Friday, June 23, 2017

Megaphones

     The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary. – H. L. Mencken

     In A Time For Action and A Time For Reflection, former Secretary of the Treasury William E. Simon’s followups to his extraordinary bestseller A Time For Truth, he devotes considerable attention to “the media megaphone:” the media’s special position in our national discourse, which it has used for decades to nudge the Overton Window ever further to the left. When President Gerald Ford mentioned Simon’s name as a possible vice-presidential running mate in 1976, Simon’s well known conservatism sent the press into a frenzy:

     It was fascinating and revealing to note how the mention of my name as a possible vice presidential candidate raised the volume of the media megaphone and lowered journalistic standards. Truth was less relevant than ever. With my conservative beliefs widely known, there was a deliberate effort to smear me as some kind of far right weirdo. The media seemed to go out of its way to print the most uncomplimentary photo they could find. In my case, it was a shot of me with slicked back hair and thick glasses, looking like some kind of space alien.
     Once Carol and I were accompanied by a reporter on the way to Andrews Air Force Base. A week later, Carol, who had heard every word of the interview, read his article in the paper.
     “This is terrible,” she said. “Number one, you never said any of those things. Number two, he never asked you about these things. It’s all a lie.”
     “Toots,” I said, “welcome to Washington. If you don’t speak to reporters, they will kill you. If you do, they will lie about you. It’s just the way it goes.”...
     One occasion in particular caused me to blow my stack. I got wind of a story that was being spread around Washington claiming that I had been engaged in laundering drug money while a senior partner at Salomon Brothers. I was told that this absurd story was being peddled by Mel Elfin, Newsweek’s bureau chief, and a reporter named Jim Bishop.
     I invited the pair to my office and asked Elfin for an explanation. He offered not a shred of fact(because there was none) to support this vicious rumor. Instead, he said that since I was a leading candidate for vice president, it was his job to smoke out whatever damaging information he could find about me. Floating stories like this, he said, was a way of getting people to come forth with information that journalists might not find through a normal , straightforward inquiry.
     “Even if it ruins a person’s reputation?” I asked incredulously. Elfin merely repeated his mantra, explaining that he had some sort of cosmic responsibility to investigate everybody and everything. I dared him to print his story. In the end, Elfin declined and the rumor disappeared, but not before he had spread it over a fairly wide field with his inquiries.

     [From A Time For Reflection]

     No better man than William E. Simon, dedicated public servant, devout Catholic, father of seven, and wizard of finance, has ever occupied a high Washington office. Even his political adversaries admired him – and not with the “admiration” of a bitter enemy for his conqueror’s prowess. Yet Newsweek was willing to smear him in the hope of impeding President Ford’s re-election campaign, or at least to keep a nationally recognized and admired conservative off the Republican ticket.

     That was 1976: forty-one years ago. The press has only grown more biased and less ethical since then.


     Today there are alternatives to what we in the Right derisorily call the “Main Stream Media” – talk radio, the Internet, and a few less potent organs – but the power of the MSM has yet to be broken. In part, that’s because its operators have a gift for discovering – or inventing – the sort of stories readers find irresistible. They certainly don’t let any notion of fairness or balance thwart them.

     Just now, with the Republican Senatorial caucus having brought its ObamaCare replacement to the floor, the MSM are trumpeting the most lurid, entirely fictional accounts of the bill. The tottering old crone of the bunch, the New York Times, is leading the charge. Here are there most publicized articles for today:

     Actual facts are thin on the ground in all four of those articles. Scan them for actual numbers; good luck finding ones that actually inform the reader about the bill. For example, no comparisons between levels of current Medicaid funding and those proposed by the AHCA are presented; only a brief mention – in an editorial! — of a limit to be imposed on the rate of increase. Yet only the last of those pieces is billed as an opinion piece. They’re pure scare talk, intended to frighten the constituents of GOP Senators into berating them out of supporting the bill.

     But people read scare talk; that’s why the MSM features so much of it. They tend to take it far more seriously than it deserves, which is how we got the (happily short-lived) wave of public alarm over “global warming.”


     It is no longer accurate to call the Main Stream Media institutions of “journalism.” Their aim is no longer to inform, but to direct and propel...and always in one particular direction. Whether the subject is the military, taxation, education, the environment, medicine, firearms, or school lunches, they direct their fire exclusively at conservatives and small-government advocates. The impact of this inclination cannot be denied.

     I am reminded of the Left’s public “rallies” of my younger days. There was always a “bullhorner:” an activist with a megaphone. He would rant through his device at such a volume that no one else could be heard for many yards around. The aim wasn’t to persuade; indeed, it wasn’t even to publicize. It was to prevent others from going their own way without the activist’s left-wing propaganda resounding in their skulls.

     Today, the megaphone is the Main Stream Media. They’re wholly at the service of the Left, which made colonizing and conquering them a principal priority decades ago. If there’s any prospect of reclaiming them for actual journalism, I can’t see it.

     They must be delegitimized and rendered impotent. But how?

The Democrat zoo.

While it’s a bit unfair to personalize the Democratic Party’s problems, Hillary and Bill Clinton have come to represent how the party is viewed by many Americans. Instead of the FDR Democrats, we have the Davos Democrats, the Wall Street Democrats, the Hollywood Democrats, the Silicon Valley Democrats, and now increasingly the Military-Industrial Complex Democrats.

To many Americans struggling to make ends meet, the national Democrats seem committed to the interests of the worldwide elites: global trade, financialization of the economy, robotization of the workplace, and endless war against endless enemies.

And the Snowflake Democrats.

Who can turn this around? Tulsi Gabbard.

Notes
[1]  "Russia-gate Flops as Democrats’ Golden Ticket." By Robert Parry, Consortiumnews.com, 6/21/17.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Whom Are You Addressing?

     In any politically oriented statement, whether oral or written, the issuer must have a clear conception of his audience:

  1. Who are they?
  2. What convictions do they already hold, and why?
  3. To what sort of arguments are they most likely to be receptive?

     It’s a bit like marketing fiction. If Smith dislikes vampire stories, you can’t reach him (or his wallet) with a vampire story. To get into his billfold, you must offer him something he likes to read, at least generically. That having been said, the reverse is also true. If you detest vampire stories but that’s all Smith is willing to read, you might as well forget trying to hook him.

     I couldn’t help but address this subject after reading this piece:

     Rant: Stop with the False Equivalencies

     No, "everyone" does not need to simmer down.

     No, the right does not "do it too." Not as extensively and not with the same viciousness.

     And so on, and so on, and so on...

     Now, I like Stephanie. I read her blog fairly often. (It helps that we’re both SF readers. Inasmuch as I’m an SF writer, reading it is a professional requirement. Got to stay aware of what “the competition” is doing, don’t y’know.) But if she had a clear conception of her audience, her piece would have been quite different. Indeed, she might not have written it at all.

     Stephanie’s audience, like mine, is populated just about 100% by conservatives and libertarians. Those folks don’t need to be told that the Left’s many attempts to play the tu quoque game with us are utter, scrofulous deceits. They know it already – and it chafes them quite as badly as it does Stephanie.

     But the matter is more involved than that. Let’s have a quick gedankenexperiment. Let’s imagine that Stephanie’s audience had been replaced, for the duration of the cited article, with one that’s predominantly left-liberal. What then? Would her piece have persuaded any of those imagined lefties to change their ways?

     I think not, for some very simple reasons:

  1. Left-liberals in our time are not concerned with evidence;
  2. The tu quoque tactic is too useful to the Left for them to surrender it;
  3. A left-liberal receptive to Stephanie’s piece would swiftly be “read out of the church,” friendless.

     The only imaginable audience to which Stephanie’s article might be both interesting and effective is an audience of the uncommitted but open-minded, and such persons don’t read political blogs. They prefer not to court the attention of ideologues and partisans, whom they regard with a moderate distaste, about like door-to-door religious proselytizers. They talk about politics only among themselves...if at all.

     I could go on about this. I could embellish it with clever arguments and illuminating examples. However, I know my audience would prefer to read about just about anything else, so I’ll close here.

     Back later, I hope.

Anything but a look in the mirror.

Robert Parry has an excellent article on the dark night of the soul of the Democrats:
By insisting that Hillary Clinton be the Democratic nominee – after leftist populist Bernie Sanders was pushed aside – the party also ignored the fact that many Americans, including many Democrats, viewed Clinton as the perfectly imperfect candidate for an anti-Establishment year with many Americans still fuming over the Wall Street bailouts and amid the growing sense that the system was rigged for the well-connected and against the average guy or gal.

