Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Death By Diversity

     Let’s imagine for a moment that you own and operate a business. Perhaps it has a few hundred employees. Perhaps it has a black-ink balance sheet: steady revenues, positive profitability, ample cash reserves, and good credit. And perhaps its product line is a leading-edge technology that required quite a bit of scientific and engineering knowledge to develop, and requires almost as much to maintain and advance.

     Would you hire illiterates, or persons without proven scientific or engineering expertise, or persons without mathematical skills, or persons whose physical handicaps severely retard their productivity, or persons who actively detest “unbelievers” to work in your company?

     A silly question, isn’t it? Of course you would! If you were to refrain from doing so, the DiversitocratsTM would be all over you like a cheap suit. You see, what matters isn’t that the product you make improves the lives of its customers. What matters isn’t that you employ several hundred people, enabling them and their families to live independently of the Omnibenevolent State. What matters isn’t your property rights over what you and you alone have built.

     What matters is that you bow to the Diversitocrats.TM They cannot abide a dissenter.

     Actually, it’s worse than that. If your company is all white, and its scientists and engineers are overwhelmingly male, the DiversitocratsTM actively want to see it – and you – crash and burn. You are a bleeding canker upon their vision of Social Justice. You must be destroyed before you can mislead others into thinking that there’s an objective reality whose laws can’t be repealed, modified, reinterpreted, or otherwise finessed.

     Never imagine for a moment that the DiversitocratsTM are genuinely interested in diversity. They merely hate whites, men, the able-bodied, and Christians. They conceal that ravening hatred behind a facade of concern for nonwhites, women, the handicapped, and anything but Christians. They’re certainly not interested in diversity of thought or opinion. If you differ with them, you’re a target. Only if you agree with them – by which I mean wholeheartedly and without a scintilla of divergence on any point however small – will you be allowed to exist. Under their continuous scrutiny, of course.

     Their hatred is best evidenced by their enthusiastic support for the Islamic invasion currently overrunning Europe, with America soon to follow.

     A recent piece at Atlantic Centurion illuminates one of the most significant symptoms of the Diversitocrats’TM ascendancy:

     According to business-news themed clickbait site Inc.com:
     The spotlight and the magnifying glass have been on tech companies’ dismal diversity numbers for the past year. Hiring diverse candidates shouldn’t have to be a struggle. Yet, the latest numbers from companies like Facebook and Intel show that the needle is barely moving. As a result, there’s a new position in fashion within tech company c-suites: say hello to the head of diversity. Recently spotted job listings show tech companies are making diversity an executive level position.

     Ding ding ding. Diversity!TM No explanation—just keep drumming it in. We need more of it! Companies are basically hiring “Chief Diversity Officers,” if they didn’t already have them. We can’t all be cutting-edge progressives from the get-go; some organizations need an extra push. Whether this is due to media campaigns from leftist journalists, internal initiatives or both is hard to generalize, but the fact of the matter is that the Diversity is Our Greatest Strength® meme has taken root among the business elite. They nominally believe that a diverse workforce, whatever that means, is better than, say, meritocracy or standardization.

     But that’s just where it starts. The “Chief Diversity Officer” will of course have a department beneath him. In hiring for that department, he will select disproportionately for non-whites, for women, for the disabled, for the scientifically and technologically illiterate, and of course for non-Christians. There are three reasons for this:

  1. It’s the way he swings;
  2. It will tug the company’s “diversity quotient” (DQ) in the right direction;
  3. His subordinates will become his evangelists and enforcers to the rest of the company.

     And of course, when the Gospel of DiversityTM has done its fell work upon the firm – when revenues slide, profitability craters, and the scientific / technological component of the workforce is rendered inert by Diversity-induced friction, the “Chief Diversity Officer” will scream that it’s because the company culture is racist, sexist, ableist, Christianist, etc. He will claim that these problems can only be fixed by more Diversity.TM

     If you work in a company with more than a few dozen employees, this is all but certainly already a part of your world. If your company is currently too small a fish for the DiversitocratsTM to care about, beware as it moves upward in revenues and general visibility. The Diversitocrats’TM crosshairs will settle on your company sooner or later.

     I retired from my job in defense engineering earlier this year. I didn’t do so because of Diversity,TM but because my commute was taxing me physically and, at any rate, after nearly five decades in real-time software research and development, I’d had enough. But in the last few months before my retirement, I noticed that corporate was pressing our department in particular to hire more women, more non-whites, and more disabled persons.

     Mind you, a defense engineering company needs scientists and engineers. It needs persons strong in the sciences, mathematics, and the associated skills of unbiased examination and rational thought. Its natural preference will be for college graduates in the STEM fields. There is no conceivable reason for such a company to seek out other sorts of employees. Yet that is exactly what corporate was doing, even as the company was shedding revenues, contracts, and divisions.

     The corridor walls grew ever more thickly festooned with “Diversity is our strength” propaganda. One promotional poster, which seemed to be everywhere, set my teeth to grinding:

Put Us On The Fast Track:
Hire People With Disabilities!

     If that makes the least shred of sense to any Gentle Reader, please explain it to me.

     Imposed DiversityTM is bigotry enforced at gunpoint. It claims to combat a long list of evils, but in reality it promotes one of the greatest evils of all: the privileging of some on the basis of characteristics that are irrelevant to whatever real value they may have to offer to others. It is racism. It is sexism. It is religious bigotry, and many things as bad or worse.

     Do you think it a coincidence that the DiversitocratsTM are all hard-left “liberals?” Oh, excuse me, “progressives?” Do you think it a coincidence that the “minorities” they champion – apropos of which, women outnumber men in these United States and have outnumbered us since the World Wars at the very least – all share their politics by an overwhelming margin?

     At this time – but by no means is this guaranteed for the future – the DiversitocratsTM have not descended to fasten their grip on companies that rely on nontraditional employees: i.e., job-shoppers and self-employed contractors. Neither will they attempt to shackle a company of fewer than about 100 employees; the quotas by which they impose their will upon a company don’t yield adequate numbers to be worth their time. But ultimately, the Floyd Ferris Principle will prevail:

     "Since the deadline for the signing of the national Gift Certificates expires tonight at midnight," said Dr. Ferris, in the tone of a salesman extending a special courtesy to a customer, "I have come to obtain your signature, Mr. Rearden."
     He paused, with an air of suggesting that the formula now called for an answer.
     "Go on," said Rearden. "I am listening."
     "Yes, I suppose I should explain," said Dr. Ferris, "that we wish to get your signature early in the day in order to announce the fact on a national news broadcast. Although the gift program has gone through quite smoothly, there are still a few stubborn individualists left, who have failed to sign-small fry, really, whose patents are of no crucial value, but we cannot let them remain unbound, as a matter of principle, you understand.”

     [Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged. Emphasis added by FWP.]

     Heed this warning and prepare.

Thermopylae in our time.

Western countries are unique in preempting distant dubious threats to their societies while opening their borders to foreign masses bent on reestablishing parallel societies in their adopted countries. The irony of my being drafted for a war [Vietnam] to save the American Way of Life 9,000 miles from home while Ted Kennedy and LBJ were opening the doors to a virtual Third World invasion took long to sink in. . . .

* * * *

When reality sets in and the end of the history holiday can no longer be ignored, hard measures to stem the influx will inevitably be adopted.

I posted a stirring video of the Black Watch Regiment marching in Dundee on their return from operations in Iraq. They had served their country thousands of miles away at the direction of "their" government but the same government had adamantly refused to stop a massive flow of unassimilable, hostile, contemptuous, contemptible foreigners into the country behind the backs of those loyal troops. Worse, this mad policy of importing third-world people had been going on for decades prior. With results predictable even then.

It is beyond odd that Western countries that have weapons that have harnessed the power of the sun and have engineered mighty engines of war that plow through the seas and soar in the skies have not been used to turn back foreign invaders with ladders, rubber rafts, decrepit fishing craft, and Nike jogging shoes who descend on the home countries to live as despoilers of their women and institutions, and as parasites and locusts. Like Gulliver, the Western giant is immobilized in a web of lies and of laws never intended to protect, encourage, elevate and sustain hostile foreigners and minorities.

Photo: Fkerasar
Ephialtes, the betrayer of the Greeks, would recognize himself in Sarkozy, Merkel, Hollande, Cameron, Blair, Kennedy, Celler, Johnson, Obama, Bush '43, ¡Jeb!, Boehner, Ryan, Gelbaum, Adelson, the Anti-Defamation League, B'nai B'rith, the DNC, the GOP, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Catholic Church, the Mormon Church, Löfven, Juncker, Renzi, Rajoy, and Barbara Lerner-Spectre.

