist Leftist infiltration.

     Always bear in mind the “Yars’ Revenge” motif: The Left will forever pursue available power wherever it may be found. And it will move far more quickly than that “free-roaming mine.”

     It seems a paradox, a contradiction immune to resolution: to defeat the politicized dinosaurs, the new companies must be explicitly right-wing. In particular, they must never, ever allow themselves to sprout the HR departments that are the prime targets of the Left. But how that could be made to work – the adoption of an explicitly political orientation in an organization that seeks to exclude those who would politicize it – is unclear, especially given the state of American labor law in this Year of Our Lord 2017.

Friday, August 11, 2017

The “Feelings” Blob Part 2: Getting Tough

     Dystopic has continued his explorations of “weaponized empathy:”

     Today, let’s break down a very common use of it in private circles, in debates between regular folks on social media.

     The tactic looks something like this:

Conservative: I believe in [insert policy here].
Progressive: Here is a sad story about someone (or even a hypothetical someone) who would be affected by the policy. Do you want this person to suffer?
Conservative: Well, no, of course not…
Progressive: Well then, you shouldn’t believe in [the policy]. It’s immoral.

     This is an exceptionally low bar to clear for the Progressive. No matter what political positions a person might have, at least some people, somewhere, can be found who would be negatively affected by it.

     Exactly! There will always be beneficiaries of some government program, regardless of the details. That’s how Iron Triangles are formed:

  • A program is proposed that transfers money from the public to the State, ostensibly to achieve some end that requires funds.
  • The program quickly acquires three sorts of hangers-on:
    1. Bureaucrats who administer the program;
    2. Vendors who sell products and / or services to the program;
    3. Beneficiaries who receive benefits from the program.
  • Those three form a special-interest constituency that will fight to the death to prevent the program from being rescinded or diminished, regardless of its other effects.
  • Because its interests are concise and coherent, that constituency can outmaneuver politically the more diffuse group that’s being taxed to fund the program.

     The “progressive” may know this, but that’s of no true consequence. What he does know is that someone, somewhere, might find the program to be of some benefit under particular hypothesized conditions. As the “progressive” is all about “compassion,” he’ll do as Dystopic has outlined above. The conservative who opposes the program is them thrown on his mettle. To escape the trap, he must get tough:

Conservative: Does your hypothetical victim have family or friends who would help him?
Progressive: Assume that he doesn’t. [FWP: The “progressive” must say this to keep the trap armed.]
Conservative: Why not? Are you telling me there’s no one who loves him enough to help him for that reason alone?
[FWP: At this point the “progressive” might start to sputter. To make matters maximally constraining, assume he keeps cool.]
Progressive: Well, there are some people who have no friends or loved ones.
Conservative: Then yes, I do want him to suffer. He’s obviously made a lot of very bad choices. People who make bad choices should not be rescued from the consequences. That would create an incentive for other persons to emulate them.

     But very few conservatives would ever dare to say so, mainly because we’ve been “nice-guyed” out of our moral vision.


     For the sake of brevity, let’s call the inability to allow another to suffer for his choices nice-guyism. Include in that category the inability to say you would be willing to allow such suffering. It’s at the core of Dystopic’s conception of weaponized empathy – and if you haven’t yet read his other pieces on that subject, you can’t imagine what you’re missing.

     There are varieties of nice-guyism. Some nice guys respond to sickness, others to poverty, and still others to wounded or abandoned animals. Every charitable or pseudo-charitable organization that exists (or ever has) relies upon the existence of some variety of it. Their pitches are uniform in this regard: show hardship or suffering, without any mention of how it was brought about.

     A condition severed from its causes hangs sourceless in the universe. It appears to exist de novo, such that there are no imaginable contexts in which it wouldn’t exist. But in the realm of human behavior, this is almost never the case.

     The sole categorical exception I can find to the proposition that “a man’s suffering is the consequence of his choices” is that of the inherent handicap: the infant left on the church steps by his mother; the child born horribly deformed; the congenital imbecile or idiot. There are some of each. Our sympathies for them are wholly understandable. But no one who has ever possessed a functioning mind in a reasonably sound body can plausibly claim that his hardships, whatever they may be, have nothing to do with his choices.

     If you’re not willing to let an individual suffer the consequences of his decisions and actions, the whole of Mankind becomes your charity case. The “progressive” can justify taking your money and your freedom, for any reason whatsoever, until you’re left with none of either...and that, Gentle Reader, is exactly what he intends to do.


     In the sort of discourse Dystopic has outlined, the “progressive” is using the conservative’s feelings against him: his automatic sympathy for anyone caught in dire straits, and his desire to be seen as a “nice guy” by his conversational adversary. The sole remedy is to get tough.

     Toughness is a contextually dependent characteristic. Demanding that a healthy adult be responsible for meeting his own needs is a virtue, and an important pro-social attitude. Demanding that one’s minor child do the same is not. Between the two lie the cases the “progressive” seeks to sever from their causal roots: those whose previous choices have brought them to a sorry pass. But if we can’t insist that persons with no excuse avoid unnecessary or extreme risks and make responsible provisions for their own futures, on what civic virtue can we insist?

