Sunday, July 5, 2015

Some Announcements

     First, Linda Fox, a worthy Co-Conspirator at League of Outlaw Bloggers, has just started a new project and a blog to go with it:

PravdaUSA

     ...which will be dedicated to combating government propaganda and its efforts to censor the rest of us. Linda hasn’t yet announced the full scope of her intentions – for example, whether she intends to blog alone, or will invite co-bloggers – but in any case, this is a site that will bear watching.

     Second, I too have started a new project and an associated blog:

Catholics Alone

     This new site will be dedicated to providing perspectives, companionship, and comfort to those Catholics who, for whatever reason, are alone in their families or their communities. There are more such Catholics than one might imagine; for example, many of us married outside the Faith, or became Catholic or returned to Catholicism after having married a non-Catholic. It’s a demographic that knows unique stresses and strains, to which I hope to render service over the coming years – and yes, I am soliciting co-bloggers. (Catholics, of course.)

     Third, don’t expect too much from me this coming week, as I’m going house-hunting on the North American Continent. Long Island is getting to be too crowded, and has long been too expensive for a retiree of ordinary means. Also, this being Beth’s and my 24th anniversary, celebration will shortly ensue, and who can say how long it will last? I mean, we’ve escaped the dread clutches of 23, haven’t we?

     Be well!

     All my best,
     Fran

Exponential Curves

     About twelve years ago – yes, I’ve been doing this for that long; since 1997 in fact – I wrote an essay titled “Curves” that appeared at the old Palace of Reason, about the curve of technological advance. Its peroration went like this:

     The test of any political theory is what results it produces in practice. Just-war theory holds that we must wait to be struck before striking back. Now that a modest sum will buy the expertise and components with which to fabricate devices that can kill thousands, even millions, the cost of waiting to be struck has become unacceptable.

     At that time I was mainly concerned about its implications for terrorism and the safety of Americans and our nation. My central point was that the rate of technological advancement is directly proportional to the prevailing level of technology. If we let y represent the level of technology at time t, the equation becomes:

dy/dt = C1y

     ...where C1 represents some arbitrary (in this case, unknown) constant. This is one of the first differential equations any calculus student learns to solve:

y = eC1t + C2

     ...where C2 is an indeterminate constant and e is the familiar exponential base:

e = limit((1 + 1/n)n)

     ...as n increases toward infinity: approximately 2.71828.

     And now that I’ve exhausted some of you and baffled the rest with (“I was told there would be no...”) mathematics, let’s talk about our situation as regards personal privacy.


     It’s well known that the public streets of every significant city in the U.S. are heavily stippled with surveillance cameras. I don’t think we’re yet at the level of Person of Interest, but we’re approaching at an accelerating clip. Indeed, the rate of acceleration is itself increasing. Extrapolating the current trend not too unreasonably, by 2025 every district in the nation with a non-negligible population density will be so heavily equipped with surveillance devices that there will be no public space free of them.

     What follows from that, Gentle Reader? What follows from that plus license plate readers, vehicle recognition systems, government backdoors into credit-card-payment-processing systems and large cellular communications services, and the rest of the we can see you trends of the Twenty-First Century? How much meaning will the concept of privacy have at that point?

     For that matter, would the trend toward total government surveillance necessarily stop there? Might it not extend its feelers into nominally private spaces? After all, if “they” can see and hear you at any and every moment of your life, wouldn’t it cut down on crime, and quite sharply at that? Wouldn’t “they” be likely to argue that it would make offenses like insider trading and domestic abuse things of the past, and that it would therefore constitute a matter of “compelling government interest?”

     Think about it.


     He who knows where you are at every moment can exert a great influence upon you through that mechanism alone. He who also knows, to a fairly detailed degree, what you’re doing and with whom can exert still more influence. When the “he” in question is a State without Constitutional bounds, equipped with every imaginable coercive instrument and ruled by men to whom only power matters, we arrive at the genuinely total totalitarianism Orwell imagined but which 1948 technology could not produce.

     Am I dead certain that such a future is headed toward us? No; as I said above, I’m “extrapolating the current trend not too unreasonably.” After all, how long ago did the Supreme Court rule that a government may seize private property and simply turn it over to another private party, as long as it was “for a public purpose?” Your privacy depends entirely on your property rights; once the latter are dissolved, the foundation beneath the former must collapse.

     The irony of the Left’s habitual demands for incursions upon private property should be plain at this point. But no one expects the run-of-the-mill Leftist to grasp it; his “compact and unified church” will shield him against such an intellectual excursion.


     As technology advances, monitoring devices will become ever smaller and harder to detect. Yet they’ll be as sensitive as their predecessors, if not more so. The exponential curve of technological advance guarantees this, until we reach some limit imposed by the laws of physics. The consequences strike me as both irrefutable and dire. I cannot take the attitude that Bob Shaw’s protagonists took at the conclusion of his blockbuster novel Other Days, Other Eyes:

     In later decades, men were to come to accept the universal presence of Retardite eyes and they learned to live without subterfuge or shame as they had done in a distant past when it was known that the eyes of God could see everywhere.

     Privacy – space and time in which what we do, and with whom, and to what end, is entirely at our discretion, such that we may choose and act without fear of politically imposed consequences – is one of the main reasons we value freedom. It’s not a right apart from the property rights that make it possible, but it’s a great part of the reason we value those property rights. It is severely reduced today. It might well be gone entirely tomorrow.

     Can you imagine enjoying such a future, Gentle Reader? Enduring it without complaint or regret? If your answer is no, there’s another, much harder question you must confront: once it’s in place, can you imagine successfully rebelling against it? Overthrowing the regime that’s imposed it?

     Food for thought.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Quickies: Words Fail Me Dept.

     I thought I could relax, it being Declaration of Independence day. I expected my afternoon news sweep to be perfunctory. I hardly expected to encounter an outrage quite this outrageous:

     Over the years some high schools have tried to ban things like soda. And yet they are going in another direction. That schools are having questionable sex education programs and on-campus clinics isn’t enough anymore.

