Monday, March 31, 2014

American Foreign Policy For The Twenty-First Century: Opening Thoughts

Perhaps the least well understood function of any government -- and in my not-particularly-humble opinion, this is at least partially by design of the Powers-That-Be -- is its maintenance of international relations, usually called its foreign policy. Yet the presidency, the highest and most fiercely contested of all federal offices, is at least as concerned with foreign policy and international dealings as with all the rest of its (admittedly few) responsibilities. Given recent developments in Europe and Asia, and the Obama Administration's utter impotence in coping with them, we may expect foreign policy to be a major area of interest in the run-up to the 2016 elections, particularly during the Republican presidential primaries.

American foreign policy has lacked continuity and coherence throughout our history, for several reasons:

  • Geography;
  • National immaturity;
  • Domestic conditions of greater import;
  • The innate American inclination to "mind your own business."

For most of our nation's history, the technology of international relations -- i.e., communication, transportation, and the various technologies relevant to warfare -- was exceedingly weak compared to that of today. Being sheltered by the world's two largest oceans and bordered on land by unthreatening states, the U.S. could afford a dismissive posture toward the rest of the world. Indeed, those conditions rendered our entry into the two World Wars optional, gauged against our core national interests.

(Got your attention now, Gentle Reader? Relax; we'll return to this.)

Our sectionalism, fueled in large measure by copious, multi-source immigration, was another obstacle to a coherent foreign policy. Until about 1900 we were too fragmented as a nation to present a unified posture to the powers of the Old World. Indeed, before and during our Civil War, Britain and France played the interests of the sections against one another to their national profit. Only after the Reconstruction Era was Washington able to effectively enforce a uniform policy on trade and tariffs that the whole nation would endure.

Of course, a nation beset by significant "growing pains" will naturally focus the greater part of its attention inward rather than outward. Once again, immigration, the steady settlement of the frontier lands during the Nineteenth Century, and peripheral matters such as "internal improvements" and the construction of the transcontinental railroads commanded much more interest, both politically and popularly, than international dealings. These things, and the stresses they engendered, made it difficult to get the populace interested in foreign affairs before the Twentieth Century was upon us. As politicians excel in the art of telling the people what they want to hear above all else -- some would say "to the exclusion of all else" -- international subjects were rarely raised to the heights of concern.

Our "MYOBism" was equally important; indeed, it continues to be so today. A people busy with its own business (and businesses) will spare little time or thought for the affairs of others, especially others far away. A significant example to this effect was the run-up to the Spanish-American War, the U.S's first major international conflict after the War of 1812. It took a great deal of demagogy, powerfully propelled by the Hearst newspaper chain, to persuade the country into that conflict. There's considerable doubt about whether most Americans of that time were even aware that their nation had gone to war until well after it was over.

The developments of the early Twentieth Century:

  • Ever swifter communication and transportation;
  • The rise of national radio networks;
  • An immense increase in the volume of American foreign trade;
  • An increasingly integrated system of international finance;
  • The accession to the White House of two popular and unprecedentedly interventionist presidents;

...made Americans sufficiently aware of and concerned with the world beyond our shores to take a substantial interest in international dealings. But even all of that taken together could not give rise to a coherent set of principles by which our foreign policy should be conducted. And it did not.

America's first major foray into international affairs came about with World War I. That conflagration, though confined almost exclusively to the European continent, excited the interest of Woodrow Wilson, the first American president to imagine himself a "world-historical figure" and eager to actualize that status. Even the hyperaggressive Theodore Roosevelt, himself no fainting flower when it came to the flexing of American muscle, could not compare to Wilson's burning desire to impose his vision upon the world at large. Despite an official posture of neutrality throughout the early years of the war, Wilson was determined to lend American power to the support of the Anglo-French-Russian Entente, and did so in whatever means he could contrive without openly involving the United States in the conflict. The capstone, of course, was Wilson's evangelism for a "League of Nations." He succeeded in incorporating the League into the Versailles Treaty, which Congress declined to ratify, and which ultimately went down as one of the greatest international failures in all of history.

The three administrations immediately after Wilson's were far less internationally focused. Some attention went to foreign affairs -- the U.S.'s status as a creditor nation and the monetary convulsions of the early part of the century made it mandatory -- but it came to a small fraction of Wilson's frenzy or the fury would follow the inception of World War II. Americans were unhappy with the consequences of the Great War, and were minded to retreat into our traditional attitude of "let 'em go to hell in their own fashion."

Franklin D. Roosevelt proved to be even more desirous of international standing than Woodrow Wilson. Like Wilson, FDR was ardent for power and status -- personally as well as nationally -- in the international arena. However, he had the additional motivation of the Great Depression and his administration's failure to ameliorate it. He saw American participation in the war as a way to export sufficient manpower to Europe and idled productive power to munitions to lift the depression his domestic mismanagement had lengthened and deepened. Thus, he labored to involve the U.S. in that conflict against popular sentiment while publicly mouthing anti-interventionist positions ("Your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars.")

The conclusion of the war, the development of intercontinental bombers and the atom bomb, and the formation of the American and Soviet spheres of influence in Europe, placed the U.S. in an unprecedented position. FDR's wartime policies had turned the U.S.S.R. into a large and looming threat; unopposed, it could easily swallow all of Europe. Our prior interventions, to which the mistakes of Bretton Woods and Yalta added significantly, had burdened us with a moral obligation to remain deeply involved in the miseries of the larger world. Indeed, it had become obligatory the America to become and remain the world's dominant military power -- and to commit the use of that power to the restraint of Soviet power, in Europe and elsewhere.

Despite the collapse of the Soviet Union, the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact, and the rise of the supposedly unchallengeable American "hyperpower," matters remain so today.

Our diplomatic and military involvement in world affairs is no longer optional. It's not about the United Nations, now a farce to rival Wilson's League. It's about protecting our own interests and atoning for our sins, in roughly equal measures.

It was believed, in the early post-World-War-II years, that only an expansive American military presence could deter the Soviet Union's tendency toward aggressive expansion. That belief gave rise to the NATO and SEATO alliances, intended to secure Western Europe and our allies and clients in Southeast Asia against Communist encroachments. In retrospect, those alliances were mistakes that compounded our previous ones, as they removed all incentive from our "allies" to maintain adequate forces for their own defense. The consequences are particularly garish in Europe. Despite a population and an economy comparable to our own, the European Union is utterly incapable of mustering a significant military force, and whose citizens are wholly unwilling that Europe should ever again wield "hard power," even in its own defense.

Two nations other than the United States have emphasized military development and the increase of military capability. Those two nations are not our friends. Their international ambitions threaten our allies, our client states, and our national interests. And for the present we must stand alone against them.

More anon.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Reminders: A Sunday Rumination

Among the reasons I enjoy my faith -- if that notion strikes you as a bit strange, allow me to assure you that you're not the first -- is my attachment to the Catholic liturgical cycle. The cycle proper pertains mainly to the daily and weekly scriptural readings, which are intended to span the entire Bible over a three year period. More visible, and more immediately impinging upon human life, is the annual cycle:

  • The liturgical year starts with Advent: the four weeks preceding the Feast of the Nativity (Christmas);
  • There follows the Christmas Season, which spans from Christmas through the Feast of the Solemnity of Mary and, informally at least, ends with the Feast of the Epiphany;
  • The first "ordinary" season proceeds from the Epiphany to the beginning of Lent;
  • Lent spans the forty days preceding the Feast of the Resurrection (Easter);
  • Easter Season stretches from there to the Feast of the Pentecost: fifty days in all.
  • The second "ordinary" season covers the period from then to the start of the next Advent.
The rhythm of the thing insinuates itself into a believer's very bones. It colors every day and every week of his year with specific theological significance. More, it simultaneously satisfies two seemingly counterpoised human desires: the desire for variety and the desire for familiarity. As C. S. Lewis put it:
The humans live in time, and experience reality successively. To experience much of it, therefore, they must experience many different things; in other words, they must experience change. And since they need change, the Enemy (being a hedonist at heart) has made change pleasurable to them, just as He has made eating Pleasurable. But since He does not wish them to make change, any more than eating, an end in itself, He has balanced the love of change in them by a love of permanence. He has contrived to gratify both tastes together on the very world He has made, by that union of change and permanence which we call Rhythm. He gives them the seasons, each season different yet every year the same, so that spring is always felt as a novelty yet always as the recurrence of an immemorial theme. He gives them in His Church a spiritual year; they change from a fast to a feast, but it is the same feast as before. [From The Screwtape Letters, of course.]

But that's not the only rhythm embedded in the liturgical year.

The liturgical year is, of course, structured around the life of Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God and the Redeemer of Mankind. The Gospels record nine-tenths of Jesus's life sketchily at best; though there were significant events during those first thirty years, the ones the Gospelers took pains to note were few and widely spaced. The major part of the Gospels deals with His ministry, Passion, Resurrection, and His commands to His Apostles before He ascended from this world.

