Thursday, April 30, 2015

The Burning Of Baltimore: A Coda

     I’m fairly sure my Gentle Readers are all thoroughly sick of the Baltimore atrocities by now...but I want to take this opportunity to make you all much, much sicker:

     House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer defended Baltimore city officials’ reaction to the riots erupting in the city by asking for more federal tax dollars.

     The Daily Caller asked Hoyer, a Maryland Democrat, if the city’s leadership had failed, since the West Baltimore area was still being rebuilt from the 1968 riots. Hoyer replied, “We have to invest in making sure that we have proper infrastructure and proper housing so that we have neighborhoods that are safe and that we have safe conditions in which to live.”

     “But I wouldn’t call it a failure, certainly, of Baltimore,” he added. “But we’re going to have to as a country invest if we’re going to have the kinds of communities we want.”

     A Democrat has responded to a question about the failure of Baltimore’s “leadership” – merciful God, how I hate the notion that political officials are our “leaders!” – by calling for more tax dollars paid into the Treasury by Americans from other cities and states to be expended on “infrastructure.”

     What an incredible surprise.

     It’s been said many times (now and then by me) that when a politician, or a political interest group, proposes the same “solution” to every “problem” that comes down the turnpike, you can bet your last dollar that the “solution,” not the “problem,” is what the politician or group really cares about.

     Add to that the observable, terrifying rate of failure of political “solutions” to proposed “problems.” Quoth H. L. Mencken on “the sex problem,” by which he was referring to the pervasiveness of prostitutes (and customers for them) in cities of significant size:

     There is no half-baked ecclesiastic, bawling in his galvanized-iron temple on a suburban lot, who doesn’t know precisely how it ought to be dealt with. There is no fantoddish old suffragette, sworn to get her revenge on man, who hasn’t a sovereign remedy for it. There is not a shyster of a district attorney, ambitious for higher office, who doesn’t offer to dispose of it in a few weeks, given only enough help from the city editors. And yet, by the same token, there is not a man who has honestly studied it and pondered it, bringing sound information to the business, and understanding of its inner difficulties and a clean and analytical mind, who doesn’t believe and hasn’t stated publicly that it is intrinsically and eternally insoluble. For example, Havelock Ellis. His remedy is simply a denial of all remedies. He admits that the disease is bad, but he shows that the medicine is infinitely worse, and so he proposes going back to the plain disease, and advocates bearing it with philosophy, as we bear colds in the head, marriage, the noises of the city, bad cooking and the certainty of death. Man is inherently vile—but he is never so vile as when he is trying to disguise and deny his vileness. No prostitute was ever so costly to a community as a prowling and obscene vice crusader, or as the dubious legislator or prosecuting officer who jumps at such swine pipe.

     Every political “solution” requires three things:

  1. Laws,
  2. Hands,
  3. Funds.

     When the “solution” fails to eliminate or substantially reduce the “problem,” what follows?

  1. Legislators virtually never repeal the applicable law; that would be an admission of error.
  2. Those who “work” for the agency charged with the “solution” have livelihoods to protect, and will fight tooth and nail to retain them – even to enlarge them.
  3. The money not spent on government employees is spent on material and outside “experts,” who acquire an interest in the perpetuation of the “solution” at least as strong as that of the government employees!

     Sociologists call this an “Iron Triangle,” which defends its politically created turf with the ferocity of a lioness protecting her cubs. This is the prime example of the importance of individual motivation and its priority over notions of “civic virtue:” To those with a personal stake in the “solution,” its perpetuation outranks the “problem” in importance.

     Theorists will theorize, moralists will moralize, and political strategists will politically strategize until the Moon should fall from the sky. None of them will ever change that central fact about government and government programs. It is the key to why all political systems, including anarchism, are inherently unstable.

     Race riots aren’t new. We’ve had fifty years to get accustomed to them. They invariably feature Negro mobs running rampant through urban districts, smashing and looting. There’s always a triggering event, of course, but the trigger is seldom of enduring importance. What matters is the facility racialist mouthpieces have developed at inciting anger among American Negroes, who have been remorselessly propagandized about how they’re “oppressed.” Raise that pitch high enough and they’ll riot.

     I’m about to say something that’s likely to offend a great many persons, so those with excessively tender sensibilities or generally weak constitutions should leave the website at this point.

     Have we cleared the room adequately? Good, ‘cause here I go:

When was the last riot by American Caucasians?

     It doesn’t matter whether the disparity is a consequence of intellectual deficiency, emotional susceptibility, or simple lust to loot and destroy. Negroes riot; Caucasians don’t. More, they’ll riot regardless of the merits of the triggering event. All they require is “just cause,” and yes, those are “sneer quotes.”

     John Derbyshire touched off a huge controversy with his column “The Talk: Nonblack Version.” Yet not one of his critics could refute his assertions. What those assertions amount to is that concentrations of American Negroes constitute a hazard to the life and property of non-Negroes.

     I submit that we have had enough demonstrations of this proposition to grant it our confidence.

     Negro racialists know their audience. They know how easily it can be whipped into a furor. They know how little can be done to restrain a black mob bent upon looting and destruction, if the authorities are unwilling to use force to the necessary degree and in the necessary amount. They know that at least for the present, the response of “authorities” to such riots is far more likely to be conciliatory – Steny Hoyer’s approach – than punitive. Last and most significant, they know how to profit personally from the sequelae.

     There will be more such riots, in more cities, over ever more trivial occurrences.

     Draw the moral.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

What Will Follow

     The riots in Baltimore are horrifying enough. But when you combine those savageries with this atrocity and this one, the aggregate becomes overwhelming.

     Life and property are not safe in the United States of America. Neither is any other “freedom” we once enjoyed.

     Ace suggests that a fission is coming:

The fascist SJWs, and their easy way with all corporations (such as GoFundMe), plus Saturday night spurred me to say aloud what I've thought to myself for years:

     It's time to begin seriously discussing secession.

     As the man says: the center cannot hold.

     No one actually seems happy in this national marriage.

     It's time to admit this and separate.

     If such a schism could be achieved peacefully, it would be best for all concerned. There’s just one little problem: the political elite would not sit still for it.

     I’ve written on too many occasions to bother backlinking to them that power is most attractive to those that love power above all other things, and that their lust for power naturally propels them to the top of such edifices. I’m not the first to make that point, of course; Friedrich Hayek got there well before me. But Hayek’s insight, when combined with a reflection on the nature of political power, yields a result more terrifying than any riot:

     He who lusts for power over others is inherently evil. I trust this requires no great argument in its justification. The evil man, once he has some degree of power, will use it to acquire more, for power is a drug that doesn’t sate. However, the enjoyment of power requires that it be used. For, as O’Brien said to Winston in 1984, to enjoy your power, you must be actually coercing your victim at the moment:
     ‘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.’

     Political power – i.e., power over others – is relational in nature. Its wielder requires victims upon whom to exercise his power. If he has no victims, his power is illusory. But by extension, the magnitude of his power can be measured by the number of his victims.

     The political class of this country is no better than that of any other. It will employ every means at its disposal to keep all of its victims...and they dispose of quite a number of such means.

     Fission into two nations would also be opposed by those on the Left who appreciate that their fortunes are made possible by those of us who differ with them. Allow me to start from Robert A. Heinlein’s partition of “Makers, Takers, and Fakers.” Heinlein posited that there is no third category, and I concur.

     Makers produce goods and render services that maintain life, enable prosperity, and support a tolerable social order. Not all Makers produce tangible products. The humblest counter girl at a fast-food restaurant facilitates the provision of an objective good – food – to those who would purchase it. That gives her a claim on the title of Maker quite as valid as any farmhand or factory worker.

     Takers are persons unable or unwilling to produce or serve others. They’re sustained by the production of Makers; without Makers’ largesse, they would perish. Not all Takers are willfully so; there are millions of persons unable through no fault of their own to support themselves by productive effort. But the great majority of Takers are not of that blameless sort.

     Fakers are those who pose as Makers but who are quite as parasitical as the willful worst of the Takers. Politicians and their hangers-on are Fakers. As Sir Fred Hoyle wrote in The Black Cloud, we treat them as important because the newspapers say they are, whether explicitly or implicitly. Yet they’re as helpless to sustain their lives by productive effort as any Taker.