     One high school in Seattle is now implanting intrauterine devices (IUD), as well as other forms of birth control. The IUD is known as a long acting reversible contraception, and may even act as an abortifacient. So, a young teen in Seattle can’t get a coke at her high school, but she can have a device implanted into her uterus, which can unknowingly kill her unborn child. Or, if she uses another method, she can increase her chances of health risks for herself, especially if using a new method. Birth control has even been the tragic cause of death for some young women.

     The high school, Chief Sealth International, a public school, began offering the devices in 2010, made possible by a Medicaid program known as Take Charge and a non-profit, Neighborcare.

     Students can receive the device or other method free of cost and without their parent’s insurance. And while it’s lauded that the contraception is confidential, how can it be beneficial for a parent-child relationship when the parents don’t even know the devices or medication their daughter is using?

     Granted that Seattle is about as far to the left as American cities get. Granted that to send one’s daughter to a “public” school in this day and age is a passive acquiescence to governmental indoctrination and other varieties of child abuse. Granted that parents are carefully kept ignorant of practices such as the ones chronicled above.

     That story is 22 days old...and I’ve only just learned about it, courtesy of the indefatigable, impossible to overpraise Sara Noble:

     [Long-acting reversible contraceptives] have some serious side effects such as uterine perforation and infection. IUDs, specifically, can also act as abortifacients by preventing the implantation of a fertilized egg. Not every parent is okay with that but they don’t have a say.

     They know best and you have nothing to say about it.

     How many Seattle parents are unaware of this?

     It’s time for drastic action...and I mean drastic.

     Government in the United States has turned wholly evil.
     You can accept it, or you can rise up on your hind legs and act.
     What, then, must we do – no, strike that: what will you do?

     The time for choosing is upon us.

Do The Right Thing

     It’s more than the title of an overhyped Spike Lee movie. It’s a way of life...or it should be.

     Many people talk a good game. They proclaim, propound, and promise. They make extravagant statements about what they would do – or will do – if this or that should occur. They pose as Twenty-First Century versions of Patrick Henry...as long as they know they won’t be called on it.

     Sportsmen call that “the locker-room game.” It has no effect on the eventual score.

     Today, the draft of the Declaration of Independence was approved by the Second Continental Congress, which had voted unanimously for independence from Great Britain two days earlier. (To the anonymous commenter who quarreled with me about that: brush up on your history. It’s a matter of public record.) As I wrote yesterday, the fifty-six delegates whose names appear on the document probably spent a good deal of the time since pondering the consequences of their decision. For many, the consequences would be terrible indeed.

     They did the right thing: the thing their consciences urged upon them. They did it knowing that that price could be their lives.

     Contemporary Americans are much slower to risk such a price.


     There’s a significant amount of game theory involved in my former trade, which has compelled me to become acquainted with a few highly useful concepts. The two of interest today are minimax and mainchance.

     If your gaming strategy is to minimize what you could possibly lose, you’ve adopted the minimax approach. You will select your moves such that no matter what your opponent(s) might do, your maximum loss has been minimized. Games in which the players adopt the minimax strategy tend to be boring and highly predictable, especially if there’s no random element in the mix. Payoffs will be low, and over time every player’s aggregate winnings and losses will tend toward zero. In other words, clear victories or losses are rare, unless the game’s rules are inherently biased toward or against some of the players.

     If your gaming strategy is to play for the highest possible return and not worry about potential losses, you’ve adopted the mainchance approach. Needless to say, as most real-world games tend to associate great potential gains with equally great potential losses, this requires courage. Games in which the players choose the mainchance strategy can be wild – and wildly exciting. Oftentimes a player “goes broke” from his choices, and must leave the game. Mainchance delivers winners and losers as minimax does not.

     A revolutionist must be a mainchance player from the very first. The penalty for being an unsuccessful revolutionist is almost always death plus the attainder of one’s family, often out to second and third cousins. Exceptions are rare.

     It says something about the human psyche that as regards the deliberate triggering of dramatic social upheaval, we find minimaxers among the well off and well-to-do, and mainchancers far more often among those who have little or nothing to lose.


     You might be wondering what this is headed toward. You have good reason; I’ve been more circuitous even than my usual.

     Perhaps you’re familiar with the case of Aaron and Melissa Klein, the Oregon couple who declined, out of Christian conviction, to make a wedding cake for a lesbian wedding. Just recently, the state of Oregon piled injury upon injury:

     Oregon Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian finalized a preliminary ruling today ordering Aaron and Melissa Klein, the bakers who refused to make a cake for a same-sex wedding, to pay $135,000 in emotional damages to the couple they denied service.

     “This case is not about a wedding cake or a marriage,” Avakian wrote. “It is about a business’s refusal to serve someone because of their sexual orientation. Under Oregon law, that is illegal.”

     In the ruling, Avakian placed an effective gag order on the Kleins, ordering them to “cease and desist” from speaking publicly about not wanting to bake cakes for same-sex weddings based on their Christian beliefs.

     “This effectively strips us of all our First Amendment rights,” the Kleins, owners of Sweet Cakes by Melissa, which has since closed, wrote on their Facebook page. “According to the state of Oregon we neither have freedom of religion or freedom of speech.”

     Were you aware that a state official has the power to silence dissent? I wasn’t. Indeed, I don’t think he does – freedom of speech is a Constitutionally protected right – but the question I find most interesting is whether the Kleins will defy him.

     They’ve been fined a huge amount of money – probably more than their bakery took in over a whole year. The bakery has been closed. They’ve been subjected to enormous torrents of vilification by the activist homosexual community. I don’t know whether they have any means of subsistence. They have very little, if anything, left to lose...but they have a great deal to gain by challenging this upstart official directly, charging him with abuse of power under color of law and compelling him to answer those charges in a federal district court.

     One of the blessings of our time is that the Internet enables those of us who believe in their cause to support them, with verbal encouragement and funding.

