Friday, January 30, 2015

Time Was...

...“libertarian” meant “favoring freedom above other political ends,” and nothing else.
...libertarians were as patriotic as other Americans, and were acknowledged to be so.
...libertarians deemed freedom the natural right of all men, even non-Americans.
...and thus, libertarians had no philosophical problems with a war of liberation.

Time was.

Time was, I thought well of Sheldon Richman:

The only reason [American Sniper Chris] Kyle went to Iraq was that Bush/Cheney & Co. launched a war of aggression against the Iraqi people. Wars of aggression, let's remember, are illegal under international law. Nazis were executed at Nuremberg for waging wars of aggression. With this perspective, we can ask if Kyle was a hero....

Excuse me, but I have trouble seeing an essential difference between what Kyle did in Iraq and what Adam Lanza did at Sandy Hook Elementary School. It certainly was not heroism.

Good God Almighty. If you have a strong enough stomach, you can read the rest for yourself. I shan’t excerpt more here, for fear of driving away my more sensitive Gentle Readers and inciting some of the others to acts unlawful in these United States.

Reason, at one time regarded as the “flagship” publication for American libertarians, allowed this piece to appear on its website. What appalling judgment...if, indeed, judgment was involved.

I’ve styled myself a libertarian (or a libertarian-conservative) for a long time. I was once a state-level official in the Libertarian Party. Yet I’ve disassociated myself from organized libertarianism, and I understand full well why the moniker is considered unattractive by many persons who agree with me on almost every political subject. Quite simply, the lunatics have taken over the asylum.

It comes as a surprise to me that Sheldon Richman, a long time pillar of the Future of Freedom Foundation, should have leagued with the lunatics. He’s written a great deal over the years. What I’ve read of his oeuvre I’ve enjoyed. In the main, I’ve agreed with his arguments. I can’t recall having seen his name on anything even remotely comparable to the cited article. Perhaps I never had an accurate sense of him.

The current of libertarian thought that deplores wars and argues for the reduction of the American military has become cancerous. Its emergent absolutism comes up hard and shatters against a compelling truth:

"War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself." [John Stuart Mill]

The Iraq War may have been a mistake geostrategically. There are arguments for and against it even today. But it was not a “war of aggression against the Iraqi people,” as Richman styles it. It was a war of liberation.

We went to Iraq seeking nothing for ourselves. We spent most of a trillion dollars there and shed the blood of thousands of young Americans. When we believed a stable elected government had arisen to replace the Ba’athist regime of Saddam Hussein, we relinquished sovereignty to that government, struck our tents, and departed. Our forces brought nothing back from Iraq but corpses, wounds, and war stories.

The men and women Chris Kyle targeted and killed were weapons-bearing enemies, themselves trying to kill members of a liberating force: a force sent to Iraq to relieve its people of the yoke of one of the most brutal dictators ever to appear on this ball of rock. Comparing him to psychotic killer Adam Lanza, who walked into an elementary school and slaughtered two dozen perfect innocents, is a moral crime of a magnitude I lack the words to define.

The one obscenity missing from Richman’s piece is a statement that the psychotic ex-Marine who murdered Chris Kyle served justice by doing so. Perhaps Richman’s vestigial conscience kicked in at the last moment to prevent it. Or perhaps he realized that that would be a “bridge too far” even for him.

I can no longer bear the “libertarian” label. The dictionary meaning of the word has been swallowed by a heap of malevolent connotations, among which an absolute and unreasoning hostility to the American military is perhaps the worst. I maintain my pro-freedom stance and the policy positions that flow from it, but I reject the label and its implications of association and agreement with such scum as Sheldon Richman. Those who retain the label must henceforth defend themselves against the implication that they agree with Richman, or argue for his odious stance. And so yet another honorable word is colonized by dishonorable men.

I have come to understand all too well why so many persons who share my views prefer to call themselves “constitutional conservatives.” Though there’s some fuzz on that peach, at least it doesn’t dishonor the very best Americans of all: those who have gone forth over and over, wisely or not, to succor the oppressed of other lands, at great risk, and frequently the ultimate price, to themselves.

“We have gone forth from our shores repeatedly over the last hundred years and we've done this as recently as the last year in Afghanistan and put wonderful young men and women at risk, many of whom have lost their lives, and we have asked for nothing except enough ground to bury them in.” -- Colin Powell

To All the ****heads Screaming For Us to Munch Sh*t Sandwiches:

Title: To All the ****heads Screaming For Us to Munch Sh*t Sandwiches:
Author: SilverDeth
Date: 1/30/15

Dear Carpetbagging RINOS and your Media Goons:

Go f*ck yourselves with rusty barbwire you insipid gentry-caste Repubican piss-guzzlers. You Goddamned Whigs need to realize you are deader than Dickens and less credible than Gary Busey at the pinnacle of a week long ether binge. You filthy bastards are not just liars, you’re Goddamned charlatans and backstabbers – who arrogantly think themselves capable of pissing on the American public while commenting on the unseasonable rain.

Newsflash, you pox-tongued heaps of bilge flotsam: You’re one-fourth as crafty as you imagine, and these “games” are as patently transparent as they are infantile. Surprise! The American people are capable of contrasting the filthy lies oozing from your rotted maws with what you retards actually f*cking DO the second you plant your acne-pocked asses in those cushy leather chairs. (Seats us serfs paid for at gun-point no less. Add highway robbery and extortion to the list of grievances read aloud at your public lynchings post Civil War II).

May all you Establishment Republicans rot in a special part of hell reserved for the worst sorts of frauds, throat-slitters and hucksters. Hopefully, you’ll be forcefully delivered there via good, stout rope – at the hands of the peasants you sold into penury. It is our fervent wish that your last moments on this earth be spent in terror, pain, anguish and regret.

Scratch that last part. Everybody knows liver-flukes don’t feel “regret.” But… they do react to pain. “We the People” will just have to come to terms with that somehow.

If the proceeding screed was too difficult – or vile – for you to wrap your noggins around constant readers, then please, allow Alexander Hamilton to drive the point home in a less vitriolic manner:
“If we must have an enemy at the head of Government, let it be one whom we can oppose, and for whom we are not responsible, who will not involve our party in the disgrace of his foolish and bad measures.”
- Alexander Hamilton
Better to let the Marxist Prog-Nazi’s push the nation into open warfare than acquiesce to the death-by-inches delivered courtesy of the Statist RePubics and their liars-brigade.


The 'Pubics will surrender, and then craft insulting sham-proceedings, farcical-trials and engage in mock-worthy grandstanding to hide the betrayal. These snake-oil productions are – by design – incapable of accomplishing anything. It’s all mugging for the camera, hoodwinking the stupid, and insulting the intelligence of any rational person. F*ck them. Destroy them, abandon the Republicans at the ballot box, strangle their funds – make them further whore themselves before the Chamber of Commerce – refuse their minions every shilling they beg for. De-legitimize them.

“But but but… we must take them back from the inside!!!” screams the “logical adults.” (A.K.A. Boodle-fed sub-human spineless Republican campaign hacks with bylines). To these cringing p*ssy’s we say – resolutely – EAT SH*T AND DIE. Back in the good old days, when $10.00 was a tank of a gas, dinner for two and a movie, (with popcorn), our grandfather had a saying, relevant to this sort of Sh*t-burger gobbling pragmatism:
“You cannot co-opt Satan’s throne by joining his legions.”
- T.L.
It’s as true today as it was when he said it. A person, no matter how just, can’t sup with Lucifer, and then expect to take over hell in heaven’s name. Hell is innately corrupting, filled with and controlled by evil – and indistinguishable from Washington D.C. at this point. There can be no victory through “infiltrating” either political party. No human is capable of oozing to the top of that cesspool and remaining untainted by the wickedness about him. Forget such nonsense – good intentions won’t protect someone from the corrosive influence of Mordor on the Potomac.

The battle for this nation won’t… no… CAN’T be prosecuted until the Republican Party is absolutely f*cking destroyed. They are a roadblock to individual liberty – every bit as much as the Marxists – only more insidious. They extend a hand and beam smiles in friendship, while concealing a bayonet behind their back.
Burn it down – if in the process the Moonbats take complete control of our government, so be it – let them run wild. As a wise man at the WRSA is fond of noting… worse is better. After all… the harder the minions of Sauron squeeze, the more they justify their own firing squad. Encourage their malfeasance. The founders understood this gambit implicitly, and threw raw-meat at the Red-Coats until the British validated the Revolution.

Give the Moonbats all the rope they want. They’ll gleefully drag it to their own place of execution. But first, the American people must rise up and mercy-kill the Republican party. Metaphorically speaking of course. Although… if the good folks should accidentally take us a bit… literally… well… we’re OK with that too.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

A Crisis Of Meaning

“The destroyer is not a truth-crisis, it is a meaning-crisis.” – Piers Anthony, Macroscope

Political persuasion specialist Michael Emerling has said that the meaning of a communication inheres in the reaction of the receiver. Unless you have a considerable grounding in epistemology and semantics, that statement can be somewhat difficult to decode. Yet it’s one of the most important statements ever made about political outreach. Recent developments in the strategies and tactics of the Left have made it essential for freedom lovers to grasp it and internalize it.