     The visible, vocal Leftist is a Faker. He’s overwhelmingly most common in the “communicative” fields: education, journalism, and entertainment. These fields are made possible by their opposites: those that produce the goods and services that actually sustain life. Universities, the least dubious of Faker institutions, may be necessary to a high society in some rarefied sense, but they are not sufficient. Without the legions of Makers that support them from “below,” they would perish...and most of their denizens are aware of it.

     In these United States, the Takers and Fakers have succeeded in fastening themselves onto the Makers through the exploitation of unearned guilt. They’ve multiplied and grown fat while the Makers have grown lean. Yet were the Makers to withdraw their support, they would perish in a body – and they know it.

     No schism that makes two nations where there was one would be worthwhile unless the Makers could leave the Takers and Fakers behind. But as I wrote in the previous segment such a separation would be opposed by all the force at the Fakers’ disposal. For them and their Taker constituents, it would be a matter of survival.

     Pleasant thoughts for a Tuesday morning in April, eh? But this is how it looks to me. If there is to be a separation, it will require us to pass through a revolution bloodier than any other in human history. Most of us are aware of that in some semiconscious way, which is why we continue to search for a non-violent solution.

     I desperately want to find such a solution. Others of my bent are equally passionate in their similar efforts. But our sincerity and yearning doesn’t guarantee that such a solution exists...and the longer we search, the less likely our success becomes, for time is running out.


Monday, April 27, 2015

A Quiet Riot

     (Say, wasn’t there a band named Quiet Riot?)

     From the national news media, you might not think matters in Baltimore were much different from their usual. From the national news media, you might infer that the death of Freddie Gray while in police custody is generally regarded as an explainable, if tragic occurrence – i.e., no big deal. From the national news media, you might assume that the political authorities and law enforcement agencies of Baltimore had the situation well in hand.

     You might. You’d be wrong.

     I expected there to be at least some unrest, and many strident calls for an independent inquiry, into why a young man who was healthy (apart from asthma) when the Baltimore police detained him should have died with his spine 80% severed. After all, he was black, and these days that’s considered cause enough to disrupt an American city.

     The reports I’ve read say that Freddie Gray was transported to detention in a police van, shackled but not seat-belted or otherwise secured. This appears to be the cause of the fatal spinal cord injury that took Gray’s life. But for the life of me, I can’t find the reason for which he was originally arrested. Apparently, the Baltimore police were out in force in a part of the city known for drug traffic, but I can’t find any information beyond that.

     No one in authority in Baltimore has yet said whether Gray was about to be charged with any crime. This might have been an arrest-on-suspicion. Suspicion of what is not definite, though the region’s reputation for drug activity seems most likely.

     One way or another, the police arrested a man for reasons they haven’t disclosed, and that man died in their hands. There’s a good chance that this was a fatal miscarriage of justice.

     But there’s no chance whatsoever that whatever happened can justify widespread violence and the destruction and looting of private property. Yet that’s what’s happening – and with the open connivance of the political authorities.

     Hearken to Sara Noble:

Former DC detective Rod Wheeler joined Fox & Friends this morning to explain what went on. Mr. Wheeler is a great guy but his promotion of the new policing techniques needs to be challenged.

The police deliberately allowed the protesters to do this, Mr. Wheeler observed. They stayed out of the picture. There were no military-type uniforms. There were no armored cars, he said.

Some officers didn’t wear helmets, he reported as if it was a positive step.

That seems to be putting the police in grave danger.

After they destroyed some cars and committed crimes, the police started moving in.

It’s similar to what went on in Ferguson when the mayor allowed 28 stores to burn down to keep the criminals calm.

Mr. Wheeler said the new tactics generated a different response from the crowd. It’s what they learned from Ferguson.

The crowd gets more aggressive if the police do, so now the police confine them to an area but when “they really start becoming destructive, we start moving in.”

“For the most part,” Wheeler said, “it wasn’t that bad.”

     I wonder if the persons injured in the riots and the proprietors of the stores that were looted and destroyed feel “it wasn’t that bad.”

     It’s beyond dispute that when a sufficient number of persons concurrently become inclined to violence and disorder, there will not be enough police to restrain them. Even an overtly totalitarian society can’t afford that much enforcement power. So under contemporary conditions, in which heavily propagandized American Negroes are easily provoked to mass violence, the police are effectively neutralized. An effective organized response would be on the order of a military invasion, which Americans are unwilling to tolerate.

     The only effective diffuse response would be for law-abiding citizens to go to their guns. But Baltimore is in Maryland, and Maryland is among the states most hostile to the private ownership of firearms. Atop that, should a store owner kill a rioter, upon whom do you think the authorities of the city would descend with the full weight of the “law?” To assist you in arriving at your answer, here’s a picture of the current Mayor of Baltimore:

     And here is what she said to the press about the tactics the police were instructed to adopt:

"I made it very clear that I work with the police and instructed them to do everything that they could to make sure that the protesters were able to exercise their right to free speech.

"It's a very delicate balancing act. Because while we try to make sure that they were protected from the cars and other things that were going on, we also gave those who wished to destroy space to do that as well. And we worked very hard to keep that balance and to put ourselves in the best position to de-escalate."

     That came from the mayor of a major American city – a city that, among other things, is the birthplace of Catholicism in the United States. It’s perfectly clear what she’d think of a private citizen who would dare to defend his property with force. A white store owner shot a black looter who was merely exercising his “right to free speech” by trashing the white man’s place of business? Unthinkable!

     But I don’t write merely to note a horrific development and express my disapproval. I’ve made it my mission to forecast what will come of it.

     I predict an outward migration of whites, especially white small-business owners, from the city of Baltimore. I predict that the cost of living in Baltimore will rise as insurers add “risk premiums” to their commercial coverage policies and the remaining businesses pass those cost increments down to their customers. I predict that as blacks in other cities “learn” from Baltimore’s example of laid-back riot “control,” the events there will be reproduced elsewhere, with similar demographic and economic consequences. I predict that racialist mouthpieces, starting with Al Sharpton, will blame the further deterioration in majority-black urban neighborhoods on “white greed.” And I predict that the national media, to the extent that they deign to cover those phenomena at all, will rationalize the violence as “to be expected” and deplore the flight of whites to safer, less racially mixed regions as “racist.”

     Who would like to bet against me?

Friday, April 24, 2015

I put this up at my other site

And this is a thing that must go viral. Follow the miscellaneous instructions within, and it will bring you right back to FWP's links among others. It must be spread, and I'm going to "plead the fifth" for all the value that still has.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

New Knee Brace

Picked it up today; I can already feel the difference.

I'm looking forward to the end of the school year.  It's not the kids (well, they HAVE been a little squirrelly lately - Seniors).  But, I really need the less structured time in the summer to heal my arthritic knee.  I'm looking forward to being able to swim daily, have the time I need to do my PT exercises, and just catch up on household stuff.

With hard work, I may finally be able to lose the weight I've gained over the last several years.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Creeping Totalitarianism Part 2: Present And Future

“Romney didn’t win, did he?” – The Dishonorable Harry Reid

     Yesterday’s emission was one of many that started from the David French article about Wisconsin’s persecution of conservative activists. The DextroSphere is generally up in arms over it; grass-roots conservative activists were the targets, so grass-roots conservatives everywhere sense the dimensions of the threat.

     The big guns are lining up as well. Hearken to Rush Limbaugh on the subject:

     I mean, it's incredible. They could literally set out to destroy you, and the only thing standing in the way of it is the honor system. If you have a corrupt prosecutor (which this story has), and if you have a corrupt judge, (which this story has), and if you have a police department that is also corrupt (this happened in Milwaukee, mostly), then you can pull this off.

     There's even a quote from a couple police officers who were forced to participate these midnight raids on innocent people who had not done a thing other than support Scott Walker. That's all they had done, and cop car after cop car, cop after cop, SWAT teams, you name it, show up with battering rams to break into these people's homes! They're kicked out of their homes at midnight, at one o'clock in the morning. They're not allowed to take anything; they're not told why.

     They're not allowed to explain to anybody that this has happened besides the neighborhood which can see it. Years after the fact, mothers are reporting their young kids that were at home when this happened are still traumatized. People are reporting today that they get scared and traumatized and panicked when they see a uniformed police officer just walking a beat. They hightail it away.

