Thursday, May 21, 2015

Quickies: Time Out For Some Brilliance

     We interrupt this sententious progression of politically-focused tirades by a retired engineer and hack novelist for an example of genuine brilliance from a previously unknown writer. Here’s the pith of it:

     We have become so focused on results that our actions have become a secondary concern. We judge men based on what they have instead of what they do. We signal our ideals instead of embracing them.

     In his short book Do the Work, [Steven] Pressfield relates a New Yorker cartoon that cleverly skewers our preference for thinking about things, rather than doing them:

    “A perplexed person stands before two doors. One door says HEAVEN. The other says BOOKS ABOUT HEAVEN.”

     He’s perplexed. He’s considering the book. It’s funny because it’s absurd… and because we know we’d have the same consideration.

     That’s where we are as a culture. We run desperately to abstraction and avoid action at all costs. Thoreau’s man of “quiet desperation” has never been so prevalent.

     The world is full of men who are “stuck” in life. There has been some mass paralysis. Modern man has forgotten how to take action.

     Author Kyle Eschenroeder goes on to note that action does not guarantee success. Indeed, most action eventuates in failure – but failure is itself a step forward, if embraced and understood. As Louis Nizer wrote in My Life In Court, “Defeat is education. It is a step to something better.”

     Words to live by...especially for a retired engineer and hack novelist. I commend them to you all.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

To Fight For Freedom: Part 1, “Who?”

     Over the years I’ve received innumerable emails asking, in tones that range from suppliant to stentorian, for a practical approach to the restoration of freedom in America. For a long time I’ve resisted such urgings, on the grounds that my gifts don’t lean in that direction. I’m an analyst rather than a political strategist or tactician. Yet those who’ve put themselves forward, in their several ways, as strategists and tacticians have failed to excite much hope or sympathy among those of us averse to bloodshed, especially if the blood shed is likely to be theirs. It’s had a darkening effect on my mood, and a sense that perhaps it’s time to try my hand at the formulation of a practical approach to the re-liberation of the United States.

     Let’s get the dismal part out of the way first. Just yesterday, I wrote:

     The edifice is rotten to the core. It has pitted us against one another, especially those of us who work for government versus those who don’t, in a multitude of ways. It cannot be saved.

     However, it cannot be replaced until it has first been demolished. How that is to be achieved, given the overwhelming preponderance of force in the hands of the State, I cannot say. More, and more ominous, there is no guarantee that the replacement would improve on its predecessor. Moralities and mentalities have changed too greatly since our Founding Era for any prediction to be sanguine –and that’s to say nothing of the hostile and alien sub-populations America has acquired these past few decades.

     That would seem to be a counsel of surrender, even of despair. I didn’t mean it that way, as harsh as it appears. It’s time to say what I really do mean: the “who, what, when, where, and how” of a campaign for the restoration of freedom that has a visible chance of success.

     Let there be no mistake about it:

The great majority of today’s freedom-loving Americans will die under a “soft totalitarianism” utterly unlike the intentions of the Founding Fathers.

     Believe me, Gentle Reader, the notion upsets me quite as much as you – and I’m a cinch to be part of that “great majority.”

     The self-centered approach to such a conviction of personal doom would be to kick back and enjoy what remains of one’s life as best one can, rather than to immerse oneself in the struggle for a future one will never see. Author and lecturer Jeffrey Rogers Hummel called this the “Harry Browne” approach, in reference to Browne’s famous tome How I Found Freedom In An Unfree World. Hummel counterpoised that strategy to the “Patrick Henry” approach of “Give me liberty or give me death,” in which the individual cashiers his own hope for an untroubled existence to enlist in the fight for freedom, regardless of the sacrifice involved.

     The great John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, no stranger to self-sacrifice in a noble cause, endorsed Patrick Henry’s approach:

     ‘As Aragorn has begun, so we must go on. We must push Sauron to his last throw. We must call out his hidden strength, so that he shall empty his land. We must march out to meet him at once. We must make ourselves the bait, though his jaws should close on us. He will take that bait, in hope and in greed, for he will think that in such rashness he sees the pride of the new Ringlord: and he will say: “So! he pushes out his neck too soon and too far. Let him come on, and behold I will have him in a trap from which he cannot escape. There I will crush him, and what he has taken in his insolence shall be mine again for ever.”

     ‘We must walk open-eyed into that trap, with courage, but small hope for ourselves. For, my lords, it may well prove that we ourselves shall perish utterly in a black battle far from the living lands; so that even if Barad-dur be thrown down, we shall not live to see a new age. But this, I deem, is our duty. And better so than to perish nonetheless – as we surely shall, if we sit here – and know as we die that no new age shall be.’

     How many Americans, foreseeing with near-perfect clarity the dreadful end to which the Last Army of the West seemed certain to come, would follow in Aragorn’s train? Not many, if I’m any judge of such things.