Betrayal never goes out of fashion. And people who object to being part of an uncontrolled experiment are hateful bigots.

Heck, why not yank the control rods in the reactor just to see what happens.

"Governments Electing New Peoples. But force to contain the newcomers will be unavoidable." By Gene Tuttle, The Unz Review, 10/13/15.

What's not to love about gun control?

Were having some success in giving her [Hillary Rodham] some chill pills, says a campaign adviser" Perhaps then this campaign staffer shouldn't be working to get an angry, mentally unstable harridan elected to the highest office in the land. The democrats want guns out of the hands of angry, mentally unstable people but they're running one for president???
Comment by BK Mart on "Hillary Meltdown Close? ‘Childlike Tantrums’ that Leave Staff ‘In Tears.’" By Rick Moran, PJ Tatler, 10/11/15.

Monday, October 12, 2015

What Are National Defense And National Security?

     In the midst of the Sturm und Drang over current budget negotiations – is it really a “negotiation” when one side refuses to come to the table at all? – it struck me that a great part of the supposed national consensus about national defense and that other great shibboleth of the power brokers, national security, could stand some scrutiny. Both those conceptions shape our ideas about what our military establishment is for, how large it should be, how it should be structured, and what arrangements must prevail within our alliances and with our adversaries. The consensus was stable at one time, or at least it appeared to be. That stability, whether apparent or real, is absent today.

     During the first decades after the end of World War II – i.e., the period most commentators routinely call “postwar,” even though we’ve had a few other wars since then – there was an appearance of consensus about:

  • What and whom we should worry about;
  • Why those worries were important;
  • What we should do about them.

     The “bipolar world” seemed terribly clear in those years. The stasis in post-Yalta Europe, the standoff on the Korean peninsula, and the grudging acquiescence by the USSR to American hegemony over the Western Hemisphere and the Atlantic Ocean all contributed to a tableau of two nuclear-armed superstates, each poised to leap at the first sign of aggressive intent from the other, that had carved the globe into “spheres of influence” they would nominally respect. The picture had its fuzzy spots, but on the whole the public accepted it, which greased the tracks for the interests that strove, often quite successfully, to profit from it.

     Emblematic of the “bipolar world” was the stare-down we call the Cuban Missile Crisis. The Soviets attempted to breach the informal boundary that separated “their” sphere from “ours.” “We” acted in “defense” of “our” “national security.” It was supposedly a victory for American diplomacy and American power. But the story, though the details are today public, has never been fully appreciated by the majority of Americans.

     In point of fact, the Khrushchev-led Politburo was frightened by American nuclear arms stationed at forward bases in Middle Europe and Turkey. The Jupiter-C intermediate range missiles in Turkey were of special concern to them. Their attempt to emplace similar missiles in Cuba was a kind of balancing measure. Moreover, it succeeded: the Kennedy Administration removed the Jupiter-Cs from Turkey soon after the Soviet missiles had been removed from Cuba. Whether that was an explicit part of the agreements that ended the standoff remains unknown to all but few who were inside the process.

     The details didn’t really matter to the electorate. What mattered to the popular perception of the “bipolar world” was the image of American warships embargoing Cuba against further Soviet ships, and the apparent Soviet withdrawal of their attempt to breach “our hemisphere.” It reinforced the general conception of the “bipolar world,” and the “two scorpions in a bottle” mutual-suicide nature of any ultimate confrontation between us.

     The Vietnam conflict put harsh punctuation to the “bipolar world.” American involvement in that conflict was presented to the public as the defense of an ally – South Vietnam – against a Soviet-backed Communist insurgency. At first the importance of Communist China to the war was understated, as China had not yet become a major factor in reportage and opinion writing about international affairs.

     Once again, certain details about the genesis of our involvement in southeast Asia were either understated or completely concealed. The importance of the 1954 debacle at Dien Bien Phu, in which American air and logistical support was first seriously involved in Vietnam, is generally not appreciated. That battle was the one on which all subsequent American involvement was predicated, though only two Americans perished there and all other American losses were of materiel only.

     But why was there any American involvement there at all?

     Smith: In your book you seem to suggest that our Government came to the aid of the French in Indochina not because we approved of what they were doing but because we needed their support for our policies in regard to NATO and Germany. Is that a fair conclusion?

     Mr. Acheson: Entirely fair. The French blackmailed us. At every meeting when we asked them for greater effort in Europe they brought up Indochina and later North Africa. One discovers in dealing with the French that they expect their allies to accept their point of view without question on every issue. They asked for our aid for Indochina but refused to tell me what they hoped to accomplish or how. Perhaps they didn't know. They were obsessed with the idea of what you have you hold. But they had no idea how to hold it. I spent I don't know how many hours talking with the French about the necessity of getting local support for what they were trying to do. We told them about our success in training Koreans. We offered to send Americans from Korea to help train the Vietnamese. But the French refused. They wanted nothing to detract from French control. We urged them to allow more and more scope to the political activities of the Vietnamese. They did not take our advice. I thought it was possible to do something constructive with Bao Dai -- not much, but something.

     [1969 Interview of former Secretary of State Dean Acheson, presented in full here.]

     Had it not been that the Eisenhower State Department felt it critical to solidify French participation in NATO – ultimately, this proved a disappointment – the U.S. would not have participated at Dien Bien Phu at all, and thus would have been extremely unlikely to involve itself thereafter. And even though the cracks in the “bipolar world” were becoming large enough for anyone alert to the international news to appreciate, the public perception of a united Western European front against the Iron Curtain was what the political class deemed supremely important.

     The left-liberal takeover of the federal government in the wake of the Watergate scandal, the fall of South Vietnam to the North’s invading army, and the overall Carter malaise characterized what historian Paul Johnson has called “America’s suicide attempt.” The inclination among Americans generally to disengage from global conflicts lasted until it was shaken by the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the fall of Iran’s Shah Reza Pahlavi, and the infamous Iranian “hostage crisis.” The combination was a great part of the propulsion for the ascent of Ronald Wilson Reagan to the presidency.

     In short, we’d had a taste of being a second-class power, one that other powers could insult and injure without undue penalty, and we didn’t like it. Reagan told us things could, should, and must be otherwise – and he followed through. Yet essential to his vision and instrumental to his methods was the perpetuation of a largely “bipolar world:” one in which the American-Soviet contretemps loomed above all others. Though there was some room in the Reaganite vision for other, lesser enemies and conflicts, those others were either subordinated to the standoff against the Soviets or treated as minor sideshows, where a mere flexure of our military muscles would gain the day.

     While the famous Reagan military buildup didn’t approach the level to which the U.S. had militarized for World War II, it did convey a sense of a superpower reborn, or at least revived, such that the Soviets had better “look out.” Reagan’s October 1986 showdown against Mikhail Gorbachev at Reykjavik was as emblematic of that era as the Cuban Missile Crisis was to the Fifties and Sixties. Gorbachev was terrified of two things: American economic might, which was steadily being transformed into renewed military preeminence, and the Strategic Defense Initiative, which Gorbachev feared would reduce the Soviet Union to Third World status. Reagan’s refusal to give on either of those things perfectly expressed his “we win and they lose” approach to the Cold War. As the saying goes, “you can’t knock success:” it did result in the fall of the Soviet Union and its replacement by a (temporarily) more benign Confederation of Independent States.

     It also reinstated the popular conception of the “bipolar world.” When the Soviet Union collapsed, that was replaced by the unipolar, or “hyperpower” world of the Nineties and Naughties, in which the U.S. stood as the supreme martial entity, supposedly capable of policing the entire globe.

     It is unclear whether most Americans believed that the U.S. should accept that role, or should act as if it had been somehow conferred upon us. It’s at least as unclear whether most Americans would agree to it today.

     While the George W. Bush Administration’s Middle Eastern democracy initiatives were well intentioned, they were foredoomed by the cultural matrix into which they were introduced. That became apparent (to me, at least) when the supervising American authority agreed that Islam as a principal source of guidance to Iraqi law would be written into the new Iraqi constitution. After that, no progress was possible, and no progress was made. The subsequent failure of Iraq to coalesce around a stable post-Ba’athite political order was what made possible the rise of Barack Hussein Obama, with all that has entailed.

     The Obama era has been one of undisguised American retreat from global influence. The U.S. is no longer a power whose interests or desires other powers must include in their decision making. It isn’t solely about Obamunist diplomatic weakness or unwillingness to threaten the use of force. The enervation of our military and the popular distaste for new international engagements play at least as great a part.