     It is the fear that I think a lot of innocent people experience when law enforcement is pursuing them. I know. I've been there. I know a number of things. Law enforcement's never doubted, other than the civil rights community. The media doesn't doubt them. Law enforcement can leak anything they want about anybody, and the media writes it, and it becomes fact. Even average, ordinary Americans say, "Why would the cops lie? Why?" I mean, they take it on faith.

     However, there has still been no notice taken of this atrocity by the Main Stream Media. Worse, the Democrats have rallied to defend such practices:

     One of Texas’s acute corruption problems is the fact that the Travis County district attorney’s office, which prosecutes corruption cases, is absurdly, comically corrupt—by which I do not mean the “Hey can you get my dopey kid into UT law?” level of corruption that is commonplace in Texas, but Boss Hogg levels of corruption. You wouldn’t know it from the typically witless and servile reporting of the Austin American-Statesman, but the drunk-driving conviction of Travis County district attorney Rosemary Lehmberg is the least of that office’s problems—much more significant is the fact that is she recorded on camera threatening legal retaliation against the police who booked her. She is as explicit as can be about this: “You’re going to be in jail,” she said.

     The same prosecutor is trying to put former governor Rick Perry in jail for having vetoed funding for her office. Why did he veto the funding? Because the corruption prosecutor is grossly corrupt and a convicted criminal to boot. She went to jail, for pity’s sake.

     The Texas state house understandably has passed a bill that will curtail the Travis County district attorney’s special role in prosecuting ethics and corruption cases against elected and appointed officials. Instead, those cases will be investigated by the Texas Rangers. (Old punishment: jail. New punishment: Ranger roundhouse kick! Okay, not really, but that would be kind of awesome.) Naturally, Texas Democrats have sought to block that reform. And a handful of Republicans have, to their discredit, joined them, which is inexplicable.

     Please read the entire article; it’s brief (which Kevin Williamson seldom is) and piercing (which he always is). But don’t stop with being outraged. Do something Democrats and other leftists seldom do: think about second-order effects.

     You cannot have social stability where there is privilege for the rulers and subordination for the ruled. That’s a Society of Status (Isabel Paterson, The God of The Machine), in which the “Emmanuel Goldstein dynamic” will operate until it collapses:

Throughout recorded time, and probably since the end of the Neolithic Age, there have been three kinds of people in the world, the High, the Middle, and the Low. They have been subdivided in many ways, they have borne countless different names, and their relative numbers, as well as their attitude towards one another, have varied from age to age: but the essential structure of society has never altered. Even after enormous upheavals and seemingly irrevocable changes, the same pattern has always reasserted itself, just as a gyroscope will always return to equilibrium, however far it is pushed one way or the other.

The aims of these three groups are entirely irreconcilable. The aim of the High is to remain where they are. The aim of the Middle is to change places with the High. The aim of the Low, when they have an aim -- for it is an abiding characteristic of the Low that they are too much crushed by drudgery to be more than intermittently conscious of anything outside their daily lives -- is to abolish all distinctions and create a society in which all men shall be equal. Thus throughout history a struggle which is the same in its main outlines recurs over and over again. For long periods the High seem to be securely in power, but sooner or later there always comes a moment when they lose either their belief in themselves or their capacity to govern efficiently, or both. They are then overthrown by the Middle, who enlist the Low on their side by pretending to them that they are fighting for liberty and justice. As soon as they have reached their objective, the Middle thrust the Low back into their old position of servitude, and themselves become the High. Presently a new Middle group splits off from one of the other groups, or from both of them, and the struggle begins over again. Of the three groups, only the Low are never even temporarily successful in achieving their aims. It would be an exaggeration to say that throughout history there has been no progress of a material kind. Even today, in a period of decline, the average human being is physically better off than he was a few centuries ago. But no advance in wealth, no softening of manners, no reform or revolution has ever brought human equality a millimetre nearer. From the point of view of the Low, no historic change has ever meant much more than a change in the name of their masters.

[George Orwell, 1984]

     When the High’s brazenness about their special status leads to the outright dismissal of the laws they claim to have passed “for the general good,” while they simultaneously exercise the full weight of their powers to oppress and silence their critics, the conditions for their overthrow have been established. The sequel is likely to be extremely unpleasant:

     [America is] becoming a nation where an elite that is certain of its power and its moral rightness is waging a cultural war on a despised minority. Except it’s not actually a minority – it only seems that way because it is marginalized by the coastal elitist liberals who run the mainstream media.

     Today in America, we have a liberal president refuses to recognize the majority sent to Congress as a reaction to his progressive failures, and who uses extra-Constitutional means like executive orders to stifle the voice of his opponents. We have a liberal establishment on a secular jihad against people who dare place their conscience ahead of progressive dogma. And we have two different sets of laws, one for the little people and one for liberals like Lois Lerner, Al Sharpton and Hillary Clinton, who can blatantly commit federal crimes and walk away scot free and smirking.

     Today in America, a despised minority that is really no minority is the target of an establishment that considers this minority unworthy of respect, unworthy of rights, and unworthy of having a say in the direction of this country. It’s an establishment that has one law for itself, and another for its enemies. It’s an establishment that inflicts an ever-increasing series of petty humiliations on its opponents and considers this all hilarious.

     That’s a recipe for disaster. You cannot expect to change the status quo for yourself and then expect those you victimize not to play by the new rules you have created. You cannot expect to be able to discard the rule of law in favor of the rule of force and have those you target not respond in kind....

     What is the end game, liberals? Do you expect these people you despise to just take it? Do you think they’ll just shrug their shoulders and say, “Well, I guess we better comply?” Do you even know any real Americans? Do you think you’ll somehow be able to force them into obedience – for what is government power but force – after someone finally says “Enough?”

     Kurt Schlichter and I are asking the same question.

     The Party in 1984 strove to cement itself into permanent power by exerting that power to the utmost. The conditions to which the proles (“the Low”) were subjected were so crushing that they couldn’t even conceive of rebelling. The Outer Party (“the Middle”) was kept almost as poor materially as the proles, was regimented to the hilt, and was watched continuously for the merest hint of deviation. The few Outer Party members who dared to deviate were remade psychologically, in a fashion that would break them of the will to resist. The Inner Party (“the High”) was composed entirely of fanatic loyalists willing to do anything whatsoever to retain their hegemony. Thus the Party attempted to solve the age-old problem of political stability.

     1984 is fiction, of course. But at least one element of it has crept into American reality:

     [C]onservatives already do outbreed the left — which is why the left is so determined to maintain its iron hold on education, K-through-12-through-infinity. If they can’t (or won’t) breed more lefties, they know how to make them.

     That’s why homeschooling frightens them so much. That’s why they fight so hard against their own strongest constituents in the effort to prevent school choice and teacher accountability.

     Twelve years of endless harangues about “social justice” and the like will leave a mark on a child that’s near to indelible. It lacks the intensity and focus of O’Brien and Room 101, but it compensates with duration. Many parents find themselves helpless against it.

     Winston Smith wrote that “If there is hope, it lies in the proles.” A few moments later he added, “Until they become conscious they will never rebel, and until after they have rebelled they cannot become conscious.” The proles of our place and time are utterly dependent on the State. The State is their father: protector and provider both. they will never even imagine that their protector / provider is really their owner, to be overthrown if they are to advance. There is no hope in them.

     We are the Outer Party. Not in material matters – even a “poor” American lives a life of riches undreamed by emperors of old – but in the view of the political elite. They don’t have the technology to watch us continuously, though with their drones, license plate readers, and the proliferation of “smart” appliances” they’re advancing on it. They haven’t yet disarmed us, though they’re working on that as well.

     The political class, regardless of Democrat or Republican affiliation, is our Inner Party. It uses its tools to subjugate where it can, and to propagandize where it cannot. With the recent, unabashed resort to political prosecutions to destroy its opponents, its consciousness of itself has become complete. Do not doubt that it will go on as it has begun, and to ever greater intensity.

     Somewhere in the future lies a point of no return, at which all prospect of deliberately ejecting the political class will have vanished. Somewhere nearer to the present lies a point at which the possibility of doing so non-violently will have been extinguished. The Spoonerites waited too long, and were forced to flee. Unless there’s a planetoid wandering through that I haven’t heard about, we won’t have that option.

     It’s not enough to complain to one another. It’s not enough to vote. It’s not enough to support this or that promising-looking candidate. We’ve tried all that.