     However, there are other ways to fight than by the exchange of bullets and bombs – and those other ways have a greater chance of long-term success than any imaginable violent uprising. Today’s tirade will address the appropriate target for such a campaign – i.e., the “who.”

     To many eyes, the “who” – the enemy to be fought – is a clear and simple thing. They immediately nominate the Left, or the government, or some other gaggle of identifiable miscreants. I must disagree.

     Consider first a brief passage from John Pugsley’s landmark work The Alpha Strategy. His setting is an island community of two: yourself, and a somewhat naughty “economist” named, appropriately, Maynard:

     Pretend for a moment that you have cultivated a cabbage patch on your island, and Maynard has some goats. Every night Maynard opens your gate and lets his goats into your yard, and each night they feast on your cabbages. You decide to approach the problem by appealing to reason. You put together your arguments about how this is ruining your garden, stifling your incentive to grow cabbages, and will hurt the whole neighborhood in the end. You then walk out of your house, march down to your garden, and have a heart-to-heart talk with his goats.

     A ridiculous approach, you say? Of course. While the goats are the ones who eat your cabbages, Maynard is the one who milks the goats. In the end, he is the beneficiary of their theft—he is the culprit who must be dealt with. Even if you find a way to communicate with the goats, it will not help. No matter how many goats you succeed in winning over to your point of view, the moment a goat sees the light and agrees to stop eating your cabbages, Maynard will stop getting milk. Immediately, Maynard will rid himself of that goat and replace it with another one that will eat your cabbages again. So it is with politicians. Even if you convince one to stop plundering you, he will be quickly replaced.

     Pugsley continues from there in a bifurcated fashion:

     Man will steal if he perceives it to be the best way to get what he wants. He is primarily interested in satisfying his immediate needs, not in providing for some distant future. He cannot be educated to altruism. In a political democracy that gives a voter the power to confiscate the wealth of his neighbors, human nature guarantees that he will do so. In my estimation, neither politics nor moral preaching offers a rational, workable solution, and it would seem that the historical evidence corroborates this. If the political process is not the answer, and educating the masses is impossible, is there any solution? If there is, where does it lie?

     Right under our noses. The best solution is the simplest solution, and the simplest solution is the easiest to overlook. Anyone who has studied the evolution of species has observed the solution at work in every form of life. The solution can be understood by observing the way in which all life forms cope with their hostile environments. The theft of our property by others is an attack that is essentially identical to the destruction that any species feels from any hostile force in nature....

     The way to build a free society and to abolish all of the economic and social destruction that has been man's lot all these many centuries is a simple three-step process. First, correctly identify the direction from which the individual is being attacked. Second, make the individual aware of the nature and methods of his enemy. And third, leave it up to the individual to devise methods for self-defense. Just as a person will try to increase his wealth and comfort by the most effective method (plundering, if that is effective, and producing, if hard work is effective), once he owns something, he will vigorously defend it. The answer to change is not an attack on government, but the development of individual techniques for the defense of personal property.

     In short, the solution, according to Pugsley, lies in self-defense, propelled by the self-interest of the aware and educable, while the unaware, ineducable masses continue to plunder one another toward inevitable extinction through their demands on The Omnipotent State. It’s an appealing prospect, except for one little problem: those “unaware, ineducable masses” are unlikely to plunge heedlessly into self-destruction while they can still spot, target, and plunder you. The barons of State power will happily assist them in finding and mulcting long as they get their percentage, of course.

     Nevertheless, Pugsley has fingered the correct “who” for our purposes: those “unaware, ineducable masses” who support the State’s plunders with their voices and their votes. They probably include many of your neighbors. They might include some of your relatives. Despite their mundane appearances and seemingly agreeable conduct, they are the enemy we must defeat.

     There will, of course, be other segments in this series. I’m as yet unsure of the order. All the same, as I’ve said so often in the past:

     More anon.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Kinda says it all when it takes a lawsuit to get the Truth

Like the proverbial junkyard dog, I can't seem to let go of anything "1st Amendment" these days.
Here's the link to the cartoon on my site where you can find the related news links plus an earlier post containing the other cartoon I did today.

Words Fail Me Dept.

     For how many years, how many decades, have we and our minor children been harangued that “the police are your friends” -- ?

     It was the baby’s fault that he was nearly burned to death in his own crib.

     Bou-Bou Phonesavanh was barely a year and a half old, just learning to walk, and unable to speak, but those limitations didn’t stop him from engaging in “deliberate, criminal conduct” that justified the 2:00 a.m. no-knock SWAT raid in which he was nearly killed.

     The act of sleeping in a room about to be breached by a SWAT team constituted “criminal” conduct on the part of the infant. At the very least, the infant was fully liable for the nearly fatal injuries inflicted on him when Habersham County Sheriff’s Deputy Charles Long blindly heaved a flash-bang grenade – a “destructive device,” as described by the ATF, that when detonated burns at 2,000-3,500 degrees Fahrenheit – into the crib.