In the face of those sentiments, the Democrats nominated a candidate who personified how a relatively small number of lucky Americans can play the system and make tons of money while the masses have seen their dreams crushed and their bank accounts drained. And Clinton apparently still hasn’t learned that lesson.[1]

Highly recommended.

Notes
[1]  "Russia-gate Flops as Democrats’ Golden Ticket." By Robert Parry, Consortiumnews.com, 6/21/17.

Something rotten.

Deir ez-Zor, Syria, was the site of a (anti-Assad) Coalition air strike on a Syrian Arab Army (SAA) position. Some eight minutes later ISIS troops attacked the SAA position. A coincidence it wasn't.

The U.S. maintained that the attack was a "mistake" but it defies logic. The government troops had been there for some time and minimal radio traffic analysis would have clearly shown that those troops were communicating on SAA tactical frequencies, not to mention multiple opportunities to visually inspect the positions by satellite or photo.

More to my point here, the Russian liaison officer attempted to contact his U.S. counterpart over some sort of hotline to call off the strike on the government troops but the latter officer had mysteriously gone "walkabout" and was unavailable. The Coalition strike lasted for, or continued for, about an hour with multiple SAA deaths and injuries. The American position that an officer standing watch at one end of a hot line could wander off for a coffee break with no one to cover for him in his absence is absurd.

Having established itself as an entity given to lies, the U.S. took the position that its attack on a Syrian air force fighter-bomber was necessary because it was attacking Syrian Democratic Force (SDF) troops, or too close too them, is worthless.

In the case of the attack on the Syrian jet, it isn't that a watch officer was absent from his post but that the U.S. did not make any attempt even to use the available coordination channel to avoid tragic errors.

The [Defense Ministry of the Russian Federation] explained the reasons for suspending the memorandum [for preventing incidents in Syria's skies]. According to the ministry, at the moment the Syrian warplane was hit by the US fighter, Russia’s Aerospace Forces were carrying out missions in Syria’s airspace; [sic]

"However, the coalition command did not use the existing communication line between the air commands of Al Udeid Air Base (Qatar) and Khmeimim Air Base to prevent incidents in Syria’s airspace."

"We consider the actions of the US command as a deliberate default on their obligations under the memorandum on on [sic] preventing incidents and providing for safe flights during operations in Syria signed on October 20, 2015," the Defense Ministry stressed.[1]

Apparently, no warning was given by the U.S. plane to the Syrian pilot either. He was just blown out of the sky. Other commentary on the web has also made the point that Turkey has attacked SDF troops with no retaliation or defensive response by the U.S.

As with the attack on Deir ez-Zor, this June 19, 2017 attack on a Syrian war plane smells.

Notes
[1] "Russia cuts deconfliction channel with Washington after US downs Syrian jet." By TASS, 6/19/17 (emphasis added).

H/t: Pundita.

Reverse Donald Trump.

". . . Paris [Macron] will no longer insist Assad leaving is a pre-condition for peace talks."

* * * *

Between introducing a measure of sanity on Syria in Paris, and attempting a Russia reset it looks like President Macron might turn out to be substantially better than candidate Macron. A kind of reverse Donald Trump if you will.[1]

Notes
[1]  "Macron Has Just Taken France out of the 'Assad Must Go' Camp." By RI Staff, Russia Insider, 6/21/17 (emphasis in original).

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Islam Is Toxic To Human Life

     I’ve said it before. I’m saying it again.

Islam Is Not A Religion.

     It’s a totalitarian political system with some pseudo-theological window dressing.

     Therefore, Muslims do not belong in these United States. So why do we continue to:

  1. Tolerate the ones that are here, who ceaselessly demand special accommodations to their “beliefs;”
  2. And continue to admit more of them?

     Why do we accept events such as this:

     Read the story.

     These creatures are savages! Whether or not they admit it, the “moderates” believe the violent ones among them are following the dictates of their religion. Indeed, they support the jihadists with money and concealment, and look down upon themselves for not doing likewise.

     No further immigration of Muslims can be permitted.
     Every Muslim in the U.S. must be expelled.
     All mosques must be demolished.

     Wake up, America...before you wake up dead.

And your first clue was . . . what?

“I think we’re in a time when we can’t ignore the extremism from the Left,” said Oren Segal, the director of the Center on Extremism, an arm of the Anti-Defamation League.[1]
Those guys don't miss a trick.

Notes
[1] "The 'Extremism Experts' Who Used To Fear The Right, Are Now Worried About The Left." By Daniel Lang, SHTFplan.com, 6/20/17.

H/t: Zero Hedge.

The Fear Weapon

     "Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain." [Frank Herbert, Dune]

     Just a week ago, an important article appeared at Chateau Heartiste. It’s a long narrative about an attempted carjacking, in Baltimore, of a white man by a black thug, and it deserves to be read in its entirety. However, for me the most important bit is at the conclusion:

     The experience hasn’t really changed me, but it certainly has honed my resolve, Heartiste. If white men are to take back the cities they built, they will need to use the same weapon on the dindus as they do on us – fear.

     Oh my stars and garters, yes. Mega-emphatically YES! But generalized. For the enemy isn’t just the army of black thugs that have made so many of our urban areas into combat zones. The threat goes well beyond them...all the way to the pinnacle of our political system.


     There’s a story about Timur i-leng, the Oriental warlord of the Fourteenth Century, becoming so greatly feared that his armies had no need to fight: the mere notice by a sitting ruler that Timur was approaching and would demand his fealty was enough to make several such potentates submit without resistance. While the tale is fanciful and probably mere legend, the lesson it bears is important.

     Fear is, in a sense, the ultimate weapon. He who can create sufficient fear in his enemy can induce the enemy to surrender without fighting: the highest form of victory. Failing that, swords must clash and men must die.

     A few years ago, I wrote at some length about the power of fear. One particular bit seems especially relevant today:

     Today, when the State has become predatory beyond all expectation and its eyes are everywhere, the sense of insecurity among those of us ill-equipped to fight it directly is stronger than ever. The urge to withdraw into anonymity and invisibility can overpower us. And that, of course, is exactly what our political masters want.

     Have a gander at this article, reflect on what it means for the right to keep and bear arms, and ponder: Will that right be undone de facto, by Gestapo tactics of the sort John Filippidis and his family endured? Then have a look at the statistics in this paper, and ponder whether you can master your fears sufficiently to speak out against such tyranny.

     That’s the power the fear weapon in the hands of the State has over ordinary, peaceable citizens: enough to have us all cowering before its agents look in our direction.

     But the fear weapon is indifferent to the identity of its wielder. Is there some possibility that We the People could wield it as effectively against the State as the State has done against us?


     Here are the material bases of the State’s fear weapon:

  • Its agents act “under color of law.”
  • The great majority of those agents are effectively protected against any redress.
  • The “alphabet agencies” have managed to place themselves “above the law” de facto.
  • The laws themselves are so many, and so obscure, that no one can be certain he hasn’t violated them.
  • Even an innocent man fears to face an accusation in court, because of the expense and the damage to his reputation.

     There are some lesser (and not entirely material) elements to the State’s fear weapon, but we can neglect them for the moment. What about the material elements private Americans could use to cause the State to fear us?

  • We have the numbers.
  • Americans are rather heavily armed.
  • Without our funding, the State could not survive.

     Those three considerations are what make “the consent of the governed” more than a pretty phrase. However, at this time none of them are being put to effective use. How might that be changed?


     A lot of ink and a great many pixels have been lavished on a phantasm: the “government shutdown.” Whenever Congress bestirs itself to limit federal spending in any way, we’re threatened with a “government shutdown”...as if the federal government would ever willingly shut down 100%. Note that in each of the “government shutdowns” of recent years, approximately 85% of all federal employees have remained at their jobs, guaranteed to be paid their full salaries.

     The most recent “government shutdown” frightened Americans so little that Barack Hussein Obama had to make it irritating: he instructed Parks Department employees to prevent access to any federal park or monument, even though the Parks Department remained open and functioning.

     Clearly, the “shutdown” wasn’t frightening enough...yet the phrase “government shutdown” remains a scare-staple of the Establishment, particularly among Democrats. They want us to think that calamity of some sort will ensue should we dare to deny them what they demand. It just isn’t so. In reality, the fear runs in the opposite direction: The Establishment and its minions fear that we’ll discover that we don’t need them and in fact would do better without them.

     Doesn’t that stimulate a few fresh thoughts?