     Beyond that, of course, lies the realm of legitimate, defensible excuses for being in personal jeopardy, but let’s leave that for some other morning.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

The “Feelings” Blob

     I could've been a man's coach. Backfield coach, Oregon State: I had the job, I had the job, I actually had the job. You understand? I had the job. Ah, well. Coach of the year. I was coach of the year last year. You know what that means when you're a women’s coach? Jack shit. I mean I could have coached football. Do you actually think that Chuck Knoll has to worry that Franco Harris is gonna cry ‘cause Terry Bradshaw won't talk to him? - Hmm? - Jack Lambert can't play because Mel Blount hurt his feelings, that Lynn Swann is pregnant, that Rocky Bleier forgot his Tampax? Ah, fuck! – Scott Glenn as Terry Tingloff, U.S. Olympic women’s track coach, in Personal Best

     It’s an old movie...but so is the “movie” about women being incapacitated by their emotions. Of course, that comes in several varieties. Today it’s often about “feeling unsafe.”

     I’m fully aware that the “feeling unsafe” gambit is a Leftist tactic. However, it wouldn’t work if women weren’t highly susceptible to it. It’s just about the easiest thing in the world to persuade a woman to feel unsafe, if that’s your objective.

     Of course, the tactic has a point: to make men unsafe. In particular, it’s used to put men at risk of their livelihoods, or their educations, or their homes and access to their children.

     As regards the use of this tactic, whether politically or in any other context, for maximum irony bear in mind that among a Western man’s strongest drives is the desire to make his woman actually, objectively safe...and to get her to feel that way.


     There isn’t much that hasn’t been said about the now-famous James Damore ten-page memo that precipitated his dismissal from Google. If you’ve been sentient for at least a week, you’re aware of the essentials about this contretemps. However, the full horror of the thing is only just becoming plain to many: that Google’s upper management, which exercises a great deal of control over a substantial fraction of the World Wide Web and considerable influence (via its search engine) over the rest, is minded to punish sentiments it disapproves.

     Why? What imaginable gain could there be to Google in retarding or limiting the expression of others’ sentiments? Why would a corporation whose fortunes are founded on facilitating free expression ever do such a thing?

     The bald explanation is that like so many other corporations, Google has been infiltrated and subverted by the Left, which cannot win in the arena of ideas. This is indeed the case...but how did it come about? The Left’s fascistic hostility to dissent is antithetical to Google’s ostensible aims. How did left-liberal fascism gain power there?

     My Gentle Readers are aware of the intense federal scrutiny that falls on the personnel policies of large organizations, supposedly to combat “discrimination.” Similarly, you’re aware that the relevant federal agencies are themselves heavily colonized by Leftist intolerance. The heavy hand Washington has laid upon the hiring practices of large companies is unconcealed. What follows from that – the second-order effects of federal scrutiny of corporate hiring patterns – include the sort of speech policing that cost James Damore his job. For just as Google, to remain in the Labor Department’s good graces, must hire a certain number of women, Negroes, homosexuals, et cetera, it must also keep those persons from complaining about “discriminatory” working conditions...and nothing is more likely to get the Labor Department’s attention than a woman’s claim that some male colleague has made her “feel unsafe.”


     A bit of fiction:

     Stephen Sumner was about to head to the cafeteria for lunch when the intercom light on his desk phone lit. He sighed, sat back down, and lifted the handset.
     “Sumner.”
     “Steve, it’s Anders. Come to my office for a minute, please?”
     “Right there.” Sumner returned the handset to its hook, grabbed a pen and a legal pad, and trotted down the hall to the office of Anders Forslund. He found the door open.
     “What’s up, Anders?”
     The founder and CEO of Onteora Aviation grimaced and muttered “Shut the door.” Sumner did so and seated himself in one of the two leather guest chairs before Forslund’s desk.
     He looks anxious.
     “Have you gotten to know Irv Grutstein?” Forslund said.
     “The HR director?” Sumner shook his head. “I don’t think we’ve even exchanged hellos.”
     Forslund nodded. “I’m not surprised. He’s not much for socializing, at least not outside his department. I’ve tried to stay well away from it.” He smirked ruefully. “Sometimes I wish I’d never created it in the first place.”
     “I don’t think we’d be able to contract with the Pentagon without one,” Sumner said. “With all the rules the Labor Department has about equal opportunity hiring—”
     “And a lot of other things.” Forslund opened a manila folder, paged briefly through its contents, and closed it. “As you don’t know him,” he said, “it falls to me to inform you. Grutstein loves rules. The vaguer and broader, the better. All empire builders do.” He slid the folder across the desk to Sumner.
     Sumner opened the folder, glanced at the first page, and felt all the strength leave his body. He looked up at Forslund, hoping that his boss would assure him that it was all in fun, some sort of interdepartmental joke. Forslund shook his head.
     “It’s no gag, Steve. It’s an official intracompany complaint by a software engineer named Violet Hochberg, alleging sexual harassment and sexual discrimination—”
     “By Louis Redmond,” Sumner breathed.
     “Exactly. Grutstein brought it and the complainant to me about an hour ago.” Forslund sat back in his chair, looking exhausted.
     “Anders,” Sumner said, “there is no one in this company with better morals or ethics than Louis. You can’t—”
     “Believe it? Not for an instant,” Forslund said. “However, OA’s HR director does. At least he’s pretending that he does. Shall I tell you what he said to me when he presented it?”
     Sumner braced himself. “Go ahead.”
     “He said,” Forslund measured out the words, “that if Louis would agree to resign without contesting the charges, he’d refrain from instituting a criminal case against him. Oh, and that he’d have no objection to my recommending Louis for a job with one of our competitors.” An incredulous laugh. “As if I wouldn’t slit both wrists to prevent that very thing.”
     “With a rusty bottle opener,” Sumner murmured.
     “Hm?”
     “Nothing, nothing.” Sumner delicately set the folder at the outer edge of Forslund’s desk. “I assume Louis hasn’t yet been notified?”
     “He hasn’t. Would you please do so?”
     Sumner nodded. “Of course. Anything else?”
     Forslund’s eyes hardened. “Two things. First, find out if there’s even the thinnest shred of truth to this woman’s allegations, and notify me at once if there is. Second, if there isn’t, which we already know is the case, I want you to prepare Louis and yourself to defend him against this Violet Hochberg, against our own HR department, and should the worse come to the worst, against the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission of the Department of Labor of the federal government of the United States.”
     Sumner rose. “With pleasure.” He leveled a look at his CEO. “No holds barred, I assume?”
     Forslund bared his teeth. “No holds barred. Grutstein’s people will go straight for the throat. Spare them nothing.”
     Sumner mirrored the bloodthirsty grin. “Count on it.”
     “They’ve scheduled Louis’s show trial for Wednesday after next, at nine AM,” Forslund said. “You’d better get started.”