     Consider also the recent case of harassment of Reason magazine:

     The United States Department of Justice is using federal grand jury subpoenas to identify anonymous commenters engaged in typical internet bluster and hyperbole in connection with the Silk Road prosecution. DOJ is targeting Reason.com, a leading libertarian website whose clever writing is eclipsed only by the blowhard stupidity of its commenting peanut gallery.

     Why is the government using its vast power to identify these obnoxious asshats, and not the other tens of thousands who plague the internet?

     Because these twerps mouthed off about a judge.

     Last week, a source provided me with a federal grand jury subpoena. The subpoena1, issued by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York, is directed to Reason.com in Washington, D.C.. The subpoena commands Reason to provide the grand jury "any and all identifying information"2 Reason has about participants in what the subpoena calls a "chat."

     The "chat" in question is a comment thread on Nick Gillespie's May 31, 2015 article about Ross "Dread Pirate Roberts" Ulbricht's plea for leniency to the judge who would sentence him in the Silk Road prosecution. That plea, we know now, failed, as Ulbricht received a life sentence, with no possibility of parole.

     Several commenters on the post found the sentence unjust, and vented their feelings in a rough manner. The grand jury subpoena specifies their comments and demands that Reason.com produce any identifying information on them.

     That’s bad enough...but it’s not the end of the story:

     Last Friday the folks at Reason confirmed what I suggested on Thursday — that the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York, after hitting Reason with a federal grand jury subpoena to unmask anonymous hyperbolic commenters, secured a gag order that prevented them from writing about it.

     Nick Gillespie and Matt Welch describe how it all went down. Read it.

     So, the truth is out — and it's more outrageous than you thought, even more outrageous than it appears at first glance.

     What, you might ask, could be more outrageous than the United States Department of Justice issuing a questionable subpoena targeting speech protected by the First Amendment, and then abusing the courts to prohibit journalists from writing about it?

     The answer lies in the everyday arrogance of unchecked power.

     An organ of journalism was forbidden by a federal gag order to write about an egregious abuse of power. Ponder that.

     If it can forbid an American organ of journalism to report on the most important sort of story – the abuse of State power – “our” government is no better than that of North Korea. Surely the editors at Reason know that. Yet they remained silent about the abuse targeted at them. Why?

     I don’t read minds; ordinary English text is enough of a challenge. But if I had to place a bet, I’d wager that Reason’s editors feared that the feds would contrive to ruin them and their magazine completely, even if they were eventually to win in court. In short, they have more to lose than they cared to venture.

     John Peter Zenger, call your office! Urgent! Urgent!


     The critical paragraph of the Declaration of Independence, whose approval we celebrate today – see previous tirade – sets forth the rationale for the American Revolution:

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

     Those two hundred words are among the most famous ever written, and deservedly so. But the real punch comes at the very end of that famous document:

     And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

     No other phrasing of “and we really mean it” has ever come near to that one.


     As you’re aware, I always go by my full and correct name, whether in the flesh or on the Internet. I consider it a matter of propriety – I don’t want anyone else to have to answer for my statements – but I also consider it a matter of integrity. I intend to stand behind my words. Should I be proved wrong, I’ll admit it. Should I change my mind about some issue, I’ll explain why I did so. I want the record to be clear and complete.

     Most Internet commenters won’t do that. Why not? What do they fear? Hate mail? Awakening to a severed horse’s head?

     When I’ve been harassed over the Net, it’s almost always been by some clown who goes by an anonymizing moniker. That’s his right, I suppose, but it makes it fairly easy for me to dismiss him as just one more low punk without any courage at all, much less enough to stand by his convictions in an open contest of intellect. I suppose they’re not bright enough to realize what worms they’ve revealed themselves to be, but that would be part of the syndrome, wouldn’t it?

     There’s neither honor nor integrity in rejecting one’s own identity. There’s no profit in it for anyone...and there could be consequences for innocent others, as the federal harassment of Reason has shown.

     I once described my readers’ favorite character thus:

     His quality was plain and open. He did not hide, and he did not strut.

     That character endeared himself to my readers in exactly that way: He always said what he meant, without unnecessary artifice, and he always did what he thought was right, regardless of the possible cost. He was a genuine hero in a world overrun by pretenders and antiheroes, and hundreds of readers continue to email me, pleading for more stories about him.

     Have another genuine hero:

     “Oh please, Chris. You’re totally self-sacrificing, oblivious to personal danger, and resistant to temptation, though God knows I’ve tried. I knew what you were going to do for those kids the moment I saw the expression on your face. You right wrongs. You fight for the little guy. Why do you think that Chatterjee chick calls you the Hammer of God?”

     We can’t all be heroes – no, sorry, David, not even just for one day – but we can all speak plainly and stand behind our words. We can all defy those who would intimidate us into anonymity or silence. Are some of the fears that impel us to conceal ourselves legitimate? Possibly, even probably. But they fall far short of “our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.”

     If you would like to honor the Founders in a true commemoration of their courage and their achievement, you can do that much. Swear this day that you will always go by your right name, and never deny your own words. Swear it to yourself if to no one else. You’ll know whether you’ve fallen short of that standard...and you’ll punish yourself for it.

     Lend strength to those who have come under the State’s hammer by lending not merely your words but your name to their cause: the cause of freedom.

     Happy Declaration of Independence day.

Some thoughts on our Nation on this national holiday.

As Kent Masterson Brown . . . suggests, the meaning of the Constitution in respect of the relationship between the central government and the states is so extravagantly clear that neither intellectual density nor even incompetence can explain how the compact theory [Madison, Jefferson] was gradually overwhelmed and defeated by the nationalist one [Hamilton, Webster, Lincoln]. It was raw mental and political will that did the trick, abetted by intellectual dishonesty, demagoguery, and sheer mendacity.[1]
Please keep this in mind while you contemplate the raw mental and political will, dishonesty, demagoguery, and sheer mendacity underlying the Supreme Court's two recent decisions on homosexual marriage and Obamacare.