     There’s much more to be said on this subject, but this is enough for now. At least I want to get my Gentle Readers thinking about how we might frighten “our governments” back into the posture of humble submission the Founding Fathers intended that they should occupy. The State has made us cower for so long that turnabout wouldn’t just be “fair play;” it would be the most welcome of all refreshments. Atop that, it might be exactly the remedy for what ails us.

The Heritage Foundation signs on to aggressive war.

Nile Gardiner, director of the Heritage Foundation’s Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom, doubted Moscow would follow through on its threat. Russia, for instance, did not retaliate militarily after Turkey shot down its jet in 2015, he noted.

He called the U.S. military’s decision to shoot down a Syrian jet a “welcome development.”

“Washington has sent a clear message to Moscow that it’s no longer business as usual,” he said. “For too long, the Russians have treated Syria as their own backyard.”[1]

Somebody please just shoot me. Last anyone heard, the Russians are in Syria with the permission of the Syrian government. If anyone is treating Syria as its own back yard it is the U.S. and its "coalition partners." They have no rights under international law to be in or over Syria without Syrian government permission, let alone to put troops on the ground and conduct military operations there.

Notes
[1] "US signals involvement in Syria could escalate." By Rebecca Kheel, The Hill, 6/20/17.

Great headlines.

The Russians Do It Again: Democrats Get Crushed In Georgia Election Despite 7x Spending Advantage.
By Tyler Durden, Zero Hedge, 6/21/17.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

The Power Canard

     [Inasmuch as the Left has been laboring mightily to eliminate freedom of expression, I’ve decided to resurrect yet another piece from the old Palace of Reason. The following first appeared there on June 7, 2002. -- FWP]


Part One: What is power?

     Someone recently ventured to resurrect the old saw that "money is power." Inasmuch as both terms are undefined to most people, I thought I might lend my offices to the cause of clarity.

     At this time, the wealthiest man in the world is William H. Gates, founder and chairman of Microsoft. I've met Mr. Gates. I came away from the meeting with no great opinion of him personally. But I didn't fear him, nor feel a need to please him. Yet, if "money is power," I should have been terrified of eliciting his slightest displeasure.

     Gates, by virtue of his immense wealth and his captaincy of a giant corporation, has a proportional ability to influence the decisions of others -- if those decisions are more sensitive to the prospect of getting some of Gates's bucks than to other factors. However, were he to commit a felony -- say, rape -- his billions would not avail him, except to buy him the best legal defense available. Were he to take umbrage at someone who had slighted him, he could only refuse to do business with that person henceforward.

     Gates has "power to": the power of the Level and the Square. He can undertake vast projects with distant horizons, with a better chance of success than virtually anyone else in the world. But he has not one shred of "power over." He cannot forcibly deprive one human being of his life, liberty or property, not even some utterly derelict, friendless junkie who sleeps on a Washington D.C. heating grille, without exposing himself to legal redress... unless he succeeds in purchasing immunity from the agents of the State.

     Political power is "power over": the power of the Gun, the power to deprive men of their lives, liberties, or properties without fear of a legal backblast. Consider the lowest, scrawniest bureaucrat from the Department of Health and Human Services. He wields "power over", over all of us. His ability to write regulations with the force of law, to levy fines, to order U.S. Marshals to take citizens into custody and to kill them if they resist, is infinitely more "power over" than Bill Gates has on the best days of his life.

     Politicians and bureaucrats have managed to confuse "power to" with "power over" in the public mind. They have induced the people to forget that "power to" can do them no harm unless "power over" is for sale -- and that the more "power over" we tolerate, the more of it will inevitably be for sale, as those who wield political power are always drawn from the lowest of the moral strata.


Part Two: The proper limits of power.

     Once we're past the "power to" vs. "power over" confusion, much becomes clear about the American Left. One thing that ought not to occupy us, not for a second, is why they want power over us. Motives don't matter. Ask the citizens of the former Soviet Union.

     The question lefties hate is, "Where's the stopping point? At what point does the individual's right to be left alone forbid further expansion of the reach of government?" The true answer, "there is no stopping point," wouldn't go over big with most Americans, no matter how "compassionate" their inclinations. So they slide around it.

     But it's necessary, in conversations with the still-reachable, to be able to demonstrate this. The best evidence is the evolution of the left-wing attitude toward freedom of speech.

     When freedom weenies get into a discussion of this, it's usually misdirected toward matters like the Mapplethorpe or Serrano obscenities. This is a waste of time for us. The issue there isn't freedom of speech, it's coercive government funding for the arts, about which there's no debate. If the cretins who purvey pictures of crucifixes in urine and bullwhips protruding from men's anuses had to get by on the merits of their art, rather than on their ability to woo funding from the NEA, they'd starve to death in a month.

     The American Left started out as passionate about the idea of free expression, but over the last thirty years, the trend has reversed. Today, freedom of expression is reserved, in their view, only for people who agree with them. Folks such as Catharine MacKinnon and Andrea Dworkin have orchestrated a national campaign for the idea that words are just as deadly as bullets, and should be even more closely regulated... by themselves.

     The seed idea comes from Herbert Marcuse's 1965 essay "Repressive Tolerance," in which he argued that the importance of achieving preeminence for socialist ideas was so great that to tolerate dissent from them was itself a crime. He called unabashedly for suspension of the rights to free speech and free assembly, until society had been restructured to fit socialist premises. The past thirty-five years have seen the American Left, once passionate in defense of this freedom, move into an ever-closer embrace of censorship in support of that ultimate chimera, "social justice."

     If free speech, which for decades was the only freedom the Left would rise to defend, must be disposed of when it impedes the socialization of America, then what freedom would remain? And what becomes of their claim to represent any "liberal" idea?


Part Three: Classifying the American Power-Seeker.

     So: Their followers may not know it and may not want to believe it, but the inner circle of the American Left is interested solely in gaining unlimited power over the rest of us. Where does this put them on the Great Taxonomic Chart of Politics?

     Communism -- nationalization of all industry and commerce -- is utterly unworkable and leads to mass poverty. Even folks who still call themselves Communists will admit it. But there's another totalitarian political faith that tries to avert Communism's failings while preserving its core. That creed leaves the nominal ownership of things in private hands, but then regulates their use and interplay as tightly as possible, and confiscates the greater part of the earnings from all commerce. It also extends into private lives, regulating and planning as much of human existence as possible -- all the while preserving the fiction that private life and private property still exist. It's this alternative to Communism that bears the greatest resemblance to the Left's program today.

     "Why bother to socialize industries? We socialize human beings." -- Adolf Hitler.

     Of course, typical Leftists will be horrified at the fascist label. But the similarities between the Left's programs and those of Mussolini are striking, especially as regards the ever-tightening regulatory web and ever-higher taxation the Left advocates. Yet, when compelled to concede this, they will insist that their purposes are utterly benign, so there can be no comparing them to the historic monsters that designed their ideological model.

     But really, is a social-welfare fascist any better in practice than a garden-variety fascist?

     In his 1944 book The Road To Serfdom, economics Nobelist Friedrich Hayek included a stunning essay titled "Why The Worst Get On Top." Its penetration of the dynamics of unlimited power caused the socialists of the Western world to crusade for a ban on Hayek's book. Yet Hayek's common sense thesis can be summarized in two points:

  • When unlimited power exists in the State, the man most likely to grasp it for his own will be the man who wants it most, and is most willing to use it.
  • Once someone stands at the pinnacle of power, his attention will be given primarily to eliminating threats to his hegemony, which means surrounding himself with henchmen who will do as he directs, without questions or moral qualms.

     When Gerald Ford said: "Any government big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take everything you have," he was stating a truth that went completely over the heads of many well-meaning Americans. But it was a warning to be heeded. Social-welfare fascism, the operating principle of the American Left, would be no more "compassionate" once established here than Adolf Hitler or Benito Mussolini were.

“Them”

     [The following brief piece first appeared at the old Palace of Reason on June 7, 2002. It provides a conceptual supplement to yesterday’s ultra-tirade. -- FWP]


     "States, like men, have their growth, their manhood, their decrepitude, and their decay." -- Walter S. Landor.

     Who's responsible for the poor condition of the roads, the axle-breaking potholes, the piles of detritus that offend the eye and nose? Not you nor I, but "them." But getting "them" to deal with any of it is like pulling teeth, whereas none of us have the time or wherewithal; we're all too busy earning enough to pay our taxes. That's just the way things are.