     What has come about is not a mere readjustment of our will or ambitions to unfortunate budgetary realities. It also involves a reconception, both among the political elite and among Americans generally, of the world order and our place in it. It makes a sharp contrast to George H. W. Bush’s dreams of a “new world order.”

     I intend the above material, much of which will be prior knowledge to an intelligent Gentle Reader of Liberty’s Torch, to act as a backdrop to the prevalent conceptions of national defense and national security. I contend that our retreat from assertiveness in our international engagements is coupled to a shift in those conceptions. The question I cannot answer is whether that shift occurred because of natural changes in attitude and opinions among lay Americans, or because it was engineered by the political elite and its courtier press.

     For a great part of the postwar years (see above), national defense took its conceptual shape from the overwhelming concentration of our attention upon the Soviet Union. Similarly, the maintenance of our national security was expressed in information-classification rules, in export law, in the treatment of non-citizens who might choose to work in defense-related industries, and in the structure and operations of our intelligence services.

     The Russian Bear commanded our attention. Its potential and its moves governed both our initiatives and our responses.

     With the fall of the Soviet Union came a considerable cry in the U.S. for substantial demilitarization. We did reduce the size and scope of our armed forces, especially our nuclear deterrent forces. Yet the number of missions upon which those forces – other than our nuclear weapons, of course – were dispatched did not lessen. Indeed, it increased to a point where our enormous blue-water Navy was stretched dangerously thin; it seemed to need to be everywhere at once. In part that was a consequence of the use of Naval forces as humanitarian aid to regions that had experienced natural calamities, but in some measure it was for the deterrence of potential hostilities among lesser powers, and in part a return to the “gunboat diplomacy” that characterized Navy activity in the Caribbean and South America in the Nineteenth Century, where American warships would visit ports in other nations to remind those nations that America held a “big stick,” far bigger than anyone else’s, and that it would be well not to provoke us into swinging it.

     The concept of national defense became fuzzier than it had been in seventy years. National security had begun to slide into the “that was back then” category; our vigilance over our secrets and the enforcement of the laws and regulations ostensibly passed to protect them slackened considerably. Despite the renewal of Russian imperialism and territorial aggression, the rise of several nuclear powers inimical to American interests, and the weakening of protections over Americans’ possessions and interests abroad, that’s the state of affairs today.

     I have an ambivalent relationship with national defense and a great deal of difficulty with “national security.” To take the second matter first, I dispute whether Americans’ security – i.e., our protections against invasion, infringement of our rights, attacks on our material well-being, and general latitude of action both here and abroad – is truly advanced by the laws and regulations promulgated in the name of “national security.” It’s an expensive business whose return on investment is dubious. Nevertheless, our political elite persists in paying lip service to the concept even as high-profile violators of the security rules proliferate and are found in ever higher positions.

     Concerning national defense, I dispute that either our political class or Americans generally would agree on what we’re supposed to be defending ourselves from. The chaos at our southern border is an invasion by another name; it hardly matters that the invaders generally arrive unarmed, for the damage they do to our society doesn’t require weaponry.

     Concerning infringement of our rights, the 88,000 governments of these United States are doing a superlative job of reducing us to totalitarian subjection. We get no protection from them from our Army, Navy, or Air Force. Indeed, I’ve speculated that should our men at arms come to our defense, the mode will be convulsive in the extreme.

     Similarly, the attacks on our prosperity emanate principally from Washington, whose mandarins are unwilling to acknowledge the laws of economic reality. Their recent abuse of the dollar alone has been sufficient to reduce its purchasing power by about 40% -- that is, about as much as FDR’s famous dollar redefinition, from $20.67 per Troy ounce to $35.00. The many federal incursions upon freedom of production, commerce, labor, and contract pile atop that degradation of our national unit of account.

     Finally, Americans’ latitude of action has been severely curtailed via law and regulation. The iconic example can be found at the “security screening stations” of any of our airports. Those same stations and procedures have been proposed for water, train, and bus travel. Their application to passenger automobiles, while it seems absurd, is not beyond possibility.

     In light of the above, I would venture to say that there is no American “national defense” as lay Americans would understand it. Whether our armed forces are defensively useful for other persons in other venues I leave to the contemplation of the reader.

     In a recent screed, Fred Reed includes the following:

     I will assign the Five-Sided Wind Tunnel [i.e., the Pentagon] a new mission, namely the defense of the United States. If this novelty encounters resistance, I will require all general officers to report to work in tutus and toe shoes until they see the wisdom of my idea. Of course, these days many would probably like it.

     No doubt Fred wants to see the U.S. defended...but what specific missions would he include in that envelope? Would “the defense of the United States” include the protection of Americans abroad? Would it include the defense of Americans’ properties abroad? How about the defense of the provisions of trade agreements, formally arrived at and agreed upon, between the United States and other nations? Those get violated more often than most of us are aware.

     Would Fred endorse Jimmy Carter’s decision not to declare the 1979 takeover of our embassy in Tehran, openly endorsed by the Khomeini regime, an act of war? What about Congress’s decision not to aid South Vietnam, our ally (and in some ways our creation), when the North attacked in 1975? Then there’s NATO. Would Fred agree that inasmuch as we signed the North Atlantic Charter and have never abrogated it, we are required to react to an attack upon any of the European signatories as an attack upon the U.S.? Or would he unilaterally nullify that treaty?

     All those possibilities pertain to current conceptions of national defense. Indeed, there are others, though they might not be majority viewpoints.

     It becomes ever clearer that any discussion of national defense must begin with a single, sharp question to which a clear answer is mandatory:

What Do You Mean By That?

The age of the lie.

The German language has been reshaped and regulated bit by bit in such a way that it is now more difficult to use it for independent thinking than ever before. Discrimination, that is, differentiation, has in common understanding come to be the same as disparagement. Chauvinism,which is actually nothing other than the conviction of belonging to a group that is superior in some respect, has in common understanding come to be a general thought crime, since — according to the accepted doctrine of equality — there can be no superior groups, even if they exist to the tenth power.

The National Socialist became the Right — and so, in speech and thought, as evil incarnate — became the extreme opposite of the consequently “good” Left. That is why Leftists always talk about Nazis and never about National Socialists. . . .

* * * *

The German — thus intellectually amputated — is simply no longer able to defend himself. Not intellectually — he does not have the concepts. Not morally — he does not have the morality. Not militarily — he does not have the army. That is the condition of the Germans and their land. This completely whacked-out folk can be seen at present in train stations, with stuffed animals, signs with hearts painted on them and, balloons, welcoming those who will handle the last act of this drama. They no longer know what they are doing. They are, in the truest sense of the words, no longer of this world.[1]

It's not just Germany. The entire West has been subverted in this way and we are presently not only using a crippled political lexicon but we are awash in oceans of lies transmitted on the MSM conveyor belts.

Ours is the Age of the Lie.

[1] "Finis Germaniae: The End of Germany." By Max Erdinger, By Baron Bodissey, Gates of Vienna, 9/11/15.

Shared sacrifice.

The [Open the Books] report [on the EPA] also reveals that seven of 10 EPA employees make more than $100,000 a year and more than 12,000 of its 16,000 employees were given bonuses last year despite budget cuts.

The EPA also employs more than 1,000 attorneys, making it one of the largest law firms in the country.

The agency also sent over $50 million since 2000 to international organizations, including groups in Mexico and China.

"EPA spends millions on military-style weapons, watchdog group reports." By Kellan Howell, The Washington Times, 10/10/15.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

My List

There’s a quote that I’ve always found unfortunately humorous – and accurate: “War is God's way of teaching Americans geography.” Besides geography, there’s another association I make with war – music. 

I will always associate Garth Brooks’ “I’ve Got Friends in Low Places” with Desert Storm. It seemed like the Armed Forces Network (AFN) played it continuously. Then, there was a song from Phase Two of the Afghanistan Campaign. I enjoyed it so much that I intended to have it played at my retirement ceremony. It was just one of the many moving songs by Toby Keith -- a great American patriot.

Toby’s song is titled “My List” and is in the genre of Harry Chapin’s “Cat’s in the Cradle.” There’s something about being away from your wife and kids for a year at a time (except for a two-week R&R) that accentuates all the milestones you’re missing. A partial excerpt of the lyrics from “My List” follows:

Under an old brass paperweight is my list of things to do today,
Go to the bank and the hardware store, put a new lock on the cellar door.
I cross 'em off as I get 'em done but when the sun is set,
There's still more than a few things left I haven't got to yet…

Go for a walk, say a little prayer, take a deep breath of mountain air,
Put on my glove, play some catch, it's time that I make time for that.
Wade the shore, cast a line, look up a long lost friend of mine,
Sit on the porch and give my girl a kiss.
Start livin' that's the next thing on my list.