     [From Statesman]

     A fair number of my fiction readers are female. I knew as I wrote the above passage, which introduces a conflict in which a woman's excessive ambition unjustly entangles and imperils a blameless young man, that some of them would be offended. I didn’t let it stop me...because the narrated incident actually occurred. I merely cast fictional characters into the leading roles and placed them in a fictional setting. To anyone who wrote to upbraid me about “belittling” or “invalidating” women’s “legitimate concerns,” I replied, “This is today’s corporate reality – the reality you helped to create. Get used to it.”

     I didn’t receive a single rejoinder.


     The late Steve McQueen, an accomplished actor with several well known triumphs to his credit, first appeared on the silver screen in The Blob, a movie which today is regarded as the cheesiest sort of horror flick. In point of fact, at the time it was made and distributed, it was well received and popular. More to the point, the “Kill it before it spreads!” tag line that the movie made famous is directly germane to the progress of the “feelings blob” the Left has unleashed. Unless and until its progress is halted –the heroes in the movie froze their ever-spreading menace by dousing it with fire extinguishers – the “feelings blob” will conquer ever more organizations and circumscribe free expression ever more narrowly.

     This is strongly related to the “Apologetics” series I’ve just concluded:

     The inducement to apology is nearly always that “You’ve hurt my feelings.” There is nothing more urgent, in our quotidian human relations, than the nullification of our near-to-reflexive tendency to apologize, to be replaced by a sneer and the pronouncement that “That’s your problem.”

     There will be some coarsening of our relations, to be sure. (Some men will go home alone on Friday and Saturday nights.) But the social, commercial, and political needs of the moment more than justify the cost. At any rate, aren’t you tired of always self-censoring, always feeling vaguely guilty about something you can’t quite name...always apologizing?

Hubris and complete disdain for the past and reason itself.

According to Professor Legutko’s analysis, the similarities that he has observed under communism and the current liberal democratic regime are not attributable to accidents of history or to the activities of a few misguided men, but are the logical consequences of their whole world outlook. And perhaps the single most important similarity is that each of the systems is forward-looking and judges the present not by what has existed in an imperfect past, or by what is possible for human beings given their essential and abiding nature, let alone by any deontological precepts, but by a future state of perfection that the systems responsible for the present will allegedly call into existence.[1]
I think I've recounted the marvelous insight that a speaker at an Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meeting had after he'd recounted the complete disaster that his life had become: "And my best thinking got me there." Two of the tenets of AA are that
  1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol - that our lives had become unmanageable.
  2. Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
Just as that speaker experienced complete collapse of his life and all loss of self respect, so has the West rushed with energy and purpose to its own destruction.

AA's idea of a "higher power" is non-sectarian and who or what he or she or it is is not central to its rejuvenating approach. It does require that the alcoholic (zealot) give up the illusion of personal mastery and humbly take into account that someone else might actually have something worthwhile to contribute to his or her life. The Western world takes the opposite approach and puts its faith in kings, potentates, bwanas, poobahs, and scumbag intellectuals, politicians, artists, journalists, and bureaucrats. The work product of these hideous people is all around us now. It swamps us. It drowns us. It slimes us with crudity, delusion, lies, and assaults on reason and experience.

Samuel Johnson had his finger on the problem:

"How small, of all that human hearts endure,/ That part which laws or kings can cause or cure!"
Western man has got it all wrong with our vast schemes for the reformation of all aspects of human existence. We have desecrated all that our ancestors handed down to us. Much humility is now in order but such incipient signs of awakening as can be seen are but dim candles. It cannot and will not overcome over a century of utter stupidity and willful betrayal.

Humility won't return to us until we have a smoking ruin.

Notes
[1] "A Takedown of the Moral Prometheans." By Theodore Dalrymple|, Library of Law and Liberty, 8/10/17.

Government that crushes.

How is this not tyranny?
I've mentioned this in previous "Illinois is FUBARed" threads, but I think it marks the point well. I live in suburban St. Louis, MO. in an area that probably has the highest, if not amongst the highest property tax rates in the whole state of Missouri. My in-laws, god love them, live in a small rural town in Illinois. My house is 3x the size of theirs, and likely 3-4 times the market value of theirs. Point being? My property taxes are, and have been functionally the same as theirs almost as long as I've known them. Think about that for a second. That's unreal.

It's no shock why Illinois has the problems they have.[1]

Not to be outdone, RaoulDuke66 on the Illinois train wreck:
This is a sure sign that more government is required to fix the problems created by evil capitalists.[2]
A classic comment. Socialists, statists, communists, progressives, and fools have hamstrung and done the vampire deal on free markets and the rule of law to create vast, unresponsive, liberty-destroying monstrosities that make the Philadelphia Convention look like a shower for Rosemary's baby.