     Who's responsible for that elderly widow down the block, the one who can't really get around any more and should get a visit about three times a day to make sure she's all right? Not you nor I, but "them." And "they" haven't been doing such a good job of it, or she wouldn't have broken both hips in six months' time. But "they" took the job, and it's not ours to question their performance now that we've surrendered it to "them." That's just the way things are.

     Who's responsible for dealing with the gang that claims to "own" this block, that's committed one mugging after another for years but never seems to be taken in hand? Not you nor I, but "them." "They" claim to own all the police powers, though they exercise them quite selectively, and only when it suits their mood. "They" forbade us our own means of defense, too; for us to own and carry guns is far too dangerous to the public peace. What public peace, you say? Well, yes. But we can't seem to get our guns or our authority as citizens back, so we have to hide behind the double-locked doors of our homes and leave the streets to animals that walk upright. That's just the way things are.

     Why is it the way things are? Because at various times and on various grounds, "they" persuaded us to transfer our responsibilities to them. It's not clear why we did it. After all, "they" hadn't been doing that well with the jobs we'd previously assigned "them." But we did it, perhaps out of wishful thinking, perhaps out of laziness. And there seems to have been a ratchet involved, for, much as we'd like to, we can't seem to transfer the responsibilities back into our own hands.

     Can the ratchet be undone? I don't know. I think it would require far too many men willing to court danger and possible death to wrest back the police powers, however unwisely they were delegated. We'll get our guns back only by armed insurrection. As for the sweeping transfer of civil responsibility and public property back into the hands of common citizens, that's almost as unlikely. They require tax revolts and organized resistance to the seizure of property through condemnation, which, though guaranteed successful if enough people participate, are as rare as snowballs in July. The wrath of the State is terrible toward those who deny its power to tax and confiscate, and everyone fears to step forward in defiance only to find himself alone.

     We should have known better. We probably did.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Enforcers

     I’ve waited, and waited, and waited. I’ve prayed! “Please, Father. Let this cup pass from me. I’m old and tired, and no one listens to me anyway. Besides, I have novels to write.” Yet it remains for me to quaff. No one else in the Commentariat has asked for as much as a sip. “Let Fran do it,” they say to one another over their Chardonnay and Brie. “Why should we exert ourselves when a Certified Galactic Intellect is available? He’ll get to it sooner or later. Just wait; you’ll see.”

     All right, you ward heelers, you courthouse loafers! You conscienceless exploiters of a defenseless old man and his all too easily flattered ego! Here it comes, straight at you at Mach One. And I promise: you’re not going to like it. Because the villains of this piece include you.


     This essay from Dystopic provides the opening stimulus:

     We don’t occupy the moral high ground. We haven’t occupied it since at least the Reagan years, and probably long before that. Why is that? If you’ve been following my series on Marxism and Morality, you may have an inkling of where I’m going with this.

     Marxism possesses the moral high ground, at this point in time....

     Why do they occupy it? Because we let them have it. We granted them the courage of their convictions. We treated Marxism as a “good theory” that just doesn’t work in practice. We suggested that our enemies (and yes, they are our enemies) were as moral and honest as we were, they were just merely mistaken about the means, that’s all.

     Meanwhile, they call us Nazis, fascists, racists, sexists, homophobes, Islamophobes, whatever. They never granted us the same conviction we granted them.

     This deserves to be read carefully. When Dystopic says that “Marxism possesses the moral high ground,” he isn’t saying that the Left has a moral claim to it, merely that it occupies that vantage. The point is debatable, but one aspect of it is not: the Left’s adherents, below the level of its strategists and tacticians, have been taught to believe it.

     Really, how else could the stupid-or-evil postulate — with “evil” steadily gaining ground – have become so entrenched among them?

     This fundamental fact of the current political reality must be accepted and internalized before the Right, to say nothing of America as a whole, can make any progress against the rising tide of violence, intimidation, and disruption of our public affairs.


     All too frequently, I note commentators on the Right making the following astonishing statement, albeit seldom in these words: America isn’t perfect. In this artless phrase lies about 99% of the reason the strategists and tacticians of the Left have:

  • Promulgated vicious, indefensible lies about our people and our country;
  • Succeeded in getting so many followers to act as if those lies were truths.

     Does anyone else ever reflect upon the true meanings of words, or am I the only one? Perfect has a specific meaning. It means finished; no further improvement possible. A perfect thing has reached the zenith of its possibilities determined by its design. Doing better requires scrapping the design and coming up with a new one.

     But an evaluation of perfect requires a standard of judgment: a set of ultimate desiderata, plus metrics by which to gauge the distance between them and the thing being evaluated. Without such a standard, no evaluation is possible. Indeed, no evaluation would make sense.

     In positing that the Left holds the moral high ground, Dystopic has indirectly fingered this phenomenon. The Left has implied a standard for evaluation, and the Right has tacitly accepted it.

     Hold fast to that thought. It’s much nearer the base of the Left’s ideological / polemic edifice than most freedom-oriented writers have gone. If they were aware of it, they gave no sign. Indeed, had they been aware of it they would not have committed the many polemic errors for which they should be held to account.


     I’ve written so many times about the Left’s tactic of proclaiming our “guilt” that the occurrences blur together in my memory. Yet herein lies the all-important weapon that complements its lies about our nation. It’s time to link the method to the madness.

     The Left’s implied standard, once tacitly accepted, allows its mouthpieces to criticize us for not having met it. The next step – so obvious as to embarrass me for having to state it explicitly – is to say: “Why aren’t you trying? If you’re unwilling to try, then you must be happy about your failings. Therefore, you’re evil.

     That’s what happens when you allow your enemy to proclaim a moral standard to which you are expected to adhere.

     Those in the Right who have accepted the Left’s moral standard, whether consciously or otherwise, thereby make themselves vulnerable to the infliction of guilt. How could it be otherwise? He who has a conscience and is made to see that he’s fallen short of the moral standard he’s accepted will naturally feel guilty about it. That’s how the mind of a decent man operates. His guilt, if not swiftly and decisively dispelled, will translate into shame, which will create distance between him and those persons and things that might make him feel better about himself.

     The effect is subtle. He might start speaking of “compromises” with the Left. Or he might prattle about “alternative” methods, aimed at propitiating the Left by addressing its moral desiderata in ways cosmetically more compatible with freedom. Yet history makes it plain that this serves the Left’s true agenda: the politicization of everything, such that “freedom” comes to mean “the right to ask permission.” Underneath it all will be that evil standard: the one to which he’s given assent and pledged his fealty without ever realizing it.


     A grievance is most poignant when it is almost redressed. – Herbert Spencer.

     Matters of conscience being dominant over all others, it behooves the power-seeker to elevate his preferred “issues” to the moral plane. Not many have adequately addressed this aspect of the American dynamic. Don Surber recently took note of it:

     A Democratic Party activist's attempted massacre of Republican congressmen should jolt real, patriotic Americans to demand better behavior from our politicians, our pundits, and our power brokers.

     The way to stop the insanity is to stop acting insane. While I know there are many things to do, the first step is paramount.

     Stop making everything a moral issue.

     While Surber’s diagnosis is accurate and his prescription would be effective, the Left won’t allow the public to take the medicine. The Left’s tacticians are determined to make everything a moral issue, for the reasons I’ve already delineated.

     Moral issues are practically guaranteed to command popular attention. Indeed, they’re so powerful that anything but complete success at attaining the goals they imply allows their drum-beaters to keep them alive indefinitely...and said drum-beaters can always claim that someone, somewhere, isn’t “getting what he deserves.”

     Isn’t that a practical guarantee that politicians of all stripes will seek to frame their chosen issues as moral ones? Doesn’t it explain to satisfaction the Sturm und Drang that pervades political discourse in our time? Leaving aside the obvious amorality of the majority of the drum-beaters, that is. And if it does explain the matter satisfactorily, what does it portend for our immediate future? More pervasive and intensified moralization of every political issue, or less?


     Today, voting is an American superstition. Hardly anyone ever thinks about it. Americans take it for granted that every human being has a natural right to vote. Of course this is not true. No one has a natural right to vote. Everyone is born with inalienable liberty, but nobody is born with an inalienable ballot. – Rose Wilder Lane, The Discovery of Freedom

     For my next trick I’m going to do an incredible thing to you. I’m going to make you feel guilty about having allowed yourself to feel undeservedly guilty. Yea, and all your forebears back to the beginning of the Twentieth Century. The topic I have in mind goes at least that far back. It’s been one of the Left’s most notable successes.

     The topic is the vote.