In them, the Court (1) "found" the constitutional right for homosexuals to marry which had inadvertently not been mentioned in the original (but now dead) Constitution and (2) engaged in legal contortions on a straightforward matter of statutory construction that would make an Indian fakir turn pale were he to contemplate a similar maneuver to lick the boots of the progressives and commies on the issue of socialized medicine. These are the consummate legal scholars upon whom we depend to stand guard against attacks upon our constitutional order but their agenda was an agenda of betrayal of that order.

What there is to celebrate on this Fourth of July isn't clear to me. Perhaps the showers of light that will materialize across the nation tonight can be seen as the symbol of a fire in us common folk that has not died.

Notes
[1] "The Long March Through the Constitution." By Chilton Williamson Jr., Chronicles, 5/1/14 (brackets in the original).

Friday, July 3, 2015

Why Believe? A Quickie Rumination

     Among other things, July 3 is the Feast of Saint Thomas the Apostle, he who at first doubted the Resurrection of Jesus:

     But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came.
     The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.
     And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them, then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood ion their midst, and said, Peace be unto you.
     Then said he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side, and be not faithless, but believing.
     And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God.
     Jesus said unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed; blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.
     [The Gospel According To John, 20:24-29]

     As with the rest of the events narrated in the Gospels, there is no secular account of this encounter between Thomas and the risen Christ. Of course, it’s told to have happened in a closed, locked room. However, the reader should be mindful that all history of that time and place arises from religious scribes...and those of the non-Christian variety were biased against Christ and His New Covenant, just as the Gospelers were biased toward it.

     But that’s not all. Thomas, he who had to experience the Resurrected Christ personally to believe, was martyred for his faith:

     That Saint Thomas, after the dispersion of the Apostles, went to India, where he labored and died at Meliapour, is a certain fact of history. The Roman Breviary states that he preached in Ethiopia and Abyssinia, as well as in Persia and Media. Surely his was a remarkable history, reserved for the inhabitants of Christ's glory to see in its fullness some day.

     Before he died in Meliapour, he erected a very large cross and predicted to the people that when the sea would advance to the very foot of that cross, God would send them, from a far-distant land, white men who would preach to them the same doctrine he had taught them. This prophecy was verified when the Portuguese arrived in the region, and found that the ocean had advanced so far as to be truly at the foot of the cross. At the foot of this cross was a rock where Saint Thomas, while praying fervently, suffered his martyrdom by a blow from the lance of a pagan priest. This happened, according to the Roman Breviary, at Calamine, which is in fact Meliapour, for in the language of the people the word Calurmine means on the rock (mina). The name was given the site in memory of the Apostle's martyrdom.

     I’d say Thomas’s doubts were more than adequately dispelled, wouldn’t you?

     May God bless and keep you all...and all those who suffer martyrdom for their faith in Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God and Redeemer of Mankind.

A Day Between Storms

     Independence Day weekend is just ahead! Oh frabjous day! Callooh! Callay! Fire up the old barbecue grill! Let’s have a hot dog or two in commemoration of our glorious history!

     Uh, no, sorry. Actually, Independence Day was yesterday, July 2. The Continental Congress voted unanimously for independence from Britain on July 2, 1776. Approval of the draft of the written Declaration of Independence – which, incidentally, does not contain the words “declaration of independence” – took place on July 4.

     Imagine the thoughts that percolated through the minds of the Congressmen after that vote. They had unanimously agreed to revolt against the strongest military power in Europe. Their names were known to all and sundry, and would not escape the notice of the British authorities. Those who had seen the draft of the Declaration knew how radical and uncompromising it was. The aftermath would surely ratify the fears of many of those whose names would appear on that world-shaking sheet of parchment.

     Thus, July 3, 1776 was a day between momentous events: a day for the Congressmen to reflect on what they had done, and on the storm that would surely follow.


     We stand at exactly such a pass today.

     In November 2008, American voters raised a glamorous, openly Marxist mediocrity – a man reared by Communists to be a Communist; a man with no substantive accomplishments to his credit; a man whose rise to federal office was based on his skin color and the backing of the incredibly corrupt and vicious Illinois Democratic Party – to the presidency. Given the tens of thousands of well-documented cases of vote fraud from the November 2012 election, whether that mediocrity truly won re-election is open to question. The two midterm elections of 2010 and 2014 make the answer more probably no than yes.

     Our day between the storms has lasted for six years and more. Have we reflected? Have we come to understand what we did and how it has cost us? Who among us who voted for that glamorous, openly Marxist mediocrity regrets his decision today? Indeed, who of that number fails yet to grasp the price we will be required to pay to undo all the damage he has done?

     I’m not of the “we’re doomed” school of thought. I still harbor hope for these United States, though the most promising course forward seems no longer to be that of a politically unitary nation. But all hope of any shape is premised on the reflection and repentance of those who committed the original sin: they who allowed a Marxist Government Uber Alles type to occupy the highest office in the land. This is no longer a nation where a 10% rebellion can throw off a Potsdam tyrant.

     It might not take all of us...but it will take more than 10%.


     “Power is not a means; it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power.” – George Orwell, 1984

     The conscious adherents of liberalism progressivism the all-encompassing State have characterized themselves as many things, including “tolerant,” “compassionate,” and “reality-based.” The facts do not support those bits of self-praise; indeed, they never have and never will. But facts cannot be made to sway those who have elected to subscribe to a totalitarian ideology. They want absolute, unbounded power over you. They might say it’s “for your own good.” They might chant (along with the glamorous, openly Marxist mediocrity) that “we’re all in this together.” They might harbor all sorts of unadmitted motives – motives they daren’t admit even to themselves – but their object is power, and no other end will be permitted to obstruct it.

     Erick Erickson told us that two years ago:

     The left will allow no fence sitting. You may not believe me. You may think me hyperbolic. But the history of the world shows this. Events ultimately come to a head. They boil to their essence. And at that point you must choose....

     The time will come, more quickly than you can imagine, when you will be made to care.

     You will be compelled to accept the Left’s dictates.
     You will be made to mouth the Left’s slogans.
     Should you dare to dissent even with words alone, you will be made to suffer.