And, boom, when it gets to be heavy sledding and "recalculate" just doesn't make the spreadsheet numbers change, it's capitalism that gets blamed and the AntiFa mobs get called out in force.

Notes
[1] Comment by Stan Smith on "This $5 Trillion Time Bomb Will Devastate Americans." By Nick Giambruno, Zero Hedge, 8/9/17.
[2] Comment at id.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Apologetics: A Coda

     Let’s have a few home truths, the sort Junior once learned at his mother’s knee:

  1. People do things for a reason.
  2. Some people are impossible to please.
  3. Therefore, it’s impossible to please everyone.
  4. Therefore, your highest priority shouldn’t be to please others.
  5. Now finish your homework, brush your teeth, and get ready for bed!

     (Yes, #5 is rather difficult to square with the previous four. That’s actually why I included it. You’ll see in a moment.)

     America has a national malady of sorts. It consists of the desire to be seen as a benevolent power that will always come to the rescue when the cause is just. Thus we’ve embraced the “world policeman” role for seven decades. We’ve also added “world do-gooder” to our responsibilities, such that other nations now expect that the U.S. will send relief forces and resources speeding toward any disaster anywhere. The current desire to renounce those roles, and to reserve our power and resources for our own national interests, is part of why Donald Trump is now the president.

     That national malady flows from a personal weakness too many of us share: the tendency to make being liked and approved by others our highest priority. That’s the weak spot the Left has attacked at every opportunity for fifty years: our desire for others’ approval of our actions. But no matter how tolerant and generous we are, it’s never enough. It can’t be enough, for they keep attacking.

     We’re tired. Every man of good will in this nation is laden with near to unbearable fatigue. We’ve been playing Atlas, mostly reaping envy and resentment for our efforts, and wondering what the hell we did that was so wrong.

     What was so wrong was making other people the ultimate judges of our actions.


     Do you remember the Christmas Tsunami of 2004? I do. I remember it well, including the ridicule Europeans – including Europeans in the U.S. at the time – heaped on us for sending an aircraft carrier to the scene:

     Today, during an afternoon conference that wrapped up my project of the last 18 months, one of my Euro colleagues tossed this little turd out to no one in particular:
     "See, this is why George Bush is so dumb, there’s a disaster in the world and he sends an Aircraft Carrier..."
     After which he and many of my Euro colleagues laughed out loud.
     And then they looked at me. I wasn't laughing, and neither was my Hindi friend sitting next to me, who has lost family in the disaster.
     I'm afraid I was "unprofessional", I let it loose --
     "Hmmm, let's see, what would be the ideal ship to send to a disaster, now what kind of ship would we want?
     Something with its own inexhaustible power supply?
     Something that can produce 900,000 gallons of fresh water a day from sea water?
     Something with its own airfield? So that after producing the fresh water, it could help distribute it?
     Something with 4 hospitals and lots of open space for emergency supplies?
     Something with a global communications facility to make the coordination of disaster relief in the region easier?
     Well "Franz", us peasants in America call that kind of ship an "Aircraft Carrier". We have 12 of them. How many do you have? Oh that's right, NONE. Lucky for you and the rest of the world, we are the kind of people who share. Even with people we don’t like. In fact, if memory serves, once upon a time we peasants spent a ton of money and lives rescuing people who we had once tried to kill and who tried to kill us.
     Do you know who those people were? That's right Franz, Europeans.
     There’s a French Aircraft carrier? Where is it? Right where it belongs! In France of course! Oh why should the French Navy dirty their uniforms helping people on the other side of the globe. How Simplesse...
     The day an American has to move a European out of the way to help in some part of the world it will be a great day in the world, you sniggering little f**knob..."
     The room fell silent. My Hindi friend then said quietly to the Euros:
     "Can you let your hatred of George Bush end for just one minute? There are people dying! And what are your countries doing? Amazon.com has helped more than France has. You all have a role to play in the world, why can't you see that? Thank God for the US Navy, they don’t have to come and help, but they are. They helped you once and you should all thank God they did. They didn’t have to, and no one but them would have done so. I'm ashamed of you all..."
     He left the room, shaking and in tears. The frustration of being on the other side of the globe, unable to do anything to assist and faced with people who could not set aside their asininity long enough to reach out and help was too much for him to bear. I just shook my head and left. The Euros stood speechless.

     One American, unconcerned with his European colleagues’ opinion of him or his country, issued a brilliant dressing-down that silenced a roomful of them. That’s what’s possible when you don’t care what others think of you.

     I also remember a truly bile-stirring denunciation of the Bush Administration’s response by Leftist critic Robert Rivkin:

     Why hasn’t the Bush administration shown some imagination in convincing the world that Americans really care and are prepared to make a small sacrifice to help victims of this astonishingly destructive natural calamity? In the wake of the administration’s default, why hasn’t the Democratic “opposition” proposed something that will demonstrate to the world that Americans want to help and are not “stingy”? Especially these days, a dramatic proposal to assist victims of mass catastrophe might also improve our country’s tarnished image in many places in the world.

     Here’s a simple proposal that would capture the world’s attention, and which a majority of Americans would almost certainly support. President Bush should announce that because of the colossal losses suffered by millions of people in Southeast Asia and East Africa, he will make an exception to his promise not to raise taxes. Bush should propose a Tsunami Disaster Relief Surtax for 2004 and 2005, with very simple components that everyone can understand.

     For example, the president could propose a flat $50 surtax applicable to every American tax return with an adjusted gross income of between $25,000 and $40,000; a flat $75 surtax on every tax return with an adjusted gross income between $40,000 and $80,000; $100 for incomes over $80,000, and so on. This small assessment for two years would produce many billions of dollars, which could be placed into a fund which would support infrastructure repair and development over a period of at least 10 years in the stricken countries.