     For openers, let’s have a little Bastiat:

     I wish merely to observe here that this controversy over universal suffrage (as well as most other political questions) which agitates, excites, and overthrows nations, would lose nearly all of its importance if the law had always been what it ought to be. In fact, if law were restricted to protecting all persons, all liberties, and all properties; if law were nothing more than the organized combination of the individual's right to self defense; if law were the obstacle, the check, the punisher of all oppression and plunder — is it likely that we citizens would then argue much about the extent of the franchise?

     Under these circumstances, is it likely that the extent of the right to vote would endanger that supreme good, the public peace? Is it likely that the excluded classes would refuse to peaceably await the coming of their right to vote? Is it likely that those who had the right to vote would jealously defend their privilege? If the law were confined to its proper functions, everyone's interest in the law would be the same. Is it not clear that, under these circumstances, those who voted could not inconvenience those who did not vote?

     [Frederic Bastiat, The Law, 1850]

     In connection with Bastiat’s train of reasoning, I noted the deleterious effects of an overextended franchise on civic virtue. However, the Left possesses the moral high ground in this – in Dystopic’s sense of possession, not right – for a simple reason: its promotion of “equality” as a moral issue.

     Just now there’s an extremely irritating public-relations campaign going on in New York, concerning the state’s “history of equal rights” as regards the vote. It represents Susan B. Anthony as a champion of “women’s rights” in campaigning for the “right to vote.” Without that “right,” women were supposedly unequal to enfranchised men.

     The notion can be extended, of course. At the beginning of the Republic, the franchise was granted only to white male citizens who owned real estate. That condition continued beyond the Civil War, into that portion of our history during which Americans made the greatest gains of both liberty and prosperity. It was a time in which America was regarded by those in other lands as heaven on Earth – because their relatives and friends who had already immigrated to America told them so.

     Our descent from near-perfect freedom and a sharp decline in our previous, explosive growth in prosperity correlates exactly with the period of the ever expanding franchise:

  • First to be removed was the requirement for the ownership of land.
  • Then came the extension of the franchise to women.
  • Next was the extension of the franchise to non-whites.
  • Most recent was the lowering of the voting age to 18.
  • Today, “universal suffrage” flacksters want the voting age lowered still further – some want it to be 16; others demand that it be lowered to 14 – and the return of the franchise to convicted felons.
  • A few ultimately daring souls, on the representation that “American elections affect the whole world,” want non-citizens to be allowed to vote – including persons who have never even visited these United States.

     At each stage, the Left inveighed the expanded electorate into supporting ever greater incursions upon Americans’ freedom and property rights. All in the name of that ultimately deceitful shibboleth of aspiring tyrants everywhere: “equality.”


     Governments have their own dynamic, and the natural dynamic of governments is to grow. – David Friedman, The Machinery of Freedom
     “We are not seeking power. We are seeking the end of power!” – Ursula LeGuin, The Dispossessed

     My initial assumption, in assessing persons who aspire to public office, is that they desire power above all other things. Now, it’s not uniformly true: There are some officeholders, even today, who don’t hold to the “power uber alles” goal, but sincerely seek to do what they believe is best for the country, or at least for some selected portion of it. However, the dynamic of politics tends to filter them out, such that as the years pass fewer of them will attain or hold the offices they seek.

     In a political order that elevates persons by democratic mechanisms, to be successful the power-seeker must learn how to give the voters what they most desire. If enough voters have been persuaded – again, consciously or otherwise — to have guilty consciences owing to the acceptance of a moral standard they don’t believe they’ve met, they’ll support candidates whom they believe will assuage their guilt. This will be true even among persons who proclaim freedom and prosperity to be their highest issues, because the demands of conscience trump all else.

     Another essential skill for the politician is the knack for acquiring credit while averting discredit. In an order in which each officeholder wielded some authority independent of all others, this would be very difficult, perhaps impossible. However, ours is not such an order. Legislators enact laws collectively; elected executives must delegate the greater part of their authority to underlings; appellate-court judges vote on the “opinions” they issue. To compound matters – and never imagine that elected officials don’t want this to be exactly the way it is – the faceless, unaccountable bureaucracy stands behind it all, providing the elected official with a convenient rhetorical whipping boy when his plans seem to “gang aft agley.”

     The elected official who can do this can make himself look like Solomon returned to life.


     No political order of any sort will last forever. Any such, to be maintained, must be enforced. Enforcement requires enforcers.

     When I speak of a “political order,” I intend to include several things beyond the black-letter law:

  1. Dominant public convictions and attitudes;
  2. The degree of success the political class has had at entrenching itself;
  3. The latitude and indulgence granted to the operators within the nominal political system;
  4. The numbers, scope, flexibility and indulgence granted to those who enforce the will of the regime;
  5. The numbers, dispersion, aggressiveness, and indulgence granted to those who choose to defy the regime.

     For a specific example of current relevance, consider the illegal-alien crisis. Before the election of President Trump, illegal entries to the U.S. approached a million persons per year, while detections, arrests, and deportations of illegal aliens numbered a few hundred or thousand per year. Excepting a few extreme left-wing ideologues, we can all agree that illegal entry to the U.S. is illegal. So what of the considerations enumerated immediately above?

  1. In the main, private citizens regard the illegal-alien tide as “someone else’s problem;”
  2. The political class was (and is) deeply entrenched, almost impossible to uproot and replace;
  3. Persons within the political elite are generally treated as “above the law,” and without any personal responsibility to see to its enforcement;
  4. Border-control personnel were under orders not to enforce various aspects of the immigration laws;
  5. In any event, those personnel were swamped by the number of would-be illegal entrants.

     Clearly, the correlation of forces was heavily in favor of the treatment of the immigration laws as a nullity, de facto. It’s somewhat better now, but the vacillations in Congress and the White House over the proposed border wall aren’t helping and could spell a return to the previous condition.

     Note in particular item 1 above: Ordinary Americans feel the enforcement of the immigration laws is “someone else’s problem.” Without the active assistance of the great mass of Americans, no imaginable number of “official” border-control personnel would be sufficient; the numbers are too heavily in favor of the illegals, and the borders are simply too long. Yet even private Americans who rail against the illegal tide think little of hiring nannies, roofers, masons, and landscapers who entered the U.S. illegally.

     The politicians who’ve thundered about the need to control our borders better are personally indisposed to care much. They, too, regard it as “someone else’s problem.” Few who benefit personally from the illegal tide are held to account for it.


     Hatred has its pleasures. – C. S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters

     The balance in the mind of one who contemplates breaking some law is of interest here:

  1. He must believe that he has the resources to violate the law successfully.
  2. He must believe that the odds favor gaining what he seeks from a violation of the law.
  3. He must adjudge the “social impact” from the deed – i.e., the impact on others’ opinions of him –endurable.
  4. The “opportunity costs” must favor breaking the law rather than eschewing that in favor of something else he could do.

     Each condition is necessary; together, all four are sufficient to move a man to lawbreaking. Should the answers suffice and the deed be successfully undertaken, a fifth component arises: the thrill of placing oneself “in rebellion.” This is a reward to the successful lawbreaker to which few ordinary persons give sufficient consideration. To some career criminals, it looms almost as large as the prospect of material gain.

     Consider in this light the “Antifa / Black Bloc” activities of late: violence and intimidation against Republicans, conservatives, and Trump supporters, intended to prevent us from speaking our minds or hearing others do so. The thugs have no prospect of material profit from their thuggery. Their commitment to any abstract cause is dubious. Their sole personal gain is the thrill of rebellion. A considerable thrill it must be, considering that they continue on even now that some of their targets have begun to fight back effectively.

     Part of the problem might arise from numbers: the thugs arrive in groups and depart in groups, whereas the persons in the crowds they terrorize come and go as individuals. Another part is the flaccidity, to this point, of law enforcement before the phenomenon. (Too few municipalities have outlawed concealing one’s face in public.) Also, not enough of the persons in the target groups arrive prepared for violence, for example by carrying weapons. Finally, the thugs’ predecessors, historically, have always carried the day, with Hitler’s Sturmabteilung being the most dramatic example.

     If only a very few persons were involved on either side, the typical police presence might be adequate to keep the thugs from gaining what they seek. But when the numbers are large – hundreds on each side – unless the target replies with equal or greater force with or without police support, “Antifa / Black Bloc” will get what it seeks. Afterward, the thugs will congratulate themselves and one another on “sticking it to The Man.”