     For the object of power is power...and there is only one way to ensure that you obey the will of those in power:

     “How does one man assert his power over another, Winston?”
     Winston thought. “By making him suffer,” he said.
     “Exactly. By making him suffer. Obedience is not enough. Unless he is suffering, how can you be sure that he is obeying your will and not his own? Power is in inflicting pain and humiliation. Power is in tearing human minds to pieces and putting them together again in new shapes of your own choosing. Do you begin to see, then, what kind of world we are creating?” Ibid.

     I hardly need to ask O’Brien’s question of any regular Gentle Reader of Liberty’s Torch. What about the rest of America – that is, the rest of innocent America? Do they begin to see? If not, what will it take to remove the scales from their eyes? How much longer will it be before they repent having elected a glamorous, openly Marxist mediocrity on the supposition that “a black president would be good for the country” – ?


     There is a possibility – and I no longer believe it to be a small one – that Barack Hussein Obama will attempt to prolong his time in the White House beyond its Constitutional limit. There’s a movement in progress to repeal the Twenty-Second Amendment for exactly that reason. It’s unlikely to pass; too many people are already disgusted by career officeholders and an eternal, unchanging “government class.” But something worse could eventuate...and the foundation has already been laid for it, under the paradigm of “national emergency.”

     Do I hear the chorus chanting “It can’t happen here” – ? Are the usual naysayers, pooh-poohers, and well-compensated acolytes of the status quo laughing the idea aside? Does anyone else remember Franklin D. Roosevelt running for and winning four terms as president on the grounds of “national emergency” – World War II, wasn’t it? – and claiming that it was “good for the country?”

     Don’t kid yourself. Obama might do the same, or worse. Besides, he’s ignored the first ten Amendments; why assume that he’ll respect the Twenty-Second, especially with a compliant Supreme Court and an opposition that’s behaved so spinelessly to this point? Are you quite sure that, were a national election to be held today, he wouldn’t get a third term – one way or another?

     Don’t leave all the weight on the shoulders of us few vocal ones, Gentle Reader. Ponder what you should do. Ponder how and where you should raise your voice, and to whom. Ponder what you’re willing to say...what you should be ready to say. Above all, ponder what preparations you should make for the possibilities we can all foresee.

     That’s what a day between storms is for, isn’t it?

Attention to the basics.

The evils of capitalism do not prove socialism to be good . . . .[1]
That's just simple logic. If you're unhappy with your wife, that luscious babe at the gym is not necessarily a solution to that problem. As one astute fellow observed, no matter how fantastic some woman may look on the street, there's bound to be some other guy somewhere who's got to put up with her b******t.

Consider that a metaphor for how socialism works out in practice even though the Match.com write-up is great.

Ok. . . .

We have to be wary of the modern use of the term "capitalism," of course. What passes for "capitalism" now is a bastardized version of its former self with heavy regulation of business, the Marxist goal of progressive taxation deeply embedded in our economic life, heavy taxation, wage regulation stupidity, and even hostility to enterprise.

Mr. Neal correctly points out that we have, in short, a "corporate-backed synthesis of capitalism and socialism" and that it is "the dominant power in the world." And it isn't capitalism.

CONSEQUENTLY, if aspects of modern American life distress you, Pilgrim, is your hostility something that should be directed at "capitalism," or is it massive state intervention that is interfering with your life?

We're here to help.
Genuine capitalists don't go around obsessing about what new way they can find to require you to live in the "proper," correct, government-approved way. They obsess about finding new ways to create or deliver products and services to you at prices that are lower than those of other such people who are also investing their scare resource and taking substantial risks to do the same thing. Tomorrow morning, at 0300 hrs. in Haver, Montana, or Culpepper, Virginia, some convenience store clerks will be stocking shelves or sitting around in the off chance you will come into that store because you need gas or a chili dog.

Who then, may I suggest you ask, are these interfering pricks who think they know (1) how you should live your life and (2) how your hard-earned money should be spent? What exactly are they doing to make your life easier? We can be thankful for how beautiful, educated, and compassionate they are. Of course. But other than that signal contribution to your life, what exactly do they do that improves it?

Notes
[1] "The Canadian Jeremiad On Its Golden Jubilee." By Gerry T. Neal, Throne, Alter, Liberty, 7/1/15.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

The Told-You-So Edition

     You can get away with anything as long as you say you’re doing it for somebody else. -- Robert Gore

     It’s always gratifying to be agreed with, even if the substance is something...disagreeable.

     I’ve been screaming – figuratively, of course – about power being the highest – indeed, the only – priority of politicians and aspirants for so long that I can no longer remember when I started. It’s baffled me that something so obvious should have confounded so many for so long. But then, George Washington baffled his contemporaries by refusing the crown of America, and again by declining to accept a third term as president.

     For a while, back then, it seemed to many as if the new Republic had succeeded in creating something new twice over: first, a government founded on popular sovereignty and delegated authority; second, a political class that genuinely agreed on the pernicious nature of power and did not want it for its own sake. But as we Christians have been saying for quite some time, God is not mocked: the dynamic of power would eventually overwhelm the truly public-spirited among the Founders. All it takes is time...and the ascension of the Roosevelts and Woodrow Wilson proved that time enough had passed for the dynamic to triumph.

     What brings this to my mind today? So glad you asked:

  • The same people who told us 30 years ago that “marriage is just a stupid piece of paper” now insist that it’s a “human right.” -- Kathy Shaidle
  • The Battle of Mount Soledad -- Mark Pulliam
  • It's always a mistake to expect first principles from the left. In Turkey President Erdogan famously explained that democracy is a train you ride until the stop you want to get to - and then you get off. That's how the left feels about "rights". There are no principles, only accretions of power. -- Mark Steyn
  • No cookie will ever satisfy [social-justice warriors]. Our politics will only get uglier, as those who resist this agenda realize that compromise is just another word for appeasement. – Jonah Goldberg
  • 90% of the left's attempts at social control are simply attempts to outlaw behaviors they perceived as favored or engaged in by 'traditional" "conservative" "old-school" "white" etc. people. -- Zombie
  • The left does not care about social justice. It cares about power. That is why no truce is possible with the left. Not on social issues. Not on any issues. -- Daniel Greenfield

     Thank you, ladies and gentlemen, for these blinding flashes of the obvious. And on we go.