     (The original article is no longer reachable. The above is a transcription that appeared in a 2004 article at Eternity Road.)

     Yes, Gentle Reader, you read it right. Rivkin was actually proposing a tax on Americans specifically to benefit – drumroll, please -- non-Americans! If memory serves, we fought a bloody war to be free from that. Of course, I wasn’t around that long ago, but the histories all agree on it.

     But I want to draw your attention to one specific phrase in that disgusting article:

     ...a dramatic proposal to assist victims of mass catastrophe might also improve our country’s tarnished image in many places in the world.

     In other words, Americans should be saddled with a tax specifically so that non-Americans will like us more!

     Yet Leftists wonder that we want no more of them.


     No one admits publicly, and hence public opinion does not admit, that ingratitude is the norm. It is astounding that countless benefactors allow themselves to be persuaded over and over that ingratitude with the resultant hatred is a rare and special case. -- Helmut Schoeck

     If insanity consists of endlessly repeating the same actions but expecting the results to change, it is insane to think that the pattern of so many years, and so many well-meant benevolences, will ever be reversed. We compound the insanity when we allow others to make us feel guilty about their envy and resentment. We complete the tailoring for our straitjackets when we broaden and intensify our efforts in response.

     Remember Home Truth #1: People do things for a reason. The Left – especially its spokesvermin – issue their denunciations of our “lack of compassion” because for many years it’s worked to get them what they want. They call us racists, sexists, homophobes, Islamophobes, and any other trendy names they can think of because it impels us to apologize – nay, to grovel, to beg forgiveness and do penance. Yet no matter how we respond, they refuse to grant their approval, much less absolution for our imaginary sins. Why? To keep the tactic usable!

     That’s what we get – as individuals and as a nation – for making others’ approval our highest priority.


     I could go on in this vein for many thousands of words more, but as the overarching lesson should be clear by now, I’ll spare you. However, one recent incident deserves special mention.

     At Mass this past Monday – yes, I go to Mass every day – Father Henry Vas, normally an excellent homilist, said something so thoughtless, so stupid, and so far outside his proper sphere that I wanted to charge the pulpit. What he said, quite briefly, was that if the richest 5% of Mankind would just share what we have with the rest, “we could eliminate poverty.”

     I’m not sure how I resisted, but somehow I suppressed the urge to rise from my seat and shout “Oh yeah? For how long?” If we hadn’t been in the middle of a sacred ceremony, I think I would have done so. At my next opportunity, I intend to “tax” him about it.

     Have you been present at any similar incidents? What did you say in reply to such arrogant imbecility? More to the point, what will you say – if anything – at the next such occasion? Will you be willing to challenge such lunacy, or will you be more concerned with being liked and “keeping the peace?”

     Have a nice day.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Apologetics Part 3: What You Get For Being Apologetic

     Part 1 and Part 2 of this series have already generated some discussion. It’s a discussion we desperately need, as the greater part of the Left’s attack strategy is based on getting normal, innocent people to feel guilty. If that element of Leftism could be defeated, the edifice would totter. Indeed, it might fall from that alone.

     He who apologizes has implicitly accepted a verdict of guilt. There’s no evading it. Subsequent statements that “I was just being polite!” will be ignored; no one will ever hear them. The only way to stay out of the trap is not to apologize, pro forma or otherwise.

     As it happens, we have some excellent recent demonstrations before us.


     Politeness, when exercised asymmetrically, is a mistake. I contend that the Jordan Peterson video I linked in yesterday’s rant is sufficient demonstration. Clearly, the “trans” and “non-binary” activists who assailed him as a Nazi sympathizer had no intention of being polite. In that case, Dr. Peterson’s penalty for being inappropriately polite was minor: the loss of a little time and some extra wear and tear on his patience. However, many a man who’s been hailed into court as the result of an auto accident has a sadder tale to tell. Consider the following prototypical courtroom exchange from Alexander Rose’s Pay The Two Dollars:

Lawyer: Mr. Blert, if you didn’t cause the whole thing, why did you say you were sorry?
Defendant: What?
Lawyer: Why did you say you were sorry?
Defendant: Sorry?
Lawyer: Sorry.
Defendant: Good heavens, the man was bleeding and I simply said—
Lawyer: Were you sorry about his bleeding or about your carelessness?
Defendant: Carelessness? Why, he was driving with his arm around this girl! How could I be careless?
Lawyer: It’s possible. Now, did you also say...

     Though the above is fictional, it illustrates nicely what well-meaning remarks made in the wrong context can cost...and the cost could be higher. The following is from a real murder case:

     A recent murder trial was based entirely on circumstantial evidence. A Mrs. Brown had a small store in a small town. One fine day her son, who was a truck driver, stopped his truck outside the store, came in and said, “Mom, I’m going in the back room for a minute.” She was busy with customers for some time.
     Suddenly two shots rang out. The horrified woman rushed into the back room and found her son slumped down on a davenport with two gunshot wounds in his chest. There was no one else in the room, there was no gun in view. The only other door in the room was one that opened onto a side street.
She called the police and they took her and her son to the hospital. When the doctors told the police the man was dying, the police had the mother speak to him and ask him who had shot him. He said, “Watt shot me,” and died.
     A Gordon Watt was promptly picked up by the police. They interrogated him and found that he knew the deceased, that they had quarreled over Watt’s attentions to Brown’s wife, and Watt admitted having been within one block of the scene of the shooting at the time it occurred.
     He was indicted and tried for murder.