     Merely by being in that room, Bou-Bou had assumed the risk of coming under attack by a SWAT team. By impeding the trajectory of that grenade, rather than fleeing from his crib, Bou-Bou failed to “avoid the consequences” of that attack.

     In any case, Bou-Bou, along with his parents and his siblings, are fully and exclusively to blame for the injuries that nearly killed the child and left the family with more than one million dollars in medical bills. The SWAT team that invaded the home in Cornelia, Georgia on the basis of a bogus anonymous tip that a $50 drug transaction had occurred there is legally blameless.

     This is the defense presented by Haberham County Sheriff Joey Terrell and his comrades in their reply to a federal lawsuit filed last February on behalf of Bou-Bou Phonesavanh and his family.

     This sort of self-exculpating fantasy on the part of a gaggle of uniformed, armed civil servants whose nominal charter is to protect the rest of us from predation is the direct and immediate consequence of two things:

  • The War on Drugs;
  • The militarization of the police and the police mentality.

     ...and we let them get away with it.

     The outrages have been multiplying faster than I can report on them. Particularly egregious are the many instances of outright theft by law enforcers, under the guise of “civil asset forfeiture.” Here’s a recent case:

     It happened, [Joseph] Rivers said, to him on April 15 as he was traveling on Amtrak from Dearborn, Mich., near his hometown of Romulus, Mich., to Los Angeles to fulfill his dream of making a music video. Rivers, in an email, said he had saved his money for years, and his mother and other relatives scraped together the rest of the $16,000.

     Rivers said he carried his savings in cash because he has had problems in the past with taking out large sums of money from out-of-state banks.

     A DEA agent boarded the train at the Albuquerque Amtrak station and began asking various passengers, including Rivers, where they were going and why. When Rivers replied that he was headed to LA to make a music video, the agent asked to search his bags. Rivers complied.

     Rivers was the only passenger singled out for a search by DEA agents – and the only black person on his portion of the train, Pancer said.

     In one of the bags, the agent found the cash, still in the Michigan bank envelope.

     “I even allowed him to call my mother, a military veteran and (hospital) coordinator, to corroborate my story,” Rivers said. “Even with all of this, the officers decided to take my money because he stated that he believed that the money was involved in some type of narcotic activity.”

     Rivers was left penniless, his dream deferred.

     “These officers took everything that I had worked so hard to save and even money that was given to me by family that believed in me,” Rivers said in his email. “I told (the DEA agents) I had no money and no means to survive in Los Angeles if they took my money. They informed me that it was my responsibility to figure out how I was going to do that.”

     Apparently, there are municipalities that make a practice of this sort of seizure, using threats of jail and the separation of families to coerce their targets into complying. Combine that sort of “policing” with local police departments’ steady acquisition of military-grade weaponry and the scheduling of exercises such as “Jade Helm,” and perfectly law-abiding, patriotic Americans can’t help but wonder about the real motivations of our “protectors.”

     Given Supreme Court decisions that ruled that the police have “no duty to protect,” and others that have denied the law-abiding citizen the right to resist unlawful police orders and intrusions, I no longer wonder. Indeed, I ceased to wonder quite a while ago.

     The edifice is rotten to the core. It has pitted us against one another, especially those of us who work for government versus those who don’t, in a multitude of ways. It cannot be saved.

     However, it cannot be replaced until it has first been demolished. How that is to be achieved, given the overwhelming preponderance of force in the hands of the State, I cannot say. More, and more ominous, there is no guarantee that the replacement would improve on its predecessor. Moralities and mentalities have changed too greatly since our Founding Era for any prediction to be sanguine –and that’s to say nothing of the hostile and alien sub-populations America has acquired these past few decades.

     Of one thing we may be sure: a man acting “under color of law,” whether he wears a uniform, bears a weapon, both, or neither, is not there to serve you. Don’t talk to him. Don’t allow him into your home or onto your property. Don’t permit any member of your family to do differently. Whatever he might do to you, he must do under visibly coercive conditions, such that the outrage will be plain to every eye. Perhaps a sufficient amount of public furor will protect you, at least a posteriori.

     When you see or hear “protect and serve,” think of the “Internal Revenue Service.” Act accordingly.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Fog or Confusion?

When a hand grenade lands in your midst, one of the surest ways to save your buddies (and become a hero), is to dive on it. The left has lobbed a grenade into our Armed Forces that no one dares dive on, no matter how much carnage it might prevent. 

That grenade rolling around in the midst of the Army nowadays is deliberately designed to feminize, neuter, emasculate and pacify our military.  The ongoing social tinkering is not designed to produce a Frankenstein – it’s designed to produce a Michael Jackson.  The left knows they can control Mike a lot easier than Frank.  And that’s their ultimate objective; “control” the military.  Control is their goal – not combat effectiveness.