When talking with Soldiers concerned about their kids back home, I’d tell them two things. First, that I believed God would honor their sacrifice, and secondly, there is no better way to teach your children the importance of duty, honor and
loyalty than living it. After all, I’d remind them, it wasn’t like we were on a protracted fishing expedition or out playing golf. Nonetheless, it was obvious to all of us that we were missing a great deal. 

Since I was medically retired (after 35 years of service), I never did get to play that song at a ceremony. So what brought that song back to my mind now? It was an appointment with the VA last week. The doctor was asking me about my mental health and TBI. I told her that the toll multiple deployments exacts is bad, but what’s even worse is the insult of watching those hard fought for cities and provinces falling back into the hands of the enemy.

During the Cold War, I was in West Germany where we faced-off with the Soviet Union-led Warsaw Pact. We were trained to know that Russia could not be trusted. To watch them now walk into Ukraine virtually unopposed is exasperating. To watch them align themselves with Iran, Iraq and Syria, move their forces into the Middle East, and then bomb our allies is sickening. 

Driving home from the VA hospital that day, my blood was beginning to boil. Not like the pressure cooker used by the Boston bombers, but more like a cauldron – boiling because of a belief that our government is making it mighty comfortable for our enemies and not adequately aiding our allies. And that’s when the idea of a “list” came clearly to mind. Only this list is not of things I want to do – this list is for our current Commander-in-Chief to check-off.

Mr. Obama – please put this under a paperweight:

-- You owe Mitt Romney an apology. When he told you in the debate about Russia, “This is without question our No. 1 geopolitical foe. They fight for every cause for the world’s worst actors.” You arrogantly mocked him, “The 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back because the Cold War’s been over for 20 years.” Sadly, Romney was past right.

-- You owe the 4,491 US Gold Star families and the 32,226 American wounded from Iraq an apology. Not because you started the war, but because you lost the war. You failed to heed the advice of your military commanders and leave a residual force.

-- You owe the families of the Benghazi four and the video maker you blamed it on (and later arrested) an apology.

-- You owe our children an apology for the Trillions in debt you’ve amassed.

I could go on, but I’ve got to go play catch.

This column appears in The Upson Beacon, 14 OCT 2015 published in Upson County, GA.

The Type A Christian: A Sunday Rumination

     Now a man came up to him and said, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to gain eternal life?” He said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.” “Which ones?” he asked. Jesus replied, “Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false witness, honor your father and mother and love your neighbor as yourself.” The young man said to him, “I have kept all these things. What do I still lack?” Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be perfect, go sell your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” But when the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he was very rich. [Matthew 19:16-22]

     I’ve often cited the first four of the verses above without continuing on to the ones that follow. Every now and then someone will ask why I haven’t “completed the lesson,” for surely the end provides the meaning to the beginning.

     At which I smile, shake my head, and say, “Another Type A heard from.”

     The above citation from Matthew, describing Jesus’s encounter with the “rich young man,” is narrated slightly differently in Mark (10:17-22) and Luke (18:18-23). Unfortunately, it’s been used by many a cleric with an agenda of his own as an exhortation to eschew all worldly wealth and desire for it. But an attentive reading, properly set in the context of first-Century Judea, puts the lie to such interpretations.

     Note that after citing the Decalogue Commandments Four through Eight plus the Second Great Commandment, Jesus came to a full stop. But the “rich young man,” referred to in Luke as “a certain ruler,” pressed the Savior for more: “I have kept all these things. What do I still lack?”

     Reflect on who it is, in that passage, that testifies that the “rich young man” is still lacking.

     Clearly, had the “rich young man” thanked the Savior and departed without that final query, the strictures Jesus had already given him would have been all the counsel he received. It was he who felt that more would be required of him. If Luke’s description of him as “a certain ruler” is taken at face value, his wealth was probably ill-gotten: derived from his political status rather than from honest and productive effort. In first-Century Judea, the majority of men regarded as wealthy had gained their wealth in such a fashion, if not by means even more foul, which contextualizes what Jesus went on to say after the “rich young man” departed:

     Then Jesus said to his disciples, “I tell you the truth, it will be hard for a rich person to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I say, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter into the kingdom of God.” [Matthew 19:23-24]

     For in that time and place it was rare to encounter a wealthy man who was not obsessed with material things – a man whose principal pride was his ability to afford to sacrifice a bull at the Temple, when others had to make do with a dove bought for a few pennies from the sellers in the vestibule.

     Among the greatest of God’s gifts is that of the individual conscience: that property of our souls that informs us when we’re verging upon a trespass of God’s laws. For far too many centuries the Church ignored the conscience in favor of ever more luxuriant proclamations of this and that – things never mentioned in the Decalogue or the Gospels – as sins. Virtually every form of recreation we enjoy today has at one time or another been denounced as a sin. Typically, the more we enjoy it, the more stridently some cleric condemned it. The dynamic drove a wedge of increasing width ever deeper between the hierarchical Church and lay Catholics.

     Today things are different. The Church has recognized that each man’s conscience is his proper guide, provided only that he is taught that there are some things – specifically, those proscribed by the Decalogue Commandments – that are absolutely wrong and cannot be tolerated no matter what anyone might say. As G. K. Chesterton wisely told us:

     The truth is, of course, that the curtness of the Commandments is an evidence, not of the gloom and narrowness of a religion, but, on the contrary, of its liberality and humanity. It is shorter to state the things forbidden than the things permitted; precisely because most things are permitted, and only a few things are forbidden.

     That having been said, if one’s conscience is one’s proper guide, what of those times when it demands of him more than simple adherence to the Commandments mentioned above? Is it to be heeded?

     Which is where we turn to the subject of the Type A Christian.

     The “Type A personality” is shorthand for the relentlessly driven sort: he who cannot relax, who is seldom if ever satisfied, and who keeps on plugging despite whatever accomplishments and successes he’s already attained. Such a man is a difficult case for Christianity. He’s unlikely to look at Jesus’s encounter with the “rich young man” the way I do here. He’s far more likely to say “Well, of course more is required of us! Just adhering to those Commandments is much too simple.” From that will arise a tension that pits his striver’s nature against his desire to enjoy the satisfactions of temporal life. In effect, he’ll infer that he cannot be in God’s good graces without embracing poverty, from which he’s likely to recoil.

     But some Christians are notified by their consciences that merely adhering to the Commandments is not enough, that “More is required of you.” And perhaps it is indeed so...for them.

     Such messages should be taken seriously, for what God asks of us is not uniform. He wants us to use our individual gifts, which are obviously not universally shared, for the fulfillment of the Second Great Commandment: that we love our neighbor as ourselves.

     Who is my neighbor – that is, who is near to me? What does it mean to love him as I love myself? Jesus told us:

     “In everything, treat others as you would want them to treat you, for this fulfills the law and the prophets.” [Matthew 7:12]

     Your service to your neighbors should be proportioned to your gifts. If you can do little for others, little will be asked of you; if you can do much, much will be asked...when the occasion demands it. For our scope to “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” is constrained by the respect we must show for those others’ individual needs, abilities, rightful liberty, and consciences.

     Whatever the actual status and abilities of the “rich young man,” he clearly felt that more than observance of the Commandments was required of him. Christ decided to put him to the severest imaginable test, and he fell short out of his attachment to his wealth. Perhaps the encounter with the Redeemer awakened his conscience, which guided him properly thenceforward; we cannot know. But the deep lesson is plain, if not obvious.

     Listen to your conscience. The Commandments are a foundation, not the entire edifice of a Christian life. The messages your conscience provides are the bricks and mortar for the rest.

     May God bless and keep you all.

Quickies: From The Biter Bit Files

     Apparently, Muslims don’t like it when the shoe is on the other foot:

     About 200 protesters crowded in front of an Arizona mosque Saturday afternoon to demonstrate against Islam as part of a nationwide campaign that went largely unheeded.

     KTAR radio reports that the protesters in Phoenix held a rally in front of the Islamic Community Center. The rally appeared to be most significant size in the country after a call for protests against Islam in America this weekend.

     KSAZ reports 19 other cities held protests organized by the “Global Rally for Humanity” group against radical Islam. Many Muslim protesters showed up as well to give their community a voice.

     “They're trying to say that the whole religion, or all of the Muslims are just like the violent extremists," said Sumayyah Dawud, who is Muslim.

     Usama Shami, president of the Islamic Community Center said, rally organizers are displaying their bigotry.