For openers, consider the following episode:

The Obama Administration, following in the footsteps of another noteworthy Democrat liar (“It depends what the meaning of ‘is’ is.”), has decided to defend the indefensible by arbitrarily redefining the terms of discussion. That this has been viewed – so far, at least – as merely one more outrage to add to the Obamunist ledger suggests that in political discourse words shall no longer be permitted to have enduring meanings. If this is the case, our political degeneracy has reached a terminal stage.

But pause for a moment and reflect upon:

  • What Administration spokesdroid Eric Schultz said;
  • The meaning drawn from it by those who have heard his words.

No one with three functioning brain cells could imagine that the Taliban, whose operational tactics are indistinguishable from those of other Islamic terrorists in the Middle East, is anything but a terrorist organization. It differs from the others only in once having had control of a nation-state. Calling it an “armed insurgency” cannot change the objective facts of its behavior; it can only provide a tissue-thin rhetorical cover for the Obama Administration’s actions toward it.

So what Schultz said amounted to “Don’t probe us on this or we’ll take some sort of vengeance for it later.” That’s almost certainly the meaning he wanted his audience to derive from it. However, the meaning they drew from it might have included that, but surely also included: “The Obama Administration will do what it damned well pleases when it damned well pleases, without regard for the prior policies of this or any other Administration.”

Ponder the difference for a moment before continuing on.

Man’s rational capacity requires the use of symbols. The reason is embedded in the nature of reason itself:

  • To reason is to make use of abstractions – generalizations from specific cases to general patterns – to deduce effects from causes applied to adequately specified contexts.
  • One cannot conceive a abstraction without inserting symbols – each one a placeholder for a generic member of some defined class – into one’s conception.
  • Thus, symbols with stable meanings are essential to the conception and employment of abstractions.

(A little deep for a Thursday morning? Blame my snowblower, which weighs twice what I do and was massively disinclined to deal with the load Mother Nature dropped on my driveway Monday night and Tuesday morning.)

This is so fundamental to human mentation that even mathematicians tend to be unaware of it until it’s been proposed to them explicitly. It’s too automatic – too integral to Man’s pursuit of knowledge about the world and the creatures in it. Compelling oneself to think about it involves deliberately inserting oneself into a “strange loop” of the sort Douglas Hofstadter wrote about in Godel, Escher, Bach. Such a loop has no exit point upon which we can rely.

By corollary, if one is forbidden to attribute stable meanings to certain symbols – for example, the words used in political discourse – one cannot make sense of the statements that employ them. A barrier rises between our minds and the truths of reality with which we must grapple.

This is immensely appealing to those who seek to evade the consequences appropriate to their actions.

I wrote some time ago:

In the ideological clashes of today, the attention of the greater mass of Americans is focused on secondary matters. Arguments over national defense, tax rates, social policy directions, regulatory structures, and so forth continue to rage, but with less prospect of being satisfactorily settled than ever before...because a critical pinion for all argument of any sort has been undermined near to collapse.

The pinion of which I speak is the concept of objective truth.

It's hard for most people to grasp that objective truth is a conception, rather than something self-evident. Yet furious philosophical battles have been fought over it. The negative side has never conceded defeat. They've advanced reason after reason to doubt the existence of objective reality. As each one is destroyed, they shift to another. In a sense, their proposition is its own strongest weapon, for they respond rather frequently to even the most obvious points by saying, "No, that's your truth" -- an implicit claim that it's the not the observation but the observer's willingness to accept it that really matters.

John Q. Public has heard little of this, of course; it's mostly fought in the ivory towers, and in the publications that cater to professional intellectuals. All the same, it matters to him more than he's able to appreciate.

Truth is an evaluation: a judgment that some proposition corresponds to objective reality sufficiently for men to rely upon it. The weakening of the concept of truth cuts an opening through which baldly counterfactual propositions can be thrust into serious discourse. Smith might say that proposition X is disprovable, or that it contradicts common observations of the world; Jones counters that X suits him fine, for he has dismissed the disprovers as "partisan" and prefers his own observations to those of Smith. Unless the two agree on standards for relevant evidence, pertinent reasoning, and common verification -- in other words, standards for what can be accepted as sufficiently true -- their argument over X will never end.

An interest group that has "put its back against the wall" as regards its central interest, and is unwilling to concede the battle regardless of the evidence and logic raised against its claims, will obfuscate, attack the motives of its opponents, and attempt to misdirect their attention with irrelevancies. When all of these have failed, its last-ditch defense is to attack the concept of truth. Once that has been undermined, the group can't be defeated. It can stay on the ideological battlefield indefinitely, preserving the possibility of victory through attrition or fatigue among its opponents.

As the years have flowed past, I’ve come to consider that particular essay the most important of all my emissions onto the Web. Indeed, the importance of its core thesis has risen to the point that no political statement can be assessed without evaluating whether the words it uses are being employed according to their public meanings: i.e., the meanings private persons routinely attribute to them. In other words, we must determine whether the speaker respects the truths those words are used by us common folk to express.

The effort involved in even listening to political gabble has risen proportionately to politicians’ self-defensive reinterpretations of key words and phrases. Such reinterpretations are inherently attempts to evade the facts.

If you’ve wondered why it is that no politician ever answers a yes-or-no question with a yes-or-no answer, wonder no longer. It’s utterly impossible to reinterpret “yes” and “no.” That makes them quicksand for the politician determined to retain the option to “adjust” his positions for subsequent needs.

Yesterday afternoon, the esteemed Glenn Reynolds wrote thus:

IN JOHN CARTER’S WORDS, I STILL LIVE: Andrew Sullivan is going to stop blogging. No, blogging isn’t dead. And InstaPundit gets more pageviews than pretty much everyone who’s calling blogging dead. But I can understand Andrew quitting. For me, the real strain isn’t the blogging, but having to pay close attention to the news all the time. The news is usually depressing, when it’s not angering, and that’s doubly true for the Obama years. But I’m not going anywhere anytime soon.

I’m pleased that our beloved InstaPundit has resolved to soldier on, but ponder for a moment why “The news is usually depressing, when it’s not angering.” There’s always been a large percentage of bad news in the news; after all, the major maxim of journalism has always been “if it bleeds, it leads.” In earlier decades, we were far more confident that bad news with political import – i.e., negative developments the response to which would appropriately come from an American government – would be confronted squarely and coped with properly. Public confidence in such a response ain’t what she used to be. (If that comes as news to you, congratulations on a really long nap.)

The reason is the increasing – today near to absolute – unwillingness of our political class to confront reality when doing so might make it look bad.

When reality slaps you across the face with a wet mackerel, the only imaginable evasion is rhetorical: “No, no! While it did look like a mackerel, it wasn’t an authentic mackerel, as these variances along the lateral fins and the belly scales should make obvious. Besides, I turned forty-five degrees in the instant of the first impact, so it didn’t get my right cheek, so I wasn’t really slapped across the face. Anyway, we’re still good friends.” Dealing with the evasions and their implications is what I find most wearying and most angering. I’d be surprised if that weren’t so for Reynolds and many other commentators who’ve been tempted to lay down their keyboards.

Politicians’ methods for evading reality increasingly employ redefinitions of common words and phrases, distortions of their meanings, and a refusal to use those terms whose meanings are so strongly established that they cannot be so treated. The marvel of political journalism in our time is that anyone still bothers to ask a politician a question, when we all know that the answer will be self-serving rather than honestly responsive. Why, indeed, should a reporter bother to report on political statements and orations, which are inevitably more deceitful than informative? The temptation must be strong to eschew such wastes of ink and pixels, and merely report on politicians’ deeds as recorded by cameras and microphones.

Our political destroyers – and by that term, I mean our entire political class, regardless of party affiliation – have embroiled us in a meaning-crisis whose consequence is a truth-crisis. They are resolved that we shall never be able to hold them to the least of their statements. (Their promises? Forget it, Jake.) If we can be battered out of our reliance on the meanings of common words and phrases, our yearning for truth, and our belief in objective reality, their paths to absolute power over us will be completely unobstructed at long last.

Food for thought.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Problem Number 1.

I become more and more hardened in my long-standing conviction that Problem Number 1 is the lying, cheating Globalist Western ruling elites and their open borders ideology. Problem Number 2 is Muslim Jihadists and other hostile aliens.
"Islamization and Hijacked Patriotism." By Fjordman, Gates of Vienna, 1/27/15.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The Culture War: A Reflection

Well, Polymath has just received its first Amazon review – those of you who purchased your copies at SmashWords can review it at both sites, you know, and I’d consider it a great favor if you’d do that – and I must say, it was far more favorable than the book (or I) deserve. But that review, plus the reactions registered in my email, plus this new emission from Larry Correia have me thinking about that struggle of insuperable viciousness that never seems to abate: the culture war.

It’s a commonplace that fish aren’t aware of water. Humans aren’t fully aware of their cultural matrix for the same reason: it’s omnipresent and unceasing. Yet there’s hardly anything more important to the national spirit or our individual tendencies when confronted by some question of significance.

When we deign to notice the fusillades in the culture war, it’s normally because some noisy interest group has made a stink about the “marginalization” of its mascots. Consider homosexuality as a case for study. Get into your DeLorean, fire up the Flux Capacitor, and go back a mere thirty years. How many openly homosexual characters were featured in prime-time television shows? The number is approximately zero. What accounts for the heavy statistical overrepresentation of homosexuals on TV in our time?