The three main axis of advance for the left are; 1) force the homosexual issue, 2) force women into male roles/units, and 3) get rid of those bigoted and pesky Christians.  First axis – check, objective accomplished.  Second objective -- underway.  The third one, they can’t even admit it’s an objective.  The left knows that one who is committed to the King of kings won’t cave to their carnality. After all, it was Jesus himself who said, “But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’”

The collateral damage from the left’s grenade may only now be evident.  This month the Department of Defense released its annual Sexual Assault Report .  A Military Times article about the report opened with this, “Across the military, men suffered more sexual assaults last year than women…”  The report itself said, “From 2012 to 2013, there was an unprecedented 53% increase in victim reports of sexual assault.  In 2014, the high level of reporting seen in 2013 was sustained with 6,131 reports of sexual assault. This figure represents an increase of 11% over 2013 numbers.”  DoD's Dr. Nathan Galbreath explained, "Men, relative to women, are more often experiencing multiple sexual assault incidents throughout the year. They are at the hands of multiple offenders. These occur in daytime hours in their duty locations."  Exactly whose bright idea was all this again?

In 1896, Clausewitz described “The Fog of War” as, "the state of ignorance in which commanders frequently find themselves as regards the real strength and position, not only of their foes, but also of their friends."  Politicians now use the term to excuse and mask their poor decisions; blaming their blunders on a “fog” that was really brought about by their own ideological blinders.  The newest liberal “fog” is complete gender confusion on every front.   

To advance the left’s second objective the “women in Ranger school” experiment is underway.  If they can demonstrate that a woman can pass what has been called the "toughest combat course in the world" and "most physically and mentally demanding leadership school the Army has to offer"  there will be no reason to maintain the exclusion of women from any job or any unit. 

From 2000 – 2012, the historically male-only Ranger School graduation rate was under 49%.  The results thus far for the ongoing gender-bending class:  381 males and 19 females started the course; 184 men and eight women passed the initial four-day Ranger assessment.   All eight of the women and 69 of the males then failed the first of the three phases (Darby, Mountains and Florida).  Their second chance at the Darby Phase began 14 May 2015.   

Perhaps the only two things more confused than our Armed Force’s gender policies: Bruce Jenner trying to decide which restroom to use and the left trying to figure out how he could be a Republican.

One day a woman may become a “Ranger” -- but she’ll never be a man.  

May the fog lift soon. 

Full disclosure.  I am a Ranger Class 13-87 graduate.  My son and I both served in the 75th Ranger Regiment.  I also served in the Ranger Training Brigade.   

GASP! Women Are “Choosing To Be Cloistered!”

     That is, according to Times writer Wednesday Martin:

     Then I met the women I came to call the Glam SAHMs, for glamorous stay-at-home-moms, of my new habitat. My culture shock was immediate and comprehensive. In a country where women now outpace men in college completion, continue to increase their participation in the labor force and make gains toward equal pay, it was a shock to discover that the most elite stratum of all is a glittering, moneyed backwater.

     ....The women I met, mainly at playgrounds, play groups and the nursery schools where I took my sons, were mostly 30-somethings with advanced degrees from prestigious universities and business schools. They were married to rich, powerful men, many of whom ran hedge or private equity funds; they often had three or four children under the age of 10; they lived west of Lexington Avenue, north of 63rd Street and south of 94th Street; and they did not work outside the home.

     Instead they toiled in what the sociologist Sharon Hays calls “intensive mothering,” exhaustively enriching their children’s lives by virtually every measure, then advocating for them anxiously and sometimes ruthlessly in the linked high-stakes games of social jockeying and school admissions.

     Please read it all, if you can stand it. No, you’re not imagining the tone of disapproval. It’s much like Linda Hirshman’s tone:

     Women who want to have sex and children with men as well as good work in interesting jobs where they may occasionally wield real social power need guidance, and they need it early. Step one is simply to begin talking about flourishing. In so doing, feminism will be returning to its early, judgmental roots. This may anger some, but it should sound the alarm before the next generation winds up in the same situation. Next, feminists will have to start offering young women not choices and not utopian dreams but solutions they can enact on their own. Prying women out of their traditional roles is not going to be easy. It will require rules -- rules like those in the widely derided book The Rules, which was never about dating but about behavior modification.

     There are three rules: Prepare yourself to qualify for good work, treat work seriously, and don’t put yourself in a position of unequal resources when you marry.

     There you have it, Gentle Reader: the anti-choice Gospel of Feminism, in glorious living color. Women must not be allowed to choose life paths that diverge from the needs of the “Women’s Movement!” The advance of feminism is what matters; its imperatives trump the desires of the individual woman:

"No woman should be authorized to stay at home and raise her children. Society should be totally different. Women should not have that choice, precisely because if there is such a choice, too many women will make that one." -- Interview with Simone de Beauvoir, "Sex, Society, and the Female Dilemma," Saturday Review, June 14, 1975, p.18

     Disagree and you’re either:

  • A “gender traitor,” or:
  • A man.

     I can’t help but wonder what Martin and Hirshman would say about Catholic nuns.