The Resurrection is the key Christian miracle. You cannot validly call yourself a Christian if you disbelieve in the Resurrection, for that confirmed Jesus's identity as the Messiah and His authority as the Son of God. Without it, we would be intellectually free to disregard His New Covenant, which displaced the old Levitical Covenant of Moses. The Ascension provided the Apostles with further confirmation. The Pentecost equipped them with what they would need to "Go and teach all nations," as He had commanded them to do. But it all rests upon the foundation provided by His Resurrection.

The liturgical cycle, specifically the Lenten period, reminds us that the Resurrection was made possible by His Crucifixion.

Many writers, some more insightful than others, have focused squarely on the Crucifixion of Jesus. The lesser ones have used it as material for derision: How silly to think God could be killed by men! In the middle we have a group that ask whether the Passion and Crucifixion were really necessary; after all God is without the limits nature and time impose upon Man; He did not have to send His Son to suffer and die that our sins might be remitted. The profoundest of the lot look at the event with the best of eyes.

The Crucifixion was a temporal event, involving a material body wherein dwelt a Divine Person. All material bodies must eventually die; it's graven into the nature of Time itself. The Ash Wednesday ceremony that opens the Lenten season is intended to remind us of that. Indeed, in these days of ever advancing lifespans and quasi-miraculous medical techniques, it's a reminder we badly need. No matter how deep our understanding of our bodies grows, nor how advanced our medicine becomes, we shall all die.

Something that inevitable -- that necessary -- is not a proper subject for fear, but rather for our contemplation and, eventually, our acceptance.

    Yama said: Choose sons and grandsons who shall live a hundred years; choose elephants, horses, herds of cattle and gold. Choose a vast domain on earth; live here as many years as you desire.
    If you deem any other boon equal to that, choose it; choose wealth and a long life. Be the king, O Nachiketa, of the wide earth. I will make you the enjoyer of all desires.
    Whatever desires are difficult to satisfy in this world of mortals, choose them as you wish: these fair maidens, with their chariots and musical instruments — men cannot obtain them. I give them to you and they shall wait upon you. But do not ask me about death.
    Nachiketa said: But, O Death, these endure only till tomorrow. Furthermore, they exhaust the vigour of all the sense organs. Even the longest life is short indeed. Keep your horses, dances and songs for yourself.

[Katha Upanishad]

The acceptance of our mortality brings with it two inestimable blessings:

  1. The recognition that material things "endure only until tomorrow;"
  2. The need to believe that, if our lives truly have meaning, there must be an afterlife to which our temporal lives are but a precursor.

Those blessings, sincerely accepted for what they are, move us to place a higher value on things of the spirit than on things of the world and the flesh. In particular, we seek, as far as possible, to know what follows the death of the body, and to learn how our choices in this life might impact what will befall us in the next one.

We who live under the veil of Time can never disregard the material, temporal world. It demands respect enough, at least, that we might sustain ourselves in some degree of decency for as long as we can. This is obligatory: our lives are all the opportunity we have to grow toward God and become acceptable to His nearness. But material and temporal things, as I've already noted, are impermanent, as are our temporal lives. They must not be permitted to becloud our higher understanding or our better judgment. Those faculties must be kept continuously aware that sooner or later, this life must end.

Then out spoke brave Horatius,
    The Captain of the Gate,
"To every man upon this earth
    Death cometh, soon or late.
And how can man die better
    Than facing fearful odds,
For the ashes of his fathers,
    And the temples of his gods?"

[Thomas Babington Macaulay, Horatius]

The Romans of whom Macaulay wrote his Lays of Ancient Rome, though pre-Christian, were deeply imbued with an appreciation of the great virtues, most notably courage and reverence. Horatius exhibits both in the first of the Lays, and so wins undying honor and memory. Yet note well: Horatius's act would have been greatly lessened, perhaps to nothing, had the odds been heavily on his side. He had to face a near certainty of death; to do so, he had to embrace his duty as outweighing his mortal life.

Few are the men who could do such a thing believing that this life is all we possess.

Our passage through the Lenten season reminds us of all one must embrace to be sincerely Christian:

  • Death is not the end;
  • This life, however sweet or bitter, is merely a preparatory stage;
  • Christ has assured us that an infinitely higher bliss is available, on conditions that are relatively easy to satisfy;
  • His Crucifixion and Resurrection are the confirmations of His promise.

Most of us need those reminders.

May God bless and keep you all.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Sometimes One Weapon Is Enough

Forgive me, Gentle Reader. Yesterday was delivered to my doorstep specially ultra-rush-express / cash-on-delivery straight from Hell, which is why I posted nothing. And forgive me, as well, for delaying the upcoming segments of "He and She" and "The Nature Of Money And Currency," both of which apparently have significant numbers of fans. Today's tirade will concern itself with an old quandary:

Can one weapon ever be enough to win a war?

As an information technologist and habitual thinker on abstract matters, I'm aware of the Von Neumann / Morgenstern Law of Requisite Variety, which would appear to trumpet NO!! to the above question in a voice that brooks no contradiction. In that view, a system cannot exhibit protracted stability if its dominant element has fewer available states and responses than some other element. And indeed, it is so...for systems that have attained stability. However, an ongoing conflict of any sort is not static but dynamic. The flux of conflict will sometimes nullify the advantages that accrue from having more weapons to choose from than do one's opponents.

Just now, such a scenario might be playing out in these United States.

Political conflict that falls short of open violence has its own unique characteristics. In particular, "who's winning" is a determination that can be made several ways, not all of which are simultaneously relevant. Indeed, in a political system that uses elections to determine who shall wield the powers of the State, there are periods in which other means of determination must all bow to the verdict of the ballot box. However, in the intervals between elections, other means acquire power that can not only affect future electoral verdicts but also constrain and shape the actions of already seated power-wielders.

In today's political combat, the Right has a vast array of weapons, while the Left has only one. Yet the Left triumphs all too frequently -- seemingly, more often than not -- under circumstances that continue to baffle us in the Right. The answer might lie in the nature of the Left's weapon, and in its utter ruthlessness of use: control over the dissemination of information.

If we assume -- remember that word -- that the average American is sufficiently intelligent and responsible to vote according to the evidence of whether a family of related policies is "working" -- remember that word, too -- then whether the voter has access to the evidence becomes the critical consideration. Who controls the channels of dissemination will determine whether that is so. Today, despite the alternate media that have arisen to challenge the traditional media's dominance of that function, the Left still holds a large advantage in that sector. A great deal of information never reaches the typical voter, and much other information is distorted or effaced, specifically because the Left deems it disadvantageous to its position. This leaves a great many Americans, persons generally of good will, in essential ignorance about what the prevailing family of policies is doing to the country...perhaps even to his own, highly personal interests.

Distortions are often even worse than outright suppression. Consider how many Americans sincerely believe that "evil corporations" are responsible for "inflation," by which they mean price increases. Consider how many Americans sincerely believe in the old fable of "planned obsolescence," as if competitive influences would have no effect on so counterproductive a policy. And consider how many Americans are willing to accept government expenditures as valid components of the Gross Domestic Product.

In aggregate, the information that reaches ordinary American news consumers might not be even ten percent veridical, in the sense of being conveyed openly and readily, without distortion, and in the proper context for a layman's interpretation. If that is the case -- and from endless years of news-watching, I believe that it is -- the failure of intelligent and responsible voters to expel the Left from power completely and finally is largely explained.

Concerning the considerable mass of non-intelligent, non-responsible Americans who can (and sometimes do) vote, ponder well the following transcripts:

There are millions of persons whose mentalities parallel those depicted in those brief videos. Information about the state of the country is irrelevant to them. Indeed, whether they ever bother to watch a news program or read a paper is open to question. They're tightly focused on a degree of self-interest so intense and so narrow that the regime could be beheading random passers-by on public streets, and they would not care. Needless to say, the regime is well pleased by such persons and labors to create more of them in every possible way.

As a Catholic, I'm supposed to maintain that no one is beyond salvation as long as he lives. As a rational human being and a longtime observer of human behavior, in both the small and the large, I have my doubts.

To assure itself that no unexpected upheaval will disturb its grip on the dissemination of information, the Left has exerted itself greatly to capture and utterly control the education of American youth. The idea here is not to produce more pseudo-citizens like the ones in the videos above -- not necessarily, at least -- but rather to armor young minds against the unanticipated discovery of facts and reasoning that might disturb their carefully inculcated Leftist world view.

Today, the indefatigable Sara Noble provides us with a glimpse at the process:

We have a new set of AP American history standards and it’s only the first out of 33 AP course standards to be written. We can give thanks to the Architect of Common Core and College Board president, David Coleman. He has taken the five page outline currently given to teachers and has turned it into a 98 page Framework.

The new standards interpret American History for us.