Hint: It’s not heterosexuals’ vast, previously unexpressed desire to see homosexual relationships and homosexuals’ interactions with normal people portrayed on our giant-screen HDTVs.

I could go in a myriad directions from here, but I have a specific one in mind.

Unless you’ve spent the last several weeks immured in a Turkish prison, you’re surely aware of all the Sturm und Drang that’s arisen around Clint Eastwood’s blockbuster movie American Sniper. I hardly need recap the movie for those of you who’ve seen it; it’s too powerful and memorable to need my tender mercies. (For those of you who haven’t seen it, see it. Now.) Those who hate it, and they are far more vociferous than numerous, seldom admit to their true reasons; those who love it aren’t always capable of articulating theirs.

The script does inject a few fictional motifs into this otherwise faithful biopic, drawn from Chris Kyle’s book of the same name. Whether those injections were vitally necessary to the movie’s impact is open to debate. What seems indisputable to me is that what elicits the rage of its detractors isn’t the drama but the depiction of the life of Chris Kyle himself. To the pansified cultural elite that dominates arts criticism in our media, Kyle is a major affront – an embarrassment. His patriotism, dutifulness, commitment to his undertaking, moral clarity, and absolute lack of regret or apology for his deeds – for me the most stirring line of the script was “I’m willing to stand before my Creator and answer for every shot I took” – paint him in the sort of pure masculine colors that the glitterati would prefer not to exist.

More succinctly, Chris Kyle was a man. His detractors are not.

Perhaps those detractors would have passed over Kyle’s book without comment had Eastwood not picked up the movie rights. Perhaps they would have dismissed the movie had it not shattered every box-office record for a January release. Perhaps the denunciations wouldn’t have been quite so thunderous had Eastwood and his scripting team injected some harsh statements about the “Bush wars” into the movie. We’ll never know.

What we can and do know is that Eastwood’s portrayal of Chris Kyle has upset the cultural applecart, at least for the moment. The glitterati aren’t happy for the rest of us to see fictional portrayals of unabashed patriotism, moral clarity, and courage. They’ve put too much work into their efforts at portraying whining self-nominated victims and moral deviates as the proper heroes for today.

It testifies to the ineradicability of Americans’ native moral sense that a single well-made movie could so dramatically countervail the glitterati’s counter-valorization campaigns.

One of the reasons I write fiction – indeed, perhaps the most imperative of all of them – is my desire to provide readers with heroes of the kind I favor. There aren’t a lot of heroes of that kind in the fiction coming out of Pub World; the reader pretty much has to go to the independent-writers’ movement for fare of that sort. (Back when I was fool enough to think that a conventional publishing house might take an interest in my novels, several of the rejections I received for Chosen One and On Broken Wings specifically criticized my protagonists’ moral standards.) Some does slip through, of course; the military-fiction pioneered by Tom Clancy and the espionage/special-agent-oriented books Vince Flynn wrote have too large a readership for Pub World to dismiss them. However, it’s noteworthy that Clancy couldn’t get a hearing until The Hunt for Red October was picked up by the tiny Naval Institute Press, and Flynn had to sell his books out of the trunk of his car before a Pub World house picked up Term Limits. Only the prior success of those writers as independents persuaded major New York houses to offer them a slot in their catalogs.

The dominance of Pub World by left-leaning editors began in the Sixties: a part of the cultural-colonization effort Antonio Gramsci called “a long march through the institutions.” It was contemporaneous with efforts of the same sort in cinema, the performing arts, education, and journalism. They who undertook that campaign of cultural transformation weren’t merely acting on their personal preferences; they were openly, avowedly promoting the destruction of the prior American cultural norm. The removal of the traditionally masculine, morally straight hero in favor of a variety of anti-heroes and morally ambiguous figures was central to their efforts.

I’m not prepared to say that it was a conspiracy, in the traditional sense of a coordinated effort plotted in secret and orchestrated according to a defined plan...but neither am I prepared to say that it wasn’t. It was probably more of a hive effect, in which subliminal signals and indicators effect a wide-scale coordination whose participants only recognize it consciously a posteriori.

Whatever the case, its effects have included the demonization of every traditional attribute of iconic American masculinity, with patriotism, courage, and moral clarity at the head of the list. And it was terrifyingly effective; ask any American man who came to maturity in the Seventies or afterward.

I am effectively convinced that Andrew Breitbart’s most famous observation – that “culture is upstream from politics” – is the all-important truth in the battle for the soul of these United States. Yet conservatives and libertarians, as the worthy Ace of Spades has noted, talk politics almost to the exclusion of culture. Our attention turns to the cultural matrix only when something either excites us or irritates us out of our ruts.

That inversion might cost us all possibility of success at restoring freedom and justice to America. Have a little C. S. Lewis:

[W]e continue to clamour for those very qualities we are rendering impossible. You can hardly open a periodical without coming across the statement that what our civilization needs is more 'drive', or dynamism, or self-sacrifice, or 'creativity'. In a sort of ghastly simplicity we remove the organ and demand the function. We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honour and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful.

A nation whose cultural institutions make vicious slanderers such as Michael Moore rich while they sneer at Clint Eastwood could hardly have expected any other result.

The Last Graf is exactly what you’ve expected – indeed, what I and others have been telling you all along. Reclaim the culture. If you have a creative bent, use it and push the products thereof. If you consume any of the arts, especially fiction whether in prose on in the movies and on television, aggressively support those that agree with your standards and boycott, at the very least, those that diverge from them. Refuse to back down from those standards. Be aggressive about promoting those works you find most supportive of them.

The powers of darkness have all but monopolized our journalism, our entertainment, and our educational institutions. With only those bastions, they’ve managed to “de-Americanize” at least two generations of young Americans. They’ve been at it for a long time, and they aren’t about to stop now. We have a lot of catching-up to do. You have a part to play...possibly a more important part than you imagine.

Get started now.

(PS: Yes, it’s snowing heavily. We’ve already received about ten inches and are likely to get fifteen to twenty-five more. I’ll be going out to start the snowblower in a few minutes. If you pray, please pray for everyone in the Northeastern U.S. We need it.)

Monday, January 26, 2015

Decline And Fall

There’s a lot of talk these days about the decline of America, both domestically and on the world stage. I shan’t disagree too stridently, as the indicators have trended downward ever since the late 2008 mortgage crisis and the Bush the Younger Administration’s wholly incorrect response to it (compelled in part, I will allow, by hostile control of Congress.) Yet there are some hopeful signs. My colleague Dystopic highlights one in a recent essay:

Most of the time I prefer to mock Social Justice Warriors. Yes, I know, it’s probably petty, but they aren’t exactly welcoming of debate (you racist!), and so satire is the only real vehicle left to those of us who oppose them. Today, however, I will endeavor to rationally deconstruct their notion of privilege for the benefit of others.

If you read this little gem, Dear White, Straight, Cisgender, Man People: You Are Privileged, you will see the lunacy in all its obscene glory. This is a site that deliberately invokes a sort of childish air, with its hand-scrabble cartoons, preschool fonts and overall nursery-rhyme appearance appropriate for the infantile generation of coddled Social Justice advocates.

To the headline, I can only say: duh. Of course you are privileged. Anyone who is reading this is privileged. You have a computer or mobile device, you probably live in a First World country and there is a high probability you are in the upper 10% of income-earners worldwide. Your skin color and your sex are both irrelevant to that point.

Please read the whole thing. It’s a jewel of its kind.

The sign, of course, is that Dystopic’s reaction to the cited tirade has become the norm. A hefty majority of Americans have simply had it with the “social justice warriors,” their constant whining, their envy-driven demands, their inability to accept themselves as privileged, and above all their insistence on their moral superiority – a state of grace that entitles them to disrupt the lives and affairs of peaceable Americans in the name of whatever Holy Cause animates them this week.

We can’t know what the backbreaker was. It might have been the Occupy “protests.” Or the riots in Ferguson, Missouri. Maybe the crass behavior of the crowd at the first Obama inauguration had something to do with it. Perhaps there have been a few too many public celebrations of homosexuality and demands that it be viewed as “normal.” Perhaps the new trend of Y-chromosome bearers donning women’s clothes, proclaiming themselves to be women, and demanding to be treated as such – never mind the mutilations some of them accept upon their bodies – has finally opened a sufficient number of eyes. Maybe the horde marching down city streets chanting “What do we want? Dead cops! When do we want them? Now!” was simply too much for the longsuffering public and its badly tried patience. It might never become clear.

Whatever the causal tale, it appears ever more likely that the “social justice warriors” have embarked upon their final voyage: the decline and fall of their Insanity Movement. Please, God, let it be so.

Revulsion is a powerful social force. When a people finds itself appalled by some practice, it will move against it. If the practitioners are themselves peaceable and orderly, they might merely be marginalized or ostracized. If they practice their habits “in your face,” the treatment they receive from the decent public will be proportionately less gentle. If they go to the extent of disrupting the affairs of others, they’ll be lucky to escape with their lives.