     The Left has many sub-communities, but they’re all alike in one respect: all of them are totalitarian in attitude. Either you agree with them, in word and deed, or you’re The Enemy, to be ostracized at the very least. In that regard each of them conforms to Eric Hoffer’s description of “a compact and unified church,” outside which there is only the weeping and the gnashing of least, if the congregants have their way.

     No, that’s not news... but this is:

     Just ask National Organization for Women President Terry O'Neill. Right before Obama's trade bill cratered in the Senate last week, Obama complained that its chief Senate critic, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., didn't understand the real world. O'Neill then chalked Obama's attitude up to sexism.

     O'Neill told The Hill she took issue with Obama calling Warren by her first name during an interview with Yahoo News published May 9.

     "Yes, I think it is sexist," O'Neill said. "I think the president was trying to build up his own trustworthiness on this issue by convincing us that Sen. Warren's concerns are not to be taken seriously. But he did it in a sexist way."

     O'Neill said Obama's "clear subtext is that the little lady just doesn't know what she's talking about."

     Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, joined the chorus, also suggesting Obama's remarks were sexist, and then refused to apologize. Now some are tittering over Obama's supposed "seven-year history of sexism." This caused Twitter humorist David Burge to joke: "NAACP president: NOW president's critique of Obama's critique of Elizabeth Warren is racist."

     God bless Glenn “InstaPundit” Reynolds and David “Iowahawk” Burge! The ability to laugh at the Left’s inanities might be our best shield against them, if not our only one. But the larger point is what matters.

     I’ve written on previous occasions that the sort of coalition politics the Left has practiced in pursuit of power is inherently vulnerable to its own success. When the coalition attains majority status, the ability of any component to threaten the coalition’s hegemony causes an internal war, as each component jockeys against the others for power, perquisites, and preeminence. Indeed, the coalition need not yet command a majority; merely a reasonable prospect of getting there in the foreseeable future will cause the first skirmishes to occur and the first shots to be fired.

     As Reynolds writes, “The Democrats' tendency to argue identity politics over policy is more awkward when it's aimed at other Democrats.” Moreover, it provides yet another flank for the Right to attack, rhetorically and electorally. But as long as the Left is committed to “Left Eclecticism” (Frederic Crews) in pursuit of power, there’ll be nothing its strategists can do about it.

     So the racialists will attack the gender-warriors. Both will find themselves at odds with the unions and the poverty pimps, who are already at war with the enviro-Nazis. And all of them and more will struggle to control what constitutes legitimately “free speech,” as opposed to “hate speech” they’ll demand to see outlawed.

     It’s a great time to be alive, I tell least if you’re a curmudgeonly retired engineer who suffers an irresistible compulsion to write and is endlessly fascinated by the follies of the stupid and evil.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Terminal Illnesses: A Sunday Rumination

     Relax! I don’t have one. That I know of, anyway. The subject is on my mind for another reason.

     The current social milieu presents us with quite a lot of reasons for Christians to think of ourselves and our faith as beleaguered. Here in the United States, we have the swelling phenomenon of militant / aggressive atheism, which seeks to drive us completely out of the public square, if not entirely underground, like the Christians in the Catacombs of Rome. Add that to the mountains of derision various elements of the entertainment media regularly heap on Christians and Christianity, plus recent political developments that have made it legally hazardous to stand by our convictions in the practice of our trades, and the picture can look pretty bleak.

     Not quite as bleak as that faced by Christians abroad, of course. Nearly everywhere outside the Western Hemisphere, Christians are being persecuted, if not outrightly slaughtered, for their faith. The trend is so powerful that only the very worst aspects of it – e.g., ISIS’s routine beheadings of Christians in its region of control – make the news.

     Yet we seldom hear about apostates from Christianity. People renounce all sorts of allegiances every day: to a country, to a political party, to a spouse, to a favorite hockey team. But open renunciations of the Christian faith? There are some, no doubt, but if there’s a significant current in that direction, I have yet to read about it.

     Given that the disincentives to Christian affiliation and the hazards involved in openly leading a Christian life have mounted so steadily for so long, why aren’t we seeing more apostasy? It would appear to run counter to what we’d expect from the nature of Man.

     The answer lies in the gulf between what is seen and what is not.

     Life is a terminal illness. No, not in the sense in which medical men use the term, but in a more inclusive one that applies to everyone ever born: we shall all die. It’s guaranteed to us at the moment of birth.