Jane Robbins describes a few problems:

“The new Framework inculcates a consistently negative view of American culture. For example, the units on colonial America stress the development of a “rigid racial hierarchy” and a “strong belief in British racial and cultural superiority.” The Framework ignores the United States’ founding principles and their influence in inspiring the spread of democracy and galvanizing the movement to abolish slavery. The Framework continues this theme by reinterpreting Manifest Destiny—rather than a belief that America has a mission to spread democracy and new technologies across the continent, the Framework teaches that it “was built on a belief in white racial superiority and a sense of American cultural superiority....

“A particularly troubling failure of the Framework is its dismissal of the Declaration of Independence and the principles so eloquently expressed there. The Framework’s entire discussion of this seminal document consists of just one phrase in one sentence: “The colonists’ belief in the superiority of republican self-government based on the natural rights of the people found its clearest American expression in Thomas Paine’s Common Sense and in the Declaration of Independence.” The Framework thus ignores the philosophical underpinnings of the Declaration and the willingness of the signers to pledge “our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor” to the cause of freedom.”

If such influences are not countervailed -- and make no mistake; the Common Core curriculum only departs from what has gone before in being more organized and concentrated -- the young American will come to maturity believing that constitutional federal governance is merely a conspiracy of "the rich" against the rest of us. Should he proceed to "higher education," his impressions will be reinforced by authoritative faculty and the society of other miseducated young people. It can take decades for the abrasions of reality to make even modest inroads against such notions, whence comes the old saying that "If you're not a liberal at twenty you have no heart; if you're not a conservative at forty, you have no head."

It should be unnecessary to expound further on this subject. Suffice it to say that at this time and for some years now, the Left has wielded its information-control weapon so skillfully that all the facts and reasoning available to the Right have proved largely impotent. Even during the Reagan Administration, all the major markers of political pathology continued to expand. Reagan, despite his strong convictions and powerful will, was unable to restrain the tide of rule-by-regulation and degradation-by-debt. When he departed from office, we suffered a level of annual federal spending nearly twice what he campaigned against, and a "permanent government" 13% larger than the one he inherited.

The motives of federal bureaucrats need not concern us here, being entirely too well established. It's the response of ordinary Americans that should concern us -- and not merely at the polls. The Left gets an unholy degree of sustenance from uninformed citizens, misinformed citizens, and citizens wholly uninterested in facts larger than their own wallets. TEA Party rallies fail to concern the Left because of its conviction -- largely a correct one -- that a sufficient number of Americans will not respond to such things.

In discussing Social Security in his essay "The Revolution Was" about the evils of the New Deal, Garet Garrett provides an insight of great power:

If you put a ten dollar bill under the rug instead of spending it, that is capital formation. It represents ten dollars' worth of something that might have been immediately consumed, but wasn't. If you put the ten dollar bill in the bank, that is better. Hundreds doing likewise make a community pool of savings, and that is capital formation. Then thousands of community pools, like springs, feed larger pools in the cities and financial centers. If a corporation invests a part of its profit in new equipment or puts it into the bank as a reserve fund, that is in either case capital formation. In a good year before the war the total savings of the country would be ten or twelve billions. That was the national power of capital formation. These saved billions, held largely in the custody of the banking system, represented the credit reservoir. Anybody with proper security to pledge could borrow from the reservoir to extend his plant, start a new enterprise, build a house, or what not. Thus the private capital system works when it works freely.

Now regard the credit reservoir as a lake fed by thousands of little community springs, and at the same time assume the point of view of a government hostile to the capitalistic system of free private enterprise. You see at once that the lake is your frustration. Why? Because so long as the people have the lake and control their own capital and can do with it as they please the government's power of enterprise will be limited, and limited either for want of capital or by the fact that private enterprise can compete with it.

So you will want to get rid of the lake. But will you attack the lake itself? No; because even if you should pump it dry, even if you should break down the retaining hills and spill it empty, still it would appear again, either there or in another place, provided the springs continued to flow. But if you can divert the water of the springs—if you can divert it from the lake controlled by the people to one controlled by the government, then the people's lake will dry up and the power of enterprise will pass to government.

The "springs" Garrett described in the above arose from individuals' inclinations to save, which automatically made them investors in the expansion of American commerce: the target of the architects of Social Security. Today I have a different set of "springs" in mind: the channels of information dissemination, including our schools, which have steadily pumped out what we derisively, and not entirely accurately, describe as "low information voters." The streams of willing supporters of the Left that emerge from those "springs" keeps the "lake" of unlimited American government fed to bursting.

With that one weapon, the Left is drawing near to the absolute and permanent extinction of all freedom and all property rights remaining to Americans.

Sometimes, one weapon is sufficient.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Secular fantasy.

You poor, dumb, deluded [Keynesian] fools. You've destroyed our economy, our values and our ability to deal with reality. Your faith is as boundless and disconnected from the real world as your policies.
Who could have foreseen that seeds that sprouted in the ancient Greek mind would one day bear fruit not in a nation rigorously devoted to conforming national policies to the dictates of reason but in one in the thrall of economic fantasies dangerously detached from reality?

Fantasies that are every bit as chimerical as witches, space aliens, leprechauns, and GOP devotion to American citizens rather than foreigners?

"Dear Keynesians: Your Sad Devotion to Your Failed Religion Hasn't Conjured Up a Recovery--Here's Why." By Charles Hugh Smith, Of Two Minds, 3/27/14.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Poisonous, secular, fact-free visionaries.

This “We believe” [fanciful thinking] being more persuasive than visible facts has pushed the world into one human disaster after another. It is even worse than one group being led by their scripture to hold everyone not subscribing to the same creed as enemy who ought to be eradicated. This group [of Christians] at least still has a sense for self-preservation, while the incorrigible addicts of the multiculti drug can’t see the hand before their eyes, let alone what’s coming their way and what is said about them in the mosques. We would abandon them if we didn’t know we’d be going down with the ship. What a feeling, to be dependent on people who happily sacrifice their next of kin to some distant idol.
Comment by K. from Germany on "Witch-Hunt Against Wilders." By Baron Bodissey, Gates of Vienna, 3/26/14.


(Some levity is desperately required at this juncture, to judge from the email I’ve been getting.)

FWP: So you’ll be home tomorrow?
CSO: No, I’m home today. I’ll be going to Islip tomorrow.
[Islip is where a Long Island chapter of one of her clients, an order of Catholic sisters, is situated.]

FWP: Damn. I’m off tomorrow. I was hoping we’d have the day together.
CSO: The sisters want me there on Fridays, because there’s no one else in the office on Fridays.

FWP: But what if someone calls with a problem?
CSO: What kind of problem?

FWP: Maybe someone with a complaint about unsatisfactory service?
CSO: The only service anyone ever calls about is prayers.

FWP: Exactly! Imagine: “Hello, I’m a subscriber to your prayer service, and I’m calling to complain that my prayers have not been answered.” What would you say to him?
CSO: “Give me your credit card number.”

I should have known that was coming, really.

Our Time Is Up

No doubt you've seen the same plethora of "Is America descending into chaos and tyranny?" commentary I've read, these past few years. No doubt you've spun the question about with some reluctance, fearing that the answer might be the...dispreferred one.

We're there, folks. I'm sorry to be the one to have to tell you.

Justice in these United States is looking pretty weak lately:

Bob Harte groggily opened his front door and found a fully-armed Johnson County SWAT team in front of him early in the morning of April 20, 2012.

It was 7:30 a.m. when he'd heard a knock at the door and pulled himself out of bed to answer it while his wife and two kids slept. A SWAT team surrounded his home, and a deputy had a battering ram ready to charge through the door had Bob had not opened it.

The deputies pushed Bob to the floor of the entry way of his home and stood over him with rifles screaming, “Where are the children in the home?” Bob told them they were in their rooms and the deputies ran to find them.

The commotion woke his wife Addie Harte who came downstairs to find out what was going on.

“We just kept saying ‘You’re in the wrong house!’ said Addie.

Deputies searched the sofa and then allowed the family of four to sit on it, in front of their picture window, as armed deputies searched the home. For two hours, the family sat on that sofa, afraid and puzzled as to why deputies were in their home.

“On television, they always come to the door and say ‘we have a search warrant’ and hold it up. Here it is. Let us in. We were told in Kansas, they don't have to give you the search warrant until they leave,” Bob Harte said.

The Hartes’ kept asking deputies why they were in their home but deputies would only say that they were looking for “narcotics.”

At the end of the raid, deputies handed the warrant over to Bob. On it, they had written they hadn’t seized anything. They had not found anything illegal in the home. Bob would end up taking that warrant door to door in their neighborhood to convince his neighbors nothing inappropriate had happened at their home.

Many families would have simply wiped the sweat from their brows and prayed that such an infamy would never recur. The Hartes were determined to find out why they'd been targeted:

After the raid, the couple thought they could access public records to find out why law enforcement suspected drugs were in their home. They told 41 Action News they were shocked to find out they could not access any of those records under Kansas law.