     Paper constitutions raise smiles on the faces of those who have observed their results. -- Herbert Spencer

     Back when it was first said that “Eternal vigilance is the price of freedom,” it was understood that the “vigilance” – and whatever remedial measures were required – had to come from the people in arms. A written constitution is all very well, but a government determined to slough its Constitutional duties or exceed its Constitutional bounds can only be disciplined by a populace willing to put itself at risk to do so.

     This holds true for the street violence we suffer as well. The police are, in many cases, ordered not to interfere, regardless of all eventualities, in what happens at a Right-inclined event “Antifa / Black Bloc” has decided to terrorize. (Remember the Baltimore riots and the “let them destroy” decree of Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake?) In other cases, the police force available is insufficient to do much. Only those who are the nominal targets have any chance of replying effectively.

     We are the enforcers we’ve been looking for...and to date, we haven’t really shown up.


     To sum up – and it’s about BLEEP!ing time, isn’t it? – it’s past time that we in the Right start acting as if we really mean what we claim to believe:

  • No more implicitly accepting the moral standards promulgated by the Left. The sole secular moral standard anyone should accept is the individual’s absolute right to his life, his liberty, and his honestly acquired property.
  • No more silence in the face of evil statements from the Left. They must be immediately and thunderingly denounced, and without any allowance that “they meant well.” They don’t; it’s time to say so at the tops of our voices.
  • No more supporting a local or regional politician just because he sounds “bold” or “compassionate,” or because of the letter after his name. Performance in office must become the sole standard; no exceptions may be made for “our guy.”
  • No more relying on the police for the protection of our rights or other law enforcement. Private individuals must be prepared at all times to defend themselves against violence with violence, and to enforce the law, if necessary by making “citizens’ arrests.”
  • Above all else – indeed, as a prerequisite to all else – Our consciences must be clear:
    1. Don’t advocate policies that would benefit you at others’ expense.
    2. Don’t allow yourself to benefit from a practice you know to be wrong.
    3. If you believe that “something ought to be done,” don’t vote for it; do it yourself.
    4. Don’t provide lip service to a policy you wouldn’t enforce yourself – or upon yourself.

     Nothing less will suffice.

     There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root. – Henry David Thoreau

Sunday, June 18, 2017

The Food Chain: A Sunday Rumination

     [The following piece first appeared at Eternity Road on May 29, 2005. In my opinion, it’s by far the most important thing I’ve ever written. The ideas it presents are what makes Christianity unique among religions, infinitely superior to all others, and alone among them wholly compatible with the moral and ethical requirements of Man. As it is once again Corpus Christi Sunday, I repost it today for your edification and entertainment. -- FWP]


     At that time Jesus went through the corn on the sabbath: and his disciples being hugry, began to pluck the ears, and to eat. And the Pharisees seeing them, said to him: Behold thy disciples do that which is not lawful to do on the sabbath days. But he said to them: Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, and they that were with him: How he entered into the house of God, and did eat the loaves of proposition, which it was not lawful for him to eat, nor for them that were with him, but for the priests only? Or have ye not read in the law, that on the sabbath days, the priests in the temple break the sabbath, and are without blame? But I tell you that there is here a greater than the temple. And if you knew what this meaneth: I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: you would never have condemned the innocent. For the Son of man is lord even of the sabbath. [Matthew 12:1-8]

     The most fundamental of all relations among living things is the food relation. For any two species, which one can eat the other, either in theory or in practice, determines just about everything else about their interactions.

     This might seem a little fuzzy in certain cases. Beyond question, a dog can kill and eat a man. The same is true for the Portuguese Man O' War. But how often does it happen? Yet there are millions of people in various parts of the world for whom dog or jellyfish is a regular part of their diets. (You can stop shuddering now.) In the usual case, Man is considered the eater and these other species the eaten.

     Thus, a brief exploration of the food chain.

     Man has been an eater for a lot longer than he's been a builder of civilizations. His career as a hunter has established him as the world champion at that contest. His development of systematic agriculture demonstrated that his hegemony extends equally well to the plant kingdom. By all measures, he's at the pinnacle of the food chain. He eats whatever he wishes, and only in the rarest of cases does any other species eat him.

     The centrality of food relations to Earth's biosystem is so obvious that we're all but unaware of it. Two of the more significant but less frequently pondered manifestations of the thing can be found in our nightmares and our rites of worship and propitiation.

     Almost as soon as men began to compose tales for one another's entertainment, they invented creatures with power to hunt, kill, and eat human beings. Vampires, ghouls, and werewolves are items of fantasy, traditional terrors that have been invoked in horror tales for many centuries. Yet what is it that makes them so terrifying? Not that they can kill men, for far lesser creatures can do that, if they get the breaks. No, their ability to frighten comes from their greater-than-human hunting ability, and their view of men as food.

     There's nothing that terrifies like the prospect of being eaten. Men have gone into battle against other men under conditions that virtually guaranteed their deaths, yet they've often gone willingly, sometimes even eagerly. They still do. But no man can face the prospect of being an entree for a greater creature without quaking in fear.

     Mess with a man's assumptions about the food chain and you upend his whole concept of himself as a man.

     On the other side, there are human practices with relation to their concepts of divinity. Divinities -- gods -- are by definition superior to men. Yet their participation in the life of Man is not categorically predatory, even in those creeds which place evil gods on an equal par with good ones, and see the history of the world as a struggle between equally matched forces of light and darkness in which humans are less than pawns. In our attempts to win the favor of the gods, and on occasion to avert their wrath, men have traditionally offered sacrifices to them. Those sacrifices have almost always been food.

     Contemplate the nature of ritual sacrifice for a moment. What's offered to the god being propitiated is something valuable to men: creatures men had to hunt or cultivate, whose substance could nourish and sustain human life. Yet it is deliberately removed from the human economy, usually by burning, in the attempt to convey to the god the sense that we acknowledge his superiority to us. By denying themselves the consumption of the offered food and instead offering it to the god, the sacrificers make plain that they submit themselves to him. Metaphorically, the sacrificed items are substitutes for human bodies: pleadings that the shamans and their congregants not be eaten.

     The Biblical story of God's command to Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac, and Abraham's readiness to obey, is terrifying and exalting for that reason. On the one hand, the God of the Old Testament was not perceived even by His Chosen People, of whom Abraham was the progenitor, as being so intrinsically kindly disposed toward Man that He would never, ever demand such a sacrifice. Moreover, His power was such that there was no question that He could enforce His will in such a matter, and much worse besides. On the other hand, God intervened at the last instant to prevent the sacrifice, having established to His satisfaction that Abraham submitted entirely to His will. Thus, the pact between God and the children of Abraham -- the Jewish people -- was sealed as one of guidance and beneficence from above in exchange for worship and obedience from below. God did not intend to eat His people.


     Clearly, the food relation is a superiority / inferiority relation. He who eats is the stronger, who can have his will in all things. He who is eaten is the weaker, who must prostrate himself before the other in the hope of benevolence or mercy.

     Men, the highest of the creatures of this world, do not eat one another, except in the most extraordinary circumstances. Those micro-societies that have practiced cannibalism have extinguished themselves thereby -- there are some very nasty diseases, with fatality rates approaching 100%, that arise from cannibalism -- or have been humbled and re-educated by more civilized, more insightful peoples. We have attained enough insight into moral matters, and most particularly into the fundamental equality of rights all men should enjoy, to regard cannibalism with appropriate horror.

     But we still tell, and shudder over, stories of powerful, inhuman creatures that hunger for human flesh and blood. Vampire legends make up a healthy fraction of our fantastic literature. When we figure in the werewolf, the ghoul, and the occasional extraterrestrial who regards us as haute cuisine, we've covered the overwhelming majority of our scare stories. That's how fundamental the food relation is to our view of our place in the natural world.

     There aren't many religious sects in the modern world that still practice the old form of ritual sacrifice, in which a food item -- usually an animal -- is offered up to a god in hopes of winning his favor or pardon. The devotees of Santeria do it, now and then, as do the practitioners of voudoun. But these are meager survivals of old, animistic-pagan creeds. Their adherents are few and will probably never be many.


     However, a form of sacrifice still characterizes the most important religious rite in the world. Its devotees number in the billions. They partake of this sacrifice at every opportunity; to them, it is the highest a living man can rise in communion with God. And most curiously of all, it is a bidirectional sacrifice, the only such ever celebrated in all the eons of Man.

     I speak, of course, of the Miracle of Transubstantiation in the Christian Eucharist.