The contemporary Left has composed a strategy out of inverting those responses by the invocation of two words to which it has no proper claim: “rights” and “justice.” The more repellent are some group’s actions or demands, the more likely it is that the Left will adopt them as mascots and embrace their “cause.” The next step is the claim that the group’s members are “oppressed,” with a demand for compensatory action by “society.” Once the group’s status as victims, now the most priced of all political currencies, has been accepted by a sufficient fraction of the Main Stream Media, all that remains is the shouting for insane “rights” and social “justice”...and anyone not deafened by previous episodes of this sort surely hears a lot of it.

However, the artificially inculcated guilt upon which this relies has a finite lifetime. The more frequently the “victim” button is pressed, the less powerful and less prompt is the response. In addition, significant events such as the persecutions of George Zimmerman and Darren Wilson can lower the public’s susceptibility to the stimulus in a “step function” fashion.

My estimate of current public receptivity to the Social Justice Warriors’ demands and tactics is that it won’t take more than one more provocation from them to topple them into the abyss of overwhelming popular contempt... possibly with much worse consequences for their various causes and mascot-groups.

It’s highly significant that the Social Justice Warriors, sociologically, come mainly from the most privileged stratum of American society. Their economic standing is in the top 5% to 10% of the nation. A high percentage of them have college educations. Those that work are almost unanimously in white-collar trades. They are predominantly without a care for their general well-being...even the ones who’ve never earned their own livings.

Ludwig von Mises would classify them as among “the cousins:” they whose living standards and security stem from their clever, industrious older relatives. The more common term for them today would be “limousine liberals.” However, that term also subsumes many of the “idle rich:” the millionaire stars and moguls of the entertainment class. When they make themselves conspicuous, whether in the guise of an “Occupy”-style riot or a gathering of private jets as in Davos, they elicit contempt from the alert and knowledgeable, incredulity from the undecided...and unease from fellow-travelers who sense the hazards to their Cause.

That sense of unease is quite rational, especially given the already low reputations many of the more prominent individuals among them have earned in their several ways.

Let’s publicize such events to the hilt. It’s the best service we can do for freedom in these United States. Besides, shouldn’t the public be made aware of how deplorable are the conditions black transgender lesbian Marxist enviro-nazis must endure, to say nothing of the execrable accommodations at their semi-annual conferences? Some of them have only one iPad to their name – and no private jet! The horror! I mean, what if that were you?

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have snow to shovel. (Yes, already.)

Apologies for minimal posting

I've seen so many things, I've watched so many diversions from the truth ala "watch the right hand while the left hand pulls something out of it's ass" that I've had to stay on my other blog or my FB. To have either copied and pasted here, or written complete posts at this site would have popped my eyeballs from the blood pressure levels.

Y'all, we voted these new congresscritters in to fix this shit. The new ones have already been in their seats for, what, 3 weeks? I see some promise on some points, but I see no guarantees on anything. One would have wished for hard, cold, balls out war. Not literal, you know what I mean. But we should be hearing more of serious sparkage coming from DC.

All we can do is watch and wait. The other option will be too ugly to imagine. Been there, done that. But it may yet be where we need to go.

Pray that we can fix this peacefully, but I doubt it at times.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Summer Soldiers

Now and then, I become unusually irritated by persons who, for whatever reason, have decided to follow the Politician’s Principle:

“Show me which way the crowd is going,
And I will lead them.”

It’s particularly annoying when such a “summer soldier” has a significant public profile and has decided that now is the time to exploit it.

No, I’m not going to name names. This is just to blow off a little steam. After all, why not? I have plenty to spare.

Some of us have been fighting the good fight for freedom, for clarity of speech and thought, and for the fundamentals of reason – especially the concept of an objective reality from which truths can be drawn – for one hell of a long time. It’s galling to see a summer soldier suddenly leap into the fray and posture as commander.

I fight that war on two fronts: opinion-editorial and fiction. All I get for those efforts is a percentage of the purchase price of my novels, which I hope is justified by their entertainment value. I take a lot of abuse from our enemies. That’s probably 99% of why the summer soldiers irritate me so.

Some of the offenders take the institutional approach: they seek to capitalize on a trend among common citizens by creating a “front group” and soliciting donations. No doubt you can think of a couple. But the more common sort is the individual with some notoriety, who’s decided that weighing in on some subject would serve him well now. Many such individuals are contenders for high office or some other form of political access and influence...but not all of them.

There are numerous cases among entertainers. Many of these are desperate to be known for something other than their dramatic or musical skills. The mayfly ephemerality characteristic of popularity in their realm can easily give rise to such a yearning. But that’s an explanation, not a justification.

They offend me. Yes, even the few who agree with me. To borrow a phrase from Laura Ingraham, they should “shut up and sing.”

The very worst rational error one can make is to adopt a good posture for the wrong reason.

If entertainers were without large popular followings whose members are eager to ape them in every conceivable way, I daresay my ire would be an order of magnitude less. Celebritarianism has brought us so much herd-like behavior that such persons are capable of swaying the future of our whole nation. One consequence, perhaps the most deplorable of all, has been conservatives’ enthusiasm for promoting celebrities, including the most minor ones, who proclaim themselves conservatives.

To those who think that to be a good thing: What would you say should your favored celebrity change his public posture, taking his entire herd of followers with him? Alternately, imagine that those followers should some day grow up and become embarrassed about their earlier mindless adulation of said celebrity. What would be their attitude toward their earlier ethical, religious, and political attachments? Are you willing to bet on it either way?

Caution, Gentle Reader. Here be dragons.

As I said in the opening segment, I needed to blow off a little steam. This particular irritant has been on my mind for decades. It’s not the worst of the batch, merely the one that’s bubbled to the surface this morning.

I try to resist the urge to vent this way, especially on a Sunday morning before Mass. I don’t always succeed.

Friday, January 23, 2015

That which must never, ever be mentioned.

South Africa's President Jacob Zuma is attending the Davos World Economic Forum with a message that investment and business are key to South Africa’s economic success. He leaves behind a simmering row caused by Zelda la Grange, Nelson Mandela's former personal assistant who has said she would feel more welcome in France than in her native South Africa.

La Grange says potential white investors from Europe and the United States should be told they’re not welcome in South Africa.

She later apologised for any hurt her remarks might have caused but she has not withdrawn her assertion that President Jacob Zuma is making whites the scapegoats for South Africa’s ills.

"Former Mandela assistant sparks South Africa race row." By RFI, 1/21/15.

H/t: Gates of Vienna .

Thursday, January 22, 2015

A Thought For Thursday

[This morning’s reading brought me two exceedingly striking articles. I dithered over which one should serve as the launching pad for today’s tirade, but only for a moment. I’ve decided to save the one with wider scope and farther-reaching implications for tomorrow. I promise you: it won’t spoil between now and then. -- FWP]

Hearken to Kevin Williamson:

One of the remarkable aspects of the recent spate of infantile left-wing protests that caught Jim Geraghty’s attention is that they are directed at private life and private spaces rather than at public institutions and public affairs. One expects protests at city hall; in New York, we even endured the unseemly spectacle of one of those shut-down-traffic protests conducted by the city council itself, as though its members did not do enough to inconvenience the residents of that city. Protests in front of the police station or the (hideously fascist-looking) Federal Reserve building are part of the normal course of affairs in a democratic republic with free speech and a strong tradition of lively discourse....

In New York City, protesters invaded the Pershing Square Café across the street from Grand Central Terminal, which is one of the more diverse spots in heavily segregated Manhattan, catering as it does to commuting 53-year-old lawyers from Fairfield County, who check any number of different demographic boxes.

The message these protests send is that there is no private space — and, therefore, no private life — so far as this particular rabble is concerned. It’s the familiar Trotsky conundrum: You may not be interested in politics, but politics is interested in you.

Does this plaint sound at all familiar?

Do you know what the victimists fear above all else? Being ignored. It’s why they put so much time and effort into getting in front of every microphone, every camera, and every so-called journalist in the world. If a sufficient preponderance of us were simply to ignore them, their influence would drop to approximately zero. Indeed, the power of that tactic – what Arthur Herzog called in The B.S. Factor the “mass yawn” – is so staggering that it can even nullify state and federal laws, without recourse to the political process....

The political class and its hangers-on fear exactly the same things as the victimists: being ignored. Were they to become aware that no one is paying any attention to their enactments and decrees, they would soon slink away. Some might even enter productive trades, perhaps as cheap prostitutes.

(Dear Lord, please strengthen me against the rising inclination to post a simple “I told you so” here each and every morning. It’s so wearying to be out in front of the curve all the time. Yours truly, Francis W. Porretto, Curmudgeon Emeritus to the World Wide Web.)

The pole star of the politician is the same as that of the political activist: politicization. Both of them want to destroy any notions the rest of us might have about whatever matter they/re hot and bothered about being a matter for private decision-making, in which politics and government have no place. After all, how could they possibly be significant if we refuse to allow them to coerce us about a matter around which they’ve wrapped their hearts and souls?

Ignoring them is getting harder all the time. But that’s not their fault; it’s ours.

Quite a long time ago, at the late, much lamented Palace of Reason, I penned an article about a friend of a friend – a hairdresser – who reported being at her wits’ end because of customers whose behavior would once have gotten them the “bum’s rush,” with neither apology nor consequences. I mentioned an old sign that once appeared in every commercial establishment, but which one never sees these days:

We Reserve The Right
To Refuse Service To Anyone

The reason those little signs are no longer commonplace is that it’s illegal to refuse service to the members of various state-protected groups. Indeed, the enforcers of that law – the Civil Rights Act of 1964 – are so vicious and so relentless that there’s almost no behavior short of felony assault that the law will concede as a justification for refusing service. Worse, even when the justification is indisputable the shopowner who tries to enforce his will personally will always be on the dirty end of a lawsuit – civil, criminal, or both.

It’s often been said that “Hard cases make bad law.” There is some truth in the concept, but at least as often it’s the attempt to make law to redress some condition that’s generally deemed undesirable that elicits the hard cases. That’s given rise to an alternative maxim: “Bad law makes for hard cases.”

What constitutes a “bad law” is the question before us.

Let’s return to Kevin Williamson’s article for a moment:

During the Civil Rights Movement — the real one, not the ersatz one led today by Jesse Jackson et al. — politics did genuinely intersect with brunch. On one side of the issue were people who argued that the social situation of African Americans at the time was so dire and so oppressive that invasive federal action was necessary. On the other side were well-intentioned conservatives such as Barry Goldwater and any number of writers for this magazine, who argued that if the reach of Washington were extended into every mom-and-pop diner in the country, it would constitute a step toward the abolition of private life, that the natural and inevitable extension of the principle at work would ensure that rather than being treated as private property, businesses reclassified as “public accommodations” would be treated more like public property, that the greasy snout of politics eventually would stick itself into every last precinct of what had been considered the sphere of privacy beyond the public sector.

As it turns out, both sides were right.

That last sentence undermines an otherwise near-perfect exercise in punditry. It’s impossible that both sides could be right, by the very nature of things. Either a “mom-and-pop diner” is private property or it isn’t; you can’t have it both ways. Williamson’s desire to find some way of accommodating two inherently contradictory positions is untenable. It expresses a desire not to offend that the conflicting demands of the “two sides” have made impossible.

The politicization of commerce didn’t start with the Civil Rights Act of 1964, of course. It has much deeper roots than that. But every stroke in that direction has weakened the most important protection of individual rights this country possesses: the principle of unfettered private discretion over one’s private property.

And every last speck of it was deliberate.

”Bad law” is an envelope that subsumes many more specific sub-categories. However, laws that should not have been made in the first place because they infringe on private rights are surely included therein. The problem here is twofold:

  • A strong consensus among the citizens that “something must be done” about some situation;
  • Politicians’ eagerness to politicize whatever they can get their claws around.

When I wrote about the importance of the black market a few days ago, I thought principally in terms of specific goods and services that political forces had chosen to ban, control, or restrict by regulation. Yet there’s a form of “black market” that’s arisen in response to supposedly well intentioned “anti-discrimination” statutes. It poses the greatest of frustrations to the politicizers, because it’s inherently beyond their reach. It’s the exercise of “consumer discrimination:” individuals’ personal decisions to live here rather than there, to work at this firm rather than that one, and to patronize or not to patronize a commercial establishment according to the personalities and characters of the frequenters thereof.

Is there a racial correlation? Of course. Is that deplorable? Not necessarily. Think about it:

  • Would you willingly drink in a tavern whose other patrons habitually view you as hostile?
  • Would you willingly work among persons who consistently treat you with contempt?
  • Would you choose to live in a neighborhood overwhelmingly populated with such persons?
  • Had you the means to avert all those conditions, wouldn’t you use them?
  • Would the skin colors or ethnic heritages of those hostile, contemptuous persons matter to you?

Only a completely totalitarianized nation can overcome “consumer discrimination.” It must dictate every decision made by every one of its subjects. It must leave them no power to resist. It must punish attempts to deviate so surely, swiftly, and harshly that the very thought of nonconformity is all but erased from the nation.

I doubt there are any left-liberals among the regular readers of my screeds, but if there are, tell us all, please: What do you, whose political allies are constantly screaming that “the personal is the political,” propose to do about any of that? And what will you say when the goring of oxen gets around to yours?

Think it over.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Investments, Retirement, And Faith

Every now and then I find the stimulus to a post in a completely unexpected place. Today, the stimulus comes from this article on retirement preparations in the Wall Street Journal:

Take a few minutes. Add up your basic annual expenses, and make sure to include the taxes you’ll owe on required and voluntary withdrawals from your retirement accounts and on the income and capital gains in your taxable assets. Then subtract your Social Security and, if you’re lucky, pension checks. This leaves you with your residual living expenses, or RLE....

The rub is that your retirement is reasonably assured only if the bulk of those assets is in relatively safe holdings.... As such, this may be a good time to start reducing the risk in your portfolio....

I bear in mind Blaise Pascal. The great 17th century philosopher and mathematician posited that belief in God was a paying proposition: If one believed and was wrong, all that was lost was a lifetime of unnecessary piousness and Sunday sermons. Betting against Him and being wrong, on the other hand, produced a different and rather warmer outcome. In other words, the probability of error matters less than its consequences. Put yet another way, when faced with the imponderable, the wisest course is the one with the most acceptable worst-case scenario. [Emphasis added by FWP.]

This, not to put too fine a point on it, is pure horseshit.

The probability of the various possible outcomes always matters. If the probability of total calamity – in the above case, a devastating crash in the equities market – is near enough to zero, you can neglect it in your planning. (This is especially the case if there’s no possible way to brace yourself for that outcome.) The difficulty lies in determining that probability.

Far too many people have far too much faith in their visions of America’s economic and fiscal future. Certain people -- I’m thinking specifically of militant evangelistic atheists such as Richard Dawkins:

Science, after all, is an empirical endeavor that traffics in probabilities. The probability of God, Dawkins says, while not zero, is vanishingly small. He is confident that no Flying Spaghetti Monster exists. Why should the notion of some deity that we inherited from the Bronze Age get more respectful treatment?

Dawkins has been talking this way for years, and his best comebacks are decades old. For instance, the Flying Spaghetti Monster is a variant of the tiny orbiting teapot used by Bertrand Russell for similar rhetorical duty back in 1952. Dawkins is perfectly aware that atheism is an ancient doctrine and that little of what he has to say is likely to change the terms of this stereotyped debate. But he continues to go at it. His true interlocutors are not the Christians he confronts directly but the wavering nonbelievers or quasi believers among his listeners – people like me, potential New Atheists who might be inspired by his example....

Dawkins looks forward to the day when the first US politician is honest about being an atheist. "Highly intelligent people are mostly atheists," he says. "Not a single member of either house of Congress admits to being an atheist. It just doesn't add up. Either they're stupid, or they're lying. And have they got a motive for lying? Of course they've got a motive! Everybody knows that an atheist can't get elected."

...have far too much faith in their own unverifiable, unfalsifiable faiths to admit that there’s no way to gauge the “probability” of the existence of God.

(A tangent of importance: Dawkins’s posturing is doubly wrong. Science does not “deal in probabilities.” It deals in induction from available evidence, the inference of hypotheses to explain observed patterns, the design of experiments that test those hypotheses, and the absolute principle that science offers no proofs and no final answers: i.e., that one failure to predict a properly designed, reproducible experiment’s outcome will falsify any hypothesis, regardless of its previous successes. This is called scientific method, with which pseudo-scientists such as Dawkins who prattle glibly about “scientific proof” are apparently unfamiliar.)

The mathematical purist’s approach to probability relies entirely upon the number of possible outcomes and their frequencies as derived from the governing distribution function(s). This is fine when discussing wholly hypothetical situations such as a completely random selection of one of an array of numbers, all of whose values and frequencies are known. However, it is not applicable to most real-world situations.

The best approach to gauging the probability of a real-world event is empirical. For example, flip a randomly selected coin a thousand times and keep a tally of the heads and the tails. That will give you a close estimate of the probability of each outcome for that coin. Similarly, one can look back at the history of the equities markets since they first arose in organized form, measure the average and maximum lengths of the bull markets and corrections periods, and arrive at a personal, disputable estimate of the probability that the current bull market will end soon. There is significant uncertainty in applying such a technique to the equities market. (The likely depth and duration of the correction to be expected, yet another important consideration in allocating one’s assets, is a separate study.)

But there is no way to determine “the probability that God exists.” That would require:

  • The attribution of a specific, spatiotemporally based definition to God;
  • Deductions from that definition about what circumstances “should” evoke a manifestation of God;
  • A tally of observed manifestations of God and failures to observe such manifestations.

There’s only one word for any such proposed investigation: ridiculous.

Which establishes -- to the limits of measurement, as we engineering types like to say -- that William J. Bernstein, the author of the Wall Street Journal article, has substantially misstated the basis for personal financial planning, and that Richard Dawkins, who makes absurd arm-waving arguments about “the probability that God exists,” is an arrogant idiot who’s merely unhappy that his atheistic faith isn’t shared by the entire world.

Quod erat demonstrandum.

Monday, January 19, 2015

We come in peace.

Hundreds of protesters were out in force Saturday at a Muslim gathering [in Garland, Texas] blacked out to the media called “Stand with the Prophet” whose keynote speaker, an imam from Brooklyn, has been linked as an unindicted co-conspirator with the deadly 1993 World Trade Center bombing.

The imam, Siraj Wahhaj, once remarked, “It is my duty and our duty as Muslims to replace the U.S. Constitution with the Quran.”

President Obama formally invited Wahhaj to give a “juma,” or invocation, at the Democratic National Convention in 2012, but his invitation was withdrawn after public criticism of the decision became widespread.[1]

The event spokeswoman Page Spence, had this to say:
We are peaceful people. We want nothing more than to be part of this culture and community. We are level-headed peaceable people who are not trying to convert every single person to our religion.[2]
So, wanting "nothing more than to be a part of this culture and community" involves inviting a Muslim religious leader to be a keynote speaker who thinks it's the duty of all Muslims to replace the Constitution. Call me crazy but I think declaring one's intention to do away with our Constitution is sedition pure and simple and doesn't remotely equate to being "a part of this culture and community." And this schmuck they invited was the keynote speaker?

The translation for patriots of this disgraceful woman's remarks is, "We hope you buy the ridiculous lies we tell you about Islam and our intentions. If you believe that having your Constitution replaced by the Koran is consistent with getting along with you and being part of America, well then, you're stupider than we thought."

I can't find a reference for the date or the words of Imam Wahhaj to the effect that the shariah must replace the Koran. Lots of articles on the web indicate that he "once remarked" that that is the case. I will, however, go way out on a limb and express my opinion that he was quoted correctly above. One source indicated that he said what he said prior to being invited to deliver that "juma" at the 2012 Dem National Convention.[3] Eighteen years having gone by since the attack on WTC, I'm thinking that the Democrats (or Obama himself) did know Wahhaj was an unindicted co-conspirator in a massive crime, so Democrat thinking appears to be thoroughly anti-American and corrupt.

To the same effect on Islamic subversion and complete and utter bullshit on wanting to integrate into American society:

A leader for the Texas branch of the Council on American Islamic Relations has told a crowd at a rally for Islam that members of the faith really shouldn’t be bound by American law.

“If we are practicing Muslims, we are above the law of the land,” said Mustafa Carroll, the executive director of the Dallas-Fort Worth CAIR branch, a keynote speaker as the recent rally.[4]

It's, like, you know, a vindication of Daniel Webster who, in 1852, addressed the New York Historical Society:
The Constitution has enemies, secret and professed. . . . They have hot heads and cold hearts. They are rash, reckless, and fierce for change, and with no affection for the existing institutions of their country. . . . Other enemies there are, more cool, and with more calculation. These have a deeper and more fixed and dangerous purpose. . . . There are those in the country, who profess, in their own words, even to hate the Constitution.

Friends of the Constitution must rally and unite . . . act, with immovable firmness, like a band of brothers, with moderation and conciliation . . . looking only to the great object set before them, the preservation of the Constitution, bequeathed to them by their ancestors. They must gird up their loins for the work. It is a duty which they owe to these ancestors, and to the generations which are to succeed them.

Daniel Webster concluded: “Gentlemen, I give my confidence, my countenance, my heart and hand, my entire co-operation to all good men . . . who are willing to stand by the Constitution. . . . I hardly know . . . the manner of our political death. . . . We shall die no lingering death. . . . An earthquake would shake the foundations of the globe, pull down the pillars of heaven, and bury us at once in endless darkness. Such may be the fate of this country and its institutions. May I never live, to see that day![5]

From the evidence you've just read, in what way could you conclude that that day is not dawning in our own lifetime?

[1] "Hundreds rally at secret Texas Muslim event. Media denied access to attend 'Stand with the Prophet' conference." By John Griffing, World Net Daily, 1/18/15.
[2] Id.
[3] "Islamists to open DNC with prayer for sharia to replace US Constitution." By Derrick Hollenbeck, Western Journalism, 8/29/12. Other Muslim invited attendees at that Convention do not, shall we say, inspire confidence.
[4] ""#MyJihad In Texas – CAIR On Muslims: ‘We Are Above The Law Of The Land’." By Jake Hammer, Pat Dollard, 3/4/13. H/t: askmarion.
[5] "Daniel Webster's prediction for America coming true. Bill Federer remembers dire warning against nation that forgets God." By Bill Federer, World Net Daily, 1/17/15. H/t: Liberty Review.

Waiting for My Hubby

He was in Cleveland this weekend, doing some work related to the prospective sale of that home.  He left just about 5 hours ago - I just received a call, he's in WV, not even in Charleston.  So, it's likely to be a tough day; I need to stay awake (OK, maybe a nap) until he either arrives home, or calls that he's bunking in at a motel.

Sounds like a good evening to grade papers.

Speak No Evil?

As public confidence dwindles in the supposedly protective mechanisms around us, we confront a choice of paths into the future:

  1. We can surrender to the tides that threaten us;
  2. We can become self-reliant;
  3. We can close our eyes.

(Note carefully what I didn’t say. We cannot make the inherently untrustworthy agents of the State trustworthy, nor will improving their equipment, their training, or – may God help us all – their “inclusiveness” make us any safer. It’s been tried, people. It didn’t work then and it won’t work now.)

He who has surrendered mentally will choose option #1. He who has resolved to survive and flourish will choose option #2. But he whose fragile mettle will not allow him to confront the evidence of the onrushing darkness will choose option #3.

It’s notable that #3 types cannot endure any dispute about what they’ve chosen to deny. That might be because it’s harder to shut your ears than your eyes. Whatever the reason, if a #3 type leans in a certain direction politically, he’ll want to silence those who’ve chosen options #1 and #2. If he’s politically or journalistically active, he’ll strive for exactly that result, whether through the law or through derision and intimidation.

Kevin Williamson gives us a look at one of the tactics employed:

The “Fox News Is Stupid and Evil” article is by now its own genre of journalism, albeit one that almost nobody does very well. In the course of attempting to enlighten some not especially bright Democrats earlier this week — hola, @mcspocky! — I went looking through a few of the so-called studies that purport to demonstrate that Fox News viewers are deeply and uniquely misinformed about public affairs. They are mostly horsepucky, as I demonstrated with this assortment of dim-witted accounts of the PunditFact “study” (which is not a study) of disputed Fox News statements, the authors of which rightly warn against using it to make general conclusions about Fox News, inasmuch as the data sample is admittedly arbitrary and biased — not out of malice or bad faith, but because the very structure of such fact-checking columns ensures that it is so, among other things by examining only disputed statements.

Other entries in the genre are not holding up well over time, either. The gentlemen-scholars of Alternet gave it their very best with a piece published under the subtle headline “Study confirms that Fox News makes you stupid.” The column contains a bullet list detailing nine outrageous things that Fox News viewers believe in error, which I have reproduced here with my comments in brackets.

The entire piece is well worth your time – Williamson, whom I have criticized in the past, does yeoman’s work in this selection – but above all, ponder his conclusion:

The Left has learned over the years that winning debates is difficult but discrediting people and institutions is relatively easy. You point the finger and yell “racist!” or “stupid!” or “stupid racist!” long enough and loud enough and it will start to stick. And for a long time, the Left did not have to do very much debating, because there was no Fox News, no Rush Limbaugh et al., and no conservative alternatives online. Now there are, and so the Left’s most pressing order of business is the delegitimization of Fox News, Rush Limbaugh et al., and conservative alternatives online. And if that doesn’t work, Harry Reid is ready to repeal the First Amendment, and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is ready to see you locked up for your political views.

And when that happens, you can bet that somebody will publish a study finding that it’s the only rational thing to do.


Does anyone else here recognize the name of Theodor Adorno? You can be forgiven for it if you don’t. Yet Adorno was among the originators of the “stupid or evil” rhetorical tactic of which the Left is so fond. As he fancied himself a “scientist,” he gave it a pseudo-scientific gloss. His book The Authoritarian Personality became a basic text for the Frankfurt School rhetoricians and dialecticians who came after him. Notable among them was Herbert Marcuse. Marcuse embraced Adorno’s “conservatives are fascists” thesis wholeheartedly. As he wrote in his infamous 1965 tract “Repressive Tolerance:”

Liberating tolerance, then, would mean intolerance against movements from the Right and toleration of movements from the Left. As to the scope of this tolerance and intolerance: ... it would extend to the stage of action as well as of discussion and propaganda, of deed as well as of word....

Such extreme suspension of the right of free speech and free assembly is indeed justified only if the whole of society is in extreme danger. I maintain that our society is in such an emergency situation, and that it has become the normal state of affairs. Different opinions and 'philosophies' can no longer compete peacefully for adherence and persuasion on rational grounds: the 'marketplace of ideas' is organized and delimited by those who determine the national and the individual interest. In this society, for which the ideologists have proclaimed the 'end of ideology', the false consciousness has become the general consciousness--from the government down to its last objects. The small and powerless minorities which struggle against the false consciousness and its beneficiaries must be helped: their continued existence is more important than the preservation of abused rights and liberties which grant constitutional powers to those who oppress these minorities....

[1968 Postscript:] As against the virulent denunciations that such a policy would do away with the sacred liberalistic principle of equality for 'the other side', I maintain that there are issues where either there is no 'other side' in any more than a formalistic sense, or where 'the other side' is demonstrably 'regressive' and impedes possible improvement of the human condition.

Note the use of “false consciousness” in the above. This is a thinly veiled assertion that if you disagree with Marcuse, you’re probably stupid. Marcuse subsumes the “evil” part from Adorno’s assertions about “the authoritarian personality,” which he unabashedly identifies with political conservatism and incredibly equates to “fascist.”

(Yes, yes, the Gentle Readers of Liberty’s Torch are already aware that fascism is a Marxist phenomenon, but some things cannot be said too often.)

Adorno and Marcuse provided the activist Left with rhetorical weapons they’ve used to campaign against freedom of expression for decades. Happily, they’ve made little progress so far. However, as the storm clouds mass above us, an increasing percentage of Americans find that they prefer not to hear the plain facts about any of them. Some of them would like to silence the rest of us and the organs we use for communication and mutual information, and are willing to sign on to the activists’ campaign to see to it.

A managed democracy is a wonderful thing, Manuel, for the managers...and its greatest strength is a free press when ‘free’ is defined as ‘responsible’ and the managers define what is ‘irresponsible.’ – Professor Bernardo de la Paz, in Robert A. Heinlein’s The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress

The political campaign to limit free expression to what political powers that be decide is “reasonable and responsible” will be presented to us under a number of rationales. Some will have a superficially attractive veneer. Others will be wrapped in the stark colors of fear. Regardless of the rationale, the aim will be to put the State in charge of what may and may not be said: an abrogation of our First Amendment guaranteed rights.

As Clarence Carson once wrote, left-liberals have long maintained that freedom of speech plus the vote are sufficient to “protect freedom.” They were insincere then; they’re showing their true colors now. All that remains is to see whether decent persons will let them get away with it.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Day Off...Mostly

Inasmuch as I’ll be having some extensive oral surgery in a few hours, I was planning simply to announce a day off from Liberty’s Torch. What actually happened was a powerful lesson about not reading Internet news sources this early in the morning:

President Barack Obama has a moral responsibility to push back on the nation’s journalism community when it is planning to publish anti-jihadi articles that might cause a jihadi attack against the nation’s defense forces, the White House’s press secretary said Jan. 12.

“The president … will not now be shy about expressing a view or taking the steps that are necessary to try to advocate for the safety and security of our men and women in uniform” whenever journalists’ work may provoke jihadist attacks, spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters at the White House’s daily briefing.

Clearly, despite all my efforts I don’t catch every important development just as it develops. But wait: there’s more!

Obama’s willingness to pressure media outlets, to quit defending First Amendment rights and also to mollify jihadis, reflects Obama’s overall policy of minimizing conflict with militant Islam.

Throughout his presidency, Obama has tried to shift the public’s focus away from the jihadi threat toward his domestic priorities.

He also repeatedly praised Islam and Muslims, and criticized criticism of Islam. “The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam,” he told a worldwide TV audience during a September 2012 speech at the United Nations.

It’s always been clear that Obama favors Islam over American interests and the Western code of justice. What’s now all too apparent is that he’s resolved to destroy the right to free expression for that reason.

Why not? Freedom of expression is a thorn in Obama’s flesh. This isn’t just consistent with his pro-Islam personal views; it’s also a perfect entering wedge for politically motivated censorship and manipulation of the media. It will provide him with a rationale for taking control of the Internet, for putting government “advisors” – armed, no doubt – into the editorial departments of major media organs, and for demanding “equal time” from any such organ that dares to act other than in accordance with his wishes.

There can be only one answer to this, short of forcibly evicting this pretender from the White House and decorating a prominent District of Columbia lamppost with his remains. Every American with any public voice, no matter how small, must immediately raise it in the strongest possible act of defiance.

Here’s Your Prophet Muhammad, Obama,
You Camel-Fellating Fairy:

Let hell come to breakfast. It’s time and past time. Now if you’ll excuse me, I should let my blood pressure drop a bit before I go under the knife.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

A Tale Of Two Totalitarianisms

The esteemed Ace of Spades makes a striking observation this morning:

One problem with liberalism has always been that those promoting it are, and largely have been, cowards.

The creed is not inherently cowardly; in fact, most of it is brave....But a lot of the people championing it are morally uncertain and physically weak types. This has caused liberalism to be associated in the world with vacillation, compromise, and cowardice.

I knew someone who once told me he despised liberals as cowards. So you're conservative? I asked.

"No," he replied. "Communist."

And that is the knock on liberalism. Other creeds are dark, stupid, and murderous, but they appeal to young men because they seem to be espoused by strong men, rough men, ready men.

And liberalism, meanwhile, is mostly a collection of pious platitudes mouthed by sissies.

There is some justice in this. Moreover, it helps to illuminate an important commonality between the two most important totalitarian creeds of our time: Islam and Left-liberalism.

It’s a common observation that left-liberals, for all their pieties about “helping the poor,” do very little of it personally. They prefer to vote for politicians who will then enact programs – preferably federal programs, so that no one can escape – which will result in armies of bureaucrats spending oceans of tax dollars, the greater part of which will pay the salaries of “compassionate” types like themselves and a piddling fraction of which will become benefits to the officially recognized “poor.” That’s left-liberal “charity:” the sort that declines to dirty the left-liberal’s own hands or distract him from his enjoyment of the Chardonnay and Brie.

As anyone with three functioning brain cells knows, in practice this resolves to a program of totalitarian control of just about everything in the name of “compassion,” “social justice,” or what-have-you. My term for this is social fascism: the drive toward a totalitarian State that has first claim on all things, and regulates everything down to the smallest detail, under a rationale of “good intentions.” (Jonah Goldberg calls it Liberal Fascism, which has more immediate political application.)

Left-liberalism / social-fascism is currently on the skids with Americans, owing to their disgust with the current regime. (What we can and will do about it remains uncertain.) However, the ironclad will that animates its allegiants cannot be denied. They are determined to have their way; they will stop at nothing. They regard no strategy and no tactic as out of bounds.

I can’t cite many overt expressions of such an unbounded, absolutely determined political will. However, I can cite one:

In the Nazi leadership’s view, Rauschning (a one-time friend of Hitler’s) reports, “the more inconsistent and irrational is their doctrine, the better….[E]verything that might have gone to the making up of a systematic, logically conceived doctrine is dismissed as a trifle, with sovereign contempt.” “To all doubts and questions,” writes Rosenberg, “the new man of the first German empire has only one answer: Nevertheless, I will!” [From Leonard Peikoff’s The Ominous Parallels]

Are left-liberal policies inconsistent? Irrational? Left-liberals don’t care any more than the Nazis did. They know what’s best for us, and we’re damned well going to swallow the point of a gun, if need be.

If Islam’s political culture isn’t yet plain to you, Gentle Reader, you must have skipped a few of the essays here. Islam is inseparable from its political program, and that program is totalitarian:

“Islam says: Whatever good there is exists thanks to the sword and in the shadow of the sword! People cannot be made obedient except with the sword! The sword is the key to Paradise, which can be opened only for Holy Warriors! These are hundreds of other psalms and Hadiths urging Muslims to value war and to fight. Does all that mean that Islam is a religion that prevents men from waging war? I spit upon those foolish souls who make such a claim.” – Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini
"The minarets are our bayonets; the domes are our helmets. Mosques are our barracks, the believers are soldiers. This holy army guards my religion. Almighty Our journey is our destiny, the end is martyrdom." -- Recep Tayyip Erdogan, prime minister of Turkey

The totalitarian mindset must be coupled to absolute will. People resist being ordered around, which is why the myrmidons of the State carry guns and forbid us to have them. (Note how many federal bureaucracies have armed themselves. Note how military hardware has been distributed to local police forces nationwide. And note how Obama’s Department of Justice has descended to the use of sub-legal means to throttle the supply of firearms and ammunition to private citizens. Do you really think that’s coincidence?) So to enforce a totalitarian program, the State must be willing to kill until the survivors have all submitted to its yoke: a program that requires the firmest will of all.

In that regard Islam is exactly the same:

The Qur’an contains detailed instructions and examples of how to meet unbelievers. The first instruction is that they should be called to Islam; in fact, the Qur’an says you cannot wage war against unbelievers until you have preached to them. The second instruction is that if they do not convert to Islam, then, they must be fought. The third instruction is that if they surrender, or convert, then you must stop waging war. The final instruction is that if they do not convert or surrender, then they must be killed. This is the optimum route for Islamist expansion: A tidal wave of war, subjugation and conversion.
While we were in the Mosque, the Prophet came out and said, "Let us go to the Jews" We went out till we reached Bait-ul-Midras. He said to them, "If you embrace Islam, you will be safe. You should know that the earth belongs to Allah and His Apostle, and I want to expel you from this land. So, if anyone amongst you owns some property, he is permitted to sell it, otherwise you should know that the Earth belongs to Allah and His Apostle." [ Sahih Bukhari, 53:392]
Fight against them until idolatry is no more and God's religion reigns supreme. [The Koran, Sura 2, verse 193]

The sole difference between the Islamic mindset and that of the Leftist lies in their professed intentions. Their absolute determination to rule in all things – to compel, prohibit, and expropriate without limit – is utterly the same.

If you need a grace note for this comparison of today’s two foremost totalitarian creeds, consider how utterly ruthless both of them are toward critics. Islam decrees death for those who dare even to differ with its dictates. Left-liberals, currently without the legal authority to silence dissenters by force, use extra-legal means: vandalism, extortion, intimidation, hackery, slander, and whatever other tools are ready to hand. That they do so under a cloak of self-righteousness doesn’t alter the totalitarian will that powers their tactics.