“We were chosen more or less at random for this drug raid and we were like ‘what do you mean we can't get the records? They raided our house,” said Addie.

The Hartes spent $25,000 hiring an attorney to fight to get access to the records. It took a year, but the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office eventually released the records. The Hartes were surprised by what they read.

Records showed on Aug. 9, 2011, a Missouri Highway Patrol trooper observed a man leaving the Green Circle hydroponics store in Kansas City, Mo., in a KIA with his children and a small bag.

Bob said he had been to the store to get supplies for a science project he was working on with his son: a basement hydroponic garden.

Troopers had been observing customers at the hydroponics store because hydroponic supplies are often used in cultivating indoor marijuana plants.

Whatever the police suspected, they didn't consider it terribly first:

The Missouri Highway Patrol didn’t turn over the information to Johnson County authorities until March 20, 2012—seven months after the initial tip was observed. The records contain no information about why MHP waited so long to contact Johnson County law enforcement and no information about what triggered them handing over this information.

Records show Johnson County deputies traced the tag number on the KIA observed by MHP to Bob and Addie Harte. On April 3, 2012, investigators visited the Harte’s home at 5 a.m. They went through the Harte’s trash and found wet plant material. At this time, investigators reported they didn’t know what it was so they failed to test it.

A week later, on April 10th, investigators returned to the home. Again, deputies searched through the trash. This time, when they found plant-like material, they performed a field test which indicated the substance was marijuana.

Deputies went to the home a third time on April 17th, 2012. Again, deputies found plant material in the Harte’s trash. They performed another field test which again indicated a positive result for marijuana.

Was that reason enough for a SWAT-team raid? Prepared to batter down a residential door and enter with guns drawn?

The Hartes say they knew immediately what police had located.

“Bob instantly said, ‘It's your tea!’ because I drink loose tea and those are saturated leaves,” said Addie, who told 41 Action News she often threw the leaves in the kitchen trash.

Though field tests are known to be unreliable, reports obtained from the Johnson County crime lab indicate the deputies did not send any of the samples to the crime lab for confirmation. The records also note that deputies did not intend to, but changed their minds when the Hartes started questioning why deputies raided their home.

When the crime lab processed the evidence, their tests came back negative for marijuana. The results came back in May of 2012. The Johnson County Sheriff’s office had that information months before the Hartes were able to get the records that the material was not marijuana.

The embarrassing misstep for deputies would have remained hidden if the Hartes had not had the means to spend money to gain access to the records.

Their zeal for justice cost the Hartes' $25,000. Whether anything they might ever do could properly repair their reputation with their neighbors, or return them to a sense of safety in their own home, is open to question.

The Omnipotent State has a few "volunteer assistants" with notions of their own about the law. Yesterday, noted economist Tyler Cowen was physically attacked:

Economist, author, and George Mason University professor Tyler Cowen was pepper sprayed in his classroom today by a man trying to place him under citizen's arrest. reported on the incident, which took place at GMU's Arlington, Virginia, campus this afternoon.

Police say the man entered the classroom and attempted to place the professor under a citizen’s arrest. The professor tried to get the man—described as a white male in his 20s or 30s—to leave, at which time the man pepper sprayed him and a scuffle ensued, according to Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck.

The professor did not know the man, Sternbeck said.

The account didn't identify the professor, but several commenters said it was Cowen.

Tom Roussey, a reporter with D.C.'s ABC7 news, then confirmed with GMU that it was Cowen who was pepper sprayed.

Cowen is a free-market-oriented economist with a considerable presence on the World Wide Web. Draw your own conclusions.

Did you really think the Democrats want to confiscate your guns for your safety's sake?

State Sen. Leland Yee (D-San Francisco) was charged Wednesday with conspiring to commit wire fraud and traffic firearms, part of a sweeping public corruption case outlined by federal prosecutors.

The charges sent shock waves through the San Francisco and Sacramento political establishments, as FBI agents searched Yee's Capitol office. Last year the FBI raided the offices of Sen. Ron Calderon (D-Montebello), who was targeted in a bribery sting.

In all, 26 people, including former school board president Keith Jackson, were indicted on charges related to an extensive crime ring headed by well-known Chinatown figure Raymond Chow, who was also arrested and charged Wednesday.

The indictment alleges Yee and Jackson defrauded "citizens of honest services" and were involved in a scheme to traffic firearms in exchange for thousands in campaign donations to the senator.

Federal prosecutors also allege Yee agreed to perform official acts in exchange for the money, including one instance in which he introduced a businessman to state legislators who had significant influence over pending medical marijuana legislation. In exchange, the businessman -- who was actually an undercover FBI agent -- agreed to donate thousands to Yee's campaign fund, according to the indictment.

The indictment also describes an August 2013 exchange in which Jackson told an undercover officer that Yee had an arms-trafficking contact. Jackson allegedly said Yee could facilitate a meeting for a donation.

Chow, who has been connected over the years to the criminal gang Wo Hop To and is known as "Shrimp Boy," was indicted for money laundering, conspiracy to receive and transport stolen property, and conspiracy to traffic contraband cigarettes.

The redoubtable Glenn Reynolds comments thus:

If a politician’s for gun control, it doesn’t prove he’s a crook. But it’s the way to bet.

Heh. Indeed.

The news isn't all bad, of course. Remember all those organizations the Southern Poverty Law Center and Anti-Defamation League castigated as "hate groups?"

The Southern Poverty Law Center, which has labeled several Washington, D.C.-based family organizations as "hate groups" for favoring traditional marriage, has been dumped as a "resource" on the FBI's Hate Crime Web page, a significant rejection of the influential legal group.

The Web page scrubbing, which also included eliminating the Anti-Defamation League, was not announced and came in the last month after 15 family groups pressed Attorney General Eric Holder and FBI Director James Comey to stop endorsing a group -- SPLC -- that inspired a recent case of domestic terrorism at the Family Research Council.

Now and then, even the FBI gets one right. But far too much damage has been done already.

The party that holds the White House and Senate is afflicted by rampant criminality:

“Think of the Democratic Party as what it really is: a criminal organization masquerading as a political party,” my friend and fellow PJM columnist Michael Walsh wrote in 2009 in the guise of his leftwing alter-ego, David Kahane.

Certainly, at a minimum it’s safe to say that Democrats were rather active on the nation’s police blotters today. Since this is one narrative the MSM will never assemble (as they’re in on the fun), it’s up to the Blogosphere.

PJ Media pillar Ed Driscoll's round-up is too good to miss. Please read it all.

Don't think for a moment that the criminality of "our" governments is limited to a few non-representative cases. Nice Deb provides a horrifying round-up today. Please read it all. Then have a gander at just who "our" governments have decided to enlist as assistants in the cause of justice:

Union representatives from the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) are now accompanying federal government safety inspectors on site visits to review labor complaints at nonunion private businesses, The Daily Caller has learned.

SEIU and other labor unions can accompany the government inspectors on site visits due to a quiet and contested Obama administration rule clarification issued last year in response to a request from a union representative.

SEIU agents recently accompanied an inspector from the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), a division of the Department of Labor, on three visits to nonunion work sites under contract with the Houston-based janitorial company Professional Janitorial Services (PJS).

The SEIU representatives gained entry alongside an OSHA inspector to a private office building cleaned by PJS in West Houston on October 29, 2013.

SEIU representatives also accompanied an OSHA inspector on visits to office buildings cleaned by PJS in Houston on October 29, 2013, and in Southwest Houston on November 7, 2013, but the union agents were denied access by the building owners each time.

There is no identifiable force in these United States more openly thuggish and ready to use violence to gain its ends than America's labor unions. Excepting "our" governments, of course.

I really do hate to be the one to tell you, Gentle Reader, but, as my favorite fictional protagonist once said, we're in the deepest of deep shit and sinking fast. Liberty and justice are no longer reliable conditions of American life, even de facto.

Each and every American lives under the threat of the sort of random oppression the Hartes experienced. Anyone of a conservative or libertarian inclination who dares to make his views public is vulnerable to the sort of assault Tyler Cowen experienced. Ordinary passers-by on public streets must go in fear of "knockout game" gangs, about which the police seem disinclined to concern themselves. Businesses of any size that don't kowtow to unions are constantly watchful for "union representatives," who are protected from prosecution under federal law for anything they might do "in furtherance of union objectives." The IRS seeks the power to discriminate among advocacy groups on the basis of their political stances, while its top man has defied Congress's demand for the evidence that it's already done so. The EPA is about to rule that your backyard is a "federally protected wetland," because it's damp for a day or so after a rainstorm. ObamaCare has proved to be a "law" written in water, for whose failure its principal promoter and his co-partisans seek to evade all responsibility. Meanwhile, scores of politicians -- "our representatives," remember? -- are going down on charges that range from bribery to conspiracy to violate the firearms importation laws.

It's impossible not to be put in mind of the late Samuel Francis's concept of anarcho-tyranny:

What we have in this country today, then, is both anarchy (the failure of the state to enforce the laws) and, at the same time, tyranny – the enforcement of laws by the state for oppressive purposes; the criminalization of the law-abiding and innocent through exorbitant taxation, bureaucratic regulation, the invasion of privacy, and the engineering of social institutions, such as the family and local schools; the imposition of thought control through "sensitivity training" and multiculturalist curricula, "hate crime" laws, gun-control laws that punish or disarm otherwise law-abiding citizens but have no impact on violent criminals who get guns illegally, and a vast labyrinth of other measures. In a word, anarcho-tyranny....

The laws that are enforced are either those that extend or entrench the power of the state and its allies and internal elites ... or else they are the laws that directly punish those recalcitrant and "pathological" elements in society who insist on behaving according to traditional norms – people who do not like to pay taxes, wear seat belts, or deliver their children to the mind-bending therapists who run the public schools; or the people who own and keep firearms, display or even wear the Confederate flag, put up Christmas trees, spank their children, and quote the Constitution or the Bible – not to mention dissident political figures who actually run for office and try to do something about mass immigration by Third World populations.

And no, I have no idea what we can do about it, short of an immediate mass armed uprising and the wholesale purging of "our" political class.

"The System" cannot be redeemed by electoral means. Neither can it be corrected through the courts. I leave it to you whether it's time to reach for the ultimate answer to tyrants.

The pathology of power.

What behaviors does our Status Quo reward? Misrepresentation, obfuscation, legalized looting, embezzlement, fraud, a variety of cons, gaming the system, deviousness, lying and cleverly designed deceptions.[1]
After 30 minutes, off the top of my head mostly:
  • Misrepresentation – "Common Core," affirmative action, "underprivileged," "If you like your plan, you can keep your plan. Period." Any legislative or administrative action with the word "reform" in it.
  • Obfuscation – "What difference does it make?", "comprehensive immigration reform."
  • Legalized looting – Civil forfeiture laws, most welfare but especially welfare for undocumented Democrats, attorney compensation in class action and personal injury lawsuits, the Sixteenth Amendment (federal income tax).
  • Embezzlement – Congressional Post Office scandal (1991–1995).
  • Fraud – Immigration Reform Act of 1965, funding and staffing levels of Border Patrol, Obama birth certificate on White House website, Obama constitutionally qualified for presidency, U.S. "job creation" efforts, federal crime statistics that lump Hispanics with whites as perpetrators of crime but separate the two when reporting victims of crime.
  • A variety of cons – "Structural racism," "legacy of slavery," "Responsibility to protect," "Arab Spring," "nation building," Cash for Clunkers, anthropogenic global warming, war on coal, XL Pipeline "study" delays, dishonest delays regarding authorization of permits for oil and gas exploration on public lands, gun control, Supreme Court decisions on the Commerce Clause, the federal "right" to an abortion.
  • Gaming the system – Pigford, Solyndra, outrageous public employee pensions, voter fraud.
  • Deviousness – "Hate" speech, Military intervention in Syria through Benghazi CIA Annex operations, major U.S. efforts to bring down Ukrainian government.
  • Lying and cleverly designed deceptions – "Diversity is our strength," "propositional nation," "Voter suppression," "white privilege," use of term "youths" to disguise black on white crime, "affordable" care, ObamaCare as precursor to socialized medicine, "single payer" health care system disguising socialized medicine objective.
[1] "Does Our System Select for Incompetent Sociopaths?" By Charles Hugh Smith, Of Two Minds, 3/26/14.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

From The Junk Drawer

(You knew I'd use it sooner or later, didn't you, Gentle Reader?)

1. The Graciousness Of Our Public Servants.

Say, remember Nancy Pelosi's "Are you serious? Are you serious?" response to a citizen's request for the Constitutional authority behind ObamaCare? Do you remember saying to yourself, "That's it, we've hit rock bottom?" Well, there's a new anchor man on the contempt-for-the-public curve:

Infowars correspondent Dan Bidondi approached Miller and other lawmakers at the Rhode Island State House where a slew of anti-second amendment legislation was set to be heard later that evening.

“The second amendment shall not be infringed, you people need to understand that,” Bidondi told Miller.

“Go fuck yourself,” Miller responded as he smiled, before one of his staffers repeated the insult.

According to another individual who was with Bidondi, Miller repeated the “go fuck yourself” jibe a further two times after he was told “the majority is outside”. Miller had previously asserted that the majority was inside when speaking to a pro-gun control audience.

Yes, it really happened. Play the video if you don't believe it.

2. Political Tactics.

Consider these snippets collected by Nice Deb about the rallies outside the Supreme Court as it entertains the Hobby Lobby religious-freedom case:

OUTSIDE THE COURT: A banner case like Hobby Lobby brings out an array of advocacy groups, and presents a tough marketing problem: How do you distinguish your organization from your allies, let alone your opponents?

OUTSIDE THE COURT II: The women’s rights groups are carving up one end of the color spectrum (Planned Parenthood Federation of America activists are wearing pink hats, Naral Pro-Choice supporters are using purple.) Some of the religious liberty campaigners are using green for the “Religious freedom is everyone’s business” signs but there’s also a competing “Repeal the HHS mandate” placard doing the rounds in red (and a conservative group, Women Speak for Themselves, is trying to take back pink in their placards.)

OUTSIDE THE COURT III: While we’re talking about messaging: Americans United for Life coined the #TEAMLIFE hashtag we mentioned earlier, and that’s just one of the Twitter plugs being offered on that side of the plaza. Meanwhile, UltraViolet, a new-on-the-scene women’s rights group, is using a variation on a tried-and-tested abortion rights message designed to appeal to libertarian-leaning voters: “No bosses in my bedroom.”

The passions being stirred by this contest are unmistakable -- and on the Left, unmistakably political. Note the attempt by UltraViolet to cloud the issue by presenting the case as a "women's rights" controversy, as if anyone were attempting to constrain women's bedroom behavior. This is, of course, part and parcel of the Left's overarching "Republican War on Women" theme.

Tactics stand front and center here. The pro-life groups are doing it right, with one exception: insufficient attention has been given to the opportunity to turn the "War on Women" theme against the Left. The mandatory coverage of contraceptives and abortifacients embedded in ObamaCare is one of the reasons the cost of medical insurance has risen beyond the means of many female-headed households. Why no one is pressing that motif upon the public remains a mystery.

3. "The Eighth Wonder Of The World."

Baron Philippe de Rothschild said that of compound interest. Albert Einstein concurred. Business Insider highlights what that means for our retirements:

In the good ol' days, young Americans went to work for an employer who would promise a comfortable retirement in the form of a pension plan — that is, a defined benefit plan.

Today, it's increasingly become the responsibility of the worker to put money away for retirement in the form of a 401(k) plan or an IRA — that is, a defined contribution plan.

The goal of this post is not to explain the mechanics of retirement plans. Rather, we want to show you the importance of saving sooner than later.

It all comes down to one elementary mathematical principle: compound interest.

Compound interest occurs when the interest that accrues to an amount of money in turn accrues interest itself. It's the deceivingly simple force that causes wealth to rapidly snowball. This is why it's the concept that is at the core of all finance.

The folks at JP Morgan Asset Management demonstrate the true power of compound interest in their 2014 "Guide to Retirement."

Their example consists of three people who experience the same annual return on their retirement funds:

  • Susan, who invests $5,000 per year only from ages 25 to 35 (10 years)
  • Bill, who also invests $5,000 per year, but from ages 35 to 65 (30 years)
  • And Chris, who also invests $5,000 per year, but from ages 25 to 65 (40 years)

Intuitively, it makes sense that Chris would end up with the most money. But the amount he has saved is astronomically largely than the amounts saved by Susan or Bill.

Interestingly, Susan, who saved for just 10 years, has more wealth than Bill, who saved for 30 years.

That discrepancy is explained by compound interest.

Virtually no one appreciates the full power of compounding. It's why the Social Security Ponzi scheme, which seizes and squanders the funds with which we could capitalize on compounding, is such a complete disaster.

Funds paid into the Social Security "Trust" Fund are immediately borrowed and spent by Congress. By law, those funds must be either paid out to current beneficiaries or used to purchase U.S. Government Bonds -- federal debt instruments. Thus, the immense payments we're making into the "Trust" Fund only add to aggregate federal debt; they don't compound as genuine savings do, but rather as a debt does: the amount to be repaid (by distant generations, if ever) increasing from minute to minute.

How's your "trust" in Washington doing lately, Gentle Reader?

4. While We're Speaking Of Debt...

...have a look at this radically interesting article by Paul Rosenberg of Freeman's Perspective:

What if your grandfather had gone on a wild spending binge, long before you were born, and put himself millions of dollars in debt to people who knew he could never pay? Would it be your obligation to work double-shifts all your life to pay that debt back? And if you died before paying it off, would it become your baby’s obligation?

I think most of us would answer those questions with a resounding “No way!” As well we should. We are not and should not be slaves to the past – slaves to actions we never took and for which we had no possible means of consent.

On September 6th, 1789, in the very first year of the US Constitution, Thomas Jefferson endorsed precisely this conclusion in a letter he wrote to James Madison:

I say, the earth belongs to each of these generations during its course, fully and in its own right. The second generation receives it clear of the debts and encumbrances of the first, the third of the second, and so on.

For if the first could charge it with a debt, then the earth would belong to the dead and not to the living generation.

He wrote the same thing to John Wayles Eppes twenty-four years later, in June of 1813:

The earth belongs to the living, not to the dead.

To lay debt upon the unborn is thoroughly immoral. To try to enforce such a debt is thoroughly criminal.

Rosenberg is, of course, speaking of the "national debt:" the trillions of dollars borrowed to fund Congressional profligacy in the service of vote-buying and bloc-maintenance. Please read the whole thing. Try your best to refute it -- not on legal but on moral grounds. I'm having a rather hard time with it.

5. Come On, You Global Warming!

Quite a number of Americans have been chanting something akin to that lately, at least along the Atlantic Seaboard, which has suffered unusually low temperatures and severe winter weather for several months. Indeed, even at better times it's seemed to be that "global warming," if it were actually happening, would be a boon. Warmth, after all, is energy, and Man can always find a use for more of that. But the warmistas, their political allies, and the Amen chorus in the Main Stream Media will have none of that. Too many rice bowls could be overturned by the mere suggestion.

Fortunately, today we have the World Wide Web:

A new study by the Non-Governmental International Panel on Climate Change shows that the benefits of a warming earth will outweigh any costs incurred.

The new report summarizes scholarly research published as recently as January 2014 on the impacts, costs, and benefits of climate change. Hefty chapters summarize thousands of peer-reviewed studies of the impact of rising levels of carbon dioxide – a greenhouse gas produced during the burning of fossil fuels – on plants and soils, agriculture, forests, wildlife, ocean life, and humankind.

The authors find higher levels of carbon dioxide and warmer temperatures benefit nearly all plants, leading to more leaves, more fruit, more vigorous growth, and greater resistance to pests, drought, and other forms of “stress.” Wildlife benefits as their habitats grow and expand. Even polar bears, the poster child of anti-global warming activist groups such as the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), are benefiting from warmer temperatures....

The authors look closely at claims climate change will injure coral and other forms of marine life, possibly leading to some species extinctions. They conclude such claims lack scientific foundation and often are grossly exaggerated. Corals have survived warming periods in the past that caused ocean temperatures and sea levels to be much higher than today’s levels or those likely to occur in the next century....

Rather than continue to fight what is most likely a natural and unstoppable phenomenon, the authors call for adopting new energy and environmental policies that acknowledge current market and environmental realities. Such policies would encourage economic growth as the foundation for a cleaner environment, responsible development and use of fossil fuels until superior energy sources are found, and repeal of many of the regulations, subsidies, and taxes passed at the height of the man-made global warming scare.

The cited study can be found at this site.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Interesting precedent.

I wish Wilders would point out to the Dutch people, that the Algerian muslims in 1961 forced out the unwanted christians and jews from that country, saying to them: “choose the suitcase or the coffin”. History does not even bother to record this event, which happened within the lifetime of millions of living Dutch people.
Comment by Joe on "To the Last Gasp, I Will Always Let My Voice Be Heard." By Baron Bodissey, Gates of Vienna 3/25/14.

He And She Part 2: Premarital Sex

Before we begin: Yes, the email has been torrential, and once again it's more or less evenly divided between approbation and condemnation. If I were the sort of person who puts others' opinions above the verdicts of his own mind and conscience -- e.g., a politician -- that might trouble me. As matters stand, it's just evidence of how deeply wounded is the culture of today.

The most fatuous missives were those that dismissed my reasoning because "you're an admitted Catholic." The implication is that I might as well "admit" to being a child molester. Yes, I'm a Catholic. Moreover, I take my faith and its implications seriously. That implies a duty to think about the various ways they should actuate and constrain me, and just as important, to ponder the occasions on which the Church has gone seriously wrong by going beyond its Christ-given authority.

Which is tangentially relevant to the subject of today's tirade.

For those disinclined to page down, here are the snippets of yesterday's screed that excited the most indignation:

It became a staple of "women's wisdom" that sex is a gift not to be lightly bestowed upon an uncommitted suitor, no matter how attractive or ardent. Sexual access wasn't the whole of the lure by which she could catch herself a man, but it was certainly part of the package. Society reinforced that "bundling" of her gifts with strong public disapproval of premarital sex, conveyed both by religious institutions and by secular culture. In extremis, when the "rules" were violated to the extent of a premarital conception, the "shotgun wedding" was a common response.

And later:

Worst of all the developments of the past five decades has been the cultural embrace of the notion of utterly carefree, consequence-free sex. It sometimes seems as if our contemporary arts can address no other subject. It's a toxin that has polluted relations between men and women to a degree that's impossible to exaggerate. It did so by reducing her to a commodity: a body to be exploited.

Torrents of vitriol poured forth in response to the above. You'd think I'd endorsed foot binding, or perhaps clitoridectomy. The intensity of the condemnations is itself evidence of the cultural descent of which I spoke. It speaks to the extent to which sex and all its variations have been presented to us as some sort of ultimate good: a "right" that trumps all other rights and obligations, including the obligation to accept and answer for the consequences of one's actions.

Indeed, enormous effort has gone into severing sexual indulgence from any and all unwanted consequences. We have various reliable contraceptives; simple and safe operations to sterilize either sex; and powerful drugs that can defeat almost any venereal disease. We've legalized abortion right up to the instant the baby's head exits his mother's body. Centuries-old laws against adultery, fornication, and sodomy are no longer enforced anywhere in the United States. But one consequence remains against which all the gates of Hell and Political Correctness have not prevailed -- the disapproval of the differently minded -- and it infuriates the Emissionaries of Sex Unbounded to the limit of their endurance.

Ask yourself why.

There's a special sort of clarity that accompanies the realization that a fundamental error has obscured a fundamental truth.

A postulate stands behind the proposition that sex can be utterly consequence-free. It's an important one, infrequently articulated and even less often challenged in these latter days of the West. It maintains that the body and the mind are separate entities that can function independently of one another.

Quite a number of absurd fantasies have been built upon that postulate. At the pinnacle of the realm are visions of wholly disembodied intelligences, "freed from the bonds of the flesh," that would exist under the veil of Time. This is absolute nonsense. Mentation of the sort we practice, or can imagine, is inextricably tied to a material base. Whether that base is composed of proteins and fats or silicon and rare earth metals, no operation of mind can occur without one.

But let's return to the central point. If body and mind cannot be separated, it follows that bodily behavior will have mental consequences, just as mental operations will evoke bodily responses. Only after human life has departed permanently from the body will that interaction cease -- and at that point, of course, the body's "behavior" will consist solely of putrefaction.

Sexual conduct will always have mental consequences. Some of them might not be immediately available to the conscious mind. Nevertheless, they'll be there, and they will have consequences of their own.

To cap this segment, consider these quotes from a philosopher not generally regarded as a sexual savant:

"Love is blind, they say; sex is impervious to reason and mocks the power of all philosophers. But, in fact, a man's sexual choice is the result and the sum of his fundamental convictions. Tell me what a man finds sexually attractive and I will tell you his entire philosophy of life. Show me the woman he sleeps with and I will tell you his valuation of himself... The man who is proudly certain of his own value, will want the highest type of woman he can find, the woman he admires, the strongest, the hardest to conquer—because only the possession of a heroine will give him the sense of an achievement, not the possession of a brainless slut."...

"Let a man corrupt his values and his view of existence, let him profess that love is not self-enjoyment but self-denial, that virtue consists, not of pride, but of pity or pain or weakness or sacrifice, that the noblest love is born, not of admiration, but of charity, not in response to values, but in response to flaws—and he will have cut himself in two. His body will not obey him, it will not respond, it will make him impotent toward the woman he professes to love and draw him to the lowest type of whore he can find. His body will always follow the ultimate logic of his deepest convictions; if he believes that flaws are values, he has damned existence as evil and only the evil will attract him. He has damned himself and he will feel that depravity is all he is worthy of enjoying."

[Yes, you guessed it: Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged]

Rand's well known hostility to religion did not blind her to the inseparability of reason, emotion, and values from sexual decisions.

An old maxim that passed from mothers to daughters about avoiding premarital sexual indulgence was "Don't make yourself cheap." Mom's intentions in deploying that maxim were quite good. Certainly, they were wholly benevolent. Even so, the phrase deserves close scrutiny, especially in its connotations.

"Cheap" in this context meant readily sexually available, without conditions. That which we render to others cheaply is, of course, deemed to have little value. Though the remark was almost always directed toward a young woman, it applies with equal validity and force to men.

To proffer your body to another person "cheaply" is to indicate that you consider it of little value. As the body and the mind cannot be divorced from one another, the implication is that you consider the consequences of your behavior, whether for your body or your emotions, to be of little value as well.

There is no escape from this chain of logic, except for one: You must accept yourself to be of no particular value -- to yourself or anyone else.

Would you be happy with that?

The "use" of sexual access as a lure into commitment -- traditionally, marital commitment, though other forms exist and are sometimes applicable -- denigrates neither the power nor the importance of sex. Indeed, it puts them at their proper altitude. Even today, when the most fearsome and burdensome bodily consequences of "casual" sex can be averted -- legally, at least -- few persons qualified to cross the street without a minder would deny the potency and significance of sexual intercourse.

Older societies, not merely those derived from Christian and Jewish descent, discouraged sex outside of marriage mainly because of those bodily consequences. The technology of our time was not available to them, and their comprehension of the moral horror of abortion was clearer than ours. Yet we of today who continue to disapprove of "casual" sexual indulgence are fully aware of the legal and technological changes. We respect the inseparability of body and mind.

The above is not intended as a condemnation of all premarital sex. As sexual compatibility is an important ingredient to a stable marriage, and is never guaranteed simply because he's a man and she's a woman, it would be foolish to condemn premarital intercourse between two persons who are, as we say, "serious about one another." But there is a continuum between that sort of prudence, animated by nascent love and tempered by appropriate caution, and the low, dissolute grade of sexual indulgence powered solely by lust and numb to the self-degradation involved in "making yourself cheap." That's a realm the wise and the self-respecting decline to explore, preferring to remain firmly against the stops of sexual restraint under nearly all circumstances.

Religion has nothing to do with it. Religious conviction can reinforce the discipline of the intelligent. It might help to protect the otherwise un-thoughtful. But the logic of the thing is derived solely from human nature.

More anon.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Golden age.

For smart blacks and browns, neurotic whites, middle class females, homosexuals, people with disabilities and pimps and hedonists of numerous forms, this is truly a golden age.
Comment by com contrarian on "31 Flavors of Fascism." By Jim Goad, Taki’s Magazine, 3/17/14.

He And She: An Embryonic Manifesto

A foreword of sorts: I wrote this piece in a cold fury, a deliberately cultivated state of extreme anger over a pictorial insult. It was an insult not just to men, but to Mankind as a whole and to the civil society we once achieved in these United States but have recently, in historical terms, allowed to degenerate.

As I've said before, I stand by my words -- that's why I always go by my full and correct name -- and I stand by the ones I penned below. But the torrent of email I received in response has persuaded me of the importance of a definitive statement of position on relations between the sexes, which I will now endeavor to produce.

Those emails, by the way, were about evenly divided between "bravo!" and "how dare you!" It wasn't always possible to discern the sex of the sender, nor was I particularly concerned. After all, quite a lot of "beta males" are obsessed with gaining sexual access to women and are utterly convinced that the only way to do so is to echo gender-war feminism's shibboleths and kowtow before its totems. To such a man, any suggestion that not all of us think the way he does (or pretends he does) is seen as a threat to his prospects. I dismiss the opinions of such creatures with prejudice.

What follows, today and in the immediate future, is one man's opinion. It shouldn't be necessary to say that at such times, yet it is so. The harridans who deluged me with vilification over "Female Idiocy" can relax, if that's possible to them. No one is likely to start a movement based on anything that appears at Liberty's Torch. But perhaps a few American men will see the following as a coherent and cogent articulation of what they've always known but were reluctant to admit and even more reluctant to live out -- and perhaps a few American women will rediscover the virtues of a social regime in which each individual among us admitted unabashedly to his nature and was unembarrassed by it.

We begin.

Mankind is part of Nature, and so has a nature of its own. Our division into two sexes has imbued each of those sexes with a set of differentiating characteristics: a "sub-nature" of its own. All rational thought about relations between the sexes must respect the implications of those statements.

Evolutionary pressures caused one sex -- his -- to assume the role of provider and protector to the other. Moreover, it could not have been reversed: the childbearing and child-nurturing functions are utterly inimical to the routine assumption of extreme exertion, physical hazard, and possible death. If there were any tribes among the Neanderthals that left the provider/protector role to her, the decision disadvantaged them so completely that no evidence of their existence has reached our time.

That evolutionarily imposed division of labor had other consequences for the temporal progress of Mankind. The women "left behind" at the tribal campsite while the men foraged and chased animal herds tended toward a communal existence, in which many resources were shared. Perhaps the most important of those resources was the supervision of the tribe's children. Another element of importance was the propagation of the tribe's history, for thousands of years a matter of oral tradition conserved mainly by the women. These and similar influences molded the human female into a communally inclined, consensus seeking creature powerfully attuned and sensitive to the opinions, knowledge, and attitudes of other women.

Note how this fails to find a close parallel among men. Men naturally came to respect the initiative and prowess of other men, and sought to learn from one another those elements of knowledge most conducive to the survival and flourishing of the tribe. However, as they were not as closely gathered, day by day, as the tribe's women, they experienced far less pressure to conform to a group consensus. Greater variation in aptitudes and styles followed as a matter of course.

The advent of tool-making and tool-using perpetuated the distinctions. Though tools did (and do) ease many of the more strenuous occupations, such that exceptional women became capable of undertaking certain previously all-male chores, there was a tendency for him to regard tools and their uses as his preserve -- and she, already adapted to her role, tended to concur in that decision. The gulf remained largely unbridged as Mankind progressed toward civilizations capable of achieving an "impersonal identity:" the perpetuation of a society's history, norms, and aesthetics over long intervals without the need for oral sustenance.

The first of the Western cultures to embed meticulous record-keeping at its core, the pre-Christian Jews, were unabashed about the division of labor between him and her, and the whys and wherefores pertinent to it. Their general orientation toward relations between men and women became that of Western Civilization generally, for a simple reason: it worked. That is, it served the survival needs of Mankind overall while giving each of the sexes the duties it could best handle and had come to prefer. That orientation persisted, largely unchallenged, until the mid-Twentieth Century and the advent of Progressivism.

It's time to explore what the sexes' respective adaptations have implied about modern American society's observable patterns and structures: maturation, courtship, marriage and family, "normal" occupations, business and commerce, "responder" vocations, the military, and of course politics.

Adaptation has imbued him with a far greater degree of initiative and aggression. This naturally gave rise to a male preference for undertakings that emphasize those qualities: the military, the "responder" vocations, and the formation of new enterprises. Conversely, adaptation has bestowed upon her a talent for conserving and managing. That embraced the protection and nurturance of children, domestic resources, and what was once known as "women's wisdom," a subject to which we'll return a bit later. Though argument persists as to whether these proclivities are genetic or merely maintained through social continuity, their perpetuation over time should put an end to the notion that they're influences to be casually dispensed with. This is especially important in the case of courtship, marriage, and the family: the one and only venue in which he and she are incapable of proceeding in isolation from one another.

Aggression and initiative aren't inherently good things, guaranteed to be employed only in the service of the Right, the True, and the Good. Male sexual aggression, in particular, had to be constrained and conditioned by institutions that would detoxify its worst effects. The most important of those institutions was marriage: his open acceptance of responsibility for the protection and sustenance of his wife and whatever children she might bear him, mated to her promise of constancy toward him and her commitment to the proper upbringing of their offspring.

Marriage, which has become a social and political minefield in our time, is as poorly understood as it is critical. Modern advocates for this or that alteration to marriage view it almost exclusively as either a political institution or a religious institution. Neither of those characterizations is at all accurate.

Marriage is a social institution. Regardless of the political and religious encrustations marriage has accumulated in recent centuries, he and she are married, de facto, if and only if the surrounding community regards them as married. It began that way and continues that way wherever its functions are still respected. Unfortunately, that doesn't describe contemporary America, but we'll get to that a bit later.

The indispensable functions of marriage pertain to the protection, support, and nurturance of those who cannot do those things for themselves. The husband is obliged to protect his wife and children and to provide for them to the best of his ability. In time of need or crisis, he might be assisted by his community, but they remain his obligations, any default in which accrues to him and him alone. The wife is reciprocally obliged to nurture the children, to protect them from harm, and to make them ready, insofar as that's possible, for the opportunities and stresses that come with adulthood. She, like her spouse, might be bolstered in those things by her community, but the obligations remain hers alone.

However, it should be plain that to be respected such commitments, on either side, require certain guarantees: in particular, solemn promises that neither spouse will procreate outside the marriage. For either spouse to present the other with a "by-blow" is an unacceptable broadening of the agreed-upon obligations. Beyond that, the medical and emotional hazards involved in mere sexual adventurism, entirely without consequences measured in diapers and midnight feedings, were appreciated by the societies in which marriage was born. Thus, the marital commitment came almost at once to include promises of sexual exclusivity.

It became a staple of "women's wisdom" that sex is a gift not to be lightly bestowed upon an uncommitted suitor, no matter how attractive or ardent. Sexual access wasn't the whole of the lure by which she could catch herself a man, but it was certainly part of the package. Society reinforced that "bundling" of her gifts with strong public disapproval of premarital sex, conveyed both by religious institutions and by secular culture. In extremis, when the "rules" were violated to the extent of a premarital conception, the "shotgun wedding" was a common response.

Post-marital family life perpetuated the roles that flowed from the sexes' respective adaptations. He undertook the protection and material support of the family; she saw to the home, the kids, and community relations. Should military necessities arise, he might rally to the colors, but she was expected to continue on, more or less as she'd already done. Exceptions were rare during the centuries before World War II, nor were there many complaints about the arrangement.

Some women chafed at what they saw as "confinement" arising from the responsibilities of marriage and motherhood. There were vocal advocates for varieties of "women's liberation" a century ago, though they came nowhere near the stridency or breadth of modern feminist demands. But the marital bond, the traditional functions of the sexes within it, and the social and religious constraints that powerfully discouraged premarital sex and its potential consequences, were viewed as right and necessary.

The operative word was respect.

Respect of men for women and vice-versa flowed from the recognition that each had something the other needed (or wanted desperately), and could not be forced to surrender without extremely adverse consequences. More recent developments have clouded that perception, but have not altered the underlying facts:

  • Each side wants the emotional sustenance and satisfaction the other can provide.
  • He wants sexual access and (more often than not even today) children.
  • She wants protection, material support, and the stature among other women that comes from having a respected spouse, a decent home, and a stable place in the community.

Some of the objective conditions that gave rise to the strictures against premarital sex and sexual adventurism have been muted by technology. Before Wasserman tests, penicillin, and reliable contraception, casual sex was far riskier than it is today. Yet this softening of the constraints pertains solely to physical consequences; the social and emotional consequences remain as they were.

Worst of all the developments of the past five decades has been the cultural embrace of the notion of utterly carefree, consequence-free sex. It sometimes seems as if our contemporary arts can address no other subject. It's a toxin that has polluted relations between men and women to a degree that's impossible to exaggerate. It did so by reducing her to a commodity: a body to be exploited.

Whereas he was once taught to respect his female counterparts, the prevalent attitude today is one of cheerful sexual predation, as if there could be no price for such arrant wolfishness. Whereas she was once taught to beware the slick talker, the "bad boy," and the opportunist, innumerable voices today counsel her to "let the good times roll," as if her psyche were armored against the humiliation from being treated as "a life support system for a pussy" (Greg Iles, Blood Memory). But the consequences cannot be averted -- and one of them is the contemporary emergence of the attitude, common to men and women both, that the other sex is the enemy -- and in dealing with one's enemy, there are no responses that are inherently out of bounds.

And so we get obscenities such as the one that stoked my fire yesterday morning.

More anon.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Unbelief: A Sunday Rumination

A few days ago, I put the following question to my Gentle Readers:

I've recently begun to ponder the nature of unbelief as distinguished from the more easily comprehended concept of disbelief. To disbelieve is to reject a proposition, either as untrue or unconvincing. Unbelief is a different animal, the nature of which might not be made perfectly clear by the Gospel passage above.

I expect to write about this come Sunday. Until then, please let me have your thoughts, Gentle Readers, on what unbelief connotes to you -- if, indeed, it connotes anything at all. Particularly interesting suggestions will be incorporated into Sunday's Rumination.

A Reader -- interesting choice of moniker -- responded that:

I think unbelief is the precursor to faith. It is the intellectual acceptance that someone may be possible without the spiritual certainty that it can or will be done. I parse the father's prayer, which I have prayed many times, as the desire to see a limited capacity for faith expanded. The Epistle to the Hebrews says: "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." Another version reads: "Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see." I think the father lacked confidence, knew it was necessary, and had just enough faith to ask Jesus to make up the difference. All in all, his request is not the request of a total non-believer.

Rick White responded that:

Disbelief is as you stated, "the rejection of a proposition..." However unbelief is doubt in the truth of the proposition which will lead to a loss of faith in the proposition. Satan's greatest tool at his disposal is the simple question mark, it is his skillful tool to place doubt in your path to faith and belief. What was Satan's tactic to Eva when he got her to taste the apple, he simply stated, Ge:3:1: Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? Thru this simple question Satan was able to place doubt in Eva which lead to her downfall. And Satan continues to use this skillful trick even today and with doubt he is able to diminish our witness and cause us to have doubts about our faith. Just look at “Time”, “Newsweek” or “US News and World Report” covers over the last 50 years, any time they did an article on Christianity, they usually lead off with a title that ends with a question mark. Creating doubt in Biblical truth is the corner stone to unbelief in our faith.

Doubletrouble replied:

In my daily prayers, I ask for "...relief of my worldly anxieties, and help my faith be increased. I believe, Lord, help my unbelief."

It is my duty, as a Catholic, to put my complete trust in God/Jesus/Holy Ghost, but the human, sinner element precludes me from doing exactly that.

For me, it's less of an issue of 'doubt', as it is one of overcoming my internal human instincts.

And KG, the worthy proprietor of Crusader Rabbit, suggested that:


All of these are approaches to be considered. Allow me to add my own, which has been on my mind for some time now.

A believer is one who has accepted the existence of God, and the essential truth of the Gospel narration of the life, ministry, Passion and Resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God and Redeemer of Mankind. Yet he might still harbor some amount of unbelief, as did the man in the citation from Chapter 9 of the Gospel According to Mark. To combine the two without engendering a contradiction, I look to our conduct and experiences of life-as-lived.

We live in the world, subject to the laws of Nature, especially our own natures. Our thoughts don't remain fixed on anything in particular at all times. More, we move from goal to goal according to satisfactions attained or abandoned, the fluctuations of our priorities, and other influences too numerous to mention. The objectives and constraints that energize and bound our responses to events as they occur can vary widely.

For myself, I've become aware that there's a large region of my life in which my belief and the implications that flow from it play little or no part. At those times and in those circumstances, I am entirely a temporal, secular creature. I'm not afflicted by disbelief, for at any moment, were I asked "Do you believe in God and accept Christ as Lord and Savior?" I would unhesitatingly reply in the affirmative. Neither am I an unbeliever: one who declines to accept those propositions as insufficiently convincing. Yet I might be in the grip of unbelief, which to me means that in that context, my faith and its practical implications are irrelevant.

The father in the Gospel story might have suffered that degree of unbelief. Hear him once again:

And [the father] said, "From childhood. It has often thrown him both into the fire and into the water to destroy him. But if You can do anything, take pity on us and help us!" And Jesus said to him, " 'If You can?' All things are possible to him who believes." Immediately the boy’s father cried out and said, "I do believe; help my unbelief."

The emphasized words make plain that the father's faith seemed (to him) irrelevant to his son's affliction, or perhaps impotent to effect its cure. He clearly accepted that Jesus was the Messiah, the Christ. Yet he was uncertain that the Christ bore the power to relieve his son of his torments...or his tormentor. He wanted to be convinced.

That dichotomy might well apply to all of us, though in another form: We are conscious Christians at Mass or during prayer, but become "unbelievers" when wrestling with the challenges and trials of life under the veil of Time. Our faith and its implications doesn't rise to our conscious minds during those periods.

The father in the Gospel story received the demonstration he needed, simply by humbling himself sufficiently to ask for it. So also did Thomas Didymus, the "Doubting Thomas." Might the same apply to us?

A marvelous short story by Anthony Boucher, "The Quest For Saint Aquin," provides a piercing example of the struggle against unbelief, which is to say: the will to accept that faith in God and His Son is relevant to all temptations and all trials, whether of body, mind, or spirit. The story is regarded as one of the jewels of Golden Age science fiction; I exhort you all to read and delight in it.

There is no moment at which God is distant from us, not "answering the phone." There is no challenge to which His Benevolence is irrelevant. Indeed, it's when our temporal trials are most severe that our faith is most relevant, for there alone can we reliably find the sustenance required to endure. His Son has told us that we need only ask:

“So I say to you: Ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and the door shall be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks shall find, and to him who knocks, the door shall be opened. What father among you, if your son asks for a fish, will you give him a snake? Or if he asks for an egg, will you give him a scorpion? If ye then, although you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him! In everything, do unto others as you would have them do unto you, for this fulfills the law and the prophets.” [Matthew 7:7-12]

Yet in deciding what to want and what ends to seek, we are obliged to remain fully mindful of the Christian ethos:

    And behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?
    And He said unto him, Why callest thou me good? There is none that is good but one, that is God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.
    He saith unto Him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Honor thy father and thy mother, and Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. [Matthew 19:16-19]

Through those portals we may divest ourselves of unbelief.

May God bless and keep you all.