     In the days of Christ, the ritual sacrifice of food animals at the Temple in Jerusalem was still the preeminent religious rite in the classical world. The Hebrews regarded those sacrifices as God's due for extending His protection over them as His Chosen People. Indeed, according to the Book of Exodus, such sacrifices were ordained by God Himself, as He gave the Ten Commandments to Moses. The Jews of that time considered them the only truly complete act of religious devotion.

     Christ upended their world by inverting the food chain. No more would they give up their sustenance in propitiation of the divine will. Henceforward, it would be the other way around: the Son of God would be the Sacrifice, and His people would partake.

     From the Gospel According To John:

     "I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh."

     The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?" So Jesus said to them, "Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them. Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like that which your ancestors ate, and they died. But the one who eats this bread will live forever." [John 6:48-58]

     The rite of the Eucharist, in commemoration of the Last Supper, offers bread and wine to God and prays that they might be found acceptable. In response to this humble offering, and in fulfillment of Christ's promise, through the celebrant-priest He works the Transubstantiation, which allows the form of the bread and wine to remain as they are, but converts their substance into the body and blood of Christ. At each Mass, a traditional sacrifice of food to God is met with a renewal of the offering of Christ's body and blood to the world, for the remission of sin and as a perpetual grant of His grace to all who will accept it.

     No other creed has anything to compare with the Eucharist. Nor could any conceivable rite, however elaborately crusted with mystery or symbolism, approach the stunning power of God Himself, in the Person of His Son, offering Himself as food to lowly Man.

     He could eat us all. Instead He offers Himself as food, that we may remember His Sacrifice for us, and draw as close to Him as mortal creatures can get while still in this world.

     Today is the Sunday ordained for the celebration of the Body and Blood of Christ, the Sacrifice beyond all others, that no offering by mortal men could ever equal. The proof that the food chain is not God's manacle about our hands. The unanswerable refutation of those who insist that a malevolent power bestrides the universe. The ironclad guarantee that we are not to be eaten, but to be fed.

     May God bless and keep you all.

Clapper on intellectual integrity.

Subsequently, Clapper led the charge against Snowden, while excusing his own false congressional testimony by saying, “I responded in what I thought was the most truthful, or least untruthful, manner.”[1]
An extraordinary statement from James Clapper, the former Director of National Intelligence.

Note too our former CIA Director John Brennan, who, prior to 1980, once voted for a Communist Party candidate. Reason: To "[signal] my unhappiness with the system, and the need for change."

Yes. That would be my choice were I wanting to signal my unhappiness. Last November I certainly voted for Donald Trump to signal my unhappiness with a lot of things but I could have as easily have voted communist. A trifling difference.

Notes
[1] "Clapper’s Unhinged Russia-Bashing." By David Marks, Cosortiumnews.com, 6/15/17.
[2] "Polygraph panic: CIA director fretted his vote for communist." By Tal Kopan, CNN, 9/15/16.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Assorted

     Once again I’m badly pressed for time, so have a few quick observations on stories and opinion pieces of recent note.


1. A Useful List.

     The Daily Caller has compiled a useful list of physical assaults by Leftists on conservatives and Republicans. I suggest that you save it, as there’s no way of knowing when you’ll next confront some Lefty scoffer who’s adamant that it’s Righties who are the violent ones.

     However, the way to meet this that writer Amanda Green suggests here is almost guaranteed to be ineffective:

     For those of you who are saying Trump should be killed — or even that he should be tried for treason — ask yourselves this. How did you feel when people said that about Obama? Why did you feel that way? Now ask yourself this: what makes your objections to criticisms about Obama any more right than the objections to your criticisms about Trump?

     The Left’s answer to this plaintive objection will be as follows, albeit not so neatly phrased: Obama is the epitome of good; Trump is the embodiment of evil. Q. E. D. And there is absolutely no way to reason them out of that stance.


2. Wrong! Wrong! Wrong!

     Some abominations are too abominable even to be made into D-list horror movies:

     Industry Kitchen is now serving up a unicorn inspired pizza. They call it the Pop Candy Land Pizza. It is a monstrosity.

     The unicorn pizza is not what a pizza should be.

     It is not a comforting embrace of hot cheese and tomato sauce. It does not feature mozzarella ready to burn the roof of your mouth and hang down past your chin.

     Instead, it is a pizza made with rainbow dough, covered in vanilla icing, sprinkles, popping candy, and pink and blue cotton handy.

     If Paul W. S. Anderson wants to make a real horror movie, to redeem himself for having made Resident Evil: The Final Chapter, he should consider “unicorn pizza” for its central motif. I can’t imagine anything that’s worse. Not much worse, anyway.


3. And While We’re On The Subject Of Rainbows.

     It would appear that the makers of Skittles are about to succumb to yet another claim of “appropriation:”

     Skittles has temporarily ditched its rainbow theme in favor of an all-white look in the United Kingdom and Germany in order to give LGBT pride celebrations "center stage."

     Michelle Green, a spokeswoman for the Chicago-based Wrigley Company, which makes Skittles, tells The Associated Press that since rainbow colors are identified with both LGBT pride and Skittles, the candy maker chose one color during the celebrations "in order for Pride's rainbow to take center stage."

     June is LGBT Pride month. The Skittles switch began in late March and wraps up in September. The candy is sold in a black-and-white wrapper.

     Bad move, Skittles. Unless you resist such notions, they’ll be used to take all your freedom of expression from you, not just your use of the colors of the rainbow.

     I recall T-shirts that looked rather like this:

     ...to which the LGBT activists objected on the grounds that the rainbow is “their symbol.” I don’t know what reply the T-shirt maker made to that absurd claim...but I haven’t seen the shirt on anyone in quite some time.

     Whack them across the chops for their presumption. Rhetorically, that is. I wouldn’t want to be accused of fomenting violence against poofters, dykes, the confused, or the delusional.


4. And I Was Worried For The Oxford Comma!

     Sound the general alarm! ‘Whom’ is endangered!

     When Twitter users open their home pages, they are greeted by an inset box at the top of the screen in which three words appear in gray type: “Who to follow.”

     Correct grammar? Certainly not.

     Plenty of Twitter users, including members of the blue-checkmarked elite, have complained about that oversight. “The ‘whoms’ put up a good fight, but we ultimately opted for a more natural cadence and the ‘whos’ won out,” says Twitter spokeswoman Brielle Villablanca.

     So far, so innocent. But matters are not so simple:

     The writer Calvin Trillin has gone further: “As far as I’m concerned, ‘whom’ is a word that was invented to make everyone sound like a butler,” he once wrote.

     Think about it: Would anyone listen to a band called “The Whom”? And for that matter, would the signature phrases of “Ghostbusters” and a certain Bo Diddley song have worked if they read “Whom ya gonna call?” and “Whom Do You Love?”

     “Whom” has hung on somewhat better with the written than the spoken word, but it is losing ground there, too. A scan of thousands of titles through Google Books shows one use of “whom” for every five of “who” in the year 1800. By the start of the 20th century it was one to every six, and by the beginning of the 21st century it was one to 11.

     So, is “whom” headed the way of “thou,” a word people now encounter mostly when reading religious texts or Shakespeare?

     Edward Sapir, an anthropologist and linguist of the last century, predicted in a 1921 book on language that “within a couple of hundred years from to-day not even the most learned jurist will be saying ‘Whom did you see?’... No logical or historical argument will avail to save this hapless ‘whom.’ ”

     Quick! There’s no time to lose! Man the grammatical barricades! And keep a sharp eye on pronoun usages among your supposed comrades. After all, you never know whom you can trust.


     That’s all for today, Gentle Reader. It’s on to the fun stuff. You know: scooping the back yard, mowing the lawn, cleaning out the cat boxes, and so on. I hope to be back in form tomorrow.

Friday, June 16, 2017

A Public Service Announcement

     Perhaps my guiltiest pleasure is really silly movies: movies of such cartoonish implausibility that complete (albeit temporary) paralysis of the reason is required to view them at all, much less with enjoyment. Comic-book movies. Vampire movies. Movies with lots of gunfire and explosions. Movies with body counts that would rival World War I (which didn’t result in too many movies of quality). To give you a sense for the depth of this...condition, I may be the only living American who actually liked Green Lantern.

     However, there are limits. Over the past three days I’ve encountered them twice.

     First, there’s Milla Jovovich’s star-vehicle series Resident Evil, loosely based on the video games of the same name. I happen to like Milla Jovovich. I find her quite beautiful and talented. (Yeah, yeah, she could use some tits. Her husband, director Paul W. S. Anderson, doesn’t seem to mind.) As I enjoyed the first five movies in that series rather a lot, I was waiting for the sixth and last: Resident Evil: The Final Chapter.