A Christian will reject Islamic theology reflexively, as Islam denies the divinity of Jesus. Yet that same Christian might find some of the policies of left-liberalism appealing entirely on the basis of their supposed intentions. Yet should he press a left-liberal espouser of such a policy for its record in practice, or ask what evidence would cause the left-liberal to doubt the soundness of his policy, he’ll be answered with a flood vituperation likely to exceed his expectations. Given the proliferation of such tactics, is it reasonable to doubt that the left-liberal would resort to force, were he able to get away with it?

And given all the above, why would any man of good will award one iota more respect to either of these totalitarian creeds than to the other?

More black mob violence in the U.S.

From Paul Bremmer: mob violence.

20 more years of this and I'm going to start thinking that blacks really don't want to conform to civilized standards.

And then there's this from Paul Kersey:

With Obama's My Brother's Keeper Program, the reality of the dysfunction inherent in the black community can no longer be contained to "urban" environments: wherever blacks are found in America, the reality of the standard deviation separating them from the standards whites have established is easily discernible in every statistic measuring misery...

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Prices, Values, And Religious Creeds

First, a “joke:”

The CIA was screening candidates for a field-operative position that would require a delicate balance of commitment to the mission with sound moral standards. Three candidates – two men and a woman – had passed the entrance examinations and stood ready for the final test.

When the first man arrived for the test, the screener handed him a .45 automatic and pointed to a closed door. “Inside that room are two things: a folding chair and your wife seated upon it. If you want the job, go in there and kill her.”

The candidate was dumbfounded. “You expect me to kill my wife for this job? Forget it!” He handed the gun back to the screener and left in a huff.

One down, thought the screener. When the second man arrived, the screener told him the same thing. Despite an expression of shock, that candidate took the gun and entered the room, but returned a couple of minutes later, said, “Sorry, I just couldn’t bring myself to kill my beloved,” handed back the gun and left.

That was a close one, thought the screener, but I think he’ll do. Still, it’s a good thing the gun is loaded with blanks.

When the woman candidate arrived, the screener handed her the .45 and pointed to the closed door. “Inside that room are two things: a folding chair and your husband seated upon it. If you want the job, go in there and kill him.”

Without a word, the woman accepted the gun and entered the room. Several minutes passed. The screener began to wonder what was going on, in the room and in the candidate’s head. Was it possible that two of the candidates might pass the final test?

Presently the woman emerged, looking exceedingly distressed. She flipped the .45 at the screener and said in a tone of high dudgeon, “This thing is useless! I had to beat him to death with the chair!”

Are you laughing or horrified? Do you get the point...and if so, what do you think it was? Ponder for a moment before continuing on.

“Jokes” of the above sort are not uncommon. My wife Beth (a.k.a. “the C.S.O.”) and I “enacted” a version of it this morning. I mentioned to her that a coworker and her husband, like Beth herself, are wildly enthusiastic New York Rangers fans, and go to as many games as they can afford. Beth immediately replied that “if they buy tickets they can’t use, I’ll be happy to take them.” The banter that followed concluded thus:

FWP: If someone were to ask you to murder me in exchange for a lifetime season pass to all the Rangers’ home games, you’d do it, wouldn’t you?
CSO: Well, if the seats were right behind the Rangers’ bench...

I assume that she was joshing. (I must. I do have enemies. Some of them have money. It’s why I work to keep my shooting skills sharp.) But as always after such an exchange, one must suppress a twinge of doubt.

The point, Gentle Reader, of both the original “joke” and our “reenactment,” is as follows:

If what you’ve been offered is of more value to you than the price you must pay for it, you’ll pay the price.

It’s not cosmological physics. It’s human nature – how individuals make their decisions. Indeed, you cannot measure a thing’s value by any other standard than what you’re willing to pay for it.

What we value, why we value it, and how we come to value it are highly individualized studies. In many cases, the entire matter is closed within the vault of the individual’s skull, and impervious to all notions of “rational analysis.” But the values themselves, though personally chosen and pursued, are nonetheless real – and powerful.

Which returns us to the subject of the “Enough” screeds.

They who disdain and deride religious belief are frequently appalled by its power: its ability to motivate men to do things the disdainful ones could never imagine doing themselves. In that regard, religious convictions are akin to patriotic fervor, of the sort that gives meaning to the old phrase Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori. What the disdainful ones fail to appreciate is the economic bargain that stands behind the world’s major religions...and its pseudo-religions as well.

The major religions all offer the allegiant eternal life in absolute bliss, but for a price the individual must pay. The bargain counterpoises an infinite reward against the finite, temporally bounded prescriptions and proscriptions of a moral-ethical code. Who could refuse such a bargain? Only one who disbelieves in the reliability of the offer, or the sincerity of the offerer.

For the thoroughly convinced believer, who harbors no doubts or qualms, there is no possibility of refusing – no imaginable way to reason one’s way to a refusal. Thanks, but I’d rather go to Hell? Not happenin’, gang. A believer might be tempted to “welsh” temporarily – i.e., to set the code aside in some instance with the thought that he can redeem himself later – but that constitutes a failure of belief, not some demerit of the original bargain.

Islam’s youngest adherents have all doubt flogged out of them early in life. They’re taught, by word, example, and severe negative feedback, that to speak or act other than in accordance with Islam’s decrees as they’re set down in the Koran, the Sunnah, and the ahadith is unacceptable. Indeed, any excursion into blasphemy, heresy, or apostasy would get them killed and damned.

Christopher Anvil made a compelling point about the power of religious commitment in his classic short story “Mission of Ignorance.” This brilliant story isn’t terribly long and deserves to be read in its entirety, but for those who lack the time:

    "Just suppose," said the chairman, "that you were in charge of a great spaceship—perhaps belonging to a great Galactic organization (never mind about it being a benevolent organization) and let's just suppose your job was to subvert Earth and make it obedient to that great Galactic organization—what could be nicer than to get Earth totally dependent on certain technological developments that you could withdraw at will? At a mere snap of your fingers, Earth's whole technological civilization could collapse, to leave, for practical purposes, a planetful of ignorant savages with no relevant skills, whose reproduction rate could be altered at will, and, if you chose, whose main food supply could also be wiped out with a snap of your fingers. Think how cooperative such people would be once they saw what you could do. Suppose that, having delivered the necessaries to bring about this situation and having seen the fools rushing to their own destruction, you then went away to take care of other business and returned when your calculations showed the situation would be ripe.
    "Then," said the chairman, "suppose you summoned to your ship the Earth representative, planning perhaps to give him the same little demonstration we have just given here, and suppose you discovered: first, that a mere second lieutenant had been sent to deal with you; next, that in your absence, instead of dependence on computerized voice typers, a new, completely nontechnological system of rapid writing had been developed; third, that a completely nontechnological uncomputerized system of identification had come into use; fourth, that one-quarter of the Earth's land surface was in the hands of a sect which, for religious motives, rejected the gifts, and in their place was developing Earth's own technology at a fever pitch; fifth, that the sect was armed to the teeth, dug in, stocked for a long fight, seasoned in battle, and so situated that you couldn't count on striking at the nonmembers without hitting the members of the sect, or vice versa, and, sixth, to top it all off, suppose you had no way to judge whether this was all the bad news, or whether this was just the tip of the iceberg showing above the water, with a lot more underneath? If you had been in that situation, would it have jarred you?"

Religious beliefs are neither verifiable (provable) nor falsifiable (disprovable). Therefore, they aren’t something you can argue against. And almost all their dictates are almost always absolute.

Religious wars are as bloody and horrible as they are because, as Larry Niven and Steven Barnes noted in The Descent of Anansi, religious warriors never admit defeat. They win or they die. Their beliefs will permit nothing else.

This is the situation the West, particularly America, faces with Islam.

Islam divides the world into dar al-Islam (the House of Islam) and dar al-Harb (the House of War). It commands its adherents to wage war against all unbelievers until dar al-Harb has been wholly eliminated. That requires that every last person on Earth be:

  • Converted to Islam, or:
  • Reduced to dhimmi status – i.e., subjugated to Islamic rule under the sharia – or:
  • Dead.

To this end, Islam sanctifies every imaginable strategy, tactic, and practice, all the way from tactically useful deceit to the mass slaughter of “infidels.” It recognizes no agreement with an “infidel” or a non-Islamic power as binding. It counsels Muslims to withhold their efforts until a promising moment should arrive, when those efforts are likely to yield advantage to Islam. Until such a time, it prescribes strategies of infiltration and deception of those it seeks to conquer. Allah has commanded it all, using His Prophet as the herald...and to dissent from any of it is worth your life.

So much for “the religion of peace.”

Of course, much of the above is “previous work.” The core of this essay is the immutability of the religiously inculcated value scheme that drives the jihadist. The “peaceful, tolerant” Muslim majority holds to the very same set of beliefs and attendant commands, no matter what they say and do today. To believe otherwise is to ignore both the nature of religious conviction and the dynamic that has raised up and supports the “radical minority” that rages among us.

Think it over.

Never go to a religious war without your religion. -- Tom Kratman