     What, then, must we do?

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Creeping Totalitarianism Report

     This disturbing article from David French demonstrates factual reporting as it was once practiced:

     “They came with a battering ram.”

Cindy Archer, one of the lead architects of Wisconsin’s Act 10 — also called the “Wisconsin Budget Repair Bill,” it limited public-employee benefits and altered collective-bargaining rules for public-employee unions — was jolted awake by yelling, loud pounding at the door, and her dogs’ frantic barking. The entire house — the windows and walls — was shaking.

She looked outside to see up to a dozen police officers, yelling to open the door. They were carrying a battering ram.

She wasn’t dressed, but she started to run toward the door, her body in full view of the police. Some yelled at her to grab some clothes, others yelled for her to open the door.

“I was so afraid,” she says. “I did not know what to do.” She grabbed some clothes, opened the door, and dressed right in front of the police. The dogs were still frantic.

“I begged and begged, ‘Please don’t shoot my dogs, please don’t shoot my dogs, just don’t shoot my dogs.’ I couldn’t get them to stop barking, and I couldn’t get them outside quick enough. I saw a gun and barking dogs. I was scared and knew this was a bad mix.”

She got the dogs safely out of the house, just as multiple armed agents rushed inside. Some even barged into the bathroom, where her partner was in the shower. The officer or agent in charge demanded that Cindy sit on the couch, but she wanted to get up and get a cup of coffee.

“I told him this was my house and I could do what I wanted.” Wrong thing to say. “This made the agent in charge furious. He towered over me with his finger in my face and yelled like a drill sergeant that I either do it his way or he would handcuff me.”

They wouldn’t let her speak to a lawyer. She looked outside and saw a person who appeared to be a reporter. Someone had tipped him off.

The neighbors started to come outside, curious at the commotion, and all the while the police searched her house, making a mess, and — according to Cindy — leaving her “dead mother’s belongings strewn across the basement floor in a most disrespectful way.”

Then they left, carrying with them only a cellphone and a laptop.

     Disturbing? Indeed, terrifying. But why?

     Wisconsin, the cradle of the progressive movement and home of the “Wisconsin idea” — the marriage of state governments and state universities to govern through technocratic reform — was giving birth to a new progressive idea, the use of law enforcement as a political instrument, as a weapon to attempt to undo election results, shame opponents, and ruin lives.

     That’s why.

     To the best of my knowledge, the Gestapo-like raids above, all of which targeted conservative activists in Wisconsin, have not been reported by any major media organ. There’s been no mention of them in the New York Times, the Washington Post, or the Philadelphia Enquirer. Why?

     I’m afraid you already know why.

     The raids above were conceived by Milwaukee district attorney John Chisholm, a highly partisan Democrat whose wife is a shop steward in a Wisconsin teachers’ union. They were judicially approved by Judge Barbara Kluka, another Democrat. And of course, they were carried out by unionized Wisconsin police.

     The motivation could not be clearer. Democrats only believe in free speech for Democrats. They’re particularly disturbed by the ascendancy of conservative Republican governor Scott Walker. That Walker has rationalized the state’s budget, turning a habitual deficit into an annual surplus, and his actions to reduce the bargaining privileges of Wisconsin’s municipal and state unions, have enraged Wisconsin Democrats beyond all description.

     God help the conservative who dares to challenge the power of Wisconsin unions.

     Will district attorney Chisholm face any legal penalties for his utterly unfounded “John Doe” investigations and the terrorization of Wisconsin conservatives by use of police power? Will Judge Kluka face any penalties for facilitating those SWAT-style raids? What about the happily cooperative Wisconsin police? For that matter, now that National Review has publicized the affair, will the Main Stream Media take an interest in this blatant use of political power to suppress the free speech and organizing rights of Americans?

     Don’t bet the rent money on it.

     I’ve written before about the evils attendant to prosecutorial discretion and sovereign immunity.

     The combination of grand jury biddability and prosecutorial discretion has given rise to an assembly-line character in the criminal justice system. Prosecutors tend to be as ambitious for advancement as anyone else in "public service," and in their case the road to higher positions is paved with copious convictions, whether or not those convicted deserve their fates. Inasmuch as the luxuriance of criminal law has created a state of affairs in which every one of us, whether wittingly or not, is "guilty" of something, an aggressive prosecutor can "rack 'em up" by pursuing a simple strategy:
  1. Look around for "suspicious" behavior -- i.e., behavior on the part of a private citizen that can be made to appear suspicious;
  2. Ruthlessly probe every element of the "suspect's" life, using the effectively infinite resources of the State, until enough "suspicious" behavior has been amassed;
  3. Assemble a huge list of charges to place before a grand jury;
  4. Present the case in such a fashion as to promote the more plausible accusations and obscure the less plausible ones, thus securing a grab-bag indictment;
  5. Offer the indicted person a plea bargain that will spare him centuries in prison and complete pauperization at the bargain price of a few years and/or a few thousand dollars.

     There is no brake to this strategy. Excessive law plus complete prosecutorial discretion plus a competent prosecutor's ability to lead a grand jury by the nose combine to put even a simon-pure citizen at the mercy of the criminal justice system. And what a system it is! Had it been consciously designed to put the maximum number of persons in prison regardless of guilt or innocence, it could not have been done better.

     Those evils are on vivid display in David French’s article. Yet it would be foolish to expect any correction to them. The State never willingly surrenders power. It only takes; it does not give. And when persons whose ideology tells them that:

  • Their politics makes them morally superior to those who disagree; and:
  • The ends justify the means; and:
  • They will face no penalties for whatever they do;

     ...have the opportunity to wield State power for their political benefit, no Earthly force is sufficient to restrain them.

     I’ve ranted about this more than once:

     Prosecutorial discretion, when coupled to sovereign immunity -- doctrines absolutely anathema to the Anglo-American legal tradition -- make it possible for statists to conceal evil motives behind a cloak of righteousness. No one can come out against "law enforcement" without exposing himself to pillory as an "anarchist." Worse, when the evil motives are revealed and the pressure is removed from the statists' targets, no remedy is applied and no restitution is offered to the victims.

A long time ago, in commenting on a similar case that occurred in Florida, the legendary Russell Baker wrote that "When the government says it is going to get you, it is going to get you." It appears that nothing has changed since then, except for the identities and political orientations of the prosecutors and their targets.

     Need I say more?

     A number of the bloggers who entered the fray around the time I did have gone silent or near to it. Consider Mike Hendrix and Emperor Misha, two old favorites of the DextroSphere. Several others have gotten by mostly on reposts.

     I miss their regular emissions, but I can understand the trend. We’re tired. We’re getting old. And we’ve been repeating ourselves rather a lot.

     That’s what happens when outrage follows outrage with neither redress nor remorse. We’re still angry, but we’re beginning to feel that there’s little point to continuing on. And we dislike to think we’re huddled in an otherwise empty room, with no one listening to us but one another.

     The American people appear to have been enervated to the point of surrender. The Howard Beale character in Paddy Chayevsky’s screenplay for Network captured my sense of it perfectly:

     I don't have to tell you things are bad. Everybody knows things are bad. It's a depression. Everybody's out of work or scared of losing their job. The dollar buys a nickel's worth. Banks are going bust. Shopkeepers keep a gun under the counter. Punks are running wild in the street and there's nobody anywhere who seems to know what to do, and there's no end to it. We know the air is unfit to breathe and our food is unfit to eat, and we sit watching our TVs while some local newscaster tells us that today we had fifteen homicides and sixty-three violent crimes, as if that's the way it's supposed to be.

     We know things are bad — worse than bad. They're crazy. It's like everything everywhere is going crazy, so we don't go out anymore. We sit in the house, and slowly the world we are living in is getting smaller, and all we say is: 'Please, at least leave us alone in our living rooms. Let me have my toaster and my TV and my steel-belted radials and I won't say anything. Just leave us alone.'

     Is it really this way? Are we unwilling to rear up on our hind legs and roar defiance into our oppressors’ faces?

     Do you want your freedom back? Do you want to feel reasonably safe from “your” government? Voting every two or four years ain’t gonna do it, people. It will take actual resistance to the tyrants by persons brave enough to do so – and staunch support of those brave ones, political, legal, financial, and moral, by the rest of us.