     Will no one drag these...persons in front of a camera and compel them to answer a few simple questions? I have a list:

  • “Which parts of the Qur’an do you disagree with?”
  • “What about taqiyya and kitman? May Muslims lie to non-Muslims in the service of Islam?”
  • “Do you believe that adulterers, homosexuals, and those who depart from Islam should be killed?”
  • “Why should we allow Muslims to build mosques in America when Christians can’t build churches in Saudi Arabia?”
  • “Why do Islamic states punish women who are raped instead of their rapists?”
  • “The hadith Sahih Muslim and the shari’a manual Reliance of the Traveler say that all Jews should be killed. Please comment.”
  • “Does Israel have the right to exist?”
  • “Inasmuch as Muhammad is supposedly the Perfect Man, are pedophilia and adultery acceptable?”
  • “What do you believe about the enslavement of infidels?”
  • “If your daughter were to marry an infidel, would you kill her for dishonoring Islam?”

     I could go on from there, but it’s hardly necessary.

     Any Muslim mouthpiece who dares to speak into a microphone will claim to the skies that “we’re not all like that,” that “Islam is a religion of peace,” and that “these extremists are dishonoring our faith.” They are not to be trusted. The Qur’an explicitly says that Muslims have no duties toward non-Muslims, and that non-Muslims have no rights a Muslim is required to respect.

     Never turn your back on a Muslim. And never believe a single word a spokesman from CAIR or any other Muslim-mouthpiece group utters. They are bent upon the destruction of the West and no amount of pretty obfuscatory verbiage will change that.

Really Quickies: A Good Start

     The New York Rangers have won their first three regular season games. They’ve traded away super-speedster Carl Hagelin, have lost Martin St. Louis to retirement, and God alone knows what happened to brilliant backup goalie Cam Newton – yes, he’s good enough to be the first-stringer anywhere but around Henrik Lundqvist – yet they’ve won three in a row in convincing style against good opponents, including the 2015 Stanley Cup champs, the Chicago Blackhawks (whose interminable opening-night hoopla they spoiled with an all-business victory).

     Oscar Lindberg has four goals in his first three NHL games. He narrowly missed a hat trick last night against rough’n’tough Columbus, which was trying its best to gain by brutality what it couldn’t achieve by superior skill. Rick Nash seemed to be everywhere. Derek Stepan and Chris Kreider are playing like men with something to prove. Lundqvist and the defense cadre have been near to impenetrable. And Mats Zuccarello...well, every team needs a “Z player,” and he’s the living proof. (Say, whatever became of the much ballyhooed Zarley Zalapsky?)

     Don’t jostle me. I don’t want to wake up from this dream. But it’s a long season – too long, in my opinion – and many a brave start has petered out in the “doldrums months” of January and February. (A bit like invasions of Russia, that.) February, in particular, has been lethal to Rangers fans’ hopes, mainly because of injuries to our stars. But for now, I think I’ll savor the moment.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Quickies: RKBA And Armed Guards

     “There are over 550 million firearms in worldwide circulation. That's one firearm for every twelve people on the planet. The only question is: How do we arm the other eleven?” – gun-runner “Yuri Orlov,” played by Nicolas Cage in the movie Lord of War

     It’s likely to be a very busy day, in which I’m all but completely away from this infernal device – have to squander the vast wealth amassed via the new button, y’know – so I hope this will serve for now.

     This article notes one of the ironies of the weapons-rights contretemps:

     Senate Democrats gathered Thursday on the steps of the Capitol surrounded by about a dozen armed guards to announce a new push for tougher gun-control laws.

     The officers from the U.S. Capitol Police, who carried sidearms, were in addition to the regular detail paroling the Capitol ground due the large number of elected officials attending the event, according to a officer on the scene.

     Frequently enough, weapons-rights activists will ask, sarcastically, “After the gun control measures you’ve proposed are in place, will you disarm your bodyguards, Senator?” No, the question is never answered, at least not with any degree of candor. But another question of greater importance is never even asked: “Why, Senator, do you have armed guards?”

     An armed guard is a man with a gun, not a man with a shield. He’s highly unlikely to take the bullet for his protectee. Indeed, he doesn’t protect his protectee in any sense of the word. His function is deterrence: to frighten potential attackers away with the presumed probable consequences of their intended actions.

     But deterrence, as I’ve written before, is an economic concept. It assumes ab initio that there is some maximum price the putative attacker is willing to pay, and that if you can make the price greater than that, he will refrain from attacking. The use of an armed guard implicitly assumes that the attacker’s death is a higher price than he would be willing to pay.

     But this is not always so. Consider a few well publicized mass shootings: Columbine; Sandy Hook; Anders Breivik; Jared Lee Loughner; Aaron Alexis; Charlie Hebdo. In all these cases, the perpetrator was obviously willing to die if before doing so he could kill a few others.

     If you were sufficiently prominent to keep an armed guard, would you feel that the death of a potential assassin is a sufficient recompense for your life? If not, then why keep an armed guard? Why not simply don the best bulletproof vest you can afford and leave it at that?

     More to the point: In a world awash in guns – see the quote at the head of this piece – and in which psychotics and sociopaths are known to walk abroad unrestrained, what possible argument is there that “gun control,” however defined, could or would save anyone’s life?

     Food for thought.

Suicidal 21st-c. logic.

Commenter Lot's take[1] on the logic of European "open boarders preeners":
The Holocaust was a bad thing, therefore Europe should welcome 100 million or more low-IQ, low-educated, culturally hostile aliens and immediately grant them the full and costly privileges of citizenship, and do so with a smile!
Thank God Europe is isn't afflicted with nationalism! Worse than a plague of frogs and scorpions. The last refuge of white monsters.

[1] Comment by Lot on "The Scorpion and the Frog." By Steve Sailer, The Unz Review, 10/8/15.

H/t: Commenter skiapolemistis at the same site for the "nationalism" link (my locution).