     In his book For A New Liberty, the late Murray Rothbard noted that regardless of what it seizes upon as a “problem” to be “solved,” the Left always proposes the same solution: more government with more power over more areas of human life. Regardless of whether the “solution” involves banning, regulating, taxing, or otherwise decreeing, the ultimate effect is the expansion of the State and its powers, such that what’s done, if it’s allowed, is done by permission. I wasn’t the first to say it – the origin is probably classical – but I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: when the “problems” are infinitely variable but the “solution” is constant, the proponent wants the solution and nothing else.

     The recent foofaurauw over same-sex marriage, an idea so fatuous that only toddlers and idiots could possibly find an argument for it, provides an example. Kathy Shaidle’s observation above is the key. The point was never “marriage equality;” it’s always been the arrogation of power over marriage by the federal government. Compelling us to accept “married couples” of the same sex, who cannot produce children and routinely violate their “vows of fidelity” in the name of “polyamory,” will of course bring about the destruction of this oldest and most vital of all human institutions – which proves that “marriage equality” is totally beside the point.

     Why would power-mongers want to destroy marriage? It’s simple: the marital bond is private, even more so than the family. It’s massively resistant to intrusions by the State. It’s stood off all attempts to insert law or regulation into it. It’s even survived heavy tax penalties. But it cannot survive being reduced to a laughingstock by federal decree...and thus another bastion of wholly private life will fall.

     Learning to look beyond the present, and beyond the nearest-term consequences as well, is the key to developing a true habit of critical thought.


     True marriage is intimately linked to the Judeo-Christian moral-ethical tradition, which is itself founded on Natural Law. Christianity in particular is under the power-mongers’ crosshairs, for it constitutes a bastion against arbitrary assertions of authority:

     All genuine progress results from finding new facts. No law can be passed to make an acre yield 300 bushels. God has already established the laws. It is for us to discover them, and to learn the facts by which we can obey them. – Wheeler McMillen
     I asked one of the members of Parliament whether a majority of the House could legitimize murder. He said no. I asked him whether it could sanctify robbery. He thought not. But I could not make him see that if murder and robbery are intrinsically wrong, and not to be made right by the decisions of statesmen, then similarly all actions must be either right or wrong, apart from the authority of the law; and that if the right and wrong the law are not in harmony with this intrinsic right and wrong, the law itself is criminal. – Herbert Spencer

     Thus, it’s entirely consistent for the power-mongers to assail those religions, not out of their pretended concern for the tender feelings of atheists, but because alternate sources of moral and ethical guidance are anathema to their aims. Christianity has long been the staunchest of all barriers to the totalitarian program, which is why the great totalitarians have all hated and attempted to destroy it. Even during the era of Throne and Altar, when Church and State were supposedly allied, the Church acted as a brake upon the ambitions of the State and its rulers. The key was and is Christianity’s assertion of the Natural Law: i.e., the laws God has written directly into the natures of His creatures, especially Mankind.

     Natural Law is the First Principle, from which all other reliable principles must derive. It cannot be repealed, amended, or abridged. It simply is. It is self-enforcing, though the penalty for a violation may take years to become visible. Nothing we can imagine could pain a power-luster quite as gravely.

     Natural Law acts itself out most visibly under freedom. Consider the animals of the wild; observe how their natures manifest themselves in every action, at every moment. Thus also with Man: when we are free, we do that which conduces to human flourishing, and to the sort of society best for that purpose. Yes, there are criminals and deviants – free will is like that – but free societies have always succeeded at making them suffer for their sins. Only when the State intrudes, opposing the Natural Law with legislation, do we suffer for sins other than our own.


     I called this piece the “Told-You-So Edition” because at long last significant commentators and analysts with audiences larger than mine are beginning to get the point, and to say it where others can hear. Perhaps the message isn’t too late. Perhaps it will spread swiftly enough, and resonate with enough Americans, that we can halt our pell-mell rush toward destruction. There can be no certainty; there is only hope.

     But I’ve said that before too, haven’t I?

Avoid this man.

Prince Prospero

Prince Prospero is a white cis gender Swedish male and responsible for all suffering throughout history.

When not oppressing minorities, women or purposefully destroying the environment, he enjoys reading, writing and exploring his new home, far, far away from Sweden.

Follow the link above for yet another reason why one can only use the term "lunatic Sweden."

Seek out this man.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Racial Madness

     It would seem that we haven’t seen the last of it:

     Gangs of blacks are targeting Walmart departments stores and other outlets all across the country in targeted attacks while terrorizing shoppers and perpetrating retail theft and property damage, police say.

     The latest black mob was a planned attack on a Walmart in Macon, Georgia on Tuesday where shoppers were injured — including a disabled man in a motorized wheelchair — merchandise was destroyed and stolen, and at least one arrest was made.

     The group of about 50 blacks ransacked the Macon Walmart causing an estimated $2,000 in damage, all in an effort to “see how much damage” they could wreak.

     During the 1:45 AM attack, mobbing blacks pulled a disabled man from his wheelchair and threw him to the floor.

     A black suspect who was later arrested reportedly told a Walmart employee: “This was a planned event, and that they had planned to see how much damage they could cause.”

     Have you heard of any rampaging mobs of white teenagers trashing shopping centers or terrorizing passers-by, Gentle Reader? I haven’t.

     I have a few other questions:

  • According to The Telegraph, the mob originated at a nearby party. Who owns the location of that party?
  • Were there any adults at that gathering?
  • Why has only one suspect – an idiot who returned to the store to retrieve his dropped cell phone – been arrested?
  • Will the Bibb County authorities pursue the identities of the other rioters vigorously, that restitution may be extracted from them, or will they leave it to Walmart’s insurers to cover the destruction?
  • Apparently, the aforementioned idiot has a mother and a father, who came to collect him after his arrest:
    • Are they Christians?
    • Are they married to one another?
    • What responsibility will they take for having reared the criminal pictured below?