     I know, I know: Who bells the cat? It’s the old question, the one we use to paralyze ourselves. It’s more effective than ever. The State in our time can target individuals with frightening accuracy, and can bring overwhelming power to bear against them, as David French has told us. The Redcoats didn’t even have rifled barrels on their muskets.

     Is there a Patrick Henry in the house?

     Never mind. Forget I said anything. I’m just an old man who claims to remember what it was like to be free. We didn’t even have color TVs back then, so how good could it have been, really?

     All rise for Flag salute. Here are your internal passport, your work permit, and your ration card. Now sit down and pay attention to the political officer. He’s here to serve!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

The Decline Of The Emissionaries

     The “Battle of the Bulge” effect has been prominent in the entertainment media of late, specifically with regard to the promotion of promiscuous, loveless, and dangerous sex. It’s a good sign, for very few such “bulges” result in the victory of the “bulging” side.

     Significant symptoms are detectable by anyone who pays attention to media developments. The deterioration of Hugh Hefner’s “Playboy empire,” the swift ejection of “Sex Box” and “Neighbors with Benefits” from the TV schedules, and the steady demise of “soft-core” magazines such as Cosmopolitan all point to the increasing marginalization of the “sexual emissionaries” and their outlets. In their frantic haste to shore up their positions, many of those who back such productions have been “doubling down.” This gives them the appearance of renewed strength where declining circulation and viewership figures proclaim that there is none.

     Demographics play a part, of course. Ours is an aging society. As we age, our interests turn away from “the things of youth.” The delights of sex are among those things. As little as we like to dwell on anything that compels us to reflect on our physical deterioration, as we age we grow less competent sexually...and less interested in demonstrations thereof.

     There are other factors as well. The one that I find most important is the prevalence of guilt over wasted years and opportunities.

     As I wrote long ago:

     Time is the ultimate gift.

     Time is the medium within which we temporally bound creatures must work. Time is the dimension within which we plan, and execute our plans, and reap the rewards or the lessons they generate. But time is not ours to command....

     This is the forward edge on the sword of time, the somber face of the ticking clock, that two-handed engine which will one day strike, and strike no more. We cannot bottle time. We are forbidden by the laws of the universe to know how much time we'll have. Though memory suggests otherwise, the only instant we can be sure of is now -- and it slips from our grasp before we can even finish pronouncing its name.

     The three most recent generations of Americans have spent more of their youth and vitality pursuing sexual gratification and variety than any previous ones. As we’ve aged and acquired a modicum of perspective – I hesitate to say wisdom – it’s become ever clearer to us that a moment, like a dollar, can be spent only once, and only on one thing. The youth and energy we put to sowing our sexual oats cannot be reclaimed for pursuits we later come to regard as better investments.

     Yes, yes, it’s just a higher-browed way of saying “Ve get too soon old und too late schmart.” That doesn’t mean it isn’t so.

     The emissionaries, however, have founded their business model on a never-ending obsession with sex – and if present trends are a reliable indication, it’s costing them heavily.

     I was drawn to this topic this morning because of this article about Cosmopolitan magazine. It warns frankly about the hazards attendant to promiscuity and sexual deviancy. It’s worth a read, as much for its forthright, unapologetic tone as for its factual assertions. The increase in the frequency of such articles correlates strongly with the current in the attitudes and conduct of young Americans. Yes, some of that current can be attributed to the increasing legal hazards that pertain to casual sex, but perhaps not the greater part. Young people, whatever their diction or educational attainments, are hardly stupid...and they learn from watching their parents and grandparents, an unprecedented percentage of whom are lonely and bitter.

     Few persons can be happy alone. Even fewer hope to spend the second halves of their adult lives that way. But a totally casual “love ain’t nothing but sex misspelled” attitude toward sex and love will get you there more reliably than any other.

     This is not to condemn all premarital sex. (I know, I know; I’m at odds with the Church on this. Don’t tell them, please.) It’s just an observation of the consequences of the all-stops-out / sexual gratification uber alles attitude the past fifty years have inculcated in so many...and which the emissionaries are straining to the limit to reinforce and perpetuate.

     The approach to sex most likely to lead to a lifelong, loving partnership with a member of the opposite sex is more reserved than Cosmopolitan and similar organs would have us believe. (Not totally reserved; as Star said to Scar Gordon in Glory Road, it’s best to sample the wine before you buy the barrel.) Fortunately – and I find myself mildly surprised to be saying this – the increased caution about contact with young women that’s arisen among young men in the wake of recent events on college campuses militates in this direction. But it’s no fault of the emissionaries, who are pushing their “bulge” as hard as they can, for the sake of their business ventures.

     The appropriate countermeasure to that “bulge” can only be applied by parents willing to talk candidly about their own pasts. God knows, most of us from the Boomer and GenX cohorts have plenty to talk about. Just as with drugs, being open about the missteps of one’s own youth can be a great aid to guiding one’s children toward more constructive, less destructive practices.

     It’s not about screeching that “I won’t have that trash in my house!” It’s not about immediately changing the channel when a starlet in a low-cut gown appears on-screen. It’s about honesty and humility among parents. Granted that one can’t be certain to have steered one’s progeny away from foolish behavior; the assumption of invulnerability has been a characteristic of young Americans since our earliest generations. It’s about contrasting the consequences of one’s own youthful decisions with the insouciance of emissionary outlets, highlighting the business model that propels the emissionaries, and suggesting that Junior think about that just a little before he goes out hunting pudenda scalps.

     Of course, if you’re a 26-year-old mother of a 13-year-old daughter, you might need a little help with this, perhaps from a more prudent friend or neighbor.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Repression And Rebellion

     Commentator and television host Greg Gutfeld notes an important development today:

     Hosted by Kevin Hart, guests on the Comedy Central Bieber Roast included the aging Snoop Dog, the salty Natasha Leggero, the forgettable Ludacris, and the good sport that is Martha Stewart. Many of the jokes were likely written by Redeye favorite Jesse Joyce, or maybe Kurt Metzger. The jokes won’t be retold here, but to summarize: the barbs directed at Martha were filthy, Leggero was referred to as a whore multiple times, Ross compared Shaquille O’Neal to King Kong, jokes were made at the expense of a comedian’s dead father (some by the comedian himself) – who died on 9/11. The content was racist, sexist, sizest, homophobic, transist (not sure that’s a word), and most of all hurtful. It was all a disgusting mess, for the most part (it’s a roast, people).

     In short, if any of this stuff had been said anywhere else — on campus, or twitter – the speaker would be shamed into oblivion.

     (Unless, of course, you’re Trevor Noah, and have Jon Stewart’s blessing).

     It’s the only place – and perhaps the last place for now, where you can still make jokes about illegitimacy, suffering, and death – and get away with it.

     I got the sense from watching it, that the roast has become less about ripping apart of a famous celebrity, but more a release valve in an increasing uptight, suffocating culture. The spread of manufactured moralism – where a joke or hypothetical situation (as rebel thinker Gavin McInnes posits) takes on the appearance of a threat greater than actual physical harm – is now driving real, authentic freedoms into careful pockets. The roast is more cathartic than funny.

     There’s a reason for the similarity between the words repression and pressure.

     That which we repress has a tendency to mushroom inside us. Should the pressure build beyond our capacity to withstand it, the eruption can be dramatic...and violent. This is as true of legally or socially-enforced norms as it is of a bad belch.

     The Left’s current campaign to control our thinking by controlling what we may say is having exactly this effect. Think of all the individual words their forces have tried to ban. I’ve written about this before, of course, but the Left’s campaign has moved into even higher gear in the most recent years. A good example is the attempt by the supporters of Hillary Clinton to forbid a wide range of criticisms of Her Royal Majesty as “sexist” – in truth, as verbal lese majeste.

     A bit after the original “Shamans” post cited above, I wrote in a coda:

     Linguistic taboos, bad enough in themselves, are an entering wedge for other sorts of controls. When the taboo crosses from being cause for castigation to being a justification for punishment, genuine censorship has arrived.

     Does anyone doubt that this is the next stop on the Left’s crusade? But equally, does anyone doubt that a backlash is building – indeed, as Gutfeld strongly hints, that safety valves, though they’re already opening, will ultimately prove insufficient – and that the eventual rebellion will be horrible?

     The dynamic that fuels censorship is bifurcated. For some, it’s a tactic employed in the implementation of an agenda. For others, it’s merely a way to enjoy what they find most pleasurable: the exercise of power.