Below are certain facts about our involvement in Syria that shed much light on the realities of U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. Erroneous assertions will be corrected as error is shown:
  1. Syria has committed no act of war against the United States. We have no business interfering in Syria.
  2. Neither Obama nor any American politician has made a case for why it should be our business.
  3. Bashar al-Assad, the president of Syria, is not a war criminal.
  4. Allegations that he used poisonous gas against Syrian civilians are highly suspect. Use of such a weapon would be guaranteed to needlessly inflame world opinion against him at a time of great focus on him. Poisonous gas is a notoriously indiscriminate weapon and no military purpose would be served by using against a civilian area in the hope that some number of enemy troops would be killed. Assad had nothing to gain by terrorizing civilians and turning them into enemies or refugees, whereas terror is clearly being used by ISIL as a way of creating huge refugee flows out of Syria. A use of gas, however, provided exactly the pretext for intervention that Obama announced before, at, or after the attack. Assad had too much to lose from risking the use of gas but his enemies stood to hit the jackpot of triggering U.S. military intervention.
  5. Assad's army is composed of Sunni Muslims, Shiite Muslims, Christians and others. He has broad popular support. Other governments have been working to foment an artificial civil war in Syria.
  6. His secular rule over Syria is infinitely preferable to the cruelty and murder that would follow an ISIL or so-called Free Syrian Army (FSA) victory. The FSA (and variants) will be killed or absorbed if Assad is defeated. ISIL will dominate a post-Assad Syria.
  7. Obama and his handlers have no idea whatsoever about what a Syria without Assad would look like and any "plan" they have for Syria is no more elegant that "we will cross all bridges when we come to them."
  8. A foreign power that arms and supports troops who are operating inside Syria and attacking the Syrian government is committing an act of war.
  9. The U.S. arms and supports troops who are operating inside Syria and attacking the Syrian government.
  10. The CIA Annex in Benghazi was connected to an Obama scheme to send weapons to Turkey for delivery by the Turks to ISIL. The use of Turkey was to avoid the difficulties that President Reagan encountered under the general heading of "Iran-Contra."
  11. Arms and training provided to "moderate terrorists" for operations against Assad are simply disguised support for ISIL, to whom the "moderates" defect taking with them their U.S.-supplied equipment and training.
  12. The U.S. has deliberately airdropped supplies to ISIL.
  13. The U.S. is lying about the support it is giving to ISIL. Our "attacks" on ISIL are deliberately intended not to damage ISIL. They are sham operations.
  14. Intelligence reports are being falsified at high levels of the U.S. government to disguise the fact that ISIL is being left untouched. The falsification has been so bad that some intelligence analysts at the lower levels have protested as a group.
  15. U.S. support for the satanic ISIL is a disgrace to the United States and is indecent by any objective standard.
  16. The U.S. support for anti-Assad forces of any kind makes us directly responsible for massive deaths of civilians and the huge wave of Syrian refugees heading for Europe. These horrible results are pointless and for no rational purpose.
  17. Obama and his handlers are doing the bidding in Syria of Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Israel.
  18. Israel is aiding anti-Assad forces in Syria.
  19. If Russian bombing of non-ISIL targets in Syria is an outrage, so is Turkish bombing of the Kurds.
  20. Turkey is heavily involved in trying to bring down Assad by, among other actions, allowing arms, supplies and volunteers for ISIL to pass over Turkey's border.
  21. Russia will do more to damage to ISIL in 30 days than the U.S. has "accomplished" in a year.
  22. More than 10 years of U.S. involvement in Iraq and Syria has created chaos and death in the region, especially after Obama withdrew U.S. troops from Iraq. Obama squandered the stability that previous military actions in Iraq had helped make possible.
  23. Putin is not the new Anti-Christ and his intervention will be enormously beneficial to Syria. Were Russia and the U.S. to cooperate in stabilizing Syria and destroying ISIL this would be an enormous contribution to the peace and good order of the world. The killing in Syria and Iraq needs to stop but the Obama is a dissembling fool and Putin is correct to proceed unilaterally.
  24. Putin has been conservative in what he has attempted to do outside of Russia's borders. Crimea would be in Ukraine today and there would be no fighting in E. Ukraine at this hour if the U.S. had not worked to bring down an elected government of Ukraine.
  25. Any U.S. military operations in Iraq and Syria are financed in part by China, Japan, Saudi Arabia. Obama has not revealed what those foreigners have demanded in return for their financial assistance.
  26. The U.S. is vastly over committed militarily and is in a substantially weakened economic condition. Europe freeloads off of the U.S. military dime and we neither demand payment from them nor scale back our commitments.
  27. Thousands and thousands of U.S. troops are engaged in pointless activities in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria while NOT ONE U.S. soldier defends the U.S. border from invasion by terrorists and other foreigners from the third world.
  28. No declaration of war against Syria has been made by the U.S. Congress. Our operations there under murky circumstances and with murky, dishonorable objectives without Congressional approval underline that the consent of the governed in the U.S. is a matter of indifference to Obama and his handlers and financiers.
  29. Republican, who control Congress, will do nothing to stop these disgraceful and unilateral actions by Obama and his handlers.
  30. The U.S. approach to the world is arrogant, unilateral, and contemptuous of opportunities to cooperate with natural allies. The U.S. Treason Class demonizes Russia and China in order to pursue a goal of U.S. hegemony. At the same time, the U.S. is willfully blind to the realities of Islamic savagery and arrogance, and has enshrined fairy tales about Islam and about human nature in all of its domestic policies.
  31. The U.S. government is as presently ruled by a shadowy oligarchy who have long since conspired to discard the Constitution of 1789. The Supreme Court of the United States is corrupt in its interpretation of the Constitution and has become a law unto itself. The president rules arbitrarily and with no care for constitutional governance. In short, the United States of America lives by lies. The Constitution is a sham.
  32. The Treason Class champions a fundamental betrayal of the founding people of the United States on the issue of mass uncontrolled illegal and legal immigration and the destruction of our free market system. The interests and values of foreigners are paramount to the Treason Class.
  33. Our foreign policy is corrupt in proportion to the degree that the soul of America has become diseased.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Quickies: The New Button

     Confession: While I’m a capitalist, I’m not a terribly good capitalist. I’m prone to giving my written work away, mainly because I find it flattering just to have a readership. However, over the years I’ve received a lot of email to the effect that I should mend my ways. Recently a few readers have noted that now that I’m retired, I should be looking for ways to augment to my income. While such counsel doesn’t have the impact of “the still, small voice,” when it’s sustained over time it can have an effect.

     So I’ve added a “Support Liberty’s Torch” button. It’s the usual sort of PayPal mechanism you’d see at a site such as this. I’ve put it below the blogroll so it won’t be too conspicuous, though I’m sure that those who scroll down that far into the site will recognize it at once. If the Spirit should move you to do so, please feel free to use it.

     Mind you, I’ll keep writing whether or not I receive any donations. This is for you, Gentle Reader. If you’d like to feel more a part of the work that’s posted here, this is your way to do so. Several longtime readers, both here and at Eternity Road, have asked for that opportunity, and as it’s entirely voluntary, I’ve decided there’s no harm in it.

     And now it’s back to the salt mine. Thank you for being a reader of Liberty's Torch.

RKBA: The Ideological Fronts

     “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.” – Lawrence Peter “Yogi” Berra

     Americans passionate about the right to keep and bear arms have succeeded in resisting – and in several states, reversing – encroachments on that right for about two decades now. These practical successes have been assisted by two helpful Supreme Court decisions and the proliferation of support organizations. However, the ideological battle continues. Indeed, most persons determined to hang on to their firearms can’t even locate the battlefield.

     The ideological war over weapons rights is a multi-front war. As with most contests over rights, justice, and public policy, it has a bifurcate nature:

  1. Philosophical: The argument over rights, their nature, their implications, and how to validate them.
  2. Utilitarian: The consequences of weapons rights versus the restriction or elimination thereof.

     Both branches of the fork need as much intellectual exploration as we can give them.

     I consider most arguments over rights to be wrongheaded. A right, in the politico-philosophical sense, has a nature that must be understood and respected before one can go on to discuss the validity of particular rights claims. However, arguments over particular claims swiftly grow so impassioned that even the intelligent and sensible forget that the sovereign remedy for most such chaos is to recur to fundamentals. (They are, of course, encouraged to forget this by the fake-rights crowd.)

     “Either rights exist, or they do not exist,” said Louis Thiers, an opponent of the concept of rights. If they exist as a category, it must be possible to define them: that is, to propose a genus and a differentia by which we can tell a right from anything else.

     A right:

  • (Genus) is a property inhering in all individuals
  • (Differentia) that each individual can maintain and exercise without the active cooperation of others.

     Thus, we can see that the right to life -- i.e., the right not to be killed or wounded by the aggressive action of others – qualifies without difficulty. Note, however, that a claim of a right to live, which implies a right to be supported by others, is disqualified.

     But a right to life inherently implies a right to defend one’s life against aggressive action by others. Such a right cannot exist unless each of us also has the right to acquire and wield means of defense. This fundamental argument cements the case for weapons rights in a fashion their opponents can only dispute by disputing the nature of a right. (And yes, they’re willing to do that in support of their preferred “rights,” such as the right not to be offended by the arguments of rational men.)

     The utilitarian arguments are the weapons-rights opponent’s usual recourse.

     Everyone with an interest in weapons rights has heard one or more utilitarian arguments against them:

  • “Blood in the streets;”
  • “Think of the children;”
  • “You don’t need them;”

     ...and the most recent and duplicitous addition to the chorus:

  • “You don’t need them anymore.

     (Note that even stronger utilitarian arguments against rights-claims by the Left, such as the specious “woman’s right to choose,” would be summarily dismissed as “interference with a basic right.” But that merely demonstrates the doublethink capacities of those who would disarm us.)

     The first three are easily disposed of – indeed, so easily that I don’t need to repeat their refutations here. They’ve become both ironclad and widely known in light of the Supreme Court’s agreement that the police have “no duty to protect,” and the Court’s consistent recognition of RKBA as an individual right rather than a social accommodation.

     Concerning the fourth dismissal of weapons rights, hearken to Andrew McCarthy:

     For the framers, the central government was the main reason the citizenry should be armed. They believed nothing more threatened individual liberty – the value the Constitution most promotes – than an all-powerful central government. Consequently, they prohibited Congress from providing for a standing army for more than two years’ duration. Standing armies, they calculated, can be turned against free people by an abusive government, leading to tyranny.

     Obviously, if the country were not to have a standing army, that would encourage other countries to attack and conquer it. At that point, Congress’s power to raise an army would be cold comfort since the conquest might already be accomplished. The framers addressed this problem by encouraging the citizenry to remain armed. That way, each state would continue to have a militia that could defend the state but also could be pressed into the service of the nation if a threat or exigency required it – thus protecting the whole country while a national army was being raised.

     Meanwhile, citizens would maintain the right to protect themselves. Since the framers and American culture regarded state power as primarily a threat to liberty, not the ultimate guardian of liberty, they would have rejected the notion that citizens should completely delegate to state police the obligation of protecting citizens from crime. The reasoning here is not along the lines of the public policy quip that “when every second counts, the police are only minutes away.” It is illustrative of the conceit that there was as much cause to fear the state’s use-of-force capabilities as to take comfort in them.