     I allowed an immortal character to make that point to a very mortal one in On Broken Wings:

     "What can I do?"
     Louis Redmond gaped.
     "That wasn't the question you wanted to ask, was it?" An observer that could ignore the weariness of Malcolm Loughlin's face and the hardness of his eyes might set his age no higher than that of his protégé. But Loughlin's countenance showed eons of fatigue, and his eyes were chips of agate. "You want to ask if I can do anything. But the answer is the same."
     The cold fear that surged through Louis had the vitality of a tiger. It was all he could do to keep it caged.
     "Did you think your training would allow you to undo cancer, Louis? Or did you think it was just a trick I hadn't taught you yet?"
     Louis stiffened. "Don't mock me. You haven't earned the right."
     The older man's lips curved in the ghost of a smile. "That's better."
     "Defiance at all times, Malcolm?"
     "What would serve you better, now?"
     Louis scowled, irritation washing over his fear. "Malcolm, you are too damned smart, and one of these days it's going to land you in trouble." He rose, walked the length of the trailer, and stared out the tiny end window at the dozens of acres of Onteora County, New York, mostly left to scrub oak and pine, that Loughlin owned. After a moment, he returned to the table and waved an arm jerkily. "Why don't you get yourself a decent place? A man can't pace properly in here."
     Loughlin ignored it. "When does treatment start?"
     "It's already started."
     "Any nausea?"
     Louis nodded.
     "I was hoping you might be spared that."
     Louis caricatured a show of surprise. "I didn't know you cared."
     "Now who's mocking whom?"
     An awkward silence descended. Louis was reluctant to break it. Presently, Loughlin spoke.
     "What will you do?"
     Louis shrugged. "I don't know. It doesn't really seem to matter."
     "Why? Because you're dying?" Loughlin's voice turned harsh again. "You were handed your death warrant the day you were born. Do you really mean to say there's nothing worth your time or energy, just because you've been told you won't make your threescore and ten?"

     The ultimate lesson of life is that it will end. No effort, no advance in the medical arts, and no amount of wishful thinking can change that. Life can be prolonged somewhat; at this time, we have no idea for how long. But it will end. It’s part of the design.

     More, not only will we die, we will be forgotten. No achievement, however high is sufficient to guarantee that we will be forever remembered. Our prospect for temporal remembrance is that those who’ve loved us, and those who’ve benefited by our labors, will remember and then, and for a little while. Except for the Socrateses, the Thomas Jeffersons, and the Albert Einsteins, that’s the best we can hope for.

     But while we live, we have tasks. We take them seriously. Ultimately, we do so for our own sakes. They give structure and meaning to our days. They allow us a measure of self-regard: something we need as badly as food or rest.

     Now ponder the man who absolutely rejects hope of an afterlife. Wouldn’t he logically look upon his labors, and upon the finitude of human life in comparison to the endless reach of Time, and ask “Why bother?” Yet few such men renounce their trades to pursue only temporal pleasures, which would be the sole logical course following from such a conclusion. Why not?

     Partly it’s that self-regard business. But partly, it’s because we’re hard-wired to hope.

     We’re hard-wired to hope, but what do we hope for? We can’t reasonably hope to live forever. Few of us can hope to achieve so mightily that our names will be remembered a thousand years from now. Of all the billions that have ever lived, we remember only a few hundred from the time of Christ or before Him...and let’s not flatter ourselves that we remember them in truth, with high accuracy. It will be the same for us two thousand years hence, assuming Mankind should last that long.

     Christian faith offers hope of two kinds. The first is the hope of an afterlife of bliss, which can be ours conditional upon having lived a satisfactory life and having repented of our moral sins before death. All by itself, that’s a powerful inducement to hope. Yet the second thing strikes me as even more attractive: the hope that when we face judgment, God will allow that we have done some good: some service to His Will for our temporal world. As the Supreme Judge, His assessment of our lives is the only one that ultimately matters...and He doesn’t give annual performance reviews.

     There you have my reasons for pitying the resolute atheist. He has deliberately rejected the only possible reasons to hope that his life will be more meaningful than that of a mayfly. His rejoinder, of course, will be that to need such hope, I must be “weak.” The meaning he ascribes to “weak” in that context has never struck me as sound – and note that when pressed to define it, he invariably makes it circular.

     Faith, like life, is a gift. It’s not given to all men. Some must stumble forward entirely on temporal ground. Yet if such a man lives a decent life, abusing no other man and abstaining from deriding others for their faith, he too will know eternal bliss, for God is just. That’s my hope for him. It’s why I pray for the atheists I’ve known: their paths have been made harder and more treacherous than mine.

     I know their trials from the inside, for I was once one of them.

     May God bless and keep you all.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

The Unrepealable Law Strikes Again

     You cannot do wrong without suffering wrong – Ralph Waldo Emerson

     Activists of many kinds share a common delusion that politics is invincible. In other words, they imagine that all that’s required to get whatever it is they’re striving for is an adequate degree of pressure on the relevant levels and branches of government. The concept of second-order effects – those that arise because of changes to the incentives people face – is anathema to them.

     But second-order effects do exist:

     It's no secret that Congress is dominated by men, but as women work to make inroads in the congressional boys club, some female staffers face a huge impediment to moving up: They're not allowed to spend one-on-one time with their male bosses.

     In an anonymous survey of female staffers conducted by National Journal in order to gather information on the difficulties they face in a male-dominated industry, several female aides reported that they have been barred from staffing their male bosses at evening events, driving alone with their congressman or senator, or even sitting down one-on-one in his office for fear that others would get the wrong impression.