     I imagine that the store’s managers and other staff will have questions of their own.


     Incidents such as this are the fruits of several converging influences:

  • The destruction of the Negro family by welfarism (69% of Negro children are born out of wedlock);
  • Racialists’ incitement of resentment and entitlement syndrome among American Negroes;
  • Failure to enforce the law and to prosecute lawbreakers when race is a factor;
  • The weakening of parental authority over minor and adolescent children;
  • The loss of influence among religious authorities.

     In many ways, the last of the above factors is the most important one. Hearken to Clay Christensen in the following brief video. Trust me; it’s worth your time.

     Rose Wilder Lane made approximately the same point in The Discovery Of Freedom. It’s not the fear of arrest, prosecution, conviction, and punishment that safeguards life and property, but the near-to-unanimous respect for those things that Americans feel...or perhaps we should say, in light of the developments of recent years, that Americans once felt. Such respect can be acquired in only two ways:

  • By symmetry arguments and perturbation analysis, a tough intellectual journey;
  • By the inculcation of moral norms as sacred precepts.

     In a nation of approximately normal intellectual distribution, widespread respect for the sanctity of life and property depend heavily on the power of religious convictions...and sad to say, the distribution of intelligence in these United States is no better than normal.


     The Left has deliberately set out to create racial divisions. Its mouthpieces have repeatedly told American Negroes that they’re “owed,” that “Whitey” is determined to “keep them down,” that they’re not responsible for their own condition – and that their young are not responsible for their own deeds. How could we have expected any results but the ones before us? Even if all the contentions above were true, which they most assuredly are not, the resulting resentments and lack of respect for moral and social norms would have eventuated exactly as we have seen. Sowing the wind always reaps the whirlwind.

     Factor in the halving of so many Negro households, the weakening of parental authority, and the disdain for religious authority so many youth exhibit. Is it not clear that we’ve been sitting on a huge sociological bomb – a bomb that might be in the process of exploding as we watch?

     Daniel Patrick Moynihan pinned it many years ago:

     In a paper prepared for the Progressive Policy Institute, Elaine Ciulla Kamarck and William A. Galston wrote that "if the economic effects of family breakdown are clear, the psychological effects are just now coming into focus." They cite Karl Zinsmeister:
     There is a mountain of scientific evidence showing that when families disintegrate children often end up with intellectual, physical, and emotional scars that persist for life. . . We talk about the drug crisis, the education crisis, and the problems of teen pregnancy and juvenile crime. But all these ills trace back predominantly to one source: broken families.

     As for juvenile crime, they cite Douglas Smith and G. Boger Jarjoura: "Neighborhoods with larger percentages of youth (those aged 12 to 20) and areas with higher percentages of single-parent households also have higher rates of violent crime." They add: "The relationship is so strong that controlling for family configuration erases the relationship between race and crime and between low income and crime. This conclusion shows up time and time again in the literature; poverty is far from the sole determinant of crime." But the large point is avoided. In a 1992 essay "The Expert's Story of Marriage," Barbara Dafoe Whitehead examined "the story of marriage as it is conveyed in today's high school and college textbooks." Nothing amiss in this tale.

     It goes like this: The life course is full of exciting options. The lifestyle options available to individuals seeking a fulfilling personal relationship include living a heterosexual, homosexual, or bisexual single lifestyle; living in a commune; having a group marriage; being a single parent; or living together. Marriage is yet another lifestyle choice. However, before choosing marriage, individuals should weigh its costs and benefits against other lifestyle options and should consider what they want to get out of their intimate relationships. Even within marriage, different people want different things. For example, some people marry for companionship, some marry in order to have children, some marry for emotional and financial security. Though marriage can offer a rewarding path to personal growth, it is important to remember that it cannot provide a secure or permanent status. Many people will make the decision between marriage and singlehood many times throughout their life.

     Divorce represents part of the normal family life cycle. It should not be viewed as either deviant or tragic, as it has been in the past. Rather, it establishes a process for "uncoupling" and thereby serves as the foundation for individual renewal and "new beginning

     Need I say explicitly how important the loss of respect for religious authorities and precepts has been to family dissolution?


     A race war has been in progress for some time now: at least a full year. Catalogue the “knockout game” attacks of black youths on white passers-by. Chronicle the “flash mobs,” always uniformly composed of black teens and young adults. Consider outbreaks of racial violence such as we’ve seen in Ferguson, Missouri and Baltimore, Maryland. Ponder the full significance of the trial of George Zimmerman for killing Trayvon Martin and the hounding of Officer Darren Wilson out of his job and career for killing Michael Brown, in both cases in defense of their own lives.

     But don’t stop there. Go on to survey and comprehend the reactions of black racialists and how the media has kowtowed to them. Ponder the wholly gratuitous intrusions into these affairs of Barack Obama and Eric Holder. And try to imagine how things could possibly get better, rather than worse.

     We’re in for some dark times. Prepare accordingly.

The gutless, spineless, sell-out, left-wing Republican Party.

When the so-called “conservative” party in American politics undercuts and sabotages just about every conservative principle they are supposed (and were purportedly elected) to defend, you’ve got to wonder what’s going on.

The simple answer is that in the US today we have two revolutionary Leftist parties on the national level: one that wants to advance the Revolution quickly, and the other—led by folks like Jeb Bush—that insidiously pushes more or less the same agenda, but does it quietly, even surreptitiously, while–with a straight face—protesting that it opposes that radical agenda.

For the past thirty plus years grass roots traditional conservatives have been taken for one immense and intense “ride”—fooled, bamboozled, and tricked by unkept, in fact never intended to be kept, promises by the “loyal opposition.”