     Great God in heaven, what a stinker! A completely idiotic premise, an incoherent plot, grade-school-quality acting, and a conclusion that almost had me wishing the villains had won! It made me grateful that that was “the final chapter"...if it was, and dear God, may it please be so.

     After I saw that abortion this past Wednesday, I thought I’d seen the worst movie since Bloodrayne. I didn’t expect to see an even worse one today: a movie so bad that it might have taken the Worst Movie of All Time crown from Bloodrayne.

     That movie was Underworld: Blood Wars.

     I consider Kate Beckinsale one of the most beautiful women alive. She doesn’t have Jovovich’s breadth of talent, but she’s awfully nice to look at. (Yeah, yeah, she could use some tits, too.) I’d managed to enjoy the previous Underworld movies despite their general implausibility and two-dimensional quality. But this latest celluloid turd...this ultimately stupid insult to moviegoers...this complete waste of everyone and everything that was expended upon its making...this utter befoulment of the cinematic form is so bad that I think if I were forced to choose between a bullet between the eyes and watching it again, I’d say “Shoot me now. Please.”

     Friends, creditors, and poor relations, avoid these movies. No matter how cheaply you can purchase them from a remainder bin or at a flea market. I tell you sincerely, with tears in my eyes, no compensation could possibly be enough! If she’s beautiful, intelligent, sensuous, daring, and thinks you’re devastatingly handsome and sexy, but suggests that it would make a really nifty “date night” to tuck in, snuggle up, and watch one of them while making random whoopie, immediately tell her that you have gonorrhea, syphilis, and herpes II simplex, apologize for not admitting your maladies sooner, and move swiftly away.

     You’ll thank me. I promise you. Now excuse me, please, while I get drunk enough to dull the pain.

Enough Of Us

     If you’ve been reading my drivel for any length of time, you’ve surely noticed that I don’t like to write about what other Internet Commentarial members are currently addressing. I prefer to let such things simmer a bit longer, that I might bring them a broader perspective and a deeper penetration when I finally do get around to them...always assuming, of course, that I don’t manage to forget about them in the interests of the sanity of my readership (and myself).

     Not today, Gentle Reader. Oh, most definitely not today.


     I’ve been doing this crap for too long. I’m losing an ability I’ve long cherished: the ability to summon the degree of detachment required to perform a sober, dispassionate analysis of whatever events are currently uppermost in Americans’ minds. In other words – and we badly need some other words if the qualifiers and subordinate clauses aren’t to proliferate like some grammatical version of The Blob – these days I get too mad to think, far too often, before I set my fingers to the keys.

     One of the techniques valuable for summoning said detachment is the deliberate retreat into history. Sometimes history provides monitory notes relevant to our era. Sometimes it provides important comparisons or contrasts. And on rare but precious occasions, history calms us, reassures us that despite the bleakness of our current outlook, nevertheless all will be well. You can go back to sleep, Fran; this latest tempest won’t burst its teapot.

     Not this time. This time Godwin, whoever the hell he was, can shove it up his ass.


     Recently another Web writer – sorry, I’ve misplaced the link – argued that “We didn’t get Hitler because of Hitler; we got Hitler because of Weimar.” It’s an interesting contention, albeit not entirely correct. Yes, the corrupting effects of the Weimar Republic were inadequately understood, including by the many Germans who wallowed happily in its decadence. Yes, the inflation of the early Twenties should have been taken more seriously as a harbinger of what Germans would subsequently demand – and receive. Yes, the political class of that time and place should have taken decisive action against the Sturmabteilung before the NSDAP became too powerful to defeat. Yes, yes, yes.

     But these weren’t evocations of Nazism. They didn’t create Hitler. They were opportunities gifted to Hitler and the Nazis; Hitler was canny enough to note and capitalize on them. In other words, if Hitler and his allegiants hadn’t been there and waiting, the Third Reich would not have occurred.

     We got Hitler because of:

  • The Franco-Prussian War of 1870;
  • The German seizure of Alsace and Lorraine;
  • Otto von Bismarck and his social-welfare programs;
  • General Alfred von Schlieffen and his worship of Hannibal;
  • Helmuth von Moltke, his timorous nature, and France’s success at the Marne;
  • The butcher’s bills presented to Europe by World War I,. and the influenza plague of 1918-19;
  • The Treaty of Versailles and its crafters’ attempt to remake Europe;
  • French encouragement of the secession of the Rhineland as a separate republic;
  • The reluctance of England and France to enforce the Versailles disarmament provisions upon Germany;

     ...and only after all that the Weimar Republic crap that followed.

     But my list above is also a set of resultants. We got those conditions, and therefore Hitler, because of post-Waterloo, post-Congress-of-Vienna Europe. We got Hitler because of European historical militarism – German and French. We got Hitler because of the sum of all European history from the Treaties of Westphalia forward, if not from the collapse of the Holy Roman Empire.

     We got Hitler because of Mankind.


     Anyone ever heard of Albert Fish? His “career” was contemporaneous with the rise of the Nazis. You should read at least a little about him. The totality of his record might prove to be more than you can stand.

     Albert Fish was eventually tried, convicted, and executed for multiple murders. He died in the electric chair. It’s quite possible that he enjoyed the experience.

     I feel it’s safe to say that very nearly no one actually seeks out pain, self-damage, or self-degradation. Albert Fish loved all three. He was unique in his time; the population of the United States was just barely large enough to include one such as he. Back then, there were barely a hundred million of us. Today there are three times as many: enough that there are probably several Albert Fishes awaiting discovery and capture. We may have already seen their forerunners. Consider as candidates Albert deSalvo, Ted Bundy, and Ed Gein.

     Human characteristics are distributed according to laws whose outlines we can barely discern. Fortunately, certain of them are exceedingly rare. There must be “enough of us” for those traits to make a recognized appearance.

     One Albert Fish is “enough.”


     Mitteleuropa in the Twenties, badly depopulated by the Great War, the influenza epidemic, and the contemporaneous loss of moral, ethical, and civilizational confidence, produced only one Adolf Hitler. One was enough. Today the Old World, like the New, is at least three times as populous. There are probably several would-be murderers of millions roaming the place.

     Americans are generally of a different weave and cut from the peoples of other lands. Among other things, we haven’t been nearly as enamored of government power or government intrusions as our European cousins. Until fairly recently, you could legitimately say that nearly all of us were “liberals” in the original sense of the word.

     American statist “liberalism,” which has drained all of the word’s original meaning, is only about fifty years old. Fifty years is a fairly short time in political terms. (Consider that it took eighty years, give or take a couple, for the Soviet Union to collapse.) Yet our greatly expanded numbers compared to the Twenties, when several varieties of Communism – yes, including Nazism – were straining to establish beachheads here, has provided a substantial base of “recruits” to that ideology. Even among a people predisposed to prefer freedom and resent encroachments upon it, a sufficient population will provide such recruits.

     In contrast with persons who prefer freedom and respect its requirements, persons predisposed to collectivist totalitarianism of any variety will be willing to use violence to get their way. In a nation with our numbers, there will be some at the very least who are willing to don a brown – or a black – shirt and go into the streets to savage their opponents. There will be a larger number, ideologically allied to the thugs, who’ll strain to rationalize and justify violence committed by their fellow travelers.

     That population will also provide for political assassins: usually, more than one.


     So far we’ve had only one James Hodgkinson. However, the Leftist calls and rationalizations for violence, up to and including murder, that have emanated from Hodgkinson’s fellow thinkers will continue to exert a pull on the huge American population. If there are more like Hodgkinson – that is, more leftists willing to kill and die for their noxious ideology – they will emerge in response to that pull...probably far sooner than one might expect.

     No matter how good conservative officeholder Smith’s situational awareness, there will be times when he’s inattentive, undefended, or both. Should Smith come under the crosshairs of another Hodgkinson at such a time, his life will be in peril. Perhaps so will those of his loved ones. It won’t matter to Smith or his loved ones whether Hodgkinson survives the event.

     At this time, all the political violence, along with all the rhetoric that encourages and rationalizes it, emanates from the Left. However, as Tom Kratman has noted, that won’t remain the case for long. It cannot. Indeed, it must not.

     Tom has said it. I have said it. And Mark Steyn has said it. Others of proven judgment, such as Jonah Goldberg, have foreseen it and thrown up their hands.

     What will you do, Gentle Reader?