     He who lusts for power over others is inherently evil. I trust this requires no great argument in its justification. The evil man, once he has some degree of power, will use it to acquire more, for power is a drug that doesn’t sate. However, the enjoyment of power requires that it be used. For, as O’Brien said to Winston in 1984, to enjoy your power, you must be actually coercing your victim at the moment:

     ‘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.’

     But this sin, like many others, carries the seeds of its own comeuppance. Driving critical and hostile speech underground makes it even more dangerous to the ruling elites than driving a religion underground. It increases otherwise uninvolved persons’ interest in what's being said, and why, and why it’s being suppressed, and whether it might be true. Of course, you can’t expect the ruling elites or their protected mascot-groups to realize any of that; they’re getting too much of a thrill out of the power they wield.

     It often seems to me as if Tyrant's Disease has a built-in antibody in the form of Tyrant's Arrogant Stupidity. This is such an occasion. Unfortunately, the cure is at least as unpleasant as the disease itself.

     Nothing under the veil of time is truly stable. Every life, however long, will end. Every institution, however mighty, will eventually fall. Even black holes will collapse through quantum evaporation. Even baryons will eventually decay. The one thing we can count on is that “this too shall pass away.”

     The Left’s burgeoning censorship regime, today being imposed mainly by excoriation rather than by law, will pass away as well. What follows could be unbelievably ugly; let us pray that it not be so. But the probability of a horrifying result increases with every word or phrase that’s deemed unspeakable, and every thought that’s deemed beyond the pale. It is our right and our duty to resist, not merely for the preservation of freedom in our time, but to minimize the destruction that will follow when the Left’s house of cards collapses.

     “Inevitable” is a word one should use only with great caution. But if all things must pass, then the collapse of the Left-imposed regime of speech and thought is inevitable, as is the backlash that will follow should it not be fought back while we still possess the numbers, the means, and the will.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

The Agony And The Irony

     No, this won’t be about Michelangelo, and anyway, I’m no Irving Stone.

     I’ve been working, fitfully, on Statesman, the fifth segment of my Realm Of Essences series, and having one hell of a hard time with it. The hard time arises from the nearly continuous stream of real-world events about which I write these op-eds. Those events, of course, center on the current political environment, which is driven by a figure whose ideology, character, personality are the diametric opposites (to put it mildly) of those of my major protagonist, Stephen Graham Sumner, the Onteora County lawyer who rises by an improbable concatenation of events to become president of the United States.

     Lord Acton told us that “Power tends to corrupt.” Indeed, I’ve never doubted that corruption will always be found mated to some degree of power. But it’s always seemed to me that the engine of that correlation belongs a bit further back than Lord Acton put it: Power attracts the already corrupt and the easily corruptible. That such men should aspire to power is natural; that they should exploit it for their own venal ends follows as the night follows the day.

     In Sumner I’ve created a political figure who seeks power to redress the injustices of prior generations of politicians. He wants it not because he lusts after it, but because it’s the only way to “establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity” according to the dictates of the Constitution of the United States. He’s as passionate about justice as my other Realm Of Essences protagonists, but in a sharp contrast with the others, he’s entered the political arena to pursue it.

     If we omit consideration of the current crop of declared candidates, that’s not something we could say about any candidate for the presidency since Calvin Coolidge, with the possible exception of Ronald Reagan. (As for the current crop, let’s just say I have my doubts.)

     So I’m about to promote as a hero-figure a president-protagonist who deviates from the established pattern so starkly that there’s no one to model him on. Power will not corrupt him. It will change him; doubt it not. Nevertheless, his focus will remain squarely on doing justice and reviving the Constitutional order.

     And while I’m doing that, I have to keep writing about current events, the terrible political / economic / social mess the country is in, and the Pretender in the White House, whose behavior is that of a man who resents this country, possibly even hates it, and is working to see it brought low.

     The irony defeats my powers of description.

     I believe that things can somehow be turned around – that with the right aggregation of decent people exerting the right kind and degree of effort, we can return this country to its Constitutional basis. Indeed, I don’t merely believe it; I’m certain of it. What I’m far from certain about is what measures would suffice to do it. With each successive degradation, peaceful means seem less applicable, and a violent revolution seems less avertible.

     The political process has been effectively privatized. The two major parties control it so completely – with which federal law actually helps them – that in an election for a federal position, no third-party candidate has a chance against them. With rare exceptions, federal office holders are effectively immune from legal rebuke. (We’ll see if Senator Menendez proves an exception; so far, Lois Lerner has not.) The most common assessment of our prospects for the near future is bleak. That assessment is probably correct.

     So how can I make Statesman plausible? Is it doomed to be a political fantasy – something we might wish would happen, but that never really could? Or is there still a crumb of hope that a Stephen Graham Sumner could rise from among us “ordinary” Americans, could gain sufficient backing to mount a credible candidacy, and could not only win the presidency but could bring enough like-minded candidates into Congress to give him a real chance to achieve his aims?

     Shadow Of A Sword evoked a fair number of emails that expressed hopes like those above. Yet the majority of my correspondents were equally candid about the low likelihood of a Sumner-like Constitutional movement. Though few were explicit about it, the consensus seemed to be that too many people have too much invested in the status quo, and therefore that any movement to alter it significantly would be defeated by popular assent. Jonah Goldberg’s conclusions in Liberal Fascism were essentially the same.

     Is our only hope something like Hope? If so, pray that a likely planetoid passes by...and that we’ll be ready to exploit it when it does.

     The above sounds gloomy because it is – because I am. Leader figures seldom rise above the context from which they emerge. In our time, movements are more likely to be about some fashion trend or fad in popular culture than about liberty and justice. The exceptions are targeted and tamed or eliminated with high reliability. A real-life Katniss Everdeen would be assassinated before she could become the emblem of freedom Suzanne Collins’s wonderful books allowed her to be. A real-life Kevin Conway wouldn’t be permitted to exist, much less to operate a heavily armed private security force.

     John Derbyshire thinks we’re doomed. He could be right...but I can’t accept it. Perhaps I will someday, if I live long enough, but it would put a permanent end to my fictional efforts, so I’m holding out for now. I have to pay for my animals, my leisure reading, my new barn, my preferred anti-agita remedy,and the C.S.O.’s shoe fetish somehow, don’t y’know.

     Have a nice day.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Presidential Campains

     No, that’s not a typo.

     Here are the already declared candidates:

  • Hillary Clinton
  • Ted Cruz
  • Rand Paul
  • Marco Rubio

     Here are the candidates likely to declare in the foreseeable future:

  • James Webb
  • Martin O’Malley
  • Jeb Bush
  • Rick Perry
  • Ben Carson
  • Rick Santorum
  • Mike Huckabee

     Here are the public figures who have declined to participate in the 2016 race:

  • Elizabeth Warren
  • Mitt Romney

     Why do I suspect that not one of the above-named persons will maintain his current position – i.e., that not one of the declared candidates will still be in the race at the finish line, and that neither of those who’ve declined to run will stay out of the race entirely? Is it just my reflexive skepticism about the sincerity of politicians and political statements, or do we have a good reason to doubt them?

“People lie; evidence doesn’t.” – Gil Grissom on C.S.I.

     I’m already weary of the presidential campaign. I can’t wait for it to be over...and at some deep level I don’t believe it will matter who wins. The country’s problems aren’t due to the sins of one party or the other. They stem from pervasive hyper-politicization: the premise that any and every aspect of life and society should be subject to political control.

     My great fear is that that premise has sunk too deeply into the minds of too many persons for it to be undone by anything short of bloodshed. I’ve never before wanted quite so desperately to be wrong about something. But I don’t think I am.

“They say here ‘all roads lead to Mishnory.’ To be sure, if you turn your back on Mishnory and walk away from it, you are still on the Mishnory road. To oppose vulgarity is inevitably to be vulgar. You must go somewhere else; you must have another goal; then you walk a different road....To oppose something is to maintain it.” -- Ursula K. LeGuin, The Left Hand of Darkness

     One of the very best things said in a recent presidential campaign came from George W. Bush. In his first run for the presidency, he was posed a question about education – primary and secondary education, in which Washington has only recently (in political terms) become involved. Part of his response was “I’m running for president, not national superintendent of schools.”