     Follow-up interviews with other Hill aides make clear that these policies, while not prevalent, exist in multiple offices—and they may well run afoul of employment discrimination laws, experts say. Because of the sensitivity of the issue, and the fear of retribution, many of these women and some of their male counterparts spoke with National Journal on the condition of anonymity and declined to publicly name their bosses.

     "Even though my boss is like a second dad to me, our office was always worried about any negative assumptions that might be made. This has made and makes my job significantly harder to do," one female staffer told National Journal.

     Another reported that in twelve years working for her previous boss, he "never took a closed door meeting with me.…This made sensitive and strategic discussions extremely difficult."

     Male staffers said they'd also seen some female aides barred from solo meetings with the boss, and that they benefited in some instances from the exclusion of their female colleagues in high-level meetings, at receptions with major Washington powerbrokers, and just in earning a little more face time with their bosses.

     So far, a straightforward recitation of the facts: in other words, ordinary journalism. But let’s not imagine that Sarah Mimms, the author of the cited article, is any more conscious of what’s transpired than your average Newfoundland puppy:

     For these women, the lack of access has meant an additional hurdle in their attempts to do their jobs, much less further their own careers. And in many instances, it forced them to seek employment in other congressional offices.

     Poor babies!

     One of the downsides of high intelligence is the temptation to look down on those of lesser gifts. I struggle to resist it, though I haven’t always been successful. Yet there are times when nothing but an attitude of amusement at the stupidity of others is possible. Men’s reactions to feminism, as it’s pervaded our laws and social norms, strike me as inevitable, easily predicted by anyone with eyes that see. Thus, watching feminists become ever more stridently angry about the very conditions their activism has brought about only makes me chuckle.

     You asked for it, girls. And as H. L. Mencken would tell you were he here to do so, you got it good and hard.

     The signs are everywhere. The decline in male enrollment at colleges and universities. The increasing aversion college men are displaying toward college women. The “marriage strike.” Pseudo-scandals such as “Sad Puppies” and “Gamer-Gate.” Websites such as Chateau Heartiste, MGTOW, and The Return Of Kings. Even the independent publishing of fiction, with its emphasis on traditionally masculine adventures, bears testimony to the irresistible logic of The Law of Unintended Consequences.

     The Law pays no attention to political clout. Why should it? Politics can either articulate and endorse the natural laws of the universe, or it can attempt to contravene them. In the former case, nothing has really occurred; in the latter, we’ve invited our own comeuppance. God laughs at the vanity Man expresses with his notions about “law,” though perhaps only the saints and angels can hear Him.

     But feminists, who are among the stupidest of all activist communities, won’t hear any of that. They want what they want, and they want it now:

     What we are not supposed to notice is the problematic premises asserted within what I call feminism’s Patriarchal Thesis:
  1. All women are victims of oppression;
  2. All men benefit from women’s oppression; therefore:
  3. Whatever.

     In other words, when your worldview begins with the assumption that normal human life is a system of injustice in which all women (collectively) are victimized by all men (collectively), then it is possible to justify almost anything you do as part of your effort to overthrow this oppressive system. Smash Patriarchy!

     The Patriarchal Thesis absolves feminists of any obligation to meet the ordinary requirements of intelligent discourse. Logic is unnecessary and, as for facts, they are (a) whatever feminists say they are or (b) irrelevant if they do not confirm the Patriarchal Thesis. Believing themselves oppressed, and believing that men universally participate in the oppression of women, feminists thereby justify themselves in telling blatant lies and insulting men. Anyone who dares call notice to the hateful dishonesty of feminism is presumed to be a dimwit with bad motives because, of course, feminists are the moral and intellectual superiors of anyone who disagrees with them.

     Bravo to Robert Stacy McCain. I could not have said it better.

     Only two climaxes are possible to such a development. One concludes with the end of the human race. The other necessitates whipping the snarling, mangy cur of feminism back into its kennel, that normal male-female relations might be restored. Which of these will prevail I cannot say, though if I cock my ear just so and point it toward England, I fancy I can hear a certain Thomas Stearns Eliot whispering to us from the grave:

     This is the way the world ends
     This is the way the world ends
     This is the way the world ends
     Not with a bang but a whimper.

     Got any daughters, Gentle Reader?

     UPDATE: A thousand pardons, Gentle Readers. I meant to include mention of Aaron Clarey’s comments about Mad Max: Fury Road, and of course the feminists’ reactions to those comments, but when the C.S.O. sauntered into my office in her sauciest negligee and speared me with those “bedroom eyes,” they slipped my mind. At any rate, do please enjoy the linked articles.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Making It Plain

     ISIS’s titular leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has done us that service:

     The leader of the Islamic State group Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi on Thursday urged Muslims to emigrate to his self-proclaimed “caliphate,” in the jihadist supremo’s first audio recording in six months.