The Neoconservatives, those intellectual descendants of Leon Trotsky and his ideas of global revolution and “equality,” now dominate the leadership echelons of the GOP and control FOX News, The Weekly Standard, The Wall Street Journal, the National Review. Increasingly they demand that we acknowledge that same sex marriage and open borders are here to stay and now must be fully baptized as conservative.

"These Bushes Are Poisonous." By Boyd D. Cathey, The Unz Review, 3/3/15.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The SCOTUS Goes Rogue



There will be much written about the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) most recent King v. Burwell decision regarding the Orwellian named, “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.”  Derisively named “Obamacare” by its critics, it was aptly renamed “SCOTUS-care” by Samuel Alito who wrote a stinging dissent to the bizarre and lawless decision by the six partisan lawmakers in black robes masquerading as Supreme Court justices.  



The reason for the exact wording that the 6-3 majority deliberately chose to ignore was plainly disclosed by Jonathan Gruber in many of his arrogant lectures.  The subsidy (“free money”) was to only be available to those who "enrolled…through an Exchange established by the State..."  Some 34 states, primarily led by Republican Governors, chose not to establish State exchanges.  The left intentionally crafted the bill to incentivize states to create exchanges and punish those who didn’t.   


On January 18, 2012, Gruber, an economist who was paid millions of dollars as a consultant on the ACA, said, "What's important to remember politically about this is if you're a state and you don't set up an exchange, that means your citizens don’t get their tax credits."  On January 10, 2012, Gruber said, "... if your governor doesn’t set up an exchange, you're losing hundreds of millions of dollars of tax credits to be delivered to your citizens."  It was by design and codified in the law.


As the number of illegal invaders and ignorant Americans in our country rise faster than the temperature of a swine flu patient, the cost of health care will correspondingly explode.  As Ronald Reagan is often quoted as saying, “If you want more of something, subsidize it; if you want less of something, tax it.”  Only Obama, Pelosi, Reid and the other lying liberals could come up with a plan that manages to get the worst of both worlds -- subsidies creating inflation of prices and taxes to make less low-cost care available.   Not to mention, the less you earn/work, the greater your subsidy – a completely perverse incentive.


Some of the increased taxes to pay for this disaster include: “higher Medicare taxes, new annual fees on health insurance providers, fees on manufacturers and importers of brand-name pharmaceutical drugs and certain medical devices, limits on tax deductions of medical expenses, a new 40% excise tax on "Cadillac" insurance policies, and of course a 10% federal sales tax on indoor tanning services (or as Obama calls it, “the white privilege-tax”).


While it’s true it costs money to buy snake oil, and smart people usually have money, smart people don’t usually fall for the snake oil salesman’s pitch.  Stupid people, who might otherwise fall for the snake oil salesman‘s pitch, normally don’t have the disposable income for snake oil, or if they do, it’s not a lot of money; hence, the price of snake oil stays low.  But now, thanks to Obama/SCOTUS-care, the price of snake oil is about to explode, and those with money are about to fork out the money to buy it for those without. 


This is markedly different from the Georgia lottery. The lottery serves largely as a tax on the ignorant.  In the case of this government scheme, the state lures the uninformed and ignorant in to spend money they don’t have a lot of in the hopes of winning millions that they almost assuredly won’t.  The profits from this immoral but legal scam are then transferred to the children of the smart in the form of Hope Scholarships so that the cost of college tuition can continue to explode.  Easy-to-get student loans are similarly fueling runaway college costs.  The colleges know all-too-well that the parents are getting this “free” money, so they jack-up their prices accordingly.

If you thought health care or college is expensive now, just wait until it’s free.  Like the “cash for clunkers” program, Obamacare uses other people’s money to co-opt partakers into participating in the destruction of something that was actually working fine for many.  Like the lottery example above, the car dealer knows you got cash for your “clunker”, and you can bet he’ll get “his share” of that money.  The net result of cash for clunkers: a shortage of used cars for consumers that needed them and the complete destruction of those thousands of serviceable vehicles. 
 
The true destructive nature of Obamacare is yet to be fully realized.  Before you know it, the Supreme Court will rule two men can marry each other.  Truly, words have no meaning anymore.


This article was also appears in the 1 JUL 2015 Upson Beacon

Urbanity And Faith: A Quickie Rumination

     One of the nicest parts of being retired is the opportunity to attend Mass daily. I avail myself of it whenever I’m physically able. In so doing, I’ve learned more than I expected.

     Today is the Day of the Martyrs, on which Catholics pray for the souls of those killed for their Christian faith. The world is awash in the blood of martyrs today, and I pray most sincerely that each such shall be awarded the “martyr’s crown” of immediate and unconditional admission to eternal bliss. It makes quite a contrast to Islam’s claim that dying while on jihad will earn the jihadist admission to Paradise.

     Martyrs aren’t being slaughtered in America as far as I know, though given the Obergefell v. Hodges decision, such a day might yet come. We face a different threat: the urbanity that tempts to secularism.

     It’s the urbane, “politically correct” thing to do to express genteel derision of us unreconstructed types who, though we strive to tolerate those who disagree, refuse to accept same-sex marriage, or abortion on demand, or flagrant homosexuality, or any of a number of other modern practices that nineteen centuries of Christian thought have all ruled unacceptable. The urbane of the Left chuckle at us over white wine and Brie, we poor rubes who simply “can’t keep up with the times.” Their veneer of worldliness and sophistication is sometimes enough to seduce the weak of conscience into abandoning their faiths and the convictions that accompany them.

     A book that received less attention than it deserved, Jeremy Leven’s Satan: His Psychotherapy and Cure by the Unfortunate Dr. Kassler, J.S.P.S., noted that in our times it takes far more courage to believe than to disbelieve...and a key to understanding why this is so lies in the derision of the urbane.

     Urbanity appears to promise several rewards. Some of them are material; others include admission to circles frequented by “the right people.” Still others are commercial or academic in nature. The temptations can be severe.

     By all means pray for the martyred, both those of today and those of times past, but pray also for those weak of conscience who are in danger of being seduced by contemporary urbanity. They need it too...possibly more than we know.