     [Ibid.]

     As it happens, Gordon Watt was found innocent...but his “attentions to Brown’s wife” and the resulting quarrel could have put him into a gas chamber. Yet what developed during the trial was that Watt had merely been politely, pleasantly attentive to Brown’s wife as she regaled him with the details of some household adventure. He’d shown ordinary courtesy to a garrulous woman in a social setting. Utterly innocent! But it put a man’s life in jeopardy.

     A well-meant pro forma apology could impose a similar cost.


     If you’re not yet familiar with this well-meant bit of prose from a Google employee, please take a moment to read the thing. Note how apologetic, how utterly forelock-tugging to the Left it really is. James Damore, who wrote it, meant no harm to anyone. He did his cringing best to perform ritual obeisance to all the Left’s shibboleths, especially about that most absurd of the modern myths, “gender equality.” Yet he lost his job over it.

     Apologies did James Damore no good whatsoever. His statements were deliberately distorted to suit the Left’s purposes...including the ambitions of Google’s freshly hired “vice president for diversity” Danielle Brown, to appear important and “on the job.”

     Brown’s memo makes plain that none of Damore’s hairsplitting could possibly have aided his defense:

     “Part of building an open, inclusive environment means fostering a culture in which those with alternative views, including different political views, feel safe sharing their opinions. But that discourse needs to work alongside the principles of equal employment found in our Code of Conduct, policies, and anti-discrimination laws.”

     As Oregon Muse says at AoSHQ, “In other words, shut up. So her whole statement, translated, reads: ‘All of us here at Google are in 100% favor of free speech and diversity of opinion. Except for this guy. He needs to shut up.’”

     Lawrence Summers could have told James Damore about the futility of apologies. So could James Watson.


     There have been innumerable demonstrations that to the Left, any sign of weakness from an adversary is a signal for immediate, all-out attack. Despite the utter innocence – from any perspective – of the great majority of its targets, the Left attacks to destroy its target and to intimidate any like-minded into silence. As it has a sympathetic and wholly compliant media on its side, it usually carries the day. The exceptions have all been men who stood fearlessly for their expressed convictions and refused any word or deed of obeisance.

     So why apologize? Why qualify your statements in a futile attempt to avert the Left’s thunderous wrath? Why not be “out loud and proud?” Especially as it seems to make your odds of survival a trifle better.

     Think it over.

Altrustic lawyer?

And how does a recently bankrupt and unemployed Imran Awan wind up with a high-priced lawyer to defend him who is associated with the Clintons? Would that kind of lawyer even take a relatively minor bank fraud case if that were all that is involved?
"The Tale of the Brothers Awan. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz in the middle of a new scandal." By Philip Giraldi, The Unz Review, 8/8/17.

It's yuge.

The resort to weird propaganda ploys, accusing Vladimir Putin of ‘rigging’ the US Presidential elections, has paralyzed US domestic policy, turning Washington into an insane asylum of continental dimensions.
"Washington and Brussels: Running in Reverse." By James Petras, The Unz Review, 8/1/17.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Apologetics Part 2: No Respect

     No, this won’t be a paean to Rodney Dangerfield, as much as he deserves one.

     I’ve just watched a rather illuminating Jordan Peterson video. Dr. Peterson, a clinical psychologist who also lectures at the University of Toronto, is a brilliant man who articulately expresses the traditional values and views of Western societies. It would be a mistake, I think, to classify him politically; Canada is not the U.S., and at any rate I have yet to hear him speak specifically about political matters. But his overwhelming sensibility, his most excellent grounding in reality and what may be known with some confidence, suggests an innate personal conservatism: i.e., a belief in moving deliberately if at all, and an unwillingness to bend to fads regardless of their popularity.

     I exhort you to watch the video, but just in case you have no time for its 13 minutes and 34 seconds, I’ll summarize it for you. A group of “trans” and “non-binary activists” sought, in their typical fashion, to invalidate Dr. Peterson’s views and disparage him personally. Dr. Peterson made a critical mistake: He treated them with respect: i.e., as if they and their leading, insinuating, deliberately insulting questions deserved his attention. That cost him 13.5 minutes of his time and energy.

     This is not an unusual occurrence. Far too many persons with a public profile strive to treat everyone with respect. But that, too, is a mistake. (Moreover, Dr. Peterson is aware of this.) There are several categories of persons who should not be treated with respect – indeed, who must not be so treated.


     If Smith insults Jones, whether directly or by imputation, he forfeits all claim to Jones’s respect. If Smith declares himself to be of a category that has made insult, slander, and denunciation its tools, then as soon as he shows his colors, Jones is within his rights to deny Smith an instant of his time, much less the smallest particle of respect. Moreover, in doing so, Jones leagues himself with the good guys.

     The “trans” and “non-binary” types who attempted to conflate Dr. Peterson’s sentiments with Nazism made plain their intentions and their alignments within the first 60 seconds. At that point, the appropriate response to them was:

“I have no time for you. Good day.”

     Dr. Peterson would have been within his rights to issue that response. (Eventually he did say something of the sort.) You must not grant respect to someone determined to damage you, your reputation, or anything else to which you have a just claim. Your grant of respect, even if it’s merely in the form of courteous, attentive treatment, will be wielded against you.


     If Smith has nothing to offer Jones – no value that makes Smith’s existence even temporarily valuable to Jones– then Jones need not treat with Smith. For Smith to demand Jones’s attention, yet offer nothing that Jones would want in recompense, is an attempt to steal Jones’s time and energy. It’s a theft indistinguishable from the theft of property, for the ultimate cost of all things is the time and effort required to acquire them. The old plaint “Who can I sue to get those five minutes of my life back?” recognizes this implicitly.

     Many are they who would steal every second of your life from you. People who want what you can do for them but who disdain to offer you anything in return (perhaps because they have nothing to offer). Respect these? Great God in heaven, why? wouldn’t it wiser to strain to keep them at distance, perhaps in another county?

     One of Robert A. Heinlein’s pithier maxims comes to mind:

     “It is easier to deal with a footpad than it is with the leech who wants "just a few minutes of your time, please—this won't take long." Time is your total capital, and the minutes of your life are painfully few. If you allow yourself to fall into the vice of agreeing to such requests, they quickly snowball to the point where these parasites will use up 100 percent of your time—and squawk for more!
     So learn to say No—and to be rude about it when necessary. Otherwise you will not have time to carry out your duty, or to do your own work, and certainly no time for love and happiness. The termites will nibble away your life and leave none of it for you.”

     Note that it doesn’t matter why “the termites” want your time and attention. If you refrain from granting them respect by default, they can’t get their teeth into you. There’s a great deal of satisfaction in telling them to “buzz off.” If done with others watching, you might inspire them to do likewise.


     Enemies and time thieves are important categories, but we must not neglect a third no-respect category whose numbers appear to be swelling as we speak: the deluded.

     There are a fair number of deluded persons in the world. Not all of them are plainly “a quart or two below the dipstick.” Some of them present a facade of functionality. However, when their delusions surface, they can become irritating, time-consuming, and occasionally dangerous.

     In the most abstract terms, a delusion is a belief or conviction that’s at odds with objective reality. There are as many possible delusions as there are correct beliefs and convictions: simply negate the valid one to reach a delusion. However, as no one’s knowledge or experience is infinite, it’s possible that Smith’s delusion falls outside the scope of Jones’s knowledge and experience. Therefore, Jones might not be able to classify Smith as deluded immediately upon Smith’s statement of the substance of his delusion.

     My knowledge and experience certainly aren’t infinite. Over the years I’ve been acquainted – in most cases, very briefly – with deluded persons of several kinds. Yet I’ve been able to identify them as deluded swiftly in nearly every case. There are reliable symptoms deluded persons seldom learn how to conceal. Perhaps the most important one is the high priority they place upon their delusion. That routinely manifests in a persistence about pressing it on others that’s usually absent from non-deluded persons.

     Unless you’re a mental health professional and are being paid for your services at a previously agreed-upon rate, you owe the deluded nothing. You certainly don’t owe them your time, energy, or respect – and as delusions are often contagious, you must not grant them any.


     I styled this Part 2 of Apologetics for reasons that might not be entirely obvious. At base, it’s about a verbal habit nearly everyone exhibits:

“I’m sorry, but...”

     This is all too frequently the lead-in to a well-earned dismissal of an enemy, a time thief, or a deluded person. No, you’re not sorry. You shouldn’t say you are, even pro forma. As Heinlein said, these people are parasites, whether they’re aware of it or not. Moreover, by remaining conscious of their nature and your perfect right to dismiss them with prejudice, you'll reinforce your self-respect: your appreciation for the place in the world you’ve earned by your own efforts, which your enemies, time thieves, and delusional acquaintances are at pains to erode.

     This is a more important step than you might realize. At this time Western man exhibits a critical deficit of self-respect. Ponder the shrift we give to the shrieking, increasingly violent Left. Ponder the accommodation we’ve allowed those who claim to be “transgender,” or even more comically, “transracial.” Ponder the Muslim savages ravaging Europe as Europeans wring their hands and prattle about “tolerance” and “diversity.” You’ll see exactly what I mean.

Apologetics

     (Warning! My Gentle Readers have surely already realized from the graphic above that the title misapplies the word apologetics. As a Catholic and a serious student of religion, I’m well aware of what the word really means. You needn’t declaim about it to me. Allow me my little whimsies. Besides, the misapplication is more apparent than real.)

     Lately, absolutely everyone seems to be...offended. (To be precise, if you’re not already offended, you’re looking for a reason to be.) That bugs the living shit out of me. I’ve made no secret of that. But what’s worse is the reinforcement the offended ones receive from well-meaning others who misguidedly seek to smooth their feathers.

     It must stop – NOW.


     Some years ago, in a conversation with the esteemed Chris Muir, I asked him whether he had any difficulties with irritating detractors – trolls, in our contemporary argot – and how he chose to deal with them. Chris’s reply was brief and penetrating. He said that what they wanted was a response; therefore, he refused to give them one. Deprived of the reinforcement they sought, they soon went away.

     Priorities! Logic! Maturity! Brilliance! I was, to say the least, impressed. If it works so well for Chris, whose readership numbers in the tens of thousands, it should work for everyone. However, few in the Right make use of it – and the Left knows it.

     Rather, not only do we supply the response the troll seeks, we compound the felony by apologizing: i.e., trying to explain ourselves.

     That is wrong for at least three reasons:

  • You’re providing an attacker with what he wants;
  • You’re expressing contrition for a view it’s your perfect right to hold;
  • Your attacker isn’t interested in your explanation; he merely seeks to annoy and deflect you.

     But believe it or not, it gets worse than that.


     He made, in his inexperience, the classic mistake: he tried to explain. Life had not yet taught him how futile that approach is, with men and women alike. He did not know that the only respect-compelling attitude toward any accusation, true or false, is: “Take me or leave me as I am, and be damned!” – Frank Yerby, An Odor Of Sanctity

     An apology implies that one has committed an offense. An explanation is an attempt at self-exculpation. Therefore, unless the item of behavior for which you’re considering issuing an apology is forbidden by the Ten Commandments, suppress the urge. Unless the person who appears to want an apology from you is a loved one or a minor child, the proper response is quite different:

     (The minor child should merely be ignored. He needs the life lesson before he encounters someone carrying a weapon. In the case of a person of mature years who’s merely acting like a child, try sarcasm: e.g., “I’m sorry that wasn’t covered by your third grade teacher.” It probably won’t work, but it might make you feel better. As for a loved one, there’s no remedy but blatantly indifferent silence. Let her sulk.)

     I’ve ranted about this before, of course. Yet the apologies continue to pour forth – and from people who have nothing to apologize for and should know better than to issue them. Apparently, no one was listening.

FOR THOSE WHO STILL DON’T GET IT:

     If you’re apologizing for something you sincerely believe or consciously meant to do, you’re the victim. Not the person demanding the apology. He’s deflecting you from your priorities to his. If you permit it, you’ll have only yourself to blame.


     Just this morning, I encountered a variation on the unjustified apology that deserves special mention:

     Capitalism may not be perfect, but it’s a damn sight better than anything else. – Chris Blake

     This is not meant as a slam at the author. I like Chris. I’ve enjoyed visiting his site for several years. But like many others in the Right who write for the Web, he sometimes qualifies a perfectly accurate statement with an apologetic forelock-tug. It’s a bad habit, especially given the slipperiness of words such as perfect.

     “Capitalism may not be perfect.” Meaning what? That it doesn’t give everyone exactly what he wants, when he wants it, at a price he’s happy to pay? Anyway, what is capitalism that it should require anyone’s defense?

     Capitalism is economic freedom. It’s the way we pursue our various priorities when we’re left free to do so. Would anyone ever feel a need to say that freedom “may not be perfect?” Would you listen respectfully to whatever might follow such a claim?

     Yet Chris is not alone in feeling the need to add that qualifier to his statement of preference for capitalism. Virtually everyone does it, including many sharp-minded economists who know full well that there is no other scheme that’s fit for human consumption. We apologize for wanting to be free!

     Glory be to God, people! If what you want is moral and rational, why do you apologize for it? What will it take to get you to stop?


     Herewith, a brief story about a recent encounter. It might make you uncomfortable. In fact, I rather hope it will do so, because it’s more important than anything else I’ve written here.

     Quite recently I made the acquaintance of a woman I’ll call Jane. Briefly, Jane is in dire straits. She’s a fifty-year-old cancer survivor, the chemotherapy for which has largely ruined her body. She’s penniless, her only income being SSDI. She has a fourteen year old daughter she loves more than her own life. Yet Jane’s parents have contrived to take custody of her daughter from her. Those parents are also exceedingly controlling. They’re determined that Jane and her daughter shall not escape their clutches and have taken measures to thwart all her previous attempts.

     Yes, I’ve verified all of that. Jane is a true victim of circumstances and other people. Events have beaten the will completely out of her. She has no idea how to make even a small change in her situation.

     You can imagine my reaction at learning all the above. I want very badly to help this woman. “Act with love toward those whom God puts in your path,” Father Schliemann said, and I’ve resolved to do so to the best of my ability. But there’s a problem with that: Jane herself. She’s massively reluctant to prioritize.

     It’s clear that Jane must leave her parents’ home. She agrees with that. But she wants to stay close to them, even though they live in a very expensive district that Jane could never afford. Besides, there’s her daughter, who’d have to leave all her friends and the high school she wants to attend. And Jane doesn’t want to live in this place, or that one, or in this other district...

     Frustrating, eh? But you haven’t heard the worst part: She kept apologizing to me for all this! If I still had any hair, I’d be tearing it out. Instead, I got tough:

     “Damn it all, make some choices! You have to decide what matters most and deal with it,” I said. “That’s how problems are solved. Not by tangling them up into a big ball. Now look at me: Do you want to solve any of your problems or not?

     I was shouting by the end of that. It’s my natural response to such behavior. Most women act offended by it. To her credit, Jane did not. All the same, she kept apologizing for everything, and nothing I could say or do would stop her.

     How do you help someone who apologizes for her own existence?


     The Enemy loves platitudes. Of a proposed course of action He wants men, so far as I can see, to ask very simple questions; is it righteous? is it prudent? is it possible? Now if we can keep men asking "Is it in accordance with the general movement of our time? Is it progressive or reactionary? Is this the way that History is going?" they will neglect the relevant questions. And the questions they do ask are, of course, unanswerable; for they do not know the future, and what the future will be depends very largely on just those choices which they now invoke the future to help them to make. As a result, while their minds are buzzing in this vacuum, we have the better chance to slip in and bend them to the action we have decided on. – C. S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters

     I’m unsure there’s any point to going on further, either about this subject or at this blog. Nothing changes. No one is listening. The wisdom of greater men than I and greater minds than mine has been ignored, so why should I hope to have a greater effect? It’s foolish, really. Yet I’ve persisted since 1997.

     Will you listen to me just this once, Gentle Reader? Stop apologizing. It’s a sign of weakness, a placard that says to your enemies “Attack here.” He who assails you wants your response more than anything else. His assaultive behavior will be reinforced by it. Besides, apologies are meaningless. If you’re wrong, either events have already demonstrated it or they soon will. If you’re right...?

     If John Wayne wouldn’t apologize, why should you? Are you less of a man than he was? Are your rights and prerogatives inferior to his – or to mine?

     Have a nice Monday, if that’s possible after reading the above.