     “And we call upon every Muslim in every place to perform hijrah (emigration) to the Islamic State or fight in his land wherever that may be,” he said....

     Echoing his previous exhortations, Baghdadi said moving to the caliphate he declared over parts of Iraq and Syria in June 2014 or waging jihad (holy war) at home was an obligation for Muslims.

     “Has the time not come for you to know that there is no might nor honour nor safety nor rights for you except in the shade of the Caliphate?” he said in the speech, transcripts of which were released in five languages.

     “O Muslims, Islam was never for a day the religion of peace. Islam is the religion of war,” he said, calling for mass mobilisation on the battlefield.

     Which lickspittle political posturer or media pretender will be the first to proclaim, ex cathedra from his bellybutton, that al-Baghdadi is not preaching “true Islam?”

     Actually, that service has already been rendered us by Barack Hussein Obama, when he orated that the Islamic State “is not Islamic, and it is not a state.” Perhaps he received an advance transcript of al-Baghdadi’s speech and decide to “get out in front of it.” As Obama is the world’s supreme authority on everything – just ask him – I suppose we can all relax about it.

     Myself, I’m waiting for ISIS allegiants to commit a terrorist act here in the United States. That’s when the really thunderous denunciations will begin...but given the character of our political class and its media annex, they won’t be denunciations of Islam.

     Never go to a religious war without your religion – Tom Kratman

     George W. Bush, 43rd president of these United States, was a good man. He was an indifferent president, good on a few subjects and somewhat aimless about others, but the Oval Office has been occupied by few individuals of better character. Unfortunately, he was hobbled by a failing that afflicts many men of good will: he ardently wanted to see the other guy’s character as a match to his own.

     President Bush’s famous September 20, 2001 speech to the nation, in which he first proclaimed Islam to be “a religion of peace,” was probably the worst misstep of his presidential tenure. The historical record speaks clearly in the opposite direction. Ever since Thomas Jefferson’s presidency, the actions of Muslims and Islam-dominated states have unambiguously shouted Islam-Uber-Alles. Indeed, Islam is the only recognized religion whose highest figures made common cause with the Nazis in the 1930s and 1940s.

     (I’ve long suspected that the wholly unsubstantiated and unjustified odium poured upon Pope Pius XII was an attempt to deflect attention from the alliance between Hitler and Hajj Amin al-Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, at that time the highest authority in Islam. A great many persons revile the Catholic Church, mainly because it preaches against things they’d like to feel free to do. More, they’ve noticed that Christians don’t go on a rampage when slandered.)

     But there is no truth so starkly obvious that it cannot be denied by one resolutely determined to deny it. There is no fact so plain that it cannot be obscured with a mountain of distractions and irrelevancies. Perhaps most important of all, there are few who will speak openly and plainly against a moving force that:

  1. Is religiously motivated;
  2. Has infiltrated one’s own country;
  3. Has demonstrated lethal intentions and capability;
  4. Is ready, willing, and able to kill those who dare to speak against it.

     The recent attack on Pamela Geller’s Draw Muhammad contest in Garland, Texas should have provided a wake-up call. Yet note how many persons, on either side of the political spectrum, leaped to condemn Geller for her “provocation.” Note how many commentators spoke and acted as if utterly indifferent to the rather simple proposition that cartoons cannot and do not provide a justification for murder. Andres Serrano’s “Piss Christ?” Chris Ofili’s dung-festooned caricature of the Blessed Virgin Mary? These things provoked complaints, even protests, from Christians, but no violence whatsoever. But don’t you dare satirize the intolerance of Islam and Muslims; why, that could get someone killed!

     Such...persons are unlikely to acknowledge al-Baghdadi’s plain words, either.

     “What you are speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you say.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

     Among a Left that has enshrined tolerance as the supreme virtue, the irony of their passive acceptance of violently intolerant Islam stands as one of the marvels of our time. It could be cowardice, of course; many persons animated by fear will do anything not to admit to it. It could also be tactical, for what does the Left hate more than Christianity and Christian ethics? In either case, there is no better demonstration of the fatuity of Leftism than its celebration of homosexuality and abortion united to its angry defense of Islam on the grounds of “religious tolerance.”

     The political class, the media, and the educational establishment – the three major bastions of the Left in American society – are setting us up for a terrible calamity. They’re complicit in the continuing importation of adherents to this seventh-century murder cult. If it’s out of ignorance, it’s inexcusable. If it’s willful blindness – an insistence upon seeing in Islam a benevolence that is not there and never has been – its ridiculous. If it’s tactical, it’s vile and wholly to be condemned.

     The best service a President Cruz or President Perry could do for this nation is to reject President Bush’s “religion of peace” error and publicly recognize the facts as they are. Indeed, one of the criteria for selecting a Republican nominee should be the requirement that he announce his hostility to Islam and the immigration of Muslims to these shores, openly and without compromise despite any and all opposition. Americans – people who love this country – would love him for it.

     Let’s close with an old favorite: