Saturday, August 19, 2017

Tea Leaves In The Dawn Drizzle

     (Yeah, yeah, they’re soggy. So what?)

     I’ve written before about the Left’s tactic of infiltrating institutions and corrupting them to its purposes. While no institution is outside the Left’s scope, its priority targets are institutions that support communication, education, and entertainment: the arteries of public information and knowledge. Once the Left has gained control over such an institution – usually by weight of numbers within its ranks – it uses that control to “enhance” outputs that favor it and suppress outputs that disfavor it. That’s how the Fabian socialists gained control of Britain’s Labour Party and, eventually, of Britain itself.

     The explosion of the Internet was a major blow to the American Left. It was a bypass of the established media that funneled unfiltered, unbiased information and arguments to the consumer. It promised to do more damage to the Left’s totalitarian program than talk radio ever had or could. When the Web became effectively bidirectional, such that the proprietors of Websites could solicit comments from their readers, it was plain to the Left’s strategists that “something must be done.” But what?

     The “what” has surfaced, and it’s not pretty:

     As the fallout from the failed Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia last weekend continues, leftist-controlled tech and social media outlets have started mass censoring right-wingers and banning them from their platforms. While sites such as Twitter have been hostile to the right for a long time, the events in Charlottesville—where alt-left agitator Heather Heyer was killed by rally attendee James Alex Fields, Jr.—have given leftist-run sites the excuse they need to ideologically cleanse their websites.

     As of this writing, numerous right-wing websites and personalities have been banned from PayPal, Twitter, Paypal, Stripe, Facebook, Instagram, Mailchimp, Soundcloud, Uber, and countless other platforms. To make matters worse, domain registrars and website maintenance companies such as CloudFlare and GoDaddy have no-platformed The Daily Stormer, keeping the site offline since Sunday. It’s clear that ideological dissidents are going to have to change their tactics in order to keep their websites and other platforms online.

     Please read the whole article. You need the information; take my word for it. But for those disinclined to do so, I’ll include one more snippet:

     To make matters worse, leftists have begun attacking web hosts, domain registrars, and other infrastructural services that right-wingers rely on to keep their sites online. Rootbocks and Hatreon, two free-speech alternatives to GoFundMe and Patreon, respectively, have been forced to switch domains and webhosts after being banned due to their unwillingness to ban right-wingers. Free speech Twitter replacement Gab has been subjected to several DDoS attacks for the same reasons, and the Alternative Right blog was deleted from Blogger last night. [Emphasis added by FWP]

     Liberty’s Torch is a Blogger blog. Its readership isn’t enormous – perhaps 400 readers per day – but many of those readers wrote, in response to this piece, to plead with me not to quit. I want to do as they’ve asked, but with Google now fully engaged in the Left’s campaign to silence conservative opinion on the Web, how long will it be before they get around to us who command smaller audiences? When they do, where can I turn?

     Don’t imagine for a moment that other easy-to-use blog hosts such as Wordpress won’t enlist in this campaign. Neither is Hosting Matters, where Eternity Road was sited, a reliable choice. First, I have no expertise with PHP or blogging software generally, and second, the Left will surely be after such large, popular blog hosts in their turn. I suppose I could go back to the style of the old Palace of Reason: a “webzine” done entirely in HTML, without the support of blogging software, but that seems a bit retrograde for the times.

     I need suggestions.

     If you want to see these tirades continue while I have life enough in me to emit them, give me the benefit of your thinking. (If you’re adept with blogging software, I could benefit from your expertise.) We “know not the day nor the hour” when Google will withdraw its indulgence from your humble Curmudgeon Emeritus. Remember this passage from Atlas Shrugged:

     "Since the deadline for the signing of the national Gift Certificates expires tonight at midnight," said Dr. Ferris, in the tone of a salesman extending a special courtesy to a customer, "I have come to obtain your signature, Mr. Rearden."
     He paused, with an air of suggesting that the formula now called for an answer.
     "Go on," said Rearden. "I am listening."
     "Yes, I suppose I should explain," said Dr. Ferris, "that we wish to get your signature early in the day in order to announce the fact on a national news broadcast. Although the gift program has gone through quite smoothly, there are still a few stubborn individualists left, who have failed to sign-small fry, really, whose patents are of no crucial value, but we cannot let them remain unbound, as a matter of principle, you understand.”

     [Emphasis added by FWP]

     I’d like to take prophylactic action while there’s still “no rush” to do so.

Friday, August 18, 2017

What The World Needs Now

What the world needs now is love, sweet love
It's the only thing that there's just too little of
What the world needs now is love, sweet love,
No not just for some but for everyone.

Lord, we don't need another mountain,
There are mountains and hillsides enough to climb
There are oceans and rivers enough to cross,
Enough to last till the end of time.

What the world needs now is love, sweet love
It's the only thing that there's just too little of
What the world needs now is love, sweet love,
No, not just for some but for everyone.

Lord, we don't need another meadow
There are cornfields and wheat fields enough to grow
There are sunbeams and moonbeams enough to shine
Oh listen, lord, if you want to know.

What the world needs now is love, sweet love
It's the only thing that there's just too little of
What the world needs now is love, sweet love,
No, not just for some, oh, but just for everyone.

[Jackie DeShannon]

     Everyone has heard that old song, I’m sure. It was a paean to a particular kind of love, but if freed of the romantic gloss, its proposition still holds true.

     Yesterday I watched The Case For Christ for the second time. I’ve been eager to do so ever since I saw it in the theater. That second viewing proved as compelling as the first one, and considerably more illuminating.

     The core of the movie is, of course, the young Lee Strobel’s campaign to “debunk” the Christian faith by disproving the historical accounts of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. His campaign began with his indignant reaction against his wife Leslie’s embrace of Christianity. It ended when the evidence he had amassed persuaded him of it as well. Throughout the movie his investigative fervor keeps tempo with his anger that Leslie has elected to “cheat on him with Jesus:” a thematic element of staggering significance.

     I didn’t go to see the movie for educational reasons. I’m about as well versed – pardon the choice of words – in the evidentiary basis for Christianity as anyone who’s not a seminary graduate. Being a capable logician and scientist, I’m also aware that an irreproducible phenomenon will always admit of more than one explanation. Therefore the truth of the Biblical accounts of the Resurrection can never be definitively proved. But that’s in the nature of all human knowledge: except for propositions in entirely abstract formal systems (e.g., mathematics), we can have confidence, but never certainty.

     What’s most striking about The Case For Christ is its gentle emphasis on love: God’s love, Man’s attempts to love, and the ways in which they contrast. As archeologist-turned-priest Father Marquez (played by Miguel Perez) says early on, the Sacrifice at Golgotha could have been motivated only by love: the willingness of God incarnate to suffer the worst tortures flesh can bear in a demonstration both of His love for Man and His divine credentials. In contrast, human love is often jealously possessive, sometimes insanely so. It bristles at any sort of competition, often seeking revenge for being “cheated on.” Divine love, obviously, isn’t like that.

     Indeed, the great wonder of love between humans is that that we routinely do succeed in extending it without (much) jealousy: first the love of a child for his parents, then the love of a husband for his wife; then to the love of a parent for his child. It is in that familial process that we find the best temporal parallel to Divine love: the love of the Father for His children.

     Religion can be blamed for many ills. The clerics of the world’s many Christian denominations have gone beyond the teachings of Christ innumerable times, asserting authority in matters on which He never pronounced. Indeed, much of the conflict among the denominations arises from exactly that source. Like politicians, clerics are loath to admit to error and reluctant to surrender usurped authority.

     Christ didn’t ask much of us:

     And, behold, one came and said to him, Good master, what good shall I do that I may have life everlasting? Who said to him, Why askest thou me concerning good? One is good, God. But if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. He said unto him, Which? And Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness. Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. [Matthew 19:16-19]

     And Saint Paul, notwithstanding his frequent excursions into Levitical prescriptions and proscriptions Christ never commanded, hit that nail squarely on the head:

     Owe no man any thing, but to love one another. For he that loveth his neighbor hath fulfilled the law. For: Thou shalt not commit adultery: Thou shalt not kill: Thou shalt not steal: Thou shalt not bear false witness: Thou shalt not covet. And if there be any other commandment, it is comprised in this word: Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. The love of our neighbour worketh no evil. Love therefore is the fulfilling of the law. [Romans 13:8-10]

     What does the world need now? Now that politics has failed, secular philosophizing has proved insufficient, and the ordinary practices of men simply trying to get by appear unequal to our trials? Why, Jesus Christ, of course: Love of Him and the faithful observance of His original preachments, undecorated. How much simpler could it get?

     May God bless and keep you all.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

“Survived By His Wife”

     They say married men live longer!

     Well, don’t they? But...longer than whom??

     Just a little levity for an otherwise dreary week.

A Teaser

     [As I’m not in the mood to write about “serious” stuff this morning, I thought I’d fill in with a teaser from my novel-under-development, Innocents. Questions are welcome, but I reserve the right not to answer them. -- FWP]


Monday, 09/11/2028, 05:00: Gloucester, Virginia

     The ninth day of his vacation had started routinely enough for Larry Sokoloff: awaken at five, rise, shower, don a robe, make coffee, and go to the picture window of his Airstream trailer for a first look at the day. That was where the routine ended.
     A shapely young woman with long black hair, clad in a soiled cotton nightgown and nothing else he could see, lay on her side on the grass beneath his awning. She was awake, propped on an elbow. Her eyes were fixed upon three large, slovenly looking young men wearing T-shirts, jeans, and wide, unfriendly leers. They were approaching at a steady pace.
     The girl scrambled to her feet and retreated until her back pressed against the surface of the trailer. Sokoloff yanked open the rear door, traversed the steps at a single bound, and stationed himself between the girl and the approaching boys. The three came to a halt.
     “Something I can do for you, gentlemen?” he said.
     The largest of them sneered. “Sorry dude, we’re not into boys.” He and his companions started forward again. Sokoloff felt the girl close in behind him. He held up a hand.
     “Whatever you’ve got in mind,” he said, “you should take it somewhere else.” To the girl he whispered “Back up just a little.”
     The leader chuckled, cocked a fist, and took a roundhouse swing at Sokoloff. A second later the young tough was sitting on the ground, clutching his wrist and screaming in agony.
     Sokoloff smiled at the other two. “Anyone else?”
     They looked at one another, drew knives, and flicked them open. Sokoloff shrugged, said “Hm,” and attacked.
     It was over almost as it began. Sokoloff adjusted his robe, stepped past the unconscious henchmen, and addressed the moaning leader.
     “You and your side boys aren’t very bright. You saw a defenseless girl and a guy in a bathrobe and figured ‘easy pickings.’ You didn’t stop to ask ‘why does that guy look so calm?’ You just charged straight ahead. Bad move, asshole. I’m going to take the young lady inside and fix her something to eat. You should rouse your buddies, get them up and about, and get out of here as fast as your little legs can carry you, because I’m getting mad just standing here looking at you, and when I get mad I’m likely to do something mean.
     He turned to the girl. She’d remained a few feet behind him. Her expression and posture were passive. Her eyes were a startling, vivid blue. “Are you hungry?”
     “Yes, sir.”
     He gestured at the open trailer door. She mounted the steps with no hesitation. He followed her inside and closed the door gently behind him.

#

     “Make yourself at home. Corned beef hash and eggs okay?” Sokoloff went to the little kitchen area, pulled a can out of one cabinet, a skillet out of another, and four eggs and a butter tray out of the trailer’s mini-fridge. “I don’t have much else.”
     “Yes, sir,” she murmured. Her voice seemed unusually muted.
     “Oops, almost forgot.” He buttered the pan and set it on a burner. “Forgive my sloppy hospitality. I haven’t had any guests in a while. Would you like some coffee? I have milk for it but no sweet stuff.”
     She didn’t respond immediately. He turned from his labors and found her standing by the dinette table. “Miss?”
     Her expression was pained. “What is...coffee?”
     He peered at her. “You’ve never had it?”
     She shook her head.
     “Well, maybe we should stick to milk, then. You’ve had milk, haven’t you?”
     She smiled and nodded. He filled a large glass and handed it to her. She drank it down in one long draught, breathed deeply, and handed back the empty glass with an expression of pleasure that verged on ecstasy.
     “Thank you, sir.”
     He grinned. “You’re welcome. Would you like more?”
     She nodded energetically. He refilled her glass and returned it to her. “Try to slow down, dear. It’s cold enough to give you a stomach ache if you drink it too fast.”
     She nodded. “Yes, sir.”
     “The food’ll only take a couple of minutes. Have a seat at the table. What’s your name? Mine’s Larry.”
     She seated herself. “Fountain, sir.”
     “Your name is Fountain?”
     “Yes, sir.”
     “Just...Fountain?”
     “Yes, sir.”
     Okay. Girl in nothing but a nightie appears under my awning. Looks to be in her late teens or early twenties. Steps into a strange man’s trailer without hesitation, though given that he’d just defended her against what looked like a rape gang, maybe that’s not too hard to understand. But she doesn’t know what coffee is. Slugs down a glass of milk as if it were nectar from heaven. Gives her name as Fountain. Just Fountain. Not one of my usual mornings on vacation, for sure.
     He turned off the burner, went to the dinette table, and sat across from her. She faced him without a hint of curiosity or fear.
     “Fountain,” he said, “I was going to wait until we had some food in us to ask you about...well, about everything. Where you come from, why you’re out in nothing but a thin cotton nightie, what you need and where you’re headed. But you’ve got me thinking maybe we shouldn’t wait for that.”
     She looked down at her folded hands.
     “By the way,” he said, “you can call me Larry.”
     “Yes, sir.”
     Hm. Seems that didn’t register.
     “Is there anything I should know right away, Fountain?”
     Her gaze remained on her hands.
     He reached across the table and took her hands. Her head came up. For the first time he saw something in her expression other than fear: curiosity.
     “Fountain,” he said, “whatever it is you need, I’ll help. Unless it’s illegal. Just ask.”
     “Why...” She faltered and fell silent.
     “Why what, Fountain?”
     “Why do you live in a metal house?”
     He laughed despite himself. She waited, the curiosity in her eyes undiminished.
     “Forgive me, dear,” he said. “Haven’t you seen one of these before?” She shook her head. “It’s not a house, really. Well, sort of a portable house. It’s called a trailer. I don’t live in it. I drive around the country with it, so I can go wherever I like and not have to worry about having a place to stay.”
     “You can go...wherever you like, whenever you like?” she said.
     “Well, not whenever I like. I have a job that I usually have to go to, six days a week. Right now I’m on vacation, just driving around, seeing some interesting sights.”
     And trying hard not to think about someone, but you don’t need to hear about that.
     The questioning look in her eyes was unchanged. He chafed her hands gently between his. “Is there anything else you want to know, Fountain?”
     She nodded. “What is a job?”
     He opened his mouth, closed it hastily, and thought.
     First name Fountain. No last name. Found sleeping on the grass wearing nothing but a nightie. Never came in contact with coffee before. Thinks this is a metal house. Doesn’t know what a job is. Now things are getting weird.
     “Fountain,” he said, “I think it’s time for you to tell me about yourself.”

#

     Sokoloff’s call was answered on the second ring.
     “Integral Security, Kevin Conway speaking.”
     “Hi, Boss, it’s Larry.”
     “Of course it is. Who else would be up this early on his vacation? Where has the wind blown you today?”
     “Gloucester, Virginia. Near the coast, not far from the Chesapeake Bay. It’s very pretty.”
     “And boring, I’ll bet.”
     Sokoloff chuckled. “Not as boring as you might think, Boss. I have a little problem and I could use your opinion.”
     “Oh? Lay it on me.”
     “I’ve picked up a stray. Young woman, late teens or very early twenties. Found her just this morning, lying on the grass under my awning. Protected her from a bunch of good-for-nothings, brought her inside, and fed her breakfast. She seems healthy, but not well oriented. Suggestions?”
     “You call that a problem? She knows where she lives, doesn’t she? Take her back there and forget about it.”
     “Sorry Boss, that won’t cut it. She escaped from some sort of institution. Not a prison or a loony bin, though. She said she’s been confined there since as far back as she can remember. Anyway, it doesn’t sound like a nice place. She was terrified at the thought of going back. Pleaded with me not to do that to her.”
     “Give me a complete description.”
     “She’s about five-six, a hundred ten pounds. Very quiet. Black hair, blue eyes. Hair’s shoulder-length and well cared for. Face is unmarked. Nice figure. Her hands and feet are small and soft. No calluses. Nails are trimmed, shaped and clear-coated, like she was to a manicurist just yesterday. I found her wearing a plain white, knee-length cotton nightie, some grass stains, and nothing else. Oh, and she’s got a weird name. Fountain.”
     “Fountain? Is that her first or last name?”
     “That’s all the name she gave me, Boss. Just Fountain.”
     “You found her wearing nothing but a nightie? No purse or shoes? What about tattoos, scars, and bruises?”
     “Nothing visible, Boss.” I’m not going to check under the nightie.
     Conway sighed. “I knew I should have kept you in Onteora. Well, if you have no other ideas, what about the regular police?”
     Sokoloff chuckled. “The kind that hate our guts and want to see us put out of business?”
     “The very ones I was thinking of.”
     “I can’t say why, Boss, but I’ve got a feeling that would be the wrong move. She’s really off the beaten track.” He glanced over his shoulder. The girl had moved from the dinette table to his daybed. “Weird first name, no last name. Doesn’t know what coffee is. Doesn’t know what a job is. Asked me why I live in a metal house. Definitely on the run from her...keepers, but she won’t say anything more about them or what they were doing to her. No visible signs of abuse.”
     And no fear of me, even after she saw me beat the crap out of three pretty big guys. That might be the weirdest part.
     Sokoloff sneaked a second glance at Fountain. The young woman was sitting motionless on his daybed. Her hands were clasped in her lap. Her gaze appeared unfocused. She’d paid no attention to anything in the trailer except him. If she was listening to his conversation, she gave no sign.
     “I’m out of ideas, Larry. I’d kick it up to a professional, a psychologist or psychiatrist. When do you figure to be back in Onteora?”
     “You need me back?”
     “No, but I know people here who might be able to help with your stray. I don’t have any contacts in Virginia. Do you think Fountain would be willing to come north with you?”
     “I don’t know. I’ll ask her. But Boss? Isn’t it a little risky to go crossing state lines with a teenaged girl with no ID?”
     “You let her into your trailer, so you’re already in the danger zone. The Mann Act is the least of your worries. Bring her to Onteora, if you can talk her into it, and we’ll take it from there.”
     “Okay, Boss. See you in a couple of days.”
     “Keep it smooth and steady on the roads, Larry. No speeding, no weird maneuvers, nothing conspicuous. You don’t want to get pulled over.”
     “I thought you said I didn’t need to worry about the Mann Act.”
     “You don’t. I do.”
     Sokoloff chuckled. “Right. See you shortly.” They exchanged good-byes and rang off. He pocketed his phone and turned to the girl, who was sitting exactly as he’d left her.
     “Fountain?” She looked up. “We need to talk.”
     “Yes, sir.” She slid off the daybed and stood before him, eyes slightly lowered and hands folded before her, still completely passive. A servant waiting for orders. It sent a chill through him.
     She acts as if she’s been taught not to show a will of her own. As if she’d been punished for ever displaying anything like that.
     Was she being groomed for something? Something not so nice?
     I hope Kevin’s right that there are people back home who can help her. She looks healthy enough. Perfectly normal, if you overlook the nightie. But there’s got to be big time damage inside.

     He took her gently by the shoulders, urged her to sit, and sat beside her.
     “I don’t live here,” he said, “or anywhere nearby. And I don’t know where I could take you near here that would be...good for you.”
     She said nothing.
     “A very smart man suggested that I bring you back to New York, where I live.” He grinned. “Not in a metal house, a regular one that doesn’t go anywhere. You could stay there with me while my friend and I find someone who can help us to help you. You know, figure out where you belong, whether you should be in school and what grade, things like that. Are you willing to do that? Come north to New York and stay with me while we figure all that stuff out?”
     She made no sound or movement as he spoke, merely sat with her hands in her lap and her eyes fixed on his. In the few seconds before she replied, Sokoloff began to fear that in his innocent desire to help, he might somehow lead her to her ultimate destruction. Her response took him completely by surprise.
     She rose from the daybed, turned smoothly to face him, dropped to her knees and bowed until her forehead touched the floor.
     “I am yours, my lord.”

==<O>==

Fact free MSM analysis.

"CNN's Chris Cuomo: 'Extreme Right Is The Number One Domestic Terror Threat In The U.S.'"

Yale grad.

On removing Confederate monuments.

Why not just remove the name of anyone who was ever wrong about anything from the beginning of time from the history books ? Get it over with now and utopia will surely be achieved!

Comment by RhoneGSM on "Tucker Carlson Obliterates Bill Kristol, Says He's 'Glued to Social Media Like a Slot Machine Junkie in Reno'." By The_Real_Fly, Zero Hedge, 8/17/17.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Had It

     I think I’ve reached my limit.

     For twenty years I’ve been writing analyses and opinion about various matters of public policy, political dynamics, the various premises, the rational processes, and the emotional substrates that produce those things. The time and effort involved in producing these pieces are considerable. No one does such a thing except in the hope of improvement. But there’s been none. Not one BLEEP!ing thing has changed for the better. Every element of our sociopolitical malaise has worsened. America continues to slide toward totalitarianism – a totalitarianism that defies election results.

     I’m beginning to think that it’s due to cowardice on the Right. Virtually no one with his head on straight will speak plainly.

     Today, the worst of America’s bad actors rule our streets. They’re open about it. They make YouTube videos about their success at violently suppressing gatherings of conservatives and talks by conservative spokesmen. Yet supposedly Right-aligned commentators, including nearly all the prominent ones, can’t bring themselves to condemn the Left’s Brownshirts. Rather, they apologize for the Right’s existence.

     I probably read more in a single day than 99.9% of the American populace – including most of the aforementioned commentators – reads in a month. The greater part of that is news, analysis, and opinion. But with all that I read, I almost never encounter a statement about the plague of street violence – politically motivated street violence that's afflicted this country for more than a year – that places the odium squarely upon those who consciously set forth to initiate it.

     Instead, we get stuff like this:

     Monday morning, Ken Cuccinelli, former Attorney General of the Commonwealth, appeared on CNN’s “New Day” program opposite Symone Sanders, former press secretary for Bernie Sanders. They spoke about the Charlottesville events, and the President’s underwhelming, confounding response to them. Things got out of hand. When Cuccinelli didn’t seem contrite enough of behalf of Donald Trump (because, being a conservative, he’s clearly Trump’s biggest fan, because REASONS) and wouldn’t initially condemn Robert E. Lee as “emblematic” of white supremacy and racial hatred, Sanders continually talked over him and interrupted, with host Chris Cuomo’s passive cooperation. Cuccinelli eventually had enough of being interrupted and talked over, and said “…can I finish Symone, will you just shut up for a minute and let me finish?” Sanders became apoplectic, as if her civil rights were being violated by being asked to ‘shut up.’ The height of irony was Sanders, doing her best impression of a screaming harpy, demanding ‘decorum’ from Ken Cuccinelli, in almost every instance a thoroughgoing gentleman, who in this case was pushed to his limits. Sanders has no sense of fairness, decency, or decorum of her own. Chris Cuomo, of course, being Chris Cuomo, jumped in and remonstrated with Cuccinelli for using the phrase, “shut up” and did nothing to address Sanders’ antics, including using the same phrase herself.

     So far, so good, right? But we’re not quite finished:

     Cuccinelli, being the gentleman that he is, apologized, even calling Sanders after the fact.

     Why did Cuccinelli apologize for demanding to be treated with respect – reciprocal respect, at that? Had Sanders been a man, a true gentleman would have demanded a pre-dawn accounting: pistols or swords, sir; your choice. A woman exhibiting that sort of conduct is beneath contempt.

     At this point in our devolution, contempt is too good for the Left. Yet our luminaries continue to treat them with undeserved respect – and equally undeserved mercy for their outrages – while castigating the Right for daring to attempt a counteraction.


     I’ve also had it with “Fox News.” The best of its productions, Bret Baier’s Special Report, has become completely unwatchable. The appearances of supposedly Republican, supposedly conservative office holders, are so irritating that I’ve begun changing the channel to Animal Planet or The Food Network upon the instant one such appears on-screen. Not one of them ever gives a straight answer to a simple question. “Yes” and “no” seem not to be part of their vocabularies. However, the panel segments are its worst feature: an appalling display of Establishmentarianism and pusillanimity. The most regular panelists have been “in the business” for far too long. They’ve too obviously had their consciences numbed and their spines ripped out, and ought to consider a retirement trade; perhaps begging on street corners. The occasional guests, being mostly younger, tend to be somewhat better, but the regulars routinely outweigh them.

     The nadir arrived in this past Monday’s exchange between regular panelist Steve Hayes and occasional panelist Mollie Hemingway, over the nature of the events in Charlottesville. Hayes led off with a cringingly apologetic statement that condemned “white supremacists” and “neo-Nazis” as the reasons for the violence. When Hemingway dared to disagree – and not entirely, at that – Hayes actually tried to shout her down, insulting her unforgivably in the process. It was grotesque beyond my powers of description. Charles Krauthammer’s contribution added to the abuse of Hemingway in a predictably Establishmentarian fashion.

     Hayes’s behavior might be explicable. He might be angling for a billet at CNN or MSNBC, both of which are in desperate need of token “conservatives.” Krauthammer has no excuse. The experts required to raise him from his coffin and make him look lifelike in time for every evening’s fifteen minutes of breathless filibustering blather are under exclusive contract to Fox.

     It seems that those who predicted that Fox would swiftly deteriorate with Roger Ailes’s resignation were correct.


     The bastions of hard evidence and sound reason are being worn away. Whether it’s from fatigue or fear, they whom we trusted to be our public voices are failing us. It would be better for them to retire, but there’s precious little money or fan mail in that.

     For twenty years I’ve strained to add a microdecibel or two in favor of freedom and justice. I just don’t know whether there’s any point. Maybe there never was.

     It’s time for me to sit back and take stock, but before I close, have a giggle. A dear friend is about to issue a T-shirt design through Cafe Press. He told me about it a couple of weeks ago, and is currently deciding upon the final design. It’s likely to bear the following legend:

White Men:
Bringing You Western Civilization For 3000 Years

     ...over an image of a cathedral. I can’t wait to order mine...that is, if Cafe Press has the stones to accept his design and offer it for sale.

     We shall see.

To serve and defect.

It’s worth remembering that Charlottesville did everything it could to prevent the demonstrations, issuing permits only after being sued by the ACLU. And when push came to shove—literally—on Saturday, police and National Guardsmen were to be found only on the periphery of the brawling. Indeed, the Virginia ACLU reported that police were refusing to intervene unless specifically ordered to do so.[1]
Shades of Berkley when cops similarly did not intervene to stop AntiFa violence.[2]

Notes
[1] "Avoidable Mayhem. Why did Virginia’s political leadership order the police and National Guard to stand down?" By Bob McManus, City Journal, 8/14/17.
[2] H/t: The Burning Platform.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Action And Reaction

     As my regular Gentle Readers will surely know (and if they don’t, they can learn about it here), I have a Newfoundland. The Newf is a very special breed of dog. It was developed in the 17th and 18th Centuries to be a sailors’ companion: i.e., to perform water rescues in the icy North Atlantic where a sailor who fell overboard was in as much danger from hypothermia as from drowning.

     Needless to say, pulling grown men out of the ocean isn’t a job for something the size of a Chihuahua. Newfs are big — they average between 120 and 160 pounds at maturity – and proportionately strong. They were bred that way. But the bigger a dog is, the more important it is that he be gentle and unaggressive. So Newfs were also bred, quite carefully over many generations, to be gentle, affectionate, and generally unthreatening toward humans.

     Yet despite all that careful selective breeding, a Newf will revert to the feral, all-out violence of the wild when mistreated, or when a member of “his pack” – i.e., a member of the family to which he’s bonded – is threatened. And Newfs being big and strong, a Newf on the warpath will be very destructive. Plainly, the last thing any Newf owner would want is for his Newf to turn violent.

     Why yes, this is about Charlottesville. However did you guess?


     The Left has made substantial inroads into the American order by the well-known technique of gradualism. Mark Steyn noted the power of this technique, when shrewdly applied, in his masterpiece America Alone:

     If it were just terrorists bombing buildings and public transit, it would be easier; even the feeblest Eurowimp jurisdiction is obliged to act when the street is piled with corpses. But there's an old technique well understood by the smarter bullies. If you want to break a man, don't attack him head on, don't brutalize him; pain and torture can awaken a stubborn resistance in all but the weakest. But just make him slightly uncomfortable, disrupt his life at the margin, and he'll look for the easiest path to re-normalization. There are fellows rampaging through the streets because of some cartoons? Why, surely the most painless solution would be if we all agreed not to publish such cartoons.

     Steyn was, of course, thinking specifically about way Islamic militants worldwide have gone about intimidating the peoples of civilized nations into kowtowing to Islam. Yet his observation has far wider force.

     When the Taliban of Afghanistan took political control of that country, there was no immediate reaction from the West. We remained disengaged even when they began to execute women and children for the heinous crimes of being Christians or learning to read. They destroyed the Bahamian Buddhas, priceless historical treasures, and we continued to watch passively. It took Black Tuesday – September 11, 2001 and the loss of 3000 American lives – to awaken us. And of course, once the U.S. is awakened, it’s the rankest folly to stand against us.

     So it is also with the Left and its campaign to destroy what remains of the American Constitutional order.


     Leftist street demonstrations, sometimes including vandalism, have occurred in the U.S. before. However, the organizers have recently grown far bolder than their predecessors. The events of Donald Trump’s campaign and presidential inauguration went well beyond anything Americans would passively tolerate...were they fully informed about them. The major media, which is heavily Left-biased and aligned, did its level best to prevent accurate reportage about those events. Indeed, they strained to make Trump and his supporters into the villains of any story about any such development.

     Yet some things slipped through. There were too many eyewitnesses, and too many video-enabled phones, to prevent some actual depiction of the facts from reaching the public. A threshold was crossed. Popular anger over the Left’s tactics swelled to a decision point. Men headed to a Trump rally began to arm themselves, mostly with sticks or clubs, in preparation for an attack on them. While the Left continued to press, its efforts yielded less and less of the intimidation it sought.

     Other facts came to light: the alliance between the “Antifa” and “Black Lives Matter” gangs; their organizational techniques; the instructions their street thugs received; the sources of their funding; and the regularity with which the major media deflected attention from any disclosures about those things. Perhaps emboldened by their media support, the Left’s thugs decided to double down. Any gathering of conservative-minded persons for any reason became a target for violent disruption. Popular conservative speakers were compelled to flee the venues at which they were scheduled to appear. The attendees of pro-Trump rallies were regularly attacked, particularly women and the elderly. Apparently the response from the Right wasn’t uniform enough or dramatic enough to deter the Left. (It didn’t help that many Right-aligned spokesmen lacked the courage to point squarely at the Left and its backers and denounce them unambiguously, preferring merely to rail abstractly against “violence” and “hate.”)

     But as I’ve said many times here and elsewhere, word gets around. If there’s some item of information that it’s important that people know, sooner or later they will know it. No one can suppress the communication of important facts indefinitely.


     If the videos I’ve seen of the events in Charlottesville are accurate, the violence there, though initiated by the “Antifa / Black Lives Matter” combine and worsened by the actions of the Charlottesville police, was roughly isotropic. The counterforce, whose embryo was a modest number of conservatives carrying sticks and clubs to Right-aligned gatherings, has swelled to meet the Left’s shock troops on approximately even terms. The racial component of the contretemps, aggravated recently by proclamations from various Leftists to the effect that “whiteness” itself is a crime against humanity, has germinated a white-identity reaction that will swell the counterforce still further.

     These are good developments. No one is morally required to stand mute and passive while his race, his religion, his property, his freedom, or his person is being attacked. Once a collective has formed and demonstrated aggressive intentions, the alternatives are two: to be subjugated, or to fight back.

     Conservatives, Christians, and whites have decided to fight back.

     The Left has the media and a goodly portion of the political class on its side. Those forces can make it appear that the Right is doomed, that American Caucasians should surrender and submit, and that the Constitutional order has been irrecoverably overthrown. Indeed, even Fox News’s commentators are kowtowing to the forces proclaiming that white racism and fascism have caused the disturbances.

     But word gets around. And “the word” is that it’s time for conservatives, Christians, and whites to fight for our lives.

     In physics, we’re taught that “action equals reaction.” In sociopolitical matters, action can provoke reaction, but the two are not compelled to be equal in magnitude.

     A majority of Americans are patriotic and at least moderately conservative. Seventy percent of us are Caucasians of European descent. Seventy-four percent of us are Christians.

     Will the Left “do the math?” Your Curmudgeon reports; you decide.

     For further reading:

Monday, August 14, 2017

Left Rites

     [The reactions of so many Democrats and allied spokesvermin to the Charlottesville atrocity – specifically, their unanimity in blaming President Trump for the violence and disorder there this past weekend – have prompted the revivification of the piece below. It first appeared at the old Palace Of Reason on June 24, 2003. -- FWP]


     Certain behaviors of our political families, and of the flacksters and interest groups that swarm around them, are highly regular. For example, you can count on the Sierra Club and the Natural Resources Defense Council to predict imminent doom whenever a large corporation is granted a permit to build a plant, expand an existing one, or sink a hole in the earth for any reason. You can count on Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton to scream "racism" whenever some racial set-aside is challenged, or whenever a white candidate edges out a black one for a high-profile position. You can count on NOW and NARAL to scream about the abridgement of women's sacred "right to choose" whenever a state government proposes a law requiring parental notification when an underage girl seeks an abortion.

     You can also expect Democratic presidential candidates to pander to special interests at every opportunity.

     The decisions handed down yesterday in the University of Michigan racial-preferences cases before the Supreme Court satisfied very few. On the Right, where preferences have been excoriated for decades, the reaction was muted, almost resigned. The Court's delegitimization of UM's "point system," which gave black applicants a huge edge over white ones solely because of their race, was viewed favorably, but with a bittersweet edge. In the pattern of the Bakke case of twenty-five years ago, the Court maintained a qualified approval of "affirmative action" and the desirability of universities extending preferential treatment for the sake of "diversity."

     On the Left, as represented by Democratic seekers after their party's presidential nod, the reaction was practically hysterical:

  • Richard Gephardt: "Any effort to deny our nation's compelling interest in ensuring diversity is short-sighted and wrong....When I'm president, we'll do executive orders to overcome any wrong thing the Supreme Court does tomorrow or any other day."
  • Dennis Kucinich: "If this president doesn't want to let us be one nation, then it's time to elect a president who will let us be one nation."
  • Howard Dean: "The president has divided us. He's divided us by race by using the word 'quotas.' There's no such thing as a quota at the University of Michigan, never has been."
  • John Kerry: "We deserve a president of the United States who doesn't call fairness for minorities special preferences and then turn around and give special preferences to Halliburton or to Enron to write the energy policy."
  • Al Sharpton: "Clarence Thomas is my color, but he's not my kind."
  • Joseph Lieberman: "It is wrong; it is un-American."

     (Quotes courtesy of Fox News, reporting on the Democratic presidential candidates' comments at the annual Rainbow / PUSH convention in Chicago.)

     This sort of stridency might be better reserved for decisions such as Dred Scott. Yes, that was a long time ago.

     Note how four of the six candidates directly referred to the president in commenting on this development. It's not that they're unaware that President Bush doesn't sit on the Supreme Court. President Bush is their opponent; therefore, whatever they say from now until November 2004 must somehow connect to him. If Osama bin Laden were to nuke Tokyo, these candidates would strain to color it as somehow Dubya's fault.

     Plainly, the significance of such outbursts is not rational; it is political. Since World War II, the strategy that's worked best for the Democratic Party has been to pander to the special interest groups, particularly the ones that have already been successful at getting special privileges written into the law. This is in keeping with an ancient bit of wisdom about advertising: it's most effective when applied to something that's already selling well.

     Palace readers who find these emissions unpersuasive should take comfort. They're aimed at galvanizing the already persuaded. They don't even acknowledge your existence. In Thomas Sowell's pungent formulation, you're considered "benighted," suitable only for re-education to bring your premises and convictions in line with those of the Left.

     But do they "energize the base," as the candidates seem to hope they will? Could the allegiance and activism of the interest groups thus addressed possibly be jacked up any higher by anything a Democrat might say?

     Your Curmudgeon thinks not. It seems far more likely that the candidates' statements, made so soon after the decisions were handed down, were a form of ritual propitiation, offered to the interest groups as reassurances, to prevent disaffection and disaffiliation.

     The most successful interest groups are those that have learned how to reinforce politicians' behavior effectively: to reward that which they favor and punish that which they dislike. Politicians dislike punishment, especially when their eyes are fixed on vistas of new power. So, when they can't act to favor the blocs that support them, they're likely to preclude any change in their allegiances with pandering statements.

     The interest groups appear to be mollified by such statements. Given how much some of them have gained from the Bush Administration, it might seem a bit odd, but perhaps that only increases the importance of frequent, strident reassertions by Democrats of who their real friends are.

     There appears to be no end in sight, unless the continuing fractionation of the country into ever more topically concentrated voting blocs should completely exhaust the Democrats' pandering energies. One can only perform so many obeisances per twenty-four hour day. Failing that, we can expect to see such kowtowing, as semantically empty as it might be, continue into the indefinite future.

     Now, if your Curmudgeon could only figure out how to turn a profit on it...

Sunday, August 13, 2017

The Collapse Of Public Order

     It’s here. In truth, it’s been here since the inauguration of Donald J. Trump as the 45th president of these United States. Last night’s events in Charlottesville, Virginia only make it impossible to ignore.

     I’m not acquainted with Jason Kessler or Richard Spencer. I know very little about the “Alt-Right,” and would not presume to speak for that movement or any of its supporters. Here is what I know:

     Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. [U.S. Constitution, Amendment I]

     As an integral part of the Constitution, the First Amendment is the supreme law of the land, quite as much as any of the Constitution’s other prescriptions or proscriptions. If there’s any point to having “law enforcement officers” paid out of the public treasury, it’s to have them enforce the law. Yet the Charlottesville Police Department (CPD) refrained from doing anything of the sort. Indeed, in one respect -- i.e., by forcing the “Unite the Right” protestors to move single-file out of Emancipation Park and into the throng of “Antifa” thugs awaiting them – the CPD seemed eager to provoke the violence that occurred last night.

     While I cannot be certain that the “Antifa” thugs who forced violence upon last night’s “Unite the Right” rally were in the pay of the far-left Charlottesville city government, I am certain that the CPD encouraged the mushrooming violence, both by forcing the groups together and by standing by passively as violence erupted. Therefore the CPD is complicit in the death and the injuries that occurred. It should be brought to account for them, but it’s clear from the aftermath that that won’t happen.

     When the supposed “forces of order” do nothing to preserve order – when their actions conduce to violence, bloodshed, and chaos — what are we to think of the “government” over us? What possible good can we rationally expect from this institution that possesses the pre-indemnified privilege to use force in upholding the law, but refrains from doing so?


     Concerning the above matter and much else, T. L. Davis deposeth and sayeth:

     The USA is a failed state. It was charged at its founding to protect and defend the borders. Fail. It was charged with securing the rule of law. Fail. It was charged with securing the right of the people to be secure in their papers and effects. Fail. It was charged with protecting a citizen’s right to a fair trial, a thing lost in the current judicial system of trumped up charges and plea bargains. Fail. It was charged with requiring the popularly elected House of Representatives with making all legislation, that does not exist where 90% of all new legislation is considered "rules" and "regulations" and is originated and passed in committees of bureaucracies. Fail.

     There is no area in which one might look where the language and intent of the Constitution is honored. This is more than just a problem, it is indicative of a failed political state. That there are those who benefit from this dysfunction is a fact, but it is not indicative of a functioning government. It is a government evolving from its intent to the opposite of its intent. Yes, it functions, but not to its purpose, which is to say if a tire is blown, with a big hole in it, it might still be used as a child's swing, but it no longer functions to its purpose.

     He’s absolutely correct on all counts. The purpose of government in the U.S. was set out by a memorable bit of prose:

     We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

     Those purposes are in agreement at all points with what radio host Gene Burns likes to call “the birth document of the United States of America:”

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

     Yet today:

  • There are no rights;
  • There is no security;
  • And there’s damned little happiness.

     T. L. Davis’s assessment of the U.S. as “a failed state” is confirmed. Moreover, it’s the governments we hoped would “effect their Safety and Happiness” that are the culprits. Worse yet, they have enlisted groups such as “Antifa” and “Black Lives Matter” in their efforts.


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

     It should be clear by now that the members of the political class, at whose whim the “forces of order” really move, are uninterested in anyone’s rights. Their paramount desire is to maintain and (if possible) increase their power over us.

     There can no longer be any justification for faith in the benevolence of the State. It has revealed itself all too clearly as a parasitic organism. It’s grown so large that the health of the host is now in mortal jeopardy. The elevation of a complete outsider to its highest office seems not to have dampened its lusts. Now, by assisting outright thugs and criminals in the suppression of peaceful dissent, the political class has declared war on the private citizenry.

     Do not expect what will follow last night’s evil to be confined to locales far from you. Go armed at all times. Cultivate the sharpest situational awareness possible. At all costs stay out of crowds and places where crowds are predicted. The thugs are everywhere...and the “forces of order” are aligned with them.

     Pray.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

The Yars’ Revenge Motif

     If you remember the best-selling Atari 2600 video game Yars’ Revenge, you must surely remember the “free-roaming mines that hunt the player's ship.” If you don’t...or if you’d rather not admit to being that old...here’s a brief description.

     The player controlled the “Yar.” The mission was to destroy an enemy called the “Qotile,” which was protected by a thick barrier. To make that possible, the Yar had to erode the barrier a block at a time. The player did this by pressing the Yar against it. However, there was a limit to how long he could do that at any given time: a slow-moving “free-roaming mine” would home in on the Yar and pursue it unceasingly across the screen. Needless to say, if the mine were to catch the Yar, it was “game over.” So the player had to combine his assault on the Qotile’s protective barrier with continuous awareness and evasion of the mine.

     No, this isn’t a throwaway column about old video games. It’s an abstract disquisition on the Google / James Damore episode and Robert Conquest’s Second Law of Politics.


     There’s nothing terribly deep about the behavior of the Left. It seeks total power over all things and in all venues. Its ideas are trash, multiply debunked over the centuries and around the world. Therefore it cannot win the power it seeks in the arena of civil discourse and debate. And therefore, it must use the other methods available to it.

     As I’ve said several times here (and innumerable times elsewhere), any hierarchical organization offers a kind of power to him who can contrive to ascend through its hierarchy. Leftists, being obsessed with power, will pursue such opportunities assiduously. Their single-minded lust for power gives them an edge over other contenders. Once they attain command altitude in an organization, they use their authority to prevent anyone “not of our kind” from rising to challenge them. The struggles within the Science Fiction Writers of America ought to have demonstrated this process beyond all possible doubt.

     Thus, the following outline applies to hierarchical organizations and their “life cycle” at this time. (NB: The outline can also be applied to noncommercial organizations. Consider the parallels in the clergies of the various Christian denominations.)

  • The beginning: enterprising persons conceive the conceptual “zygote” of the organization-to-be.
  • The newly conceived organization goes to work developing the product or service it has imagined. We may call this the “embryo” stage. In the course of doing so, it may bring in persons who weren’t part of the “zygote.”
  • Commercially valuable talent being only loosely correlated with political alignments, as the embryo develops it may incorporate persons with a Leftist bent. However, in that early period, those persons must possess the skills and the drive the young enterprise needs.
  • The embryo completes its first offerings and puts them in the market.
  • If the early offerings succeed, the organization’s growth accelerates. Its ranks will expand as it gains market share. It will also develop a hierarchy.

     Let’s pause here to look at the dynamics. To this point the enterprise has been concerned almost exclusively with commercial assets: the talent and energy required to establish itself in the marketplace. Nothing else has mattered to whoever does the recruiting. However, the emergence of a hierarchy alters the dynamic subtly. The division of labor makes it necessary that some direct others. Thus, new hires are no longer chosen solely on the basis of their skill sets and dedication. They must show a willingness to do as they’re told.

     Those who direct can influence the job satisfactions and livelihoods of those who must comply. As the organization acquires further levels of management, the complexity of the personal relationships involved ramifies and accelerates.

     An organization with four or more levels in its hierarchy will also acquire specialized authority-niches: sectors that serve the rest of the organization by taking responsibility for specific functions. Some of these, such as accounts receivable and payroll, are essentially benign. However, there are others that can become cancers capable of devouring the enterprise. The worst is the Human Resources (HR) department.

     Take a moment to review the fiction snippet in this piece. Then get yourself some more coffee. We’ve got a way to go yet.


     The ever more complex internal workings of a growing organization make it necessary to consider “chemistry” in assigning Smith to work with Jones and Davis: Will they get along? That is, are their personalities and occupational styles sufficiently compatible for productive collaboration? The answer can be critical to the success or failure of an effort. The division of the organization into departments, groups, and teams can only mitigate the problem to a limited extent.

     In the usual organization of substance, the HR department acts as a filter for applications for employment. Baldly put, if the HR department turns thumbs-down on a candidate, he won’t be hired no matter what his intellect, credentials, or experience. Moreover, the HR department is almost never called upon to justify a negative decision. That would destroy the separation of functions that gave rise to the HR department in the first place.

     But beyond that, the HR department is routinely tasked with the development of policy manuals that delineate required, acceptable, and forbidden employee behavior. In this as in its other functions, the HR department will receive very little supervision. No one actually wants to be involved in such things...except for those who really, truly, and ardently want to be involved in such things: they who are dictators by nature.

     Seldom will even top management take the trouble to review HR’s policy manuals and rule on their fitness. Thus, HR can put out essentially anything it wants, and can later justify its decisions and decrees as “standing policy” founded on “the company’s experiences.” It’s not unknown for an HR department to retroactively alter a policy manual, claim that the alteration was the real policy all along, and use it to discipline employees for behavior that was previously deemed acceptable, in a corporate analogue to an ex post facto law.

     It should come as no surprise that the power-seekers of the Left regard the HR department as their first target, whose infiltration and conquest are essential to its broader aims.


     Outside the special HR bastion, the process of Leftist colonization develops almost imperceptibly. Much of it occurs through the policy manuals and the procedures HR institutes to arbitrate conflicts between employees. As we can see from the James Damore / Google incident, it can reach a point after which the expression of disapproved opinions – which need have no explicit political coloration – can result in the purge of the “offending” employee. The rationale is almost always along the lines of “after this, no one will want to work with him:” a prediction that cannot be reviewed objectively.

     My Gentle Readers might be wondering why this phenomenon penalizes only those whose views are disapproved by the Left. Quite simply, we in the Right prize capability and efficiency. We regard minor differences and frictions as “just what happens” when significant numbers of people must work together; we work around them rather than allowing them to obsess us. We’re more interested in commercial achievement than power. Contrariwise, politics and power are everything to the Left.

     Of course, the “progressive” campaign to make every sort of “tolerance” except tolerance of conservative opinions, and “victims” out of every imaginable identity group except white men and Christians, is a large component of this dynamic. Yet even without that trend, the Left would pursue power over others in every sort of context just as determinedly as it does today. Like the “free-roaming mine” that relentlessly pursued the Yar, it’s “the nature of the beast.”

     A beast will always act according to its nature.


     Lately I’ve been asked by several Gentle Readers to turn my attention to remedies and solutions: less “where are we” and more “what should we do.” I appreciate the input, really I do, but some problems don’t have straightforward solutions. Moreover, as I’ve said before, the only effective counter to a dynamic is an equal or stronger opposed dynamic. Just now, I don’t know of one.

     Robert Conquest’s Second Law of Politics presents the only hope I can find:

     Any organization not explicitly right-wing sooner or later becomes left-wing.

     As older organizations allow their commercial orientation to be diluted and displaced by political considerations, they will grow commercially weaker. That will render them vulnerable to competition from new companies that reject the “progressive” orientation and the dynamic it imposes. The new companies will have a natural edge...but only for as long as they successfully resist Leftist infiltration.

     Always bear in mind the “Yars’ Revenge” motif: The Left will forever pursue available power wherever it may be found. And it will move far more quickly than that “free-roaming mine.”

     It seems a paradox, a contradiction immune to resolution: to defeat the politicized dinosaurs, the new companies must be explicitly right-wing. In particular, they must never, ever allow themselves to sprout the HR departments that are the prime targets of the Left. But how that could be made to work – the adoption of an explicitly political orientation in an organization that seeks to exclude those who would politicize it – is unclear, especially given the state of American labor law in this Year of Our Lord 2017.

Friday, August 11, 2017

The “Feelings” Blob Part 2: Getting Tough

     Dystopic has continued his explorations of “weaponized empathy:”

     Today, let’s break down a very common use of it in private circles, in debates between regular folks on social media.

     The tactic looks something like this:

Conservative: I believe in [insert policy here].
Progressive: Here is a sad story about someone (or even a hypothetical someone) who would be affected by the policy. Do you want this person to suffer?
Conservative: Well, no, of course not…
Progressive: Well then, you shouldn’t believe in [the policy]. It’s immoral.

     This is an exceptionally low bar to clear for the Progressive. No matter what political positions a person might have, at least some people, somewhere, can be found who would be negatively affected by it.

     Exactly! There will always be beneficiaries of some government program, regardless of the details. That’s how Iron Triangles are formed:

  • A program is proposed that transfers money from the public to the State, ostensibly to achieve some end that requires funds.
  • The program quickly acquires three sorts of hangers-on:
    1. Bureaucrats who administer the program;
    2. Vendors who sell products and / or services to the program;
    3. Beneficiaries who receive benefits from the program.
  • Those three form a special-interest constituency that will fight to the death to prevent the program from being rescinded or diminished, regardless of its other effects.
  • Because its interests are concise and coherent, that constituency can outmaneuver politically the more diffuse group that’s being taxed to fund the program.

     The “progressive” may know this, but that’s of no true consequence. What he does know is that someone, somewhere, might find the program to be of some benefit under particular hypothesized conditions. As the “progressive” is all about “compassion,” he’ll do as Dystopic has outlined above. The conservative who opposes the program is them thrown on his mettle. To escape the trap, he must get tough:

Conservative: Does your hypothetical victim have family or friends who would help him?
Progressive: Assume that he doesn’t. [FWP: The “progressive” must say this to keep the trap armed.]
Conservative: Why not? Are you telling me there’s no one who loves him enough to help him for that reason alone?
[FWP: At this point the “progressive” might start to sputter. To make matters maximally constraining, assume he keeps cool.]
Progressive: Well, there are some people who have no friends or loved ones.
Conservative: Then yes, I do want him to suffer. He’s obviously made a lot of very bad choices. People who make bad choices should not be rescued from the consequences. That would create an incentive for other persons to emulate them.

     But very few conservatives would ever dare to say so, mainly because we’ve been “nice-guyed” out of our moral vision.


     For the sake of brevity, let’s call the inability to allow another to suffer for his choices nice-guyism. Include in that category the inability to say you would be willing to allow such suffering. It’s at the core of Dystopic’s conception of weaponized empathy – and if you haven’t yet read his other pieces on that subject, you can’t imagine what you’re missing.

     There are varieties of nice-guyism. Some nice guys respond to sickness, others to poverty, and still others to wounded or abandoned animals. Every charitable or pseudo-charitable organization that exists (or ever has) relies upon the existence of some variety of it. Their pitches are uniform in this regard: show hardship or suffering, without any mention of how it was brought about.

     A condition severed from its causes hangs sourceless in the universe. It appears to exist de novo, such that there are no imaginable contexts in which it wouldn’t exist. But in the realm of human behavior, this is almost never the case.

     The sole categorical exception I can find to the proposition that “a man’s suffering is the consequence of his choices” is that of the inherent handicap: the infant left on the church steps by his mother; the child born horribly deformed; the congenital imbecile or idiot. There are some of each. Our sympathies for them are wholly understandable. But no one who has ever possessed a functioning mind in a reasonably sound body can plausibly claim that his hardships, whatever they may be, have nothing to do with his choices.

     If you’re not willing to let an individual suffer the consequences of his decisions and actions, the whole of Mankind becomes your charity case. The “progressive” can justify taking your money and your freedom, for any reason whatsoever, until you’re left with none of either...and that, Gentle Reader, is exactly what he intends to do.


     In the sort of discourse Dystopic has outlined, the “progressive” is using the conservative’s feelings against him: his automatic sympathy for anyone caught in dire straits, and his desire to be seen as a “nice guy” by his conversational adversary. The sole remedy is to get tough.

     Toughness is a contextually dependent characteristic. Demanding that a healthy adult be responsible for meeting his own needs is a virtue, and an important pro-social attitude. Demanding that one’s minor child do the same is not. Between the two lie the cases the “progressive” seeks to sever from their causal roots: those whose previous choices have brought them to a sorry pass. But if we can’t insist that persons with no excuse avoid unnecessary or extreme risks and make responsible provisions for their own futures, on what civic virtue can we insist?

     Beyond that, of course, lies the realm of legitimate, defensible excuses for being in personal jeopardy, but let’s leave that for some other morning.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

The “Feelings” Blob

     I could've been a man's coach. Backfield coach, Oregon State: I had the job, I had the job, I actually had the job. You understand? I had the job. Ah, well. Coach of the year. I was coach of the year last year. You know what that means when you're a women’s coach? Jack shit. I mean I could have coached football. Do you actually think that Chuck Knoll has to worry that Franco Harris is gonna cry ‘cause Terry Bradshaw won't talk to him? - Hmm? - Jack Lambert can't play because Mel Blount hurt his feelings, that Lynn Swann is pregnant, that Rocky Bleier forgot his Tampax? Ah, fuck! – Scott Glenn as Terry Tingloff, U.S. Olympic women’s track coach, in Personal Best

     It’s an old movie...but so is the “movie” about women being incapacitated by their emotions. Of course, that comes in several varieties. Today it’s often about “feeling unsafe.”

     I’m fully aware that the “feeling unsafe” gambit is a Leftist tactic. However, it wouldn’t work if women weren’t highly susceptible to it. It’s just about the easiest thing in the world to persuade a woman to feel unsafe, if that’s your objective.

     Of course, the tactic has a point: to make men unsafe. In particular, it’s used to put men at risk of their livelihoods, or their educations, or their homes and access to their children.

     As regards the use of this tactic, whether politically or in any other context, for maximum irony bear in mind that among a Western man’s strongest drives is the desire to make his woman actually, objectively safe...and to get her to feel that way.


     There isn’t much that hasn’t been said about the now-famous James Damore ten-page memo that precipitated his dismissal from Google. If you’ve been sentient for at least a week, you’re aware of the essentials about this contretemps. However, the full horror of the thing is only just becoming plain to many: that Google’s upper management, which exercises a great deal of control over a substantial fraction of the World Wide Web and considerable influence (via its search engine) over the rest, is minded to punish sentiments it disapproves.

     Why? What imaginable gain could there be to Google in retarding or limiting the expression of others’ sentiments? Why would a corporation whose fortunes are founded on facilitating free expression ever do such a thing?

     The bald explanation is that like so many other corporations, Google has been infiltrated and subverted by the Left, which cannot win in the arena of ideas. This is indeed the case...but how did it come about? The Left’s fascistic hostility to dissent is antithetical to Google’s ostensible aims. How did left-liberal fascism gain power there?

     My Gentle Readers are aware of the intense federal scrutiny that falls on the personnel policies of large organizations, supposedly to combat “discrimination.” Similarly, you’re aware that the relevant federal agencies are themselves heavily colonized by Leftist intolerance. The heavy hand Washington has laid upon the hiring practices of large companies is unconcealed. What follows from that – the second-order effects of federal scrutiny of corporate hiring patterns – include the sort of speech policing that cost James Damore his job. For just as Google, to remain in the Labor Department’s good graces, must hire a certain number of women, Negroes, homosexuals, et cetera, it must also keep those persons from complaining about “discriminatory” working conditions...and nothing is more likely to get the Labor Department’s attention than a woman’s claim that some male colleague has made her “feel unsafe.”


     A bit of fiction:

     Stephen Sumner was about to head to the cafeteria for lunch when the intercom light on his desk phone lit. He sighed, sat back down, and lifted the handset.
     “Sumner.”
     “Steve, it’s Anders. Come to my office for a minute, please?”
     “Right there.” Sumner returned the handset to its hook, grabbed a pen and a legal pad, and trotted down the hall to the office of Anders Forslund. He found the door open.
     “What’s up, Anders?”
     The founder and CEO of Onteora Aviation grimaced and muttered “Shut the door.” Sumner did so and seated himself in one of the two leather guest chairs before Forslund’s desk.
     He looks anxious.
     “Have you gotten to know Irv Grutstein?” Forslund said.
     “The HR director?” Sumner shook his head. “I don’t think we’ve even exchanged hellos.”
     Forslund nodded. “I’m not surprised. He’s not much for socializing, at least not outside his department. I’ve tried to stay well away from it.” He smirked ruefully. “Sometimes I wish I’d never created it in the first place.”
     “I don’t think we’d be able to contract with the Pentagon without one,” Sumner said. “With all the rules the Labor Department has about equal opportunity hiring—”
     “And a lot of other things.” Forslund opened a manila folder, paged briefly through its contents, and closed it. “As you don’t know him,” he said, “it falls to me to inform you. Grutstein loves rules. The vaguer and broader, the better. All empire builders do.” He slid the folder across the desk to Sumner.
     Sumner opened the folder, glanced at the first page, and felt all the strength leave his body. He looked up at Forslund, hoping that his boss would assure him that it was all in fun, some sort of interdepartmental joke. Forslund shook his head.
     “It’s no gag, Steve. It’s an official intracompany complaint by a software engineer named Violet Hochberg, alleging sexual harassment and sexual discrimination—”
     “By Louis Redmond,” Sumner breathed.
     “Exactly. Grutstein brought it and the complainant to me about an hour ago.” Forslund sat back in his chair, looking exhausted.
     “Anders,” Sumner said, “there is no one in this company with better morals or ethics than Louis. You can’t—”
     “Believe it? Not for an instant,” Forslund said. “However, OA’s HR director does. At least he’s pretending that he does. Shall I tell you what he said to me when he presented it?”
     Sumner braced himself. “Go ahead.”
     “He said,” Forslund measured out the words, “that if Louis would agree to resign without contesting the charges, he’d refrain from instituting a criminal case against him. Oh, and that he’d have no objection to my recommending Louis for a job with one of our competitors.” An incredulous laugh. “As if I wouldn’t slit both wrists to prevent that very thing.”
     “With a rusty bottle opener,” Sumner murmured.
     “Hm?”
     “Nothing, nothing.” Sumner delicately set the folder at the outer edge of Forslund’s desk. “I assume Louis hasn’t yet been notified?”
     “He hasn’t. Would you please do so?”
     Sumner nodded. “Of course. Anything else?”
     Forslund’s eyes hardened. “Two things. First, find out if there’s even the thinnest shred of truth to this woman’s allegations, and notify me at once if there is. Second, if there isn’t, which we already know is the case, I want you to prepare Louis and yourself to defend him against this Violet Hochberg, against our own HR department, and should the worse come to the worst, against the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission of the Department of Labor of the federal government of the United States.”
     Sumner rose. “With pleasure.” He leveled a look at his CEO. “No holds barred, I assume?”
     Forslund bared his teeth. “No holds barred. Grutstein’s people will go straight for the throat. Spare them nothing.”
     Sumner mirrored the bloodthirsty grin. “Count on it.”
     “They’ve scheduled Louis’s show trial for Wednesday after next, at nine AM,” Forslund said. “You’d better get started.”

     [From Statesman]

     A fair number of my fiction readers are female. I knew as I wrote the above passage, which introduces a conflict in which a woman's excessive ambition unjustly entangles and imperils a blameless young man, that some of them would be offended. I didn’t let it stop me...because the narrated incident actually occurred. I merely cast fictional characters into the leading roles and placed them in a fictional setting. To anyone who wrote to upbraid me about “belittling” or “invalidating” women’s “legitimate concerns,” I replied, “This is today’s corporate reality – the reality you helped to create. Get used to it.”

     I didn’t receive a single rejoinder.


     The late Steve McQueen, an accomplished actor with several well known triumphs to his credit, first appeared on the silver screen in The Blob, a movie which today is regarded as the cheesiest sort of horror flick. In point of fact, at the time it was made and distributed, it was well received and popular. More to the point, the “Kill it before it spreads!” tag line that the movie made famous is directly germane to the progress of the “feelings blob” the Left has unleashed. Unless and until its progress is halted –the heroes in the movie froze their ever-spreading menace by dousing it with fire extinguishers – the “feelings blob” will conquer ever more organizations and circumscribe free expression ever more narrowly.

     This is strongly related to the “Apologetics” series I’ve just concluded:

     The inducement to apology is nearly always that “You’ve hurt my feelings.” There is nothing more urgent, in our quotidian human relations, than the nullification of our near-to-reflexive tendency to apologize, to be replaced by a sneer and the pronouncement that “That’s your problem.”

     There will be some coarsening of our relations, to be sure. (Some men will go home alone on Friday and Saturday nights.) But the social, commercial, and political needs of the moment more than justify the cost. At any rate, aren’t you tired of always self-censoring, always feeling vaguely guilty about something you can’t quite name...always apologizing?

Hubris and complete disdain for the past and reason itself.

According to Professor Legutko’s analysis, the similarities that he has observed under communism and the current liberal democratic regime are not attributable to accidents of history or to the activities of a few misguided men, but are the logical consequences of their whole world outlook. And perhaps the single most important similarity is that each of the systems is forward-looking and judges the present not by what has existed in an imperfect past, or by what is possible for human beings given their essential and abiding nature, let alone by any deontological precepts, but by a future state of perfection that the systems responsible for the present will allegedly call into existence.[1]
I think I've recounted the marvelous insight that a speaker at an Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meeting had after he'd recounted the complete disaster that his life had become: "And my best thinking got me there." Two of the tenets of AA are that
  1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol - that our lives had become unmanageable.
  2. Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
Just as that speaker experienced complete collapse of his life and all loss of self respect, so has the West rushed with energy and purpose to its own destruction.

AA's idea of a "higher power" is non-sectarian and who or what he or she or it is is not central to its rejuvenating approach. It does require that the alcoholic (zealot) give up the illusion of personal mastery and humbly take into account that someone else might actually have something worthwhile to contribute to his or her life. The Western world takes the opposite approach and puts its faith in kings, potentates, bwanas, poobahs, and scumbag intellectuals, politicians, artists, journalists, and bureaucrats. The work product of these hideous people is all around us now. It swamps us. It drowns us. It slimes us with crudity, delusion, lies, and assaults on reason and experience.

Samuel Johnson had his finger on the problem:

"How small, of all that human hearts endure,/ That part which laws or kings can cause or cure!"
Western man has got it all wrong with our vast schemes for the reformation of all aspects of human existence. We have desecrated all that our ancestors handed down to us. Much humility is now in order but such incipient signs of awakening as can be seen are but dim candles. It cannot and will not overcome over a century of utter stupidity and willful betrayal.

Humility won't return to us until we have a smoking ruin.

Notes
[1] "A Takedown of the Moral Prometheans." By Theodore Dalrymple|, Library of Law and Liberty, 8/10/17.

Government that crushes.

How is this not tyranny?
I've mentioned this in previous "Illinois is FUBARed" threads, but I think it marks the point well. I live in suburban St. Louis, MO. in an area that probably has the highest, if not amongst the highest property tax rates in the whole state of Missouri. My in-laws, god love them, live in a small rural town in Illinois. My house is 3x the size of theirs, and likely 3-4 times the market value of theirs. Point being? My property taxes are, and have been functionally the same as theirs almost as long as I've known them. Think about that for a second. That's unreal.

It's no shock why Illinois has the problems they have.[1]

Not to be outdone, RaoulDuke66 on the Illinois train wreck:
This is a sure sign that more government is required to fix the problems created by evil capitalists.[2]
A classic comment. Socialists, statists, communists, progressives, and fools have hamstrung and done the vampire deal on free markets and the rule of law to create vast, unresponsive, liberty-destroying monstrosities that make the Philadelphia Convention look like a shower for Rosemary's baby.

And, boom, when it gets to be heavy sledding and "recalculate" just doesn't make the spreadsheet numbers change, it's capitalism that gets blamed and the AntiFa mobs get called out in force.

Notes
[1] Comment by Stan Smith on "This $5 Trillion Time Bomb Will Devastate Americans." By Nick Giambruno, Zero Hedge, 8/9/17.
[2] Comment at id.