     The existence of an armed force that might prove inimical to one’s rights compels one to be prepared to meet it. Inasmuch as government, by definition, is an armed force pre-indemnified for its use of coercive measures against the citizenry, either we must knuckle under to whatever the government decrees, however tyrannical, or we must be prepared to resist it, and potentially overthrow it, just as our forebear revolutionaries once did.

     The anti-weapons-rights types usually reply to this with scorn: “You think a six-shooter would avail you against soldiers in MRAPs carrying automatic weapons and RPGs?” Perhaps it wouldn’t, in an open, pitched battle. But perhaps an AK-47 or M1 Garand would...and in a completely rational society, no one would be prohibited from owning any weapon a soldier might carry. Moreover, no state can support an army large enough to overwhelm a properly armed citizenry. The numbers are always on the people’s side.

     The alternate rejoinder is “Why fear the government? It’s here to protect and help you!” Time was, this would get more traction than it does today, after Waco, Ruby Ridge, the Bundy standoff, and a host of other demonstrations that the Benevolent State is anything but.

     Even the best-hearted, most sincere opponents of weapons right tend to suffer from a quasi-static conception of society and sociopolitical relations. They can’t or won’t see beyond the disarming of the citizenry. What would happen next? No one can be perfectly sure, but a look at the history of those nations whose governments have succeeded in denying guns to their subjects – a citizen possesses the acknowledged right to own weapons; a subject does not – suggests that “what’s next” is a sharp increase in authoritarianism and arbitrary rule, added to an increased likelihood of a coup that installs a dictator or totalitarian oligarchy.

     He who believes that government is the sole active agent in human affairs, and moreover that it can be “trusted,” cannot see this or will not concede it. He who is aware that an armed citizenry can be provoked into mass resistance to his schemes will denounce you for saying it. Observing that “If we don’t need our guns, then why are bureaucrats in the IRS, the EPA, and the Department of Agriculture being provided with them? Fully automatic weapons, at that!” will sometimes let the air out of his balloon.

     Argument is much less likely to effect a change of political position these days than it once was. Quoth C. S. Lewis on a different subject:

     I note what you say about guiding our patient's reading and taking care that he sees a good deal of his materialist friend. But are you not being a trifle naif? It sounds as if you supposed that argument was the way to keep him out of the Enemy's clutches. That might have been so if he had lived a few centuries earlier. At that time the humans still knew pretty well when a thing was proved and when it was not; and if it was proved they really believed it....Do remember you are there to fuddle him. From the way some of you young fiends talk, anyone would suppose it was our job to teach!

     However, argument remains useful in reaching those who, though rational and willing to listen, are of unsettled mind, which is why an intellectual exercise such as the above remains worthwhile.

Marine lashes out at Hollande and Merkel.

See Marine Le Pen's speech with translation at Gallia Watch.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Quickies: “Disarray,” Or The Belated Dawning Of A Great Light?

     Apparently, Kevin McCarthy has withdrawn his name from the contest for Speaker of the House of Representatives.

     Establishmentarian Joseph Curl sees this as a sign of “disarray:”

     Fox newsman Richard Grenell disagrees:

     Actually, it could be both. There’s a pitched battle going on within the Republican Party. On the one side are the “go along to get along” or “collegiality first” Establishment types who feel the highest priority is to preserve the veneer of good manners...and their opportunities for cooperative porkbarreling. On the other side are the red-ass conservatives who are furious about having handed the GOP complete control of both Houses of Congress, only to see Boehner and McConnell act as if the Democrats still held the majority. That’s enough strife for a lot of “disarray.”

     However, there would be no “disarray” if it weren’t for a surging grassroots anger toward the Establishment, personified by McConnell, Boehner, and McCarthy, over their aversion to asserting their majorities, such that at least the Democrat opposition would have to vote on the record against policy changes the electorate has demanded. Boehner might not have been pressured to end his tenure as Speaker had he and McConnell contrived to force such votes – and to force Barack Obama to veto bills passed with healthy majorities in both Houses.

     For quite some time, the GOP Establishment has been more afraid of what Barack Obama will say and the New York Times will print about the party than what an enraged electorate might do should Republican spinelessness continue. In part, that’s the fault of loyal Republican voters, who’ve regarded continuing support of Republican candidates as mandatory despite the party’s execrable performance. Reinforcement does, after all, increase the rewarded behavior. But given that the 2010 and 2014 “wave” elections were unambiguous about voters’ desires for a reversal of Obamunist policies, one might think that even persons utterly congealed in their inanition would get the message...especially after Dave Brat completely displaced Majority Leader Eric Cantor from Congress.

     Moral: Don’t be afraid of some temporary disarray. Chaos always precedes order. When the problem to be solved is an order that has lasted too long and must be destroyed, the embrace of a temporary disorder is right and necessary.

Announcing The Formation Of A New Party

     “What’s this?” I hear you cry. “Has Porretto finally gone off the deep end? We have 82,573 parties in this country (by actual count) and not one of them is worth the powder it would take to blast it to flinders. But he wants to form another party?”

     Well, yes. But it won’t be a political party. And it won’t be a cocktail party, or a block party, or anything else that conjures up images of hats, hooters, and multicolored streamers. I intend that it be far more important than the former and a lot more constructive than the latter. Maybe more fun, too.

     This is in response, partly at least, to a note I got from longtime reader and correspondent Tim Turner, a.k.a. “furball.” (Whether he’s actually furry or not, I have no idea. This is the Internet, after all.) Rather than reproduce the whole thing here, I’ll give you the sentence that expresses the heart of it:

     I don't know much about God, but I'm really glad he gave us girls.

     Me too, Tim. Me too.

     But have you noticed, Gentle Reader, just how much acrimony feminists, homosexuals, and “transgender” activists have stirred up between the sexes of late? Stacy McCain has covered it extensively. The Washington Examiner’s Ashe Schow has also commented on it at length. And it’s really, really sad.

     It’s sad because of what Tim said above. And it’s not just us Y-chromosome bearers who think so. Hearken to one of pop music’s current crop of beauties:

     Now men are afraid to be men. […] They won’t be a gentleman because that makes them appear soft. That’s what we’re dealing with now, a hundred percent, and girls are settling for that, but I won’t. I will wait forever if I have to. That’s why I haven’t been having sex or even really seeing anybody.

     Being a masculine man is on the verge of being anathematized. Likewise being a feminine woman. And it’s all because of a tiny minority of idiots, perverts, and persons so mentally ill that less enlightened times would deem them candidates for a lobotomy.

     There are two sexes. Not three, six, seventeen, or twenty-three. Just two, and in case you’ve forgotten what they are, they’re:

  1. Male.
  2. Female.

     ...just as God made ‘em. And each can, should, and must find delight in the other. All else is madness.

     In recognition of which I hereby announce the formation of:

The Vive La Difference Party!

     This party will have no organizational structure. It will keep no membership rolls and collect no dues. It will hold no conventions, nor will it announce candidates for any office, high or low. And you will never, ever receive a funding solicitation from it, whether by email, snail mail, or smoke signal.

     Despite all of that, I invite you to join. Indeed, you may already be a member. The qualifications are as follows:

  • If you’re a man, you must be a masculine man who likes and appreciates feminine women.
  • If you’re a woman, you much be a feminine woman who likes and appreciates masculine men.

     If you’re anything else, this is not the party for you.

     Does any Gentle Reader of Liberty’s Torch, inarguably the #1 gathering place for the Web’s meshugganeh types, harbor any doubts about what it means to be a masculine man or a feminine woman? These are concepts Americans once absorbed osmotically from the air around us. No, gentlemen: you don’t have to be the reincarnation of John L. Sullivan. Nor need the ladies revert to elbow-length white gloves, whaleboned corsets and fainting couches (which were largely made necessary by the corsets).

     Be gentlemen. Be ladies. And let each sex display proper appreciation and regard for the virtues, strengths, and weaknesses of the other. For example, gentlemen:

  • Dress decorously.
  • Respect the rights of others.
  • Open and hold doors for all ladies.
  • Restrain vulgarities of language in mixed company.
  • Express our appreciation for female beauty in respectful terms.
  • Intervene to defend women from physical abuse by ungentlemanly men.
  • And of course, associate exclusively with other gentlemen and ladies.

     Similarly, ladies:

  • Dress decorously.
  • Respect the rights of others.
  • Restrain vulgarities of language in mixed company.
  • Gracefully accept gentlemen’s acts of appreciation and consideration.
  • Ignore the verbal emissions of louts and bounders.
  • Never act “catty.”
  • And of course, associate exclusively with other ladies and gentlemen.

     No, that’s not the entire litany, but it would make for a strong start.

Vive La Difference!

     Make it a rallying cry. Make it your personal credo.

     Perhaps I’ll go to Cafe Press with some sweatshirt designs. Yes, gentlemen and ladies can wear casual clothes. This isn’t the Victorian Era. I just want an end to ripped jeans and stained T-shirts, to pants whose waistband hangs around the knees, to flipflops anywhere but the beach or the shower, and to clothing that screams “let’s find a convenient hedge and get it on” to any passer-by with complementary coupling gear.

     Andrew Breitbart has told us that “culture is upstream from politics,” and indeed it is so. But “culture” isn’t just art, music, fiction, and other forms of entertainment. Culture is a personal commitment. You have a culture, as do I, and we proclaim it to the world whenever we’re in public.

     A culture of decorous deportment and mutual respect among ordinary individuals is upstream from all art, music, fiction, and other forms of entertainment. Masculine men and feminine women are the foundation of such a culture; no society worthy of the name is possible without them. Moreover, the sexes have always enjoyed one another most when the norms of gentlemanly and ladylike conduct prevailed. That American society no longer insists upon those norms is an ominous indicator for our future.

     Will you join?
     Have you joined already?
     Will you encourage others to join?
     Will you uphold and promote the Code of Conduct?

     Welcome to the Party.

Quickies: What’s The Matter At Instapundit?

     Has anyone else had problems viewing The Blogfather’s site?

     Lately, when I visit Instapundit, my computer’s CPU utilization jumps 20% to 30%, and remains that much higher than previously until I surf away. Moreover, the behavior of hyperlinks on the page is highly erratic: they oscillate between effective and ineffective at a rate I can’t determine. This is browser-independent, as I’ve experienced it with Google Chrome, Internet Explorer 11, and Foxfire.

     Instapundit refreshes periodically – there seems to be an active server page behind it – but if that’s the reason for this behavior, I hope someone will check the server-side code for pathologies. The site is an important aggregator for all manner of news. I’ve used many articles linked there as seed material for my own tirades. I’d hate to have to omit it from my morning and afternoon roundups.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

One Thousand Plus Fourteen Words

This picture was posted on a page belonging to a USAF veteran that is a triple amputee as a result of an IED in Iraq.   Hadn't thought about it until now. 


Quickies: Islam And Abortion

     What was that about Islam forbidding abortion?

     Pregnant women abducted and sold as sex slaves by Islamic State fighters have been forced to undergo abortions leaving them unable to move or speak, freed Yazidi girls have revealed.

     ISIS jihadists would bring their own gynaecologists to 'slave markets' in the Sinjar region of Iraq where captured Yazidi women who were found to be pregnant would be subjected to painful abortions so they could be used for sex.

     One woman, Bushra, 21, revealed that her friend was three months pregnant when she was captured, and that ISIS forced her to undergo a termination.

     'Afterwards, they brought her back. I asked her what happened and how they did it. She said the doctors told her not to speak,' Bushra told CNN.

     The young woman was bleeding heavily after the forced abortion, which left her in so much pain that 'she could not talk or walk.'

     These savages need to be exterminated like venomous insects. The same goes for anyone who supports them with money, arms, transportation, shelter, or so much as a cup of water. If it takes nukes, use the nukes.

     Mind you, ISIS isn’t doing anything Islam actually forbids. The Qur’an, Islam’s supreme holy book, supposedly the word of Allah as dictated to Muhammad by the Angel Gabriel, explicitly sanctifies slavery – and it does not grant the slave any protections against the master. Muslims are taught that they have no duty of benevolence toward non-Muslims, and that non-Muslims have no rights that Muslims need respect. The pieces all fit together to present a single horrific picture.

     There is no excuse for permitting this to go on any longer.

New Fiction

     Max Feinberg needs a breather. His laundromat business is lucrative but boring. His marriage is sound but irritating. His body is slowly turning to sludge. So he’s headed to Las Vegas for some restorative gambling and professional sex. The bonus he’ll receive will exceed his imagination. It will include a lesson about himself that he badly needs to learn.

     Free at Smashwords.

Supply Regions And Geopolitical Power

     In Jane Jacobs’s excellent book Cities and the Wealth of Nations, she devotes a chapter to the inherent economic vulnerability of the “supply region:” a locality whose economy is dominated by the export of a natural resource or an item that sits “low” on the structure of production (e.g., wheat). Probably the most succinct summation of that chapter is that in a supply region, you will not find large or economically important cities. The city, for all that it has its drawbacks, is the geographic engine that propels the advance of a region’s economy from agrarian to industrial and thence. Thus, a truly intelligent and honest economic planner (if there were such a thing) would view such an economy as a dead end, and would look for ways to encourage the gradual departure from natural-resource exportation in favor of more advanced economic activities.

     The Islamic Middle East is a classic supply region, with oil as the export item. Because of their low political state and the iron grip their rulers have on the petroleum-extraction industry, the nations of that region have never advanced to Industrial Era status. Moreover, it appears that, due to their ideological shortcomings, they never will. Their future will not be a happy one unless genuinely radical changes should occur in their political and religious institutions...which, as our British cousins would say, is Not Bloody Likely.

     But soft! What MIG through yonder window breaks? It is the East, and Vladimir Putin is calling the tune:

     Russia is a crippled power; its people are older and die younger every year, its wealth comes largely from exporting fossil fuels, and its military – despite the investments Putin has made – is a pale shadow of the mighty Red Army.

     Yes: Russia is a supply region. And Putin, who has been hailed variably as a “strong leader” and apparently commands great popularity among his subjects despite his autocratic ways, wants it to be an even bigger one:

     But the word "oil" is rarely seen in the discourse about Russia in Syria. "It's about oil" was a constant refrain (or accusation) in the debates over America's various engagements in the region. The truth is that, in the Middle East, it's always about the oil.

     Three facts motivate Putin. First, two regions utterly dominate world oil markets. The Middle East and Russia together ship 60 percent of all oil traded (45 and 15 percent, respectively). Meanwhile, American firms are by law prohibited from engaging in this vital global marketplace; more on this shortly.

     Second, oil matters. It provides 97 percent of the global fuel needs for all the engines that transport everything on land, sea and air. No viable substitutes exist at any price for liquid hydrocarbons at the scale society needs. And the world will consume more oil, not less, as far into the future as it matters for sensible policymaking.

     Finally, price matters. Here the U.S. has upset the apple cart. Entrepreneurs using new technologies have unlocked a shocking increase in oil supply. U.S. shale fields have recorded the fastest increase in oil production in history. As a result, crude prices have collapsed from north of $100 to south of $50 a barrel. The emerging consensus? Cheaper oil is the new normal.

     How does Syria matter? While it's no oil-producing powerhouse by OPEC standards, even Syria's paltry production accounted for 25 percent of that nation's economy (although ISIS now controls most of Syria's oil fields). But Syria is ideal transit territory for pipelines to European markets for oil or gas originating in Iraq and Iran.

     More important, given the build-up of Russian military men and materiel in Syria, is geography. Damascus is closer to Baghdad than Washington is to Boston, and not much further away from Riyadh than New York is from Chicago. Russia's military is now no longer deployed mainly on its Baltic borders but is in the world's premier petroleum neighborhood.

     A Martian viewing the geopolitical maneuvering of the past few months would be justified in concluding that Putin’s grand strategy is the conquest of OPEC, whether overt or covert, such that Russia’s supply-region economy might prosper despite the collapse in world oil prices. If Putin is aware that Russia’s economy will be inhibited from industrial and technological advancement by increasing its dependence on oil exports, he appears comfortable with it.

     As Jane Jacobs makes plain in her book, a supply region is economically a dead end. It cannot advance without reducing its dependency on natural-resource exports. But if its export is sufficiently important to the larger surrounding economy, it can attain an artificial prosperity supported by the funds its export earns. The only inevitable terminus would be the displacement of the export by some cheaper or otherwise preferable substitute...and when it comes to oil, nothing that exists today appears to fit that description.

     Ronald Reagan won the Cold War for the United States by outspending the economically moribund Soviet Union. A poker player would say that he raised the stakes so high that the Soviets had to fold. But should Putin’s Russia acquire effective control over Middle Eastern oil, it will enable him to “stay in the game” for at least a couple of decades longer. There will be sufficient funds for him to expand Russia’s military, though perhaps not back to the level of the Soviet armed forces of the Eighties...and this will be going on as the United States, Russia’s sole significant counter-power, steadily reduces its military might and overall ability to project power to levels not seen since the post-World-War-I demobilization.

     Something to think about for those who hold that “we’ve got no business meddling in the Middle East.”