Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Why Illegal Votes Matter (As If You Didn’t Already Know)

     Voting power analysis fascinates me, in part because among all the branches of finite mathematics it’s the one that’s most dependent upon timing effects. Simple, static voting power problems are interesting enough. Here’s a typical case:

     Let the aggregate voting power of a committee be set at 1. Imagine a committee of four persons. Add the condition that the committee has a Chairman with the power to decide the results of a tie. What is the Chairman’s voting power, and what is the voting power of any other committee member?

     I’ll save you the analysis: the Chairman will get his way seven-eights of the time, as all three of the other members must vote against him to thwart him. Therefore, the Chairman’s voting power – i.e., the fraction of cases in which his vote will determine the outcome – is 7/8; any other member will possess one-third of what remains: (1/8)*(1/3) or 0.0417 (rounded to the nearest ten-thousandth). Clearly, “it’s good to be the Chairman.”

     But the really interesting problems in voting power are time-dependent. Many depend upon an elusive, sometimes partly illusory consideration called “lock-in.” The following is a typical example.

     Let there be a committee of five persons – once again, aggregate voting power 1 – who have a delimited but non-instantaneous time period over which to vote on some issue. At the very beginning of the process – i.e., before any votes have been cast – each member has a voting power of 1/5 (0.200). Stipulate that a vote once cast is locked in: i.e., it cannot be changed. After four votes have been cast, what is the voting power of the remaining member (before the interval expires, of course)?

     This is a slightly more difficult calculation than with the committee of four. To cut to the chase, there are only the following ways four persons can vote:

  • Four unanimous, either yes or no;
  • Three in agreement, one in dissent;
  • Two against two;

     Those configurations cover thirty of the thirty-two possible configurations of the potential votes. (If this seems elusive, compare it to the number of values a five-bit number can represent.) However, in only one set of configurations does the “holdout” vote determine the outcome: the two-against-two set, which are six in number:

  • YES YES no no
  • YES no YES no
  • YES no no YES
  • no YES YES no
  • no YES no YES
  • no no YES YES

     Since 6*(1/30) == 1/5 (0.200), it would seem that the “holdout’s” voting power is unaffected by his decision to withhold his vote till the last moment...if we omit the possibility of influence.

     The holdout on the committee-of-five above could be a “disinterested patriot,” or he could be “out for whatever he can get.” However, even the most purely civic-minded citizen can be influenced by persons eager to have his support. In a political order such as ours, you may rest assured that those with something to offer him will bid for it.

     As I’ve written before, contemporary politics is largely driven by the desire to enlist voting blocs: identifiable groups, bonded by a common interest, whose voters can be swayed to one or the other party because of that common interest. An excellent example of this is the National Rifle Association, which will never, ever side with an anti-gun-rights candidate (usually the Democrat). On the other side of the scale we have the Sierra Club, whose allegiants normally vote for the Democrat as the “more environmentally friendly” of the two candidates. There are many similar cases.

     However, the less a “bloc’s” votes are influenced by a single issue, the less easily can its votes be swayed. As the majority of American voters are not single-issue-oriented, the usual assumption is that their votes will be determined, if at all, more by party affiliation than by any other consideration. Those voters receive relatively little consideration in the sculpting of the parties’ and candidates’ platforms, as their loyalty is taken for granted.

     That leaves two “categories” of voters to trawl for electoral advantage:

  • The “independents,” registered to neither of the major parties;
  • The single-issue voting blocs.

     In the typical presidential contest, the independents don’t show a pronounced preference for either candidate. (There are exceptions, of course, as we saw in 1980 and 1984.) So the major parties tend to concentrate on the bloc voters...and those who “speak for” the bloc voters – i.e., those who issue endorsements in the name of some organization dedicated to the common interest – hold out for the very best deal they can get.

     Now, many would say that such organizations cannot command the votes of their members, and they would be absolutely correct in that. But they do exert influence, in some cases to the extent of being able to determine as much as 90% of the members’ votes. (This is often the case with occupation-oriented organizations.) If it were otherwise, the major parties would pay them no attention. So the parties do their damnedest to persuade the major figures in such organizations to endorse their candidates.

     This brings us to the ugliest aspect of the phenomenon: the corruptibility of organization luminaries.

     When representatives of a party or candidate approach the top figure in a special-interest organization, they are mindful of the potential cleavage between the organization’s nominal focus and the personal interests of the person they’ve approached. If such a cleavage can be found, it will be exploited. The “organization’s” endorsement makes it appear that the party or candidate has agreed to give high priority to the organization’s focus, but in truth it’s bribed the organization’s supremo to purchase that endorsement. Of course, the supremo won’t allow any hint of that to reach the membership, if he can help it.

     At last we come to the question of whether the votes of non-citizens might be important on November 8.

     There are several organizations that claim to represent the interests of illegal aliens. Those organizations possess considerable ability to sway illegals generally, as illegals tend to regard their immigration status as the most important thing about them. In other words, their cohesion as a bloc is greater than average. If they manage to cast votes two weeks from today, any influences on those votes will be of great importance – and the Democrat Party has all but openly trawled for those votes:

  • By impeding the identification, capture, and deportation of illegals;
  • By opposing the reinforcement of the southern border;
  • By opposing laws requiring voter identification;
  • By promoting “same day” voter registration;
  • By ridiculing the issue of vote fraud.

     Recent estimates hold that there are at least 12 million illegal aliens in the United States. If only a tenth of them manage to cast a vote on November 8, those 1.2 million votes, depending on their geographical distribution, could deliver 100 or more Electoral College votes to Hillary Clinton.

     So yes, it matters...especially since the true interests of anyone within the borders of this nation – whether legally or not – are physical and economic security, which can only be increased by greatly strengthened border control.

     Have you thought about volunteering to be a poll-watcher two weeks hence? It might be the most important spot of volunteer work you’ll ever do.

Gee, I Wonder Why?

     Did you know that neither our Lawyer President nor his Lawyer Wife can legally practice law?

     Note that Michelle is on “court ordered inactive status.”

     The popular story is that Michelle voluntarily gave up her license and went inactive, maybe because she just didn’t plan to practice law in the future, or something of that nature. The story further goes that she can restore that license and go active at any time she wants to do so. Note that the form is titled “Registration and Public Disciplinary Record.”

     Michelle Obama became inactive through ARDC Rule 771 in 1993. Rule 771 was titled Code of Professional Responsibility.

     Rule 756 became effective February 1, 1973. This rule is titled Registration and Fees. Rule 756 is the vehicle for becoming voluntarily inactive, for whatever reason you want to do so, unless you have reason to be considered under Rule 753 – review and hearings.

     Now, much of America already knew that Michelle Obama had “voluntarily surrendered” her law license. But most of us didn’t know that her President husband doesn’t have his anymore:

     On to Barack Obama who surrendered his law license in 2008. We do not know under which ARDC Rule he went inactive.

     Alamo City Pundit says he is an attorney and talks about having and giving up a law license:

     “Voluntarily retired” — what does that mean? Bill Clinton hung onto his law license until he was convicted of making a false statement in the Lewinsky case and had to “Voluntarily Surrender” his license too.

     This is the former editor of the Harvard Law Review who doesn’t seem to give a crap about his law license.

     Something else odd; while the Search feature brings up the names, any searches for the Disciplinary actions ends quickly.

     As in, Too Quickly. Less than a half-second quickly on a Search Engine that can take five seconds to Search for anything.

     As in, “there’s a block on that information” kind of thing.

     So we have the first Lawyer President and First Lady — who don’t actually have licenses to practice law.

     Had more Americans known about this in 2008, would we still have installed Obama in the Oval Office?

Dynasties And Establishmentarianism

     Today’s bit of mandatory reading issues from a Bernie Sanders supporter who advocates voting for Trump. The heart of his argument:

     Either a Bush or a Clinton has been in power for 20 out of the 28 years since 1989, or 71 percent of the time. Electing Mrs. Clinton would increase this to 24 out of 32 years, or 75 percent of the time. Thomas Jefferson warned about dynastic rule in a 1786 letter to George Washington in which he wrote, “An hereditary aristocracy…will change the form of our governments from the best to the worst in the world.” Those who support Hillary Clinton seem to forget, everything else aside, that a vote for Hillary will be a vote for dynastic rule. This cannot be the sort of change for America that I believe Bernie supporters really want.

     A political establishment will always gravitate toward the formation of political dynasties. The tendency has only recently become visible in American politics, even though we had political families (e.g., the Adamses and the Harrisons) from the founding of the nation. Dynasties are inherently “conservative” in the original sense. A political order dominated by an Establishment will naturally funnel its benefits toward its insiders, and a cohesive family will be a more efficient conservator of those benefits than an individual. Such a dynasty will automatically be inclined to preserve the status quo, the environment in which it rose and thrives.

     Does that seem obvious, Gentle Reader? If so, then why have so many Americans overlooked it for so many decades?

A Passing

     And not just any passing, but that of a giant of our form:

     Steven Den Beste has passed away.

     I just received word from Steven's brother, graciously thanking me for making the welfare call to the police and confirming that what many of us feared had indeed come to pass. I did not inquire as to specifics, but Steven had been in very poor health of late, having had a stroke just under four years ago.

     Steven was brilliant, a former engineer with a crackerjack mind. His old blog, U.S.S. Clueless was tremendously important in the early days of the 'blogosphere'. It is hard to overstate the importance of U.S.S. Clueless and the brilliance of his analysis. Sadly, that site went down this past week as well, when Steven's server failed. That site was immensely influential to many of us, and I am far from the only person he inspired to blog or helped along.

     “In the beginning,” so to speak, there were only a few bloggers whose emissions were noteworthy: more cerebral evolutions than personal jottings. Den Beste was one, and perhaps the foremost of all. His essays, which have been archived here, are gems, and not merely of Blogospheric history but in their own right. To anyone who might not be familiar with Den Beste’s work, I commend them unreservedly, even imperatively.

     Rest in peace, Steven.

Monday, October 24, 2016

So Vile A Thing

     ...that no title could do it justice:

     A terminally ill California woman says her insurance company denied her coverage for chemotherapy treatment but offered to pay for her to kill herself, shortly after California passed a law permitting physician-assisted suicide.

     Stephanie Packer, a wife and mother of four who was diagnosed with a terminal form of scleroderma, said her insurance company initially indicated it would pay for her to switch to a different chemotherapy drug at the recommendation of her doctors.

     But shortly after California’s End of Life Option Act, which authorizes physicians to diagnose a life-ending dose of medication to patients with a prognosis of six months or less to live, went into effect, Ms. Packer’s insurance company had a change of heart.

     “And when the law was passed, it was a week later I received a letter in the mail saying they were going to deny coverage for the chemotherapy that we were asking for,” Ms. Packer said.

     She said she called her insurance company to find out why her coverage had been denied. On the call, she also asked whether suicide pills were covered under her plan.

     “And she says, ‘Yes, we do provide that to our patients, and you would only have to pay $1.20 for the medication,’” Ms. Packer said.

     Please watch, and reflect.

     [Applause to Ace of Spades.]

Matters Fictional

     Good morning, Gentle Readers. There’s no news worth commenting on just now, so I thought I’d spend a few words on storytelling and related matters. Those of you lucky enough to be unacquainted with my fiction can feel free to skip this piece. As for the rest...I hear there’s a twelve-step program for dealing with the malady, though I have no idea whether it effects a complete cure or merely alleviates the symptoms.

     The telling of stories has its roots in the oral histories by which human tribes educated children and new additions to their numbers. Therefore, as fiction became a part of human culture, the events of a story were always narrated as having occurred in the past. Thus, “fictional past” has remained the overwhelmingly most common mode of narration of stories today.

     The use of fictional past implies certain things about the story’s context. The storyteller is presumed to know all the relevant details. If there’s a first-person narrator, he too is regarded as being fully informed. Also, any consequences of the story’s events are the narrator’s “property:” he can elect to mention them to the reader, whether emphatically or in passing, or withhold them under the assumption that “you already know about that.”

     The use of fictional present, a fairly recent trend, often arises from a dislike of those implied conditions. (For those unfamiliar with the terminology, where a fictional-past writer would write “He stood,” a fictional-present writer would put “He stands.”) This has the effect of heightening the story’s immediacy; after all, the story’s events are happening right now. They could be having momentous consequences as we read of them. While there are more difficulties (and not a few gotchas) in telling a fictional-present story than in fictional-past, nevertheless there’s been a trend toward it in recent years.

     I always write in fictional past. As a reader, I dislike fictional present. There’s something about it that jars me. A writer who employs it must be exceptionally compelling to hold my interest. How does it affect you?

     Readers of my fiction will be aware that I sometimes employ an “interlocutory frame” – a narration that envelops the “actual events” of the story – as a storytelling vehicle. In effect, it wraps one story within another. The technique can provide certain expository advantages to the storyteller. For example, if the “outer” story is constructed as a conversation, the characters conversing can make observations about the “inner” story that would otherwise be frowned upon. It tends to work best when the “outer” and “inner” stories share a protagonist.

     The frame I employed helped me greatly in structuring and pacing Love In The Time Of Cinema. As seventy-year-old Jana recounted the key events of her much younger life to the unnamed entertainment journalist, she was able to mention events that, had I lacked the frame, I would have had to insert in the “inner” story. In some cases – especially the sexual ones – those events had to be conveyed discreetly. Also, the frame provided an extra emotional dimension to Jana’s tale, owing to her perspective as a relatively recent widow who missed her late husband terribly.

     I’ve made use of a similar frame in Statesman. One of my test readers has already commented on it somewhat negatively as “distancing.” I’ll be extremely interested in the balance of readers’ opinions, once the book is made available for purchase.

     Finally for this morning, an announcement that will please some while it appalls others: Statesman is the last novel in the Realm of Essences family. It’s time for me to move on to other vistas. A writer who harps repeatedly on one theme, motif, or central character must be exceptionally creative in other ways to remain worth reading, and I don’t think I qualify. So as fond as I am of Louis, Christine, and Stephen Graham Sumner, I think we’ve visited with them for the last time...though there will be at least one more novel set in Onteora County, New York.

     There are other novels coming, of course:

  • A fourth (and final) Spooner Federation novel;
  • A novel based on the characters and setting in my novelette “The Warm Lands;”
  • Powers Of The Air, a contemporary fantasy, inspired by the works of C. S. Lewis, about an evil plot founded on necromancy;
  • Innocents, a book about which I can’t say anything at all without committing a “self-spoiler.” Suffice it to say that it will raise a few eyebrows.

     That’s all I have for you at present. Be well.

“Life is too short to read lousy books.” – “Oregon Muse” at Ace of Spades HQ

Leftist rhetorical integrity.

I don't recall where I copied this from but it's on the money:
  1. A desire to follow the constitution is "extreme."
  2. A desire to follow the rule of law is "extreme."
  3. A desire to keep more of one's earns as our purchasing power erodes is "extreme."
  4. A desire to have the government out of our daily business is "extreme."
  5. A desire to protect our borders and insulate ourselves from the third world and potential terrorists is "extreme."
  6. A desire to maintain our standard of living and cultural values is "extreme."
  7. A desire to hold leadership accountable for their mistakes is "extreme."
The left is all about evasion. I saw a recent article on The Unz Review (?) to the effect that "I don't like what you're saying, therefore it must be racist." That would be the bottom line. When the sledding gets heavy, allegations of racism, bigotry, etc. are trotted out faster than Hillary's Epipen.

Substance of an argument is never addressed but the morals, transgressions, stupidities, alcohol problems, failed marriages, philanderings, and college term paper typos are the leftists' first order of business in any debate. The ad hominem raised to an art form.

Leftist positions on spending, free speech, gun rights, multiculturalism, diversity, open borders, the "living Constitution," black internecine violence, black academic failure, ballot integrity, feminism, abortion, the family, Common Core, home schooling, "refugees," "asylum," Western civilization, marriage, the Religion of Peace, etc. are so absurd and distorted it's imperative that any focus on the substance of their arguments be deflected.

Anyhow. Just a shallow dive into the pathology today.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Evidence For The Divine: A Sunday Rumination

     Blanket statements about people deserve a thinking man’s suspicion. Who among us has met everyone who’s ever lived? Not I, certainly. Yet there are...persons who’ll glibly toss off generalities about human motivation as if God Himself had revealed all the secrets of Nature to them. That irritates me, to say the least.

     Here’s a recent one that sounds wise, in a contemporary, highly cynical fashion:

     No man is so virtuous that he can resist the highest bidder.

     Really? Do you suppose he knows this from personal experience? I can name several without stopping to think that gave everything, their lives included, rather than renounce their highest principles. Among them were men an Emperor had offered to raise to a great height, if they would only agree to renounce their faith and kneel before him.

     I don’t expect much from most people. Mediocrity is the rule. But he who vents his opinions about Mankind should bear in mind his own membership therein; his statements about us should not suggest that he views us from some superior position. And a blogger who casually tosses off the phrase “religious nuts” about men of sincere faith – men who, in some cases, have paid heavily for their faith – has two and a half strikes against him from the outset. But that’s all to the side.

     What I really want to talk about today is the evidence for the existence of God.

     Not too long ago, I viewed a YouTube video made by a physicist, in which he claimed that the existing consensus about the origin of the universe constituted proof of the existence of God. It was a clever pitch, and I admired it somewhat, but it had a fatal flaw: in reality, we do not know how the universe came to be. What we have is a conjecture that cosmological theorists have rallied around. However, as none of them were present to witness the actual event, conjecture it is and shall remain.

     Proof of the Divine is denied to us by our natures as limited, mortal creatures whose powers of observation are tentative and uncertain. We’re even deludable, which throws a monkey wrench into a personal witness of any phenomenon that resists being reproduced. So proof of the existence of God, in the sense of an irrefutable demonstration of veracity, is beyond us. But then, proof is beyond us in all matters that touch upon reality.

     What remains when proof has been excluded is evidence. The law allows for “persuasive but not conclusive” evidence for a proposition, which a jury is allowed to include in its considerations. Evidence can be persuasive to one mind though another shrugs it aside. And of course, it can be for or against the proposition at hand.

     Concerning varieties of evidence, there is one sort that distinguishes disprovable propositions from those that must remain matters of faith: evidence that arises from prediction. A disprovable proposition is one that links a cause to an effect. It will always be of the following form:

  1. Given certain specific initial conditions,
  2. If stimulus X arises,
  3. Consequence Y will result no more than Z seconds later.
If we can formulate an experiment whose outcome would test such a hypothesis, the hypothesis is disprovable. If the initial conditions are met, stimulus X is applied, and consequence Y fails to occur within Z seconds, the hypothesis has been disproved.

     But there can never be such an experiment about the existence of God.

     I’ve written in the past about the process of definition, so I’ll spare you any repetition of that material. In brief, definition is appropriate only to categories: sets of items that share observable characteristics. A unique thing that’s incapable of being reproduced is equally incapable of being defined. When the Thing under consideration is held to be outside our spatiotemporal universe, we should know better than to attempt to define it.

     God is such a Thing. We cannot know Him in His entirety. Our human limitations make that impossible. However, theists attribute certain characteristics to Him with a degree of confidence:

  • Omnipotence (from our perspective);
  • Omniscience (again, from our perspective);
  • Justice;
  • Mercy.

     (Note that the last two attributes temper one another. Absolute justice would know no mercy; unlimited mercy would leave no room for justice. But this is the least of our difficulties in “coming to grips” with God.)

     Insofar as the nature and history of the universe as we know it are consistent with the existence of a Creator with those characteristics, it is permissible to take them as evidence of such a Creator. However, they do not and cannot constitute proof. An infinite number of possible explanations exist for every aspect of spatiotemporal reality, and many of them make no room for God. He who prefers one of the non-theistic alternates has a perfect right to his convictions.

     But there is another kind of evidence, equally disputable but in many ways the most persuasive of all: the willingness of good men to sacrifice everything for their faith in God.

     History is replete with stories of men who, offered the choice of renunciation or death by torture, chose the latter. The Founder of Christianity, Jesus of Nazareth, is the best known. (And yes, He was a man as well as the Son of God; both parts were vital to His mission.) But what’s more striking than that the Redeemer should have accepted torture and crucifixion is the willingness of His Apostles, and hundreds of saints over the subsequent centuries, to make the very same choice.

     Once again, however persuasive these data might be, they are not conclusive. Men are capable of being deluded. Some immerse themselves in fantasy lives impervious to reality. It’s for each man who lives to decide whether to be persuaded.

     I have so decided. Your preferences are your own affair.

     The secular tendency of our age is such that any degree of religiosity is sufficient for someone to call you a “religious nut.” Nor is there any shield against such an epithet. I can testify to that from experience: my wife thinks of me that way. The problem is exacerbated by the behavior of many Christians to dismiss or demean non-believers. That’s quite as wrong as the converse.

     Yet we improve, little by little. Over the centuries Christians have unlearned the prejudices and arrogances that caused them to disparage others (to say nothing of the historical persecutions we should have learned from our own experience to eschew). Today’s Christians tend to be far more tolerant of others than those others are of us – and I regard this, too, as evidence of the existence of God, for if our theocosmogony is at all correct, He would not wish us to push others away with disdain or contempt.

     I know there are nonbelievers among the Gentle Readers of Liberty’s Torch. I’ve said many times that theirs is a defensible position, and I’ll stand by that. But to my Christian readers I address what might be the most important thought I’ve ever had:

What would benefit the social and political order of these United States more than this: that an overwhelming majority of Americans might become sincere and humble Christians?

     At this time, 74% of us identify ourselves that way...yet as a sociopolitical body we often behave rather differently. Perhaps the time has come for each of us to ask himself:

Do I really believe?
If so, what does that imply?

     May God bless and keep you all.

Pearls of expression.

Kant thought that a republican form of government could work even with a nation of devils. However, despite the requirement that such devils at least had to have "understanding," I don't think Kant seriously considered whether a republican form of government could work with a nation of morons.[1]
That sweeps wide but it's clear where a lot of our problems come from - the universal franchise.

[1] Comment by Vern Crisler on "Donald Trump, the Tweeting President." By Doug Bandow, 10/19/16.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Classic Limbaugh: Direct And To The Point

     Read and reflect:

     Rush may be getting on in years, but he still strikes for the jugular.

“No Military Solution”

     How often have you heard that phrase from some leftist? They usually trot it out without any attempt at justification – and then accuse those who disagree of being “bloodthirsty warmongers.” It’s really an updating of the old canard that “violence never settled anything.”

     Comedian Larry David refuted that one long ago, by noting that at the conclusion of “well thought out, professionally executed violence,” the adversaries are all dead. Robert A. Heinlein took a turn at it several decades before that:

     ‘My mother says that violence never settles anything.’
     ‘So?’ Mr. Dubois looked at her bleakly. ‘I’m sure the city fathers of Carthage would be glad to know that. Why doesn’t your mother tell them so? Or why don’t you?’
     ‘You’re making fun of me. Everyone knows that Carthage was destroyed!’
     ‘You seemed unaware of it,’ he said grimly. ‘Since you do know it, wouldn’t you say that violence had settled their destinies rather thoroughly?’...

     ...I was not making fun of you personally; I was heaping scorn on an inexcusably silly idea — a practice I shall always follow. Anyone who clings to the historically untrue — and thoroughly immoral — doctrine that ‘violence never settles anything’ I would advise to conjure up the ghosts of Napoleon Bonaparte and of the Duke of Wellington and let them debate it. The ghost of Hitler could referee, and the jury might well be the Dodo, the Great Auk, and the Passenger Pigeon. Violence, naked force, has settled more issues in history than has any other factor, and the contrary opinion is wishful thinking at its worst. Breeds that forget this basic truth have always paid for it with their lives and freedoms." [From Starship Troopers]

     Surely we could add the names of Saddam Hussein and his sons to Heinlein’s jury roll. In light of the supposed attachment of the Left to “peace,” it’s well to review what its current standard-bearer has said on the subject:

  • In December 2006, when Bush was still contemplating the surge, [Hillary] Clinton said: “Everyone knows there is no military solution to the difficulties we face in Iraq.”
  • In January 2007, Clinton complained that the surge was “taking troops away from Afghanistan, where I think we need to be putting more troops, and sending them to Iraq on a mission that I think has a very limited, if any, chance for success.”
  • In August 2007, Clinton said: “The surge was designed to give the Iraqi government time to take steps to ensure a political solution to the situation. It has failed to do so.... It is abundantly clear that there is no military solution to the sectarian fighting in Iraq. We need to stop refereeing the war, and start getting out now.”
  • When General David Petraeus issued a September 2007 report on the remarkably successful results that the surge was yielding, Clinton obstinately told Petraeus that his assertions required “a willing suspension of disbelief.”

     [Applause to John Perazzo for this round-up.]

     Whether you were for or against Operation Iraqi Freedom, it’s clear in retrospect that “our” violence there settled quite a lot of naughty people’s hash. Had we left a security force of adequate size, ISIS might never have established a foothold in Mesopotamia.

     In point of fact, when the matter to be settled is a dispute among contending factions, a thorough application of lethal violence is the only guaranteed solution. Whether that’s the ethical and practical way to approach it are separate questions.

     There is a military solution to every “problem” we confront anywhere in the world. Whether it would be right to do so, and whether the expenditure of American blood and treasure would reap a worthwhile result, are decisions we reach through political processes – and sometimes we conclude afterward that our earlier decisions were wrong. There’s no help for it. Hindsight is like that.

     Just an extra Saturday-morning thought. It allowed me to defer cleaning out the cat boxes a little while longer. Whether it was worth your time is for you to decide.


     Among the insufficiently appreciated services Stacy McCain provides to the public are his disclosures of the babblings of Leftist pseudo-intellectuals, particularly those in the feminist camp. No more than one in a thousand of us in the Right would bother with their cant. Perhaps one in a million could tolerate a whole book of such drivel. McCain delves into it so the rest of us will be spared the suffering. Here’s a brief snippet from his latest exploration:

     “Heterosexuality . . . is a highly unstable system, subject to various slippages, reliant upon carefully constructed individual performances of identity, and dependent upon the exclusion of homosexuality for its very identity. One could say that queer theory normalizes homosexuality by making heterosexuality deviant. Homosexuality ceases to be the exclusive site of sexual difference.”

     Doth thine eyes glaze over, oh Gentle Reader? That’s perfectly natural. It’s a healthy man’s normal reaction to self-important gibberish. There’s hardly a word in that passage that isn’t being distorted and misused. Yet it’s typical of the academic Left’s attack on anything it seeks to destroy: drown it in pretentious verbiage that, upon being unpacked, makes no sense whatsoever.

     Such tripe is not meant to be understood, as you or I would expect to understand a rational argument for or against some proposition. Academic leftists don’t write to be understood; they write to be published, compensated, and acclaimed by other academic leftists. The typical non-academic leftist doesn’t understand it any “better” than you or I. He merely accepts it as some sort of sacred text. He learns to parrot snatches of it when needed or commanded. It’s verbiage as bludgeon.

     Other sorts of bludgeon are in use by the Left, but the sort illustrated above is what got me thinking this fine October morn.

     Among the tactics preferred by those attempting to sell us a “bill of goods,” obscurity is a high favorite. As the old saying goes, “If you can’t dazzle ‘em with brilliance, baffle ‘em with bullshit.” The Left has made that phrase its mantra. Examples abound. Consult the written works of any Left-aligned “scholar” or “thinker;” Herbert Marcuse will do for a sample.

     Such nonsense is what C. Northcote Parkinson characterized as “froth and gas.” It’s never stated plainly, because it can’t be; plain English is too comprehensible. The fatuity of its claims would be too obvious. But couch it in sesquipedalian terms wrapped into Yggdrasilian rings of verbiage impervious to interpretation, and it looks...impressive. Scholarly. The idea is to elicit a “gee, he must be smart” reaction from those of us who actually work for a living.

     Among George Orwell’s many contributions to clarity of thought, I particularly admire his 1946 essay “Politics and the English Language.” Here’s his demonstration of the use of linguistic nonsense to obscure a horrifying claim:

     In our time, political speech and writing are largely the defence of the indefensible....Thus political language has to consist largely of euphemism, question-begging and sheer cloudy vagueness. Defenceless villages are bombarded from the air, the inhabitants driven out into the countryside, the cattle machine-gunned, the huts set on fire with incendiary bullets: this is called pacification. Millions of peasants are robbed of their farms and sent trudging along the roads with no more than they can carry: this is called transfer of population or rectification of frontiers. People are imprisoned for years without trial, or shot in the back of the neck or sent to die of scurvy in Arctic lumber camps: this is called elimination of unreliable elements. Such phraseology is needed if one wants to name things without calling up mental pictures of them. Consider for instance some comfortable English professor defending Russian totalitarianism. He cannot say outright, ‘I believe in killing off your opponents when you can get good results by doing so’. Probably, therefore, he will say something like this:

     ‘While freely conceding that the Soviet regime exhibits certain features which the humanitarian may be inclined to deplore, we must, I think, agree that a certain curtailment of the right to political opposition is an unavoidable concomitant of transitional periods, and that the rigors which the Russian people have been called upon to undergo have been amply justified in the sphere of concrete achievement.’

     One would recoil in horror from the plain-English version; the “academized” version takes a good deal of head-scratching, and is sometimes – often – accepted without challenge.

     Among those of us in the Right the recognition has been slow, but the process is advancing. Today it appears irreversible. There’s no arguing with the Left.

     The Left’s positions must be couched in incomprehensibilities because they are faith-based. They seek to induce Utopian visions in the minds of the impressionable and the gullible. They propose absurd, baldly counterfactual devil theories to explain their policies’ failures. They assail the motives and character of anyone who disputes with them. And they simply will not give a straight answer to a question.

     Persons far more famous than I – at this point, the attributions are more numerous than my patience can cope with – have said that you cannot reason a man out of a position he did not reason himself into. That’s the nature of a faith. Reason may play a part in its exterior logic – i.e., the ethos it derives from its premises – but its premises are unchallengeable. A “case-hardened” faith can even reject factual contradictions of its premises.

     Consider my faith, Christianity, as an example. Its key premises are:

  • Jesus of Nazareth was the fleshly incarnation of the Son of God, and possessed divine authority;
  • Therefore, what He prescribed and proscribed are mandatory.

     Without those premises, such decrees as the two Great Commandments – “Love God” and “Love your neighbor as yourself” – would lack force. They might strike us as good ideas, but not as absolute rules of existence whose violation would carry a penalty.

     I accept those premises. Therefore, I accept their implications. Others do not. Those others cannot argue me out of my premises, any more than I can argue a disbeliever into them.

     When it’s forced to abandon “academese,” Leftism’s premises are occasionally laid bare:

  • Individuals are illusory; collectives are the true reality.
  • Individuals’ “rights” are really retractable permissions granted by “society.”
  • Capitalism – the voluntary, peaceable actions of free men in an open marketplace – is evil; socialism –an economy controlled by our “rulers” and enforced at gunpoint – is good.

     The Left’s response to any challenge to those premises is personal vilification: “You’re a racist / sexist / xenophobe / exploiter / [insert your favorite term of vilification here].” Such an attack on a disputant’s motives and character is guaranteed. Any evidence-and-reasoning argument is thus torpedoed before it can be properly launched. Therefore, the smart thing to do is to dismiss the Left and its claims ab initio.

     Note that this, the Left cannot abide. Leftist spokesmen routinely participate in fora entirely to hurl condemnations of their opponents. Megyn Kelly’s recent “interview” of Donna Brazile provides an excellent example. Brazile almost immediately descends to claims of persecution and accusations of evil motives.

     The only reason for a journalist to interview such people is to put their venality and hatred on public display. For the rest of us, the appropriate tactic is dismissal.

     Refuse to argue with them.
     Dismiss their claims with a hand wave.
     Should they proceed to accuse and vilify you, laugh at them.
     And should they pursue you in an attempt to “make you see,” call the police.

     All else is a waste of your time and energy.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Improvements Or Defilements? An Impromptu Rumination

     Every now and then, I experience a sudden realization that I’ve been inconsistent about my own premises. Such a moment can deliver a Missouri-mule-sized kick in the ego. It’s a reminder that it’s the man who prides himself on his humility is “doing it wrong.”

     Consider the doctrine of the Catholic Church to the effect that it can authoritatively promulgate moral prescriptions and proscriptions – new “Thou shalts” and “Thou shalt nots” – on the basis of Natural Law. This is a dubious assertion of power for several reasons, but the one that’s on my mind at the moment is this: Our knowledge of Natural Law is tentative and incomplete.

     The problem goes all the way to the bedrock. We “know” that the universe is a lawful place. Do we really? What if the “laws” we think we’ve discovered are changing, but so slowly that it would take tens of thousands of years for the changes to show up on our measuring instruments? Worse yet, what if they’re position-dependent – local to our solar system? How would we know, not yet being able to travel beyond it and replicate the processes by which we inferred the “laws” we “know?”

     I don’t mean to denigrate the Church in an absolute sense. I love the Church and regard the great majority of its teachings as beautiful and beneficial. But I’ve always criticized its arrogation of authority never granted.

     Some years ago, for example, a Christian writer delivered himself of the pronouncement that organ transplantation is morally wrong. His train of logic started from a thesis that few would question: that cannibalism is morally wrong, because the human body, being God’s creation, is sacred in and of itself. The argument rang false to me. If carried to its logical conclusion, it would forbid any and all surgical interventions into a human body.

     For reasons better imagined than described, that argument came to mind a bit earlier today. It switched my train of thought onto a wholly unexpected length of track.

     Could there be such a thing as a deliberate, voluntary, surgical intervention – one in which all the participants (especially the person being operated on) are engaged of their own free will and with entirely benevolent of motives – which can be shown to violate any of the Ten Commandments?

     It’s a problem with contemporary heft. Consider the recent journey of Bruce Jenner to becoming Caitlyn Jenner, a process that might have a stage or two to go. Many Christian commentators have condemned this transition. I disparaged it myself. Today I’m no longer nearly as certain of my grounds...if, indeed, I had grounds other than my personal dismay at an incomprehensible decision by a great athlete whom I’ve long admired.

     Among the Church’s most important teachings is not to be too sure of oneself. Christ’s parable of the Pharisee and the publican is aimed directly at this:

     And [Jesus] spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others:
     Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican.
     The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.
     I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.
     And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

     [Luke 18:9-14]

     [For those unacquainted with Biblical terminology, publican is an old term for a tax collector, then (as now) among the most despised of men.]

     God has reserved judgment of our souls unto Himself. No individual has authority in the matter – and if no individual has such authority, how can any body of men, however learned, claim it?

     Christ gave us Two Great Commandments and Ten Commandments that depend upon them. Beyond those quite explicit directives, all matters are to some degree uncertain, which is why I allowed two of my more popular characters to have the following exchange:

     “Have you known many Catholics?”
     She shook her head. “There aren’t many in Kentucky, and movie people tend not to talk about religion. Hollywood isn’t friendly toward it. Especially not Christianity. I’ve taken pains to keep my own beliefs and churchgoing on the q.t.”
     “I can imagine,” Ray said. “And here we are in Tim’s kitchen, the most famous actress in the world calmly conversing with one of the shamans of ‘the cult of Mary.’ It doesn’t seem to disturb you any.”
     She smiled and sat back. “Father, I could tell you stories about my people that would turn your hair white. I know there are bad people in every sect on Earth, but Baptists...well, let’s just say that the ones I’ve known are way too ready to point out the motes in others’ eyes. I’d say the verse they’re least fond of is ‘Judge not, that ye be not judged.’”
     A Gospel citation from the world’s number one actress!
     Automatically, Ray followed: “For by the standard you judge you will be judged, and the measure you use will be the measure you receive. Why do you see the speck in your brother’s eye, but fail to see the beam of wood in your own? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye,’ while there is a beam in your own?”
     Jana grinned. “Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye.”
     “You’re a King James aficionado, I see,” Ray said.
     “While you prefer the New Revised Standard Version,” Jana replied. “I own copies of both, but the poetry of the Gospels always seemed to me to come out better in the King James version. Especially Luke. More rhythm.”
     “And less blues,” Ray added, and they laughed together.
     “But still,” Jana said more soberly, “you’ve missed your most regular communicant, and now you’ve come to his home to discover that he’s been passing his nights with a Hollywood harlot.” She smirked. “A Baptist harlot, at that.”
     “That ‘judge not’ verse remains applicable, Jana,” Ray said. “I’m not going to stray from it, except to ask: are you promised to anyone? Because I know Tim isn’t.”
     Jana’s smile was wistful. “No, Father, I’m not. Neither explicitly nor implicitly.”
     “Then all is well, dear.”

     [Readers have been asking for more about Jana, Tim, and Father Raymond Altomare. I shan’t commit myself at the moment, but I’ll allow that I’m considering it.]

     It’s not enough to prattle on, as I’ve often done, about the importance of humility. It’s even more important to nurture and practice it.

     May God bless and keep you all.

A Brief Personal Tirade From A Hungry Reader

     I’m a writer of fiction, as anyone who’s glanced at the sidebar will already know. But I’m also a reader of fiction, and not merely because I need to “keep up with the competition.” Reading is my principal pleasure. I read between 150 and 250 full-length novels each year. When I don’t have any satisfactory reading material available, I get grouchy and difficult to be with.

     (Yes, yes, I’m no great pleasure to be with even when I do have good reading material available, but the lack of it seriously exacerbates the syndrome. Actually, it’s worse than that: I start doing ill-considered things. Why, just yesterday, faced with a total dearth of enticing but unread books, I went out and bought a television. So the condition threatens more than my sociability.)

     There are a number of immediate disqualifiers that will cause me to toss aside a book from anyone, regardless of all other considerations:

  • A tired premise, or reliance on over-exploited elements (e.g., vampires, zombies);
  • An obvious lack of writing skill, especially with regard to fundamentals;
  • Preachiness, especially overt religious or political polemics;
  • A “never ending” design that promises an endless series of sequels.

     The overused-premise problem is particularly acute. Some of the most popular writers on Earth commit that sin with every novel. As “popular” implies “selling a lot of books” and therefore “making a lot of money (for a writer),” those writers inspire emulators. This is a violation of good marketing. You want to differentiate your product. You don’t want to pitch your wares in a market segment overflowing with competitors, especially highly regarded competitors. You want to go where there’s little or no competition: where your chance of becoming a standout will be greatest.

     As for writing skill, I’m not talking about the ability to spin verbal arabesques that would turn Joyce or Faulkner green with envy. I mean attention to the low-level details of the trade:

  • Viewpoint control;
  • “Show, don’t tell” characterization;
  • Detail inconsistency;
  • After all else, grammar, spelling, and punctuation.

     Innumerable writers “head-hop” from paragraph to paragraph...even from sentence to sentence (if, indeed, they bother to write in sentences). They’ll also tell you, direct from narrator to reader, about what values their protagonists cherish and what motivates them in every scene. And no small number, whether out of parsimony or penury, fail to engage an editor who would detect inconsistencies in matters such as characters’ names and miscellaneous details of their ages, backgrounds, and exploits.

     Preachiness has become an especially irritating problem, largely because of the domination of Pub World – i.e., the “above-ground,” conventional world of publishing that produces books the New York Times might deign to review – by that contemporary phenomenon called “political correctness.” As Arthur Herzog has told us, cant elicits counter-cant. Thus, with the emergence of the independent writers’ movement, we see a great many who regard their newfound freedom as a license to preach, with emphasis on what the “social justice warriors” who rule Pub World would censor as heresy or blasphemy. But people read fiction principally to be entertained and diverted. If your principal reason for writing is to produce polemics, you shouldn’t be writing fiction.

     Finally for this emission, the trend toward series. The writers of popular series, in which a protagonist or small group thereof go from book to book confronting ever-greater challenges to their prowess, have made a great impression on the world of fiction. They’ve dramatized an important truth about popular fiction: An attractive protagonist with whom readers can identify is a powerful asset in acquiring a loyal readership. But they’ve also rubbed a sore spot in writers’ psyches: the terrible difficulty of creating such protagonists.

     Series protagonists seem to be everywhere these days. The mystery writers, of course, made the series protagonist their bread and butter long ago: Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot, C. D. James’s Adam Dalgleish, Robert B. Parker’s Spenser, Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Milhone, Sarah Paretsky’s V. I. Warshovsky, and Bill Pronzini’s “Nameless Detective” are fine examples. But the mystery field has special requirements and a unique readership. What works there can become tedious and off-putting in other sorts of stories, especially if the writer lacks sufficient creativity to devise new and challenging situations for his hero to conquer.

     Lately, what’s irked me most greatly about series writing is the suggestion that I must follow the series with no promise of eventual closure. The series gives no hint of when it might come to an end. I’ll grant that some stories need more than a single episode to be properly told; who could imagine, for example, John Conroe’s exceptionally creative Demon Accords stories being reduced to a single volume? But purveying an open-ended series gives your fiction a strong hint of “planned obsolescence” – and that, Gentle Reader Who Writes, is something no one wants to return from its grave, Apple’s marketing strategy notwithstanding. (I am of the firm opinion that Apple’s customer base, especially the ones who buy the latest model iPhone every year, is a “cult.”)

     So for the moment at least, I seek books:

  • That exhibit genuine originality, especially in their premises and principal elements;
  • Whose authors display proper respect for the rules of storytelling and English;
  • Who don’t preach their religious, economic, social or political convictions;
  • And who bring their BLEEP!ing stories to a BLEEP!ing end!

     Don’t disappoint me, Indie Writers. I have a television and I’m willing to use it! Though that has its drawbacks, too...

Pearls of expression.

Let’s not delude ourselves. America is ruled by the Five Cities, Boston, New York, Washington, Tel Aviv, and Hollywood.
"Ronald McDonald or Lucretia Borgia? In the Long Run, We Are all Dead." By Fred Reed, The Unz Review, 10/20/16.

Election 2016 in a nutshell.

This is the best, most concise statement of the issues in the 2016 presidential contest:
So there we have it people. The debates are over and the choice has never been more clear...

If you feel that America is doing just fine, both domestically and internationally and all that is needed is more of the same; vote for her.

But if you think the previous eight years have accelerated America's decline, both at home and abroad and that a new direction is needed; vote for him.

If you feel that the biggest national dept in history is nothing much to worry about and that America can continue to borrow it's way into further debt indefinitely; vote for her.

But if you think that America needs to tackle its unprecedented debt by insisting its economic rivals cease protecting their own markets by cynically manipulating the value of their own currencies and start playing on a level playing field; vote for him.

If you feel that entering into endless proxy conflicts abroad is a great use of your most cherished national asset - the brave Men and Women who serve in your military; vote for her.

But if you think that American service Men and Women should only ever be used to protect America's direct interests and that other nations who rely on America's protection should contribute to the cost of that protection; vote for him.

If you feel that mass illegal immigration from the third world and all the adverse social deprivations associated with it, is good for America; vote for her.

But if you think that America should cease its policy of mass immigration from the third world until it can provide sufficiently for the people who are already in the country. And that America should finally start enforcing its existing laws on illegal immigration; vote for him.

If you feel that vilifying your law enforcement officers and whipping up racial tensions, in already gang infested and drug riddled inner cities, has made them better places to live; vote for her.

But if you think the people who live in America's cities deserve to be protected by strong and respected law enforcement agencies. And that the gang-crime that blights many of those cities needs to be tackled and tackled hard; vote for him.

If you feel that allowing your industries to sack their American workers and move to third world countries to take advantage of slave labour and then sell their goods back to you, without penalty, is an acceptable economic policy; vote for her.

But if you think that encouraging industries to remain within America and penalising those that try the slave foreign labour route will be good for America and American workers; vote for him.

If you feel that continuing to operate international trade agreements which allow your economic rivals to restrict your exports to them while they are allowed to flood your markets with there goods is wise or even economically sustainable; vote for her.

But if you think that the international trade agreements America is currently operating were poorly advised and have, in large part, contributed to America's economic decline and must be revisited, revised and redrafted so as to benefit America's economy rather than building up the economies of its rivals; vote for him.

If you feel that it is wise to ignore the fact that America's core values are under violent attack from people who obtained their vicious hatred of those values from the teachings of Islam. And that it is some how morally wrong to even mention the phrase "Islamic Terrorism" for fear of offending somebody's misplaced sensibilities; vote for her.

But if you think that America should acknowledge that many of the teachings of Islam are incompatible with the freedoms it holds dear, including equal rights for gays and women, and that people suspected of favouring such teachings should not be allowed into the country unchecked; vote for him.

If you feel that America's declining influence on the world stage and the continued disrespect and contempt America is now held in by many of its international rivals is something to be proud of; vote for her.

But if you think that America should prioritise forging alliances with nations who show it mutual respect and share its core values, and that are fighting against the same scourge of Islamic Terrorism America is fighting. While disengaging from nations that are openly disrespectful and that have values that are morally abhorrent to those your forefathers made so much effort to establish; vote for him.

If you feel that it is fine to be ruled by career politicians who have had to beg, steel and borrow hundreds of millions of dollars from self-interested groups to fund their political careers. Groups that naturally expect a return on their investments; vote for her.

But if you think that America has been poorly served by its political class - of both hews - for the past several decades and that the political system its self, has become so reliant on obtaining donations from self-interested groups, that now no person of integrity could ever make it into office. And if you believe that electing bought and payed for puppet politicians has cost America dearly and that only a self funded candidate can break the cycle of corruption; vote for him.

If you feel that a career politician who has become rich from so called 'public service' is likely to keep their promises 'this time' despite the countless empty and broken promises of their past. And that it's acceptable for a politician to justify their many mistakes, lies and let-downs buy merely laughing them off as "miss-steps" "brain freezes" or "miss-speaks"; vote for her.

But if you think that it is time to wrestle the reigns of power away from the people who have lead America into the mess in which it now finds itself and to give a chance to a non-politician, a proven employment creator with a solid record of business success, and who has brought up a beautiful family who love and respect them, a winner in every sense of the word and someone who obviously loves their country; vote for him.

Comment by Brexiteer on "Rigging Elections." By Steve Sailer, Taki's Magazine, 10/19/16.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Election 2016: The Meat And Potatoes

     Two other writers have found the concision "sweet spot:"

     “Donald Trump has his faults, but Hillary Clinton is far too corrupt to serve as President of the United States.” -- John Hinderaker

     “In any society, the chief magistrate's first duty is to uphold the law, and throughout human history his easiest temptation, once in office, has been to regard himself as above it. In this case, the American people would be electing someone who, not yet in office, is already above the law, and way beyond it. (Even her bodily fluids are above the law.) That would be an extraordinary act, and Hillary and her cronies would be entirely justified in treating such an electorate with utter contempt.” -- Mark Steyn

     Verbum sat sapienti.

The Third Debate

     A couple of news sites called it the “rubber match,” which I feel is unnecessarily disrespectful to the game of contract bridge (if not to rubbers). I declined to watch it, as:

  1. I simply can’t take any more of this campaign,
  2. There was a N.Y. Rangers hockey game to watch;
  3. If I’d turned it on, the CSO might have divorced me.

     Moreover, the comments I’ve read so far this morning suggest that I wouldn’t have heard anything I don’t already know. For example, consider this comment by a fellow participant at Gab.ai:

     WARNING! Americans! Be on the lookout for toddlers - most of them will try to shoot you if they get a chance.

     It seems that comment was stimulated by a Hillary Clinton rant about the safety of “toddlers” in response to the subject of firearms rights and gun control. (It’s not reported whether she said anything about the menace of rolling wheels of cheese.) Clearly, the woman’s cognitive deterioration is nearing its terminus. It’s a wonder she didn’t start “speaking in tongues” in the middle of the affair.

     I am more firmly persuaded than ever that this election must be about character.

     I’ve said it before, and I’ll stand by it: The idea of a President Donald Trump displeases me. He’s excessively vulgar – and that’s coming from one who can swear the barnacles off an aircraft carrier. (It’s genetics, albeit in the Lamarckian mode. I’m the son of a Navy veteran whose every third word was some variation of fuck.) He’s too quick to “shoot from the lip,” which the United States can’t afford in its presence among the nations. He’s also prone to making promises he fails to keep. But there are certain realities to be respected, for which reason I’ll be voting for him anyway.

     First, at least a quarter of the votes that will be cast on November 8 will be for Hillary Clinton “because she’s a woman.” Pudenda politics! Possibly the most disgraceful abdication of the faculty of reason I’ve ever seen. But it will happen – and because it will happen, there is absolutely no possibility of anyone other than Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump being elected our 45th president.

     Second, Trump, despite his brashness and vulgarity, is a fundamentally honest man. He’s not a career politician but a businessman: a participant in the marketplace. The marketplace demands honesty. It seldom rewards deceit, and never rewards it long-term. It is now a matter of irrefutable, impeccably-documented fact that Hillary Clinton is a felon by the laws of this nation, regardless of whether she’s ever brought to trial for her crimes.

     Third, if there’s a national imperative before Americans today, it’s the need to repudiate the political Establishment. The kingmakers in the two major parties think they own this country. They feel the most profound contempt for the private citizenry. They collude more often than they compete. And nothing matters to them more than maintaining their positions, power, and perquisites. The only practical way to deal them the blow across the chops they deserve is to elect Donald Trump.

     And that settles it.

     I’m not looking forward to Election Day. There are too many possibilities for an unpleasant surprise. Besides, I’ll be following the returns alone that evening, as the CSO will be out of town. Perhaps I’ll cushion the inevitable blows with a program of Cheez Doodles (pyramid level 4) and Harvey’s. I can’t imagine a better way to attain the invaluable “fuck it all” mental state required to endure the American political process in this year of Our Lord 2016.

     Of one thing I am utterly certain: Private Americans’ ongoing disaffiliation from politics, the legal system, and the orations of the political elite will continue. It might accelerate sharply, depending on the election and its sequels. But for that, we must wait and see.

     Don’t lose heart.
     Keep faith with liberty and justice.
     Keep faith with your fellow Americans.
     And above all else, keep faith with yourself.


     The CSO works with several distinct orders of Catholic nuns. As we were watching a hockey game last night, I had a stray thought:

     FWP: Say, do the nuns you work with ever ask about one another?
     CSO: You mean like, “How are things going with those other women?”

     FWP: Yeah, like that.
     CSO: No, but the orders are close. Individual sisters ask about sisters in another order all the time.

     FWP: But no competition?
     CSO: What would they compete over? Donors?

     FWP: Maybe over some highly rated postulant or novice. You know, “We’ll give you two first-round draft choices and a sister to be named later for Mary Smith.”
     CSO: Uh, no. But it would liven things up.
     FWP: Especially around the trading deadline.
     CSO: Yeah.

     I doubt she’ll suggest it to them. (Can you imagine the draft procedures?) But maybe she should.

Trump's eternal accomplishment.

So both parties are complicit in the dilution of native sovereignty. Reminds me of what Khrushchev said about our supposedly two-party system: "It's six of one and a half dozen of the other."

Anyway if Trump loses the election, he'll at least have some satisfaction in exposing the Republican Party for the two-faced fellow travelers they are, working hand-in-glove with Cultural Marxists to transform Amerika into a polyglot pot of feuding ethnic, sexual, and religious groups. . . .
Comment by jivemi20 on "Rigging Elections." By Steve Sailer, Taki's Magazine, 10/19/16.

Repeopling America.

The more Democrats realized they could obtain permanent hegemony not by winning over the American people, but by repeopling America, the more they denounced rational inquiry into the merits of immigration. If you read the WikiLeaks transcript of what Hillary secretly told the smart guys at Goldman Sachs about immigration policy for $225,000, you’ll notice it’s just the same lowbrow tripe you hear everywhere else about how immigration is who we are.
"Rigging Elections." By Steve Sailer, Taki's Magazine, 10/19/16 (emphasis added).

Compare this with Democrat betrayal today.

It’s fascinating to reread Democrats debating immigration a couple of decades ago because the intellectual quality of their arguments was so much higher back then. The “huddled masses” schmaltz tended to be a neoconservative Republican specialty in the later 20th century, while Democrats asked each other hardheaded questions about how more immigration would help blacks and union members.[1]
Republicans are just as bad now.

They all hide their betrayal behind the mantra of comprehensive immigration reform, namely, amnesty. And the "highest value" garbage.

[1] "Rigging Elections." By Steve Sailer, Taki's Magazine, 10/19/16 (emphasis added).

Democrats and foreigners and the rigging our elections.

Ironically, the most far-reaching scheme to rig this and future American elections isn’t being plotted in the Kremlin (as Hillary Clinton and the ruling media warn). Nor is it being hammered out in K Street offices by lobbyists, Democratic operatives, and their press counterparts (as Donald Trump suggests).

Instead, Democrats and their auxiliaries in the media routinely boast of their dream of turning America into a one-party state through changing who gets to vote in American elections.

Strikingly, this vast conspiracy to dilute the sovereignty of American voters by inviting in ringers from abroad is not covered up, nor even excused as aggressive-but-legal political hardball.

Instead, the dilution of the voting power of American citizens is praised lavishly as representing the highest value of “who we are as Americans.”

"Rigging Elections." By Steve Sailer, Taki's Magazine, 10/19/16 (emphasis added).

You Can’t Make This Stuff Up Dept.

     A few prefatory comments: I like Canada. Really I do. I also like Canadians, at least the ones I’ve encountered in my various professional and personal travels. They’re pleasant people, a bit overly prone to forelock-tugging, but hey, Americans tend toward the opposite fault, so what the hell. But they do some really strange things up there:

     An out-of-control five-kilogram wheel of aged farmhouse cheddar is being blamed for breaking an infant's leg in a B.C. Supreme Court lawsuit arising from a Whistler cheese-rolling competition.

     In a notice of civil claim filed by her guardian, Juli Nonaka claims she was injured on Blackcomb Mountain in August during the ninth annual running of the Great Canadian Cheese Rolling Festival.

     "As the plaintiff was watching the event from behind a safety net on the premises, a cheese wheel came rolling down the hill and stretched the safety net colliding with the plaintiff, causing her to be knocked to the ground and sustain injury, loss and damage," the claim reads.

     I don’t go looking for this stuff. Honestly, I don’t. But it finds its way to me.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

News Or Noise?

     These days, that’s a frequently asked question, just about regardless of what news subject is under discussion. But now and then it becomes unusually urgent.

     Has anyone else seen this, which is purported to come from Fox News’s Bill O’Reilly?

     If it reflects reality to any degree, November 8 could deliver a stunning surprise to the whole world. But does it reflect reality?

     UPDATE: Esteemed Co-Contributor Scott Angell has found it:

Poll Vaults

     Yes, yes, I’m sure that title has been used before. I like it anyway.

     I’ve been concentrating on matters fictional for the past few weeks, as my regular Gentle Readers could tell from my recent emissions. That choice of focus has had two conspicuous results:

  • For the first time in far too long, I’ve actually finished something substantial;
  • My overall mood and outlook on life are better than they were previously.

     So I’m dubious about whether I should pay much attention to the election or any of its peripheral phenomena. But duty calls in a voice of iron.

     Political pollsters are a lot like other kinds of consultants: They do their level best to produce “results” that will please the man who pays them. In the case of opinion surveyors, the end to be attained is one that will persuade the client that what he’s saying or doing is popular. In the great Robert C. Townsend’s memorable phrase, they borrow your watch to tell you what time it is...and then walk off with it.

     Polls about the upcoming presidential election are “all over the place,” specifically with regard to short-term opinion swings. They disagree as wildly as I’ve seen surveys disagree in decades. The ones being conducted by supposedly disinterested professional polling organizations have exhibited no more stability than the ones openly paid for by the candidates and their respective parties.

     Is there anything to be gleaned from this? I’m not sure. The only certainty is that for as long as political conflicts will continue, the pollsters will do their damnedest to persuade their audiences that they’ve got their most sensitive digits on its pulse. Oh, and their fees will go up, too.

     Among Donald Trump’s allegiants are many who like him for his bluntness. A penchant for bluntness always comes at a price, of course: the likelihood that one will at some point say something he really should have kept to himself. The “Grab her by the pussy” foofaurauw is a perfect example.

     I have a little of that myself. It’s been the cause of quite a high percentage of the conflicts in my life. But I’d rather be known as someone who speaks his mind plainly and somewhat fearlessly than for a milquetoast afraid of ever “offending” anyone...as if never giving “offense” were possible in our hypersensitive age.

     The harping of the Democrat-friendly media, and their affiliated polling organizations, on the “Grab her by the pussy” episode and on the subsequent flood of women “coming forward” to accuse trump of Neanderthal behavior toward them, powerfully illustrates the dynamic I mentioned above. People – except for Establishment figures determined to see Trump defeated – weren’t reacting to the “Grab her by the pussy” schtick the way those media wanted. Their paid pollsters knew it, and could see the probable consequences for their future employability. So they beat the bushes in search of incidents that would substantiate their “Trump treats women with contempt” message. A few women with less sense than is good for them have agreed to assist.

     However, due to objective refutations of the majority of the accusers and the outpouring of testimony from women of great beauty to the effect that “Trump was always a perfect gentleman toward me,” those attempts to prick popular opinion have failed as well. The opinion swings the pollsters wanted to see have been far smaller than they liked. So they knew they needed another tactic.

     Opinion polling depends on sample selection and the design of survey questions. Not enough attention is paid to either consideration, but at the moment the more important one is sampling.

     Let’s imagine that a pollster wants to produce a result that his Democrat-aligned client will look upon with pleasure. (Not hard, is it?) How should he engineer his sample toward that end?

  1. He should attempt to over-represent:
    • Unmarried women;
    • White-collar workers;
    • Government employees;
    • Atheists and agnostics;
  2. ...but under-represent:
    • Married women, especially married mothers;
    • Blue-collar workers;
    • The self-employed;
    • The religious, especially Christians.

     The resulting demographic balance will almost always favor the Democrats. But we’re not quite done yet. Will the persons in the sample vote? A few further questions are required:

  1. “Are you registered to vote?”
  2. “Have you voted in the last N elections?”
  3. “Do you expect to vote in the upcoming election?”

     These allow the pollster to make certain representations about “registered voters” and “likely voters.” To reinforce the seeming probity of the result, the pollster will attempt to contrive a sample whose party-affiliation proportions replicate those in the general populace.

     The opportunities for a palmed card here are several:

  • Does the pollster use voter registration lists to select his sample, or does he rely on what the persons surveyed tell him?
  • What is the “best” value of N for the pollster’s purposes, and should the answers to the question be treated as sincere and accurate?
  • The answers to the third question are usually probabilistic: “Certain,” “Very likely,” “Somewhat likely,” etc. Which groups should the pollster aggregate into “likely voters?”

     Moreover, we encounter the “toothbrushing trap” here. Our dentists tell us we should – must, really – brush at least twice a day, and preferably after every meal. Surveys of brushing habits regularly suggest that that we’re doing as we’re told...even though most Americans only brush once a day, shortly after rising from their slumbers. Despite the absence of consequences from that “disfavored” answer, people are loath to “look bad” by giving it. (Of course, when there are possible consequences – consider the polls that preceded the 1990 Nicaraguan election that elevated Violeta Chamorro over Daniel Ortega – the answers will be biased heavily in favor of the ones likely to reap the result the customer would prefer.)

     Pollsters know all of this – and use it.

     There’s much more to be said about polling and why one should always approach the result of an opinion poll with caution, but that’s enough for the moment. The most important message is plain: There’s a variety of techniques by which pollsters can engineer the result they desire. In the usual case, the desired result is dictated by the source of the pollster’s funding. So be on your guard: not too ready to believe, and ever on the alert for indications that all is not what it seems.

     “Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it – no matter if I have said it! – except it agree with your own reason and your own common sense.” – Siddhartha Gautama, a.k.a. the Buddha