     Of course, there is no national superintendent of schools in the United States. I can’t help but wonder how many of those listening to Bush’s words reacted by thinking “Thank God for that,” and how many thought “Well, there ought to be a national superintendent of schools.”

     Imagine if there were. You think Common Core is bad? Imagine a federal superintendent of schools, empowered to intrude into the decisions of every local school district and to override any local decision on funding, staffing, curriculum, extracurricular activities, and so forth. Would we even bother to have local school boards after that?

     I can’t name a candidate for the presidency who’s willing to say “the federal government has no proper role in education.” But then, I can’t name a candidate who’s willing to say “the federal government has no proper role in X,” where X is whatever you like. It’s a large part of my reason for detesting politics.

     Federal involvement invariably and inevitably sucks powers out of the hands of the states, counties, and municipalities. The Founding Fathers had a sense for this dynamic. So did the governors and legislatures of the thirteen original states, which is why the Constitution explicitly lists the powers of each of the three branches of the federal government. The Bill of Rights emphasizes this critical aspect of federalism in the Ninth and Tenth Amendments...which is why power-obsessed federales have strained to ignore them.

     I wrote recently that a direction highly likely to be constructive lies in localized apolitical privatization. The core idea is that of personal engagement with local problems, rather than the usual course of appealing to political bodies to “help.”

     The powers that be would naturally oppose such a current...but are they strong enough to stop it, once it’s in motion? Even more critical: Are we, already so badly enervated by political intrusions and exactions, still capable of initiating that current?

     The most visible symptom of hyper-politicization is The Never-Ending Campaign. There are people who detest sitcoms. There are people who detest soap operas. There are people who detest “reality TV,” which might be the most unreal thing ever to infest the little screen. I detest them all...but I’d rather endure a 24-hour siege of all three than put up with another campaign for public office.

     Worse, every glamorous newcomer to the national stage is immediately greeted with speculation: “Does he look like a future president?” It’s colored the tenures of Ted Cruz and Rand Paul almost from the day they took their Senatorial oaths. As soon as Scott Walker beat back the municipal unions, the presidential talk began about him. Rick Perry has intrigued the watchers since 2007 at least. We have reason to believe that Mitt Romney has aspired to the Oval Office from his 1994 campaign for the Senate from Massachusetts; after all, it was his father’s aspiration as well.

     Then there are the unglamorous candidates, of whom one stands above and apart from the rest: Hillary Clinton. Her campaign for the White House began in 2000 and has never ceased. She sidelined it for her tenure in the U.S. Senate and as Secretary of State, but her essential passivity in those offices made it clear that her ambitions lay elsewhere. And let’s not forget Al Gore, who first put himself forward for the Democrats’ presidential nod in 1988.

     It’s become too much, too continuous, and too BLEEP!ing omnipresent.

"It is said the ancient Greeks used a simple method to prevent the multiplication of 'laws.'...Anyone proposing a new law had to do so standing on a platform with a rope around his neck. If the law was passed, the rope was removed. If the law was voted down, the platform was removed." -- "John Galt,"Dreams Come Due: Government and Economics As If Freedom Mattered

     Should present trends continue much further, something of the above sort is inevitable. Would you be unhappy to see it? I wouldn’t.

     Yet politics is the subject I write about most frequently, and what an irony that is. Of course, the reason I write about it is my unhappiness with the way things are. But the process has become tiresome in the extreme. Perhaps these essays are becoming tiresome, as well.

     One way or the other, we have nineteen months of presidential campaigning before us. I can’t imagine enduring it without regular screaming fits and copious administrations of Harvey’s Bristol Cream. And no doubt these essays will continue to pour forth, as much for their cathartic effect as for any other reason. But I really wish I didn’t need so much catharsis. I yearn to see a day when the most interesting news items are about axe murders and charity know, the sort of event about which the only things one could sensibly say are “That’s nice” or “That’s awful.” Well, unless the murder victims are politicians, in which case I might mutter “He had it coming.”

     Have a nice day.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Day 3 of Enforced Bed Rest

I'm still home, taking it easy.  My arthritic knee is still experiencing inflammation and pain.  With pain meds, and anti-inflammatory meds, I am improving, but S-L-O-W-L-Y.
I've been on a movie binge:
  • Live Free & Die Hard

Even Sadder Puppies: An Insider Cops To The Scam

     Larry Correia, the author of the popular Monster Hunter series, is the quintessence of the “outsider” to the science fiction / fantasy world. The “insiders” detest him for his politics and his love of firearms. Thus, when he first strove to become involved in the semi-organized world of SF/F fandom by attending its annual Worldcon, at which the field’s highly prized Hugo Awards are announced, the “insiders” subjected him to an unexpected degree of insult and contempt. He’s written about it more than once.

     I’ve never attended a Worldcon and don’t intend to attend one. Indeed, I’d have no truck with it if it were held across the street and a courier were dispatched to my doorstep with a limo and an engraved invitation. Hey, that’s just me: and incurably skittish about crowds. But Correia’s laudable reaction – the original Sad Puppies campaign to open the Hugo nominations to a wider and more inclusive field of writers – was the exact opposite. As you’ve read here and probably elsewhere, this year it reaped a staggering degree of success.

     I allowed myself a dollop of Schadenfreude over the butthurt reactions of the trumped-Ace “social justice warriors” who had cliquefied the Hugo process to exclude those whose politics diverge from theirs. That was yesterday’s indulgence. Today’s subject is of more substance.

     An “insider’s insider,” George R. R. Martin, author of the wildly successful fantasy series A Song Of Ice And Fire, has taken it upon himself to promulgate a sort of Gospel Of The Insiders. Correia, who despite not having spearheaded “Sad Puppies 3” remains closely identified with the concept, answered him at length.

     In point of fact, the controversy can be boiled down to one paragraph – and not a particularly long one:

     If the rules of Hugo nomination and balloting permitted the “social justice warriors” to do what they did – colloquially, “slate voting” – with considerable success for some years, then the very same rules permit what the Sad Puppies campaign has done with equal success. Therefore, the ire of the “social justice warriors” is merely over having been beaten with their own tactics. That makes them sore losers and nothing else.

     What’s particularly striking about this affair is how the insiders who’ve proclaimed for half of forever that the Hugos are “for all of fandom” have decided to issue a modification to their stance. Here’s George R. R. Martin’s formulation:

     Who owns the Hugo Awards?

     You know, looking back, I am probably partly to blame for some of the misconceptions that seem to exist on this point. For years now I have been urging people to nominate for the Hugo Awards, and saying things like “this is your award” and “this award belongs to the fans, the readers.” I felt, and still feel, that wider participation would be a good thing. Thousands of fans vote for the Hugos most years, but until recently only hundreds ever bothered to nominate.

     Still my “it is your award” urgings were not entirely accurate.

     Truth is, the Hugo Awards belong to worldcon. The World Science Fiction Convention.

     What is Martin saying in the above? That the explicit rules governing Hugo nominations and balloting, which have been as they are for many years, really aren’t the rules at all? That rather than just paying the fee for a supporting membership, he who wishes to nominate or vote for certain books for the Hugo must actually attend the convention, wherever it might be situated that year? Or is he trying to say something else?

     Ponder that for a moment.

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

     Insiders are inherently hostile toward outsiders. (They’re often hostile toward one another as well, as within a sufficiently large clique there will usually be one or more sub-cliques maneuvering for control over the larger group.) To have “made it inside” is to have achieved a desired status, a distinction from others who haven’t managed it. The value of such a distinction is inversely proportional to the number of people who share it. To extend Orwell’s insight modestly, not only do the High want above all things to remain where they are; they also want to prevent the expansion of their ranks...and with an almost equal fervor.

     When the insiders find the rules working counter to that aim, they seek to change the rules – or to insist on a new interpretation contrary to the one that was used against their interests. Sometimes they succeed. But when their machinations are illuminated for all to see, the value of their insider-ship is diminished even more than it would otherwise have been.

     By protesting, entirely because they’ve been thwarted, that the Sad Puppies campaign somehow abused the simple, clear Hugo nomination process, the “social justice warriors” have done a large disservice to those writers who’ve been awarded Hugos in the most recent years: the very writers their own machinations raised to glory.

     The “social justice warriors” are faced with a terrible dichotomy: either the Sad Puppies campaign was entirely licit as the rules stand, in which case their outrage is over having been outplayed at their own game, or the campaign was a low, dirty tactic, in which case it was just as low and dirty when they employed it, and taints the Hugos awarded to their favored ones.

     George R. R. Martin, whose books I’ve enjoyed heretofore, has taken the second of those positions, in direct contradiction of both the clearly worded rules and his own previous pronouncements on the subject.

     That is what insiders do.

     A number of parallels, not all of them accurate, have been drawn between the Hugo controversy and the “GamerGate” flap. The details of the latter are somewhat different from those of the former, in that no awards and (with the exception of the Twitter hashtag #GamerGate) no organized campaigns were involved. The common element is the desire of the “social justice warriors” to exclude persons they dislike for their politics or their particular tastes from being considered as holders of respectable opinions. In the former case the battlefield is the Hugo process; in the latter, it’s the “gamers’ press,” which has been targeted for conquest (with a fair degree of success to date) by the “social justice warriors.”

     The core parallel is insider-hood: who controls the levers of power in the relevant domain.

     Like all leftists, the “social justice warriors” seek power: first and foremost, over who may say what, and where, and to whom, and on what subjects. They have a particular affinity for the expressive trades: the educational system, the news media, and above all the entertainment media. These are the shapers of public opinion. Power inheres in groups, institutions, and the control thereof. The rest should follow without need for further explication.

     In those areas where they’ve established themselves as the insiders, the “social justice warriors” will fight viciously to prevent any dilution of their control. In those areas where they’re still struggling for hegemony, they’ll use every imaginable tactic to achieve their aim...and will ignore any protests of foul play once they’re in the power seats.

     That’s the process, and the end toward which they will forever strive:
     To be the only respectable writers.
     To be the only “legitimate” educators.
     To command the heights of the entertainment world.
     To rule on who may speak with authority, and about what.
     And they will destroy whoever and whatever stands in their way.

     Be on your guard.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

The More Things Change...

…The more they stay the same.
This is a link to a post by Jay Nordlinger referencing a talk by Dorothy L. Sayers – in 1938.  She sounds remarkably sensible – her views correspond quite well to that of current-day Conservative women.  Funnily enough, in the early days of the feminist movement, she was considered an icon.  I first read about her in Ms. Magazine – those were the days, before they OD’d on PC nonsense, and decided that Republican women weren’t REALLY women, but cross-dressing men who “identified” as women, WERE.
Re: who is a woman – I felt as though I’d fallen down the Rabbit-Hole

Sad Puppies Update: Outrage Edition

     I wrote only yesterday that the ability to outrage your adversary is an important weapon in political combat:

     The attitude of superior wisdom and morality is itself a weapon in the Left’s hands, in that it enrages us in the Right and deflects us from making our own cases. Such an outraged reaction has been observed among many conservatives, including some of demonstrated intellect and wide knowledge....

     The proper reply to the Left’s attitude is amusement, with or without audible laughter. Mind you, we must never become arrogant about our own positions; that would constitute jumping into the moral-intellectual pit with them. However, an amused dismissal of their positions and of them as well is something leftists find massively humiliating. It enrages them, which nullifies their proselytizing powers.

     Recent events in the world science fiction stand as examples of the power of outrage induced within the Left. Let’s start with this microcephalic twit:

     An award whose nominations are, in six categories, dominated entirely by neofascists, and where Theodore Beale has that kind of influence has already lost legitimacy. The phrase "2015 Hugo Award Winner" is already not one that anybody should want. It is not something that anybody should desire for a work they love. "Listen" and Ms. Marvel are too good to win this award.

     Obviously progressive voices within the sci-fi/fantasy community have to fight, and fight hard to reclaim fandom from the neofascist entryist movement that has just stolen it. But until that fight is won, it is also the moral duty of progressive voices to form a blocking majority, and to loudly admit that fandom as it stands is broken, and that any work proclaimed to be the best of the year by a fandom this broken is demeaned by the association.

     I purely love that “neofascist” stuff, don’t you? Because the Sad Puppies 3 slate included a number of writers of conservative and libertarian views, and because enough actual readers of SF and fantasy liked those books to submit nominations for them, this whiner shouts that “progressive voices...have to fight!”

     Have a little more outrage, this time from a “progressive” who doesn’t like democracy and openly says so:

     The problem with democracy in general isn’t so much that people are “stupid” or “evil” or the other nasty things that people who rag on democracy like to throw out, it’s that there’s a ton of decisions to make and people are busy. The “vote” doesn’t end up being among everyone but among the tiny subset of people who really care about that question, which isn’t necessarily correlated with being right about that question–often, in fact, it’s the opposite.

     The people who pay the most attention to these questions are the people who have some deep emotional investment in the issue at hand combined with a great deal of time and emotional energy to burn making their “voices heard” about it. That can happen on any end of the political spectrum, but in practice? It tends to be a space dominated by privileged reactionary jerks....

     Today’s longest-lasting, most determined trolls have a real ideology behind their trolling, and it usually takes the form of a feeling of betrayal and resentment of the world around them and a knee-jerk rage against the idea of progress.

     The worst trolls are almost universally hard-right conservatives, in other words, and they generally care about their pet causes with a breathtaking fervor that their enemies can’t possibly hope to match.

     So you “progressives,” with your superior wisdom and virtue, are too heavily outnumbered by us “privileged reactionary jerks” to withstand an open election? Therefore, forbid the “privileged reactionary jerks” to participate, so the right – meaning Left – candidates are guaranteed to win? Riiiiight! Maybe we should let Stalin count the ballots.

     But these are hardly alone among outraged “progressives.” A few of them persuaded Entertainment Weekly to publish this:

     The Hugo Awards have fallen victim to a campaign in which misogynist groups lobbied to nominate only white males for the science fiction book awards. These groups, Sad Puppies and Rabid Puppies (both of which are affiliated with last year’s GamerGate scandal), urged sci-fi fans to become members of the Hugo Awards’ voting body, World Science Fiction Convention, in order to cast votes against female writers and writers of color.

     ...which, after someone with actual reading skills troubled to inform EW that the Sad Puppies’ nominations included both black, Hispanic, and female writers, forced EW to publish this retraction:

     After misinterpreting reports in other news publications, EW published an unfair and inaccurate depiction of the Sad Puppies voting slate, which does, in fact, include many women and writers of color. As Sad Puppies’ Brad Torgerson explained to EW, the slate includes both women and non-caucasian writers, including Rajnar Vajra, Larry Correia, Annie Bellet, Kary English, Toni Weisskopf, Ann Sowards, Megan Gray, Sheila Gilbert, Jennifer Brozek, Cedar Sanderson, and Amanda Green.

     You simply have to love it, as much for the spittle-flecked faces of the “progressives” who’ve succeeded at stuffing the Hugo ballot boxes for several years now as for the red faces at Entertainment Weekly, whose editorial staff must be pondering whether it can ever again trust a known “progressive.”

     David French adds a concurrence:

     Correia, Torgerson, and their Sad Puppies allies are living arguments against cultural defeatism. With humor and verve, they’ve taken on the allegedly unstoppable Left, stopped it, and thrown it into spasms of impotent rage and amusing disarray. In its rage and self-righteousness, the Left always overreaches. Always. I’ve seen that reality in 20 years of on-campus battles, we’re seeing that reality as their hate campaign against Memories Pizza helped make the owners a pile of money, and we saw it when we watched unhinged rhetoric help turn American Sniper into the top-grossing movie of 2014.

     Congratulations, Sad Puppies. Long may you reign.

     But let’s not, in our jubilation, lose sight of the part salient to political combat: These outraged “progressives” have been reduced to whining to one another. That’s an anti-persuasive stance. It can even evoke disaffection among one’s supposed allies, as conservatives should know from experience. The moral should be clear:

     Laugh at them.
     Ridicule them when they deserve it – which is most of the time.
     Needle them by caricaturing their positions: “What? You only want a $10 minimum wage? Why not $100, so we can all be rich!”
     Above all, restrain your own impulses to become outraged. Remain cheerful and upbeat at all times -- especially when the “progressives” seem to have won one.

     Rumor is a more potent weapon than too many of us have ever realized. Saul Alinsky realized it:

     “Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon.” There is no defense. It’s irrational. It’s infuriating. It also works as a key pressure point to force the enemy into concessions.

     Let’s learn from our enemies’ icon and turn